The Evening Routine to Unwind and Recharge
It’s no big secret: for many of us, it’s extremely difficult to unwind — especially after a long day of answering emails, attending meetings, taking phone calls, taking care of kids or pets, and battling traffic on the way to and from our jobs. It seems increasingly difficult to find the “off” switch once we enter our personal sanctum — home, at the end of the day.
The advent of technology and electronics that multitask our schedules is great in one way: they provide some efficiency and ease in checking off those ever-increasing priorities from our to-do lists. However, they can also spur a disconnect between mind/body/spirit, and aggravate Vata and Pitta — turning us into scattered, unfocused versions of ourselves (especially in the all-but-inevitable event that something digitally malfunctions!).
To counteract this chaos, we can integrate a balancing Ayurvedic Evening Routine. It's an invaluable practice after a busy day, and as in all things, practice makes perfect. New routines can be challenging to integrate and maintain, so try not to get overwhelmed — that would defeat the purpose. We can stay flexible and take it easy, integrating each practice step by step until we’ve developed a balance that feels right. The goal is to relax and recharge, not do more than we comfortably can, so just take it slow.
All right, let’s get down to business!
Ayurvedic Evening Routine
Rejuvenate with Asana and Meditation
After work, school, or picking up your little ones — once home — start by silencing, or turning off, all electronic gadgets. Settle down, and consider doing a round of yoga asanas. They are the ideal form of mind and emotion-calming exercise for all body types and ages. Asanas balance all three doshas, tone the muscles, and rejuvenate our bodies. After asanas, it’s great to practice pranayama (an ayurvedic breathing technique) and meditation. Pranayama and meditation balance all the doshas, especially Vata. Twenty minutes of Transcendental Meditation®, or your preferred meditation/practice, is a great way to start and finish your day.
Learn more about TM at www.TM.org.
Nourish Your Body
Prepare and eat a light, easy-to-digest dinner at least three hours before bedtime. Our sleep can be disturbed by our body digesting a meal that we eat too late, or too much of, in the evening. The result is that our sleep is not as restful and we do not efficiently digest our meal — leading to possible long-term imbalance. Favoring a light dinner — such as steamed vegetables and dhal, or soup — is ideal. If possible, avoid heavy meats, aged cheeses and fried foods. Here are some great Vata-pacifying recipes to try. Sip hot water or Organic Calming Vata Tea throughout the day and with meals. Adding Organic Vata Churna, or our Pitta or Kapha Churnas, to evening meals aids digestion and helps bring balance, especially when the weather is cold and dry.
Enjoy Leisure Activity
After dinner, favor low-key and relaxing activities: take a leisurely walk, read a book, listen to relaxing music, draw or color, watch a light-hearted movie, etc. Computers/electronics, social media, or watching the nightly news can stimulate our minds and actually cause stress. Cortisol, our stress hormone, is antagonistic to melatonin, our relaxation hormone and also the hormone associated with sleep. So, when cortisol goes up, melatonin goes down, and that can be a problem because we may not be able to stay asleep at night. Dim the lights, mimicking Nature as much as possible. Too much artificial light in the evening disrupts our body’s circadian rhythm and affects the production of melatonin. Melatonin plays a crucial role in our body by triggering sleepiness, and keeping blood sugar and blood pressure levels healthy.
Wind Down with a Warm Drink
Before bed, try a boiled cup of milk made with a touch of ginger and sugar, Organic Vata Tea, Organic Rose Petal Spread, or raw honey. (If using honey, add it after the milk has cooled to a warm — not hot — temperature to maintain its beneficial qualities. Any heated or cooked honey, according to ayurveda, is considered to be very hard to digest and toxic.) Or try Slumber Time Tea to help disengage the mind from the senses and promote falling asleep easily.
Prepare for Sleep
Rubbing sesame or coconut oil on our feet, ears, and even head at bedtime can go a long way towards physically relaxing our bodies. It may sound strange, but give it a try! It has an amazing, calming effect that ayurveda recommends for improved sleep.
Consider diffusing Calming Vata Aroma Oil, Slumber Time Aroma Oil, or one of our dosha-balancing formulas — whichever one smells the best to you that evening — as these will further soothe, relax, and assist in falling asleep.
Support good sleep with the power of herbs, which enrich the natural functions of our bodies.
Deep Rest is formulated especially for those who wake up in the early morning hours and have trouble falling back asleep. Blissful Sleep is for those who have trouble falling asleep. Worry Free, taken a few hours before bed, can calm an active mind and soothe those of us feeling frustration at the end of the day. Taking Stress Free Emotions a few hours before bed is also a great choice.
Hit the Sack
When possible, go to sleep before 10:00 p.m. Going to bed prior to 10:00 p.m. allows our body to settle while still in the evening cycle of Kapha — 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. (Kapha time is from 6:00-10:00, both a.m. and p.m.; Pitta time is 10:00-2:00, both a.m. and p.m.; and Vata time is 2:00-6:00, both a.m. and p.m.)
For those who often wake up feeling hot or stuffy — keep the bedroom cool while sleeping. Crack the window slightly, or turn down the heat a few degrees. Or try diffusing Cooling Pitta Aroma Oil at bedtime.
Early to bed, early to rise (ideally before 6:00 a.m., but not later than sunrise), allows us to feel relaxed, calm and refreshed. We’ll be ready for the day with renewed vitality. To carry the effects of these practices with you all day, here’s a great Morning Routine to Kick-Start Your Day!
We all seek balance, purpose and fulfillment in our lives. When we deliberately take the time to treat ourselves wonderfully and prioritize our well-being, we reap untold benefits, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In spite of the resistance we may feel to properly pamper ourselves every day, we can trust in the importance of doing so, and incorporate “me time” into our daily routine. Our bodies will thank us!
For more natural Ayurvedic Sleep Tips, check out the video Natural Sleep: Deep Rest.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.