Most of us are familiar with that time of day when our energy dips and reaching for sweets or caffeine feels like the only option. Some days it's not possible step away from the desk or task at hand and we have to power through. Last week I had a lot on my plate and got into the habit of having an afternoon snack of chai and chocolate to overcome "the slump." Although it gave me a temporary boost, it wasn't really what I needed.
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.
The hours between 2-6pm are considered vata time. This is often the time of day when people are more spacey or ungrounded because the air and ether elements that make up the vata dosha increase. This can cause instability in the mind because air and ether have a light, mobile, and subtle nature (based on the 10 pairs of opposites used in Ayurveda to describe the doshas).
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.
~~~ Tips n' Tricks ~~~
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.
Almond Butter, Cacao Bean Stuffed Dates
*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 recommend experimenting with these suggestions and see what works for you. Most importantly, it's about bringing awareness to these cycles and our varying energy levels throughout the day so we can recognize when it's time to engage and step forth, and when it's time to take a step back, recover, and conserve energy. Of course, we are all works in progress and sometimes fall into old habits, but it's never too late to self-correct. Following a proper daily routine optimizes health across the board. In this case, the ultimate goal is being able to come home at the end of a long work day and instead of zoning out, having enough energy to cook, spend time with loved ones, and do enjoyable things.
I hope this has been helpful. Good luck! ~Camina
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Spring Retreat 2021
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