According to the wisdom of Ayurveda, the hours between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am are considered the Pitta time of the night. Pitta is comprised of the elements of Fire and Water and is responsible for digestion and transformation. Sleeping during the Pitta time assures we digest our life impressions well through dreaming, along with sorting and filing our experiences into long term memory. This assures our capacity to have a clear mind for the next day's experiences as well as clear neuropathways to our memories. Another benefit is gauranteering adequate sleep for repair and restoration and early rising for a healthy unhurried start to our next day.
The teachings of yoga encourage us to breath in a deep and balanced way. Profound changes happen to our nervous system when we breath deeply. We shift out of the "Fight or Flight" (Sympathetic Nervous System -SNS) into the "Rest & Restore" (Parasympathetic Nervous System - PNS). When established in the PNS all other body systems return to a state of homeostasis. It's like the clarion call "All is Well!" Digestion improves, Cardiovascular system relaxes, Endocrine System functions better, all leading to improved immune system function.
Eating a diet rich in diversity of color and texture insures that the basic elements of life, namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space of present in our foods. If possible, eat as much whole food and organically grown food as possible. According to Ayurveda, our bodies are comprised of 7 specific categories or types of tissues. These are referred to as Dhatus in Sanskrit. Each of these Dhatus or tissues has specific elemental needs. So providing our bodies with a variety of foods, gives each of our body tissues their needed elemental nutrition. Foods rich in the colors of yellow, red and blue generally have an abundance of micronutrients, minerals, and antioxidants which promote health.
Regular exercise including a balance of weight bearing, cardiovascular workout and stretching helps to cultivate strength, balance and flexibility. Studies have shown that exercise produces a profound release of Nitric Oxide which opens up blood vessels improving circulation and supporting healthy muscle building. As well the brain releases Beta Endorphins (feel good chemical) which improves overall mental and emotional well being. A strong and supple body allows you to meet the diverse experiences and curve balls of life with greater resiliency.
Meditation and or quiet reflection or contemplation is the exercise for the mind/body/spirit connection. The power of cultivating stillness on a regular basis in our lives is one of the most potent tools we can employ to maintain our health. Many of our modern day health challenges can find their roots in stress that goes unchecked. As shared above in the section on breathing, if we dwell in a nervous system ruled by Fight or Flight, the results are disastrous for our health. Meditation cultivates a sense of interconnectedness and cohesiveness within ourselves and with the whole of creation.