Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy can help us to select practices that help us to remain grounded, present, and balanced. The feeling of grounding many of us experience when walking through the doors of our homes after a stressful day can be like a balloon slowly deflating and returning down to the Earth. We spend a lot of energy on external projects and tasks, like a hot-air balloon burning fuel to stay up in the sky. So much so, that when we get home, there’s not much left in our energy banks. And so, our hot-air balloon falls back down and comes to rest. But what about the rest of the evening? The evenings are essential for self-care and personal development activities and tasks. This is because at night we have less of a tendency to rush, and we have more time to move mindfully.
Unfortunately, some nights we’re deflated, and our prana is depleted before we’re able to start our evening routine. Sometimes it takes all of the energy we have just to settle into bed and rest. But when we wake up, we may just find ourselves right where we left off; rushing and running out of time and vital energy. We can look to Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy for wisdom to help find our center and revitalize our depleted energy.
When we have less energy to give than is required of us, we might fall into an extended state of Tamas. Tamas is the guna that governs the potential energy in our system and naturally is the opposite of Rajas, which governs the kinetic energy. When the gunas are out of balance in a tamastic way, dis-ease can present itself in the physical body in the form of tiredness, lack of motivation and overall sense of unconnectedness to our higher-self. Luckily, we can apply what we learn on our Yoga mats and create an evening Danyacharia that can help conserve our vital morning prana, find a sattvic balance and make busy mornings a little bit easier! In an age where we can get almost anything in an instant, we must re-program ourselves to plan ahead.
While our definitions of what defines a stress free day is going to be different for each of us, I think it’s safe to say we all strive to have things go our way. Yoga philosophy teaches us to let go of the ideas of attachment and aversion and simply become at ease with what arises. That means accepting each hour as it is, without passing judgment upon it or ourselves. After all, it has already happened and there is nothing we can do to change it. Now, that’s not to say that we can’t use discernment and intentional planning in the evenings to set ourselves up as best we can.
I invite you to explore the suggestions made in this post, and if any resonate with you, to adopt them into your nightly danyacharia for the next two weeks. Do your best to let go of any expectations you have set for yourself and become mindful of how these changes affect the way you feel in the morning. Make note of any limiting beliefs you have and clear them. If you like, you may choose to track your progress in a journal, something short and sweet, since the goal here is to conserve and manage our energy output.
Evaluate Your Day
Make time for mindfulness in your evening routine. Use this time to passively observe the day you had and check-in with your physical and mental bodies. Re-play your day from the point of view of the neutral observer and try to remember all the details you can. During this observation, acknowledge your accomplishments, and consider in what ways your day unfolded less than ideally. You will want to break loose from the ties of attraction and aversion. Avoid passing any kind of judgment (positive and negative) and recognize the day for what it was; a gift. Thank yourself for taking the time to sit with your thoughts in self-discovery. Remind yourself that you are valued, you belong and are connected within your community. Make a mental note of any feelings or beliefs that arise and gently move forward with your routine.
Plan The Next Day
I personally plan my week as best I can on Sunday evening, but we all know things come up and sometimes we just plain need a reminder. In addition to weekly planning, I go over my schedule for the next day; every night. Choose a creative outlet for day planning that resonates with you. Some examples include- whiteboards, sticky notes, book-style planner, digital-style planner & digital calendar applications on your device. I then collect and set aside (in a designated area) anything I know I will need for the next day. For example, on days when I teach pre-natal Yoga, I make sure to bring out my bolsters so I don’t forget them. Being prepared saves me the energy of having to run back home after forgetting something essential to the success of my day. It’s also one less thing I need to worry about when getting ready in the morning. The goal is to step outside our homes feeling energized and prepared for our day.
If you can, try to set out your outfits for the week (and for your family if necessary!). Nothing throws me off- track in the mornings more than trying to plan my outfit. Not to mention, being in a hurry usually leads to more of a mess to clean up later (not fun!). Save yourself the headache and plan your outfits ahead.
Also, if packing a lunch is in your routine, be sure to pack it at night. Doing so will ensure you pack your lunch mindfully, and not in a hurry. Packing your lunch with time to spare can mean the difference between eating prana-enriched apple slices and grabbing a pre-packaged snack.
Write It Down
A critical step in creating a stress-free routine is time management. We can most effectively manage our time by writing things down and creating prioritized lists for our day. When we get our thoughts out on paper (or digital paper) we create space in the mind for new thoughts and information. You may also choose to journal about your day using the mindfulness prompt from the first paragraph to get yourself started. Journaling can help you work through any blockages that you may be holding onto in your mental body and can assist you in clearing negative feelings and energy in your physical body.
This is what your Yoga teacher means when they say “let go of any holding in your emotional and intellectual bodies.” Write it down, and release it. Creating a list is also a great way to manage your time and prana. Here is a template for how you can best create a to-do list for tomorrow that leaves you feeling well and accomplished.
- Identify the top THREE things that must get done tomorrow in order of importance
- Identify ONE thing you “want” to do for yourself tomorrow
- Identify the top TWO things you “want” to get done tomorrow
- Add TWO things you could do later, but wouldn’t mind taking care of
Apply compassionate self forgiveness and let yourself know that it’s OK to not get everything done. After all, we are divine beings having a human experience and there is no such thing as perfection. Whatever you still have on your list by the evening, add it to your list for the next day.
Maintain Personal Hygiene
Maintaining personal hygiene is a crucial part of feeling good about ourselves. It is also a big energy expenditure in the mornings. It is hard to embody the highest form of yourself when you feel less than clean and clear. Take a few extra minutes a night to wash your face, brush your teeth and scrape your tongue using an Ayurvedic tongue scraper*. Your skin and teeth will love you for it. Not to mention hair that’s taken care of at night is much easier to manage in the morning!
Set Alarm and Put It Away
I’m sure by now we’ve all heard about the importance of limiting your screen time before bed. Not only are the effects of the digital “blue light” detrimental to your sleep cycle, the emotional toll of endless scrolling can negatively affect your mental health. It is so easy to get lost in the media and images we encounter on our devices. Much of this time can be considered wasted if it isn’t working towards creating your higher sense of well-being.
Did you know, most smart phones now have the option to limit the amount of minutes spent in individual applications? Visit your settings, and check out how much time you spend in each app. What you find may surprise you, but don’t fret, you’re not the only one. Consider adding time limits to apps you spend the most energy in. For many of us, picking up our phones is a habit, and screen time limits adds an extra filter to help break it.
We must actively choose to make time for positive growth, so put away the tech and try one of the suggestions in this article instead. With enough practice, these can become your new and improved evening routines.
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