Dinacharya (sometimes also written as Dincharya) is a practice in Indian Ayurvedic medicine that consists of a daily routine that helps to establish balance in one’s constitution. The idea behind Dinacharya is that carrying out various daily practices routinely promotes physical and mental balance, self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity.
The activities performed cover the early morning time, daytime and evening, and include elimination and evacuation, hygiene and bathing, massage and exercise, meditation and prayer, food and drinks, study and work, relaxation and sleeping. These practices are ultimately aimed at keeping the three Doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha in balance for optimal health.
Below we cover an example of the early morning routine (there are also daytime and evening routines). Mind that you will find slightly different sequences if you would look for Dinacharya Self-Care routines on the Internet, including some different or other activities added to the ritual.
The basic idea here is to wake up early, before sunrise. Nevertheless, there are preferred times to wake up depending on your Dosha-type, which can be Vata, Pitta or Kapha.
The first thing to do is to become fully and lovingly aware of the body by scanning and checking your various body parts.
Additionally, one can pray, take a moment of silence, or meditate briefly before heading on to the next activities.
Cleansing and Elimination
This activity includes cleaning the face, mouth, teeth, tongue, throat, ears and eyes. A light face massage may be done also. Additionally, one should also try to urinate and poop. A gentle abdominal massage may help with the latter.
A special Ayurvedic activity for the mouth, throat and teeth is Oil Pulling (called Gandusha and Kavala in India). Oil Pulling consists of two activities: holding an oil or other herbal liquid in the mouth for about five to ten minutes and swishing or gargling oil in the mouth for about maximum five minutes. The aim is achieving oral health and hygiene.
Tongue scraping is also a common morning practice in India and involves scraping toxins and residue off of the tongue to eliminate bad breath and activate better taste ability.
Nasal Drops (Nasya)
Nasya is about pouring or rubbing a few drops of warm ghee or oil into each nostril in the mornings to lubricate the nose, clean the sinuses, and improve vision, voice, and mental clarity. Ear drops may be applied also. Again, depending on your Dosha type, different oils may be used.
Some people also use a Neti Pot to irrigate and flush out the nasal passages.
The first nutrition to take in should be a glass of lukewarm water or water of room temperature. This washes the gastrointestinal tract, flushes the kidneys, and stimulates the intestines. Many people enhance this practice by squeezing a bit of fresh lemon juice in their water.
Abhyanga is the most common type of massage in India and is a full body massage with warm herbal oils. Although it is often given by a therapist or masseur, a daily routine of giving yourself a brief Ayurvedic Abhyanga self-massage (for scalp and body) is advised.
Yoga and Exercise
Somewhere on the day time (preferably in the morning) some time is made for Yoga or other appropriate exercises to increase circulation and balance and improve flexibility and strength for both body and mind.
After exercising, one should do some Pranayama breath work.
It’s then time to bathe, which is cleansing and refreshing, and brings energy to the body and clarity to the mind.
Finally, a light breakfast can be taken. Foods and drinks on the day are chosen that support your body type according to your predominant Dosha or according to the Doshas that need stimulation or alternatively need to be appeased.