Don't get me wrong, chai and chocolate are wonderful but when they're used to mask deep exhaustion or lack of sleep, it can be detrimental (trust me, I learned the hard way and got sick!). I find that when these habits orbit back around they really remind us to draw upon healthier resources and live the wisdom we know. Luckily, Ayurveda shows us many ways to work with our natural energy. For example, take a look at the 'Ayurvedic Clock' below.
These hours can be great for creative, artistic activities, and moving the body while mentally strenuous tasks are not recommended because the mind may get distracted easily. If you have a vata constitution, you'll likely need more structure and disipline during the afternoon. If you are on the opposite side of the spectrum and have more kapha, or are generally prone to sluggishness, these hours can be motivating and inspiring to get going and begin projects.
Vata hours are also between 2-6am, which is why many people feel a surge of energy in the middle of the night if they stay up past 2am. If you have difficulty sleeping these are often the hours one wakes up. Again, because of the subtle qualities of the air and ether elements can arouse the mind.
This is also why many spiritual practices are done in the early morning when the sun is below the horizon because etheric energy is conducive for meditation and expanding consciousness. During the day however, too much air and ether can be deranging and hard on the mind and body if not managed well. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for working with vata during the day and overcoming the afternoon slump.
1.) Walking: Take a brisk 10 minute walk outside to increase circulation andprana, or life-force. Focus on taking deep inhalations in through the nostril and long exhalations out through the nostrils. Even if you are in a busy city, observing the trees, the sky, the birds and other aspects of nature can help calm the nervous system and settle the mind.
2.) Laying Down: If possible, lay down and close your eyes, even if it's just for a few minutes. Even better, lay down outside and have your sacrum touch the earth. Depending on how much time you have, a restorative relaxation practice like yoga nidra, (also known as yogic sleep) is great when you need a temporary rest. I have found that taking a break and recharging my system in this way makes for a much more productive day.
3.) Power Snack: When life demands you to keep going and your appetite is strong, have a high-protein, or high-energy snack. Here is a nice "treat" that will definitely leave you feeling alert and energized to get things done! Dates and almonds are ojas building, meaning they increase our vitality and immunity; while the herbs in this chai recipe are grounding, strengthening, and assist digestion. Cacao and maca add an extra kick, as they are both super-foods for endurance.
*Cut dates in half and take out the pit.
*Fill with a small amount of almond butter and top with 1 cacao bean.
Rosemary's Garden - Nourishing Chai (non-caffeinated)
Contains powdered organic/wildcrafted: Maca, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Eleuthero, Licorice, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove, and Black Pepper.
*Add 1-2 teaspoons for each cup of water.
4.) Aromatherapy: Use uplifting essential oils like peppermint, pink grapefruit, or lemongrass to bring alertness and clarity. If you are feeling flustered or hyper (which tends to happen during this time of day) try grounding aromas like vetiver or jatamansi that are in Floracopia's Vata Essential Oil Blend. Use an essential oil diffuser if you have one. Or, do a simple 'palm inhalation' by placing a drop or two of oil on the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, bring your palms up to your nose, close your eyes and inhale.
5.) Creative Pursuits: This is a great time of day to dance, make art, play or listen to music. If you are working during these vata hours, try to work on the more "fun" tasks that don't require as much mental focus. Also, take breaks away from your computer or internet browsing (a very etheric activity) during the afternoon to stay as grounded as possible.
I hope this has been helpful. Good luck! ~Camina