Understanding the Ayurvedic Clock

By Yoganosh Staff|

Did you know that you can tell time by your doshas? According to Ayurveda (aka the Science of Life), Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are not only names for the three body types; rather, they are energetic forces within the human mind and body that are connected with the universe and with the ebb and flow of the rhythms of the natural world.

Once you understand these forces that govern all of life, you will be able to make wise, informed decisions about the activities, foods, and lifestyle habits you choose. Keeping your daily rhythms in sync with the Ayurvedic clock and its time cycles will bring you optimal health, mind-body balance, and inner peace.

How To Tell Time by Your Doshas

In Ayurveda, the four seasons, the weather, and even the clock all have attributes of the doshas. To tell time the Ayurvedic way, the key is to learn which energy or dosha is dominant at various times of the day and how you can maximize their effects to your advantage.

Here is how it works: Ayurveda divides time into six 4-hour periods over the 24-hour day during which the doshas and their respective qualities exert their influence. Each dosha is repeated twice, once in the morning and once at night. So according to the dosha clock, there are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha times of day and night.

Your Personal Dosha Clock

Here are Ayurveda's cycles of time:

  • Kapha hours: 6 A.M. to 10 A.M./6 P.M. to 10 P.M.
  • Pitta hours: 10 A.M. to 2 P.M./10 P.M. to 2 A.M.
  • Vata hours: 2 A.M. to 6 A.M./2 P.M. to 6 P.M.

The Ayurvedic clock begins with Kapha. In general, Kapha hours are experienced as slow, grounding, and calm. Pitta hours are active, efficient, and achievement-oriented. Vata hours are connected to the spiritual and to the imagination and are when you are at your creative best. This is why early morning is frequently associated with dreaming, inventiveness, and meditation.

Morning Kapha Hours

To wake up in Ayurvedic style means to rise between 6 A.M. and 8 A.M., or at sunrise, when Vata is still lingering and when your system is relaxed and calm. However, since Kapha energy inherently becomes dense, heavy, and sluggish, it's important to engage in early-morning exercise or activities that rev up your physical and mental engines. Contrary to popular belief, breakfast should be nutritious but light rather than the most important or largest meal of the day.

Evening Kapha Hours

The second Kapha time is in the evening when the sun sets and you are getting ready for bed. While the dull, heavy, and slow attributes of Kapha energy are problematic when you're trying to get up in the morning, these same characteristics will naturally support your process of going to sleep. In fact, if you pay attention, you will notice that your body and your mind naturally prepare you for drifting off as you begin to slow down and feel fatigued.

Kapha evening hours are best spent eating a light dinner, settling down, soothing the body, and relaxing the mind. Ayurveda recommends turning off all technology an hour or two before bedtime, as well as unwinding from the stresses of the day by going for a walk, spending quality time with family, meditating, sipping hot tea, taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, and otherwise preparing your mind and body for rest.

Daytime Pitta Hours

From mid-morning until mid-afternoon (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), it's Pitta time. Daytime Pitta hours, when you are most active, organized, and proficient, are ideal for tackling difficult tasks and for advancing professionally. Your appetite also peaks during these hours, so be sure to eat a hearty meal (comprised of foods that balance your particular body type) or pack a nutritious lunch. Note that Pitta hours are also children's most productive time for learning and hence best for going to school and taking tests.

Pitta is also known as the dosha of heat. Not only are Pitta hours the hottest of the day, but Pitta personalities are typically fiery and brimming with fuel. At the same time, they tend to overheat easily, which can lead to feeling irritable, impatient, and frustrated. Additional manifestations of these imbalances include indigestion, heartburn, and skin or heat rash. Ayurveda experts recommend staying away from direct sunlight and avoiding vigorous, strenuous activities during peak daytime Pitta hours.

Nighttime Pitta Hours

Pitta time also occurs between 10 P.M. and 2:00 A.M. Just as daytime Pitta hours are the most active, so too are nighttime Pitta hours, only now the activity takes place inside of you, while you are tucked in bed and sleeping soundly. Some of the natural processes which occur are: end-of-day digestive mechanisms, rebuilding of tissues and cells, internal cleansing (detoxification), and energy rejuvenation.

If you've ever experienced a sudden burst of energy, appetite, or alertness in the late evening hours, you can attribute this to the nature of Pitta dosha on the Ayurvedic timeline. Also known as 'getting your second wind,' or being a 'late-night owl,' you can avoid midnight frenzies by turning down the lights, closing your electronic devices, and going to bed at around 10 p.m. On the other hand, if you are someone who enjoys nightlife social activities, this surge of Pitta energy will serve you well.

Early Morning Vata Hours

Right at dawn, before sunrise and the first appearance of daylight, is Vata time. From 2:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M. on the Ayurvedic clock is when the night brain's impulses are strongest, when active dreaming takes place, and when deep insights from your inner psyche can be gleaned. Moreover, it is said that during Vata hours the curtain between Earth and the universe is lifted, allowing you to connect with spirit, the universal brain, the cosmos, and your highest self.

It is due to this creative Vata energy that many artists stay awake nights or get up to work before dawn, and why early morning is the time globally advocated for prayer, meditation, and chanting.

Afternoon-Evening Vata Hours

Vata dosha time occurs again between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and is manifest energetically as ideal for problem solving, thinking expansively, and pursuing creative endeavors. At the same time, Vata is the most fragile of the doshas and most likely to become unbalanced. To help prevent anxious and agitated Vata states, Ayurveda experts advise working in a calm, peaceful atmosphere where noises and lights are dimmed and where people's creative talents can shine.

Restoring Mind-Body Balance with the Ayurvedic Clock

Lack of balance in life is the basis of many of today's ailments - heart attack, heartburn, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and more. The good news is that by aligning your daily practices with the energies of the doshas and by matching your activities to the Ayurvedic clock, you are taking positive steps to naturally restoring mind-body balance and towards creating your ultimate health.

Yoganosh Staff

Yoganosh Staff

We are a team of published writers, adventurous travelers, and academics dedicated to enforcing an honest lifestyle of yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation.

Understanding the Ayurvedic Clock
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