Healthy habits in Ayurveda 7

Etani Pancakarmani Sandhyayam Varjayed Budhah | Aharam Maithunam Nidram Sampatham Gatimdhvani || Bhojananjayate Vyardhirmaithunadgarbhavaikratih, Nidraya Nihsvata Pathayurhanirgaterbhayam | Pradosha Pashcimau Yamau Vedabhyasena Taunayet || Prahardvayam Shayano Brahmbhuyaya Kalpate | Ratrau Ca Bhojanam Kuryatprathamapraharantare| Kincidunam Samashniyad Durjaram Tatra Varjayet ||

The wise avoid the five activities during the first of the four phases of night; eating, sleeping, general reading or studying, sexual activities, and going away from the house. Eating in this phase causes health disorders or diseases, sleep makes one dull and eventually leads to failure or poverty, conception in this period results in defective foetus, general reading or studying reduces vitality due to unnatural mental fatigue along with other factors, movement around in the dark disturbs one’s disciplined schedule. All of these are very subtle and not understood very easily until experienced. One should have dinner before sunset or early in the first phase of ratricharya which is the period. The hour after sunset to and hour before sunrise is called ratri, which is divided into four phases of equal duration. The food eaten in the evening should be light and easily digestible. The quantity eaten should be less than what one eats in the morning/afternoon. One should sleep in a relaxed state of mind and body during the second and the third phases of ratricharya. The first phase of ratricharya in the evening should be used for prayers and study of or contemplating on vedic literature, spiritual books etc.

The last phase, the period about 2-3 hours before sunrise till about an hour after, should also be used for this purpose along with worship, meditation, and yoga. These guidelines are scientific from the viewpoint of mental and physical health. Taking a light dinner before sunset or in the first phase of night is found to be ideal for healthy metabolism. It gives the time needed for the digestion to distribute the processed food to the system. Jainism prescribes the discipline of not eating anything after sunset. This is so not the normal patterning of the modern world which is focused on an external world with little to do with the health of one’s self.

The junctions between evening and night and that between night and morning around sunset and sunrise time are crucial for physical, mental as well as spiritual health. Eating or sleeping at these time periods is strictly prohibited. Ayurveda advises specific sadhana practices and prayer meditations during these junctions. The effect of solar radiations and our biological clock has also been found to be very distinct during these periods of time in some modern laboratory experiments. One can even sit and do a deep breathing pranayama exercise during these junctions. If you were to try this your physical fatigue and mental stress will disappear. Practicing meditation at these junctures creates a sharpening of the intellect, sensitivity to a subtler world, a deepening sense of one’s self, and also of spiritual aspirations. Deep dreamless sleep for six hours during the second and third phases of night is sufficient for rejuvenating our system.

Yoga Nidra:  A few hours of yoga nidra are found to have incredible effects. We instead tend to busy ourselves or watch TV which only stimulates the senses and the mind more. Yoga nidra is impossible in that life. Most of us hardly get sound sleep and have many dreams because of the wrong nightly regime we have adopted. There should be a minimum of three hours gap between the dinner time and the time to go to bed. One should drink luke warm water after one hour’s interval during this period. This helps proper digestion of the meal, good sleep at night, and natural cleansing of the bowls after getting up in the morning. Consuming hot drinks like tea or coffee, especially in the evening or night, is harmful to health as it disturbs the sleep and this wears on the mental and bodily health. If someone has not slept well during the night, they experience morning fatigue, drowsiness, and general dullness. It upset one’s work and mental efficiency. One should wash the feet before going to bed. Those still having problems with sleep should massage the soles with warm ghee or other prescribed herbal oil.

Naktamacaryam Diwaswapnamalasyam Paishunammadama | Ati yogama yoga mca Shreyasoarthi Parityajet – Vedavyasa states in the Mahabharata

One who cares for his health should avoid keeping awake at night, sleeping in daytime, lethargy, intoxication, habits of criticizing or complaining about others, extremities in eating and all activities.

What is sleep? Yoga Sutras says “Abhava Pratyayavalambana Vratti Nidra” the state of mind in which its extrovert tendency to experience the gross material existence disappears. Charaka states sleep as one of the three essential prerequisites for the health of physical body. “Traya Upastambha Ityaharah Swapnau Brahmcharyamiti” Proper food and eating habits, good sleep, and continence are the three pillars of health. Do we observe any of these three? From this we can see how it is natural that we remain deprived of good health and prana. How many people suffering from insomnia today? How many rely on some form of tranquilizer to sleep

Kavya Mimansa quotes ” Samyak Swapo Vapushah Paramarogyaya

Samyak Swapah means sound sleep without any dreams at right times for proper duration. Paramarogyaya means that which ensures a state of good health. It is also stated, Ardharogahari Nidra. This means good sleep does at least half the work of recovery from sickness.

Putting anjana which is collyrium or lamp soot eye preparation that is made from the soot of  cow’s ghee or a specific herbal oil in the eyes before going to bed induces soothing effects on the eyes. Eyes are sensors and processors of light and are regarded as functional organs of the agni tattva. They are prone to diseases caused by kapha dosha. It is mainly manifested as shleshma which is the origin of phlegm and grows with cold, moist, and impurities of jala tatva. Protect the eyes from it. Anjana suppresses the kapha dosha in the eyes and protects the health of the eyes. It also helps with getting sound sleep. Surama, which was popularized in the Middle East and India by the Greeks, is also a type of anjana. Putting few drops of rosewater in the eyes will clean the eyes and gives a a soothing sensation. It can also help in getting good sleep. Applying pure honey on the pores of the eyes gives burning sensations initially, but it prevents against cataracts.

Anjana: It can be prepared for specific purposes. Lite a lamp of pure ghee using a clean cotton wick. Collect the soot by keeping a clean pot of bronze on the tip of the burning flame while taking care that the flame should remain yellow/orange and full. You can put a small quantity of good quality camphor in the soot and mix in a drop of ghee. It is done. Put in too much ghee and it is too thin. You should clean the eyes before putting on the anjana and clean the teeth before going to bed.

Or you can send me an comment and purchase it already prepared.

Warning about what is for sale out there in the market place….. much of what is being called kajal or anjana is mixed with chemicals and many times is not even ghee but just chemically made. In these days, it is best to prepare almost everything yourself out of quality products.


8 thoughts on “Healthy habits in Ayurveda 7

    • Before sunset is ideal. The srotas close with the sunset. This is also why it has been stated to take a light meal, so a full stomach is not even what we are talking about.
      Now putting this into the real modern world setting, who actually follows any of this? Indians eat at 11pm for dinner mainly, this is the reality of the modern world. So just taking it in for a while and then doing ones best is what is needed. I can also state that sunset is going to differ upon where one lives in latitude, so we can discuss even another ‘problem’ in trying to understand this. It has to be understood why and how for each situation.
      yes, if you live in India and are devout, one may go to the temple and have prasaad afterwards. It may be long after the sunsets, what about that? I could come up with a list of ‘problems’. Still the main foundational understanding is there intact.

  1. I read in a previous article that it is ok to have hot milk at bedtime. How long after dinner should you wait, and how long should the gap be between taking milk and going to bed?

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