While I was doing my yoga teacher training, I was introduced to Ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine from India. As I listened to the speaker introduce the concept of “doshas,” I was skeptical. It sounded more like a sister science to astrology than to yoga.

But, I was committed to listening with an open mind. And, I’m so glad I did! I soon realized, like Myers-Briggs, Ayurveda offers a framework for understanding more about myself and those around me.

Since that day, I’ve taken several Ayurveda courses and read more than a few books. While I am in no way an Ayurvedic expert, I do believe we can all learn from some of this science’s foundational teachings.

One of the most basic Ayurvedic principles is that of the three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. While this is a rather complex subject, for our purposes, I’d like to focus on the doshas as energies that impact our health and well-being.

According to Ayurveda, each of us has a primary dosha. (You can find yours in just a few minutes by doing an internet search for “dosha test.”) But, the doshas also manifest themselves in times of the day and seasons of the year.

Vata dosha is dominant in the fall and winter and is the least stable of all the energies. Summer is the season of Pitta – the dosha in the middle of the stability scale. And, Kapha is the dosha of spring; it is the most stable of the three energies.

Last fall, I addressed how an understanding of the Vata dosha can inform our fall and wintertime yoga practice. Next week, I’ll be thinking spring as I talk about yoga for the Kapha season. And, you can read more about a summertime yoga practice for the Pitta season here.

But, I thought it would be helpful to look at what Ayurveda says about how these energies manifest themselves in times of the day. This information has the power to drastically improve everything from your productivity to your digestion. It can help you stick to your fitness goals and get a better night’s sleep.

Kapha (6 – 10am and 6 – 10pm)

This dosha is the most stable of all three energies. For better or worse, our deepest habits are established during the Kapha hours of the day.

If you can’t seem to escape lure of the snooze button, the sluggish Kapha energy may be to blame. Try getting up before 6am. (And, read the Pitta section next to see why you should go to be before 10pm).

If you do your exercise routine during the Kapha hours, you have the best chance of developing an enduring habit. The morning Kapha hours are ideal, with the evening hours being the next best alternative.

Pitta (10am – 2pm and 10pm – 2am)

The Pitta energy aids our ability to concentrate. We are most focused and alert during the Pitta times of the day.

This energy is responsible for the infamous “second wind” we experience during late-night hours. Therefore, it’s best to be asleep before 10pm.

This dosha also governs digestion and appetite. So, Ayurvedic wisdom teaches that it is best to eat your biggest meal of the day at lunch. The Pitta energy is also to blame for the compulsion for midnight snacks – another good reason to be asleep before 10pm.

Vata (2 – 6pm and 2 – 6am)

When this dosha, the least stable of the three energies, is predominate it is difficult to establish routine. We are prone to changeable moods and impulsiveness (good reason to avoid those late-night infomercials!).

However, this energy promotes creativity and imagination. We are also better able to learn new things during the Vata times of day. So this is the perfect time of day to study or work on creative projects.

Interestingly enough, since this dosha governs elimination, it is often to blame for those middle-of-the-night potty breaks.

Do you have experience with Ayurveda? Have you tried to incorporate changes to your routine based on dosha clock? I’d love to hear about it!

This article has 12 comments

  1. april c Reply

    Interesting, this dosha business. Think I might need to read more on this. So many questions are coming to my mind. Can we disrupt these basic rhythms? Do some people have shifted rhythms (e.g. working better on creative projects in the kapha time instead of the vata time?)? Sluggish kapha energy? I so want more info! I see an extra trip to the library coming up soon! I would love to try and work some daily rhythm around something like this. Do these apply to kids and adults, do you know? Love your blog as always….and I can’t tell you how many posts that I mark to re-read multiple times!!

    • Jennifer Hoffman Reply

      It is SO interesting, April! So, we each have a primary dosha. So, it’s not that we “disrupt” these rhythms. But, we come to these rhythms with our own intrinsic dosha. So, a person who is a Kapha is “naturally” more stable, even-tempered than a Vata, who is highly excitable by nature. But, the vatas are more creative and imaginative. Pitas are natural leaders.

      And, Ayurveda teaches that our primary dosha is established at conception. So, our kids all have a dosha.

      Another layer ontop of this is that certain ages are dominated by a dosha (the “senior years” are dominated by Vata, for example).

      And, what we eat also adds to or pacifies the different energies.

      It is so complex and facinating. And, I’d love to talk to you as you delve into it!

      Thanks so much, my sweet friend!

  2. april c Reply

    Thanks so much Jen. Heading to the library this afternoon to scout out some books for further reading. Do you have any books that you would recommend or that you have found helpful? Look forward to more discussion on this!

  3. Yogo Roberts Reply

    This Time of day stuff is really confusing to me. So if kapha energy is the time to wake up on the morning, why is it the time to go to bed at night. I love sleeping in the am, til about 9. Wonderful dreams & I have so much trouble going to sleep before midnight to 2. Also if vata energy is the time to take a nap in the afternoon, why is it not the time to sleep in the night. Seems a little contradictory. Can you help? Sincerely, Yogo Roberts

  4. Jennifer Hoffman Reply

    I’m happy to try and help, Yogo – though I would suggest consulting an Ayurvedic Practitioner for specific application to your unique “constitution.” The kapha energy is very steady, so it’s hard to change what you are doing in that time. So, when we say it’s best to get up BEFORE the kapha time begins (6am), what we are really saying is, it is hard to get out of bed during the kapha hours. So, if you are a person who has to be out the door for work or school at 8, you will have an easier time getting out of bed if you do it before 6am.

    The whole having trouble going to sleep before midnight or 2 makes perfect sense. The pitta hours (10 – 2) are full of fiery energy. That is why we say, try to fall asleep BEFORE they begin (before 10). Many people experience being so sleepy at 8 or 9, and pushing through it only to find themselves wide awake at 10 and unable to fall asleep for hours.

    I actually don’t recommend trying to nap during the vata afternoon hours (see the vata section above for what I like to do during this time of the day.

  5. AVIS LYONS Reply

    I have just discovered you and I am so happy I did. I am a student of Ayurveda and I teach some classes locally. I am also a recovered bean counter (retired actually) and I totally understand the spreadsheet approach, how do people operate without it? Love that you made me realize that “doing” exercise is not the best approach, being in the positions is where the pay dirt is!! Look forward to more great stuff!!

    • Jen Reply

      Oh, I’m so happy to connect with you, Avis! Love connecting with fellow (former) bean counters! Welcome! xoxoxoxoo

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