According to Ayurveda, we should wake up when nature wakes up, which is at sunrise. When it starts to become light outside, this is an indication that the day begins, so naturally we also start the day at this time. But there is a also specific time for those who are committed to their spiritual practice.
You may have heard in yoga about yogis waking up really early in the morning, such as 4am or 5am sometimes even earlier for their Sadhana/spiritual practice. But why is this so? If you have read my previous blog post on how yoga and Ayurveda are connected, we know that both provide practices that together complete a holistic approach to a physically, mentally and spiritually balanced lifestyle.
The Ashtanga Hridaya, which is one of the old texts on the eight branches of Ayurveda, mentions about Brahma Muhurta. This is the name of the morning period time that is best to wake up according to Ayurveda and it can translate as the “Time of Brahman” or “Time of the Divine”. Brahma comes from Brahman, the infinite/absolute source and muhurta can be translated as time or period. Brahma muhurta happens exactly 1 hour and 36 minutes before sunrise.
So we can see that depending on the geographical region we are in and the season, this can be different and it will change.
According to Ayurveda, during Brahma Muhurta the mind is most settled. As one fundamental aspect of Ayurveda is to sync our lifestyle with nature, during this time, nature is also the most calm and quiet.
As the mind is the most tranquil during this time and less likely to get distracted, this is the best time for the spiritual seeker to meditate, to pray, to practice japa meditation, asana, pranayama or to do any spiritual practice which brings them closer/connects them to the Divine essence. When the mind is pure and away from any external distractions, then this silence and steadiness helps with our spiritual practice.
This is also a good time to study and learn because the mind is able to retain the information the best. The body naturally knows this, but if we are not following a lifestyle that is in sync with nature’s cycles, then of course, it is difficult to wake up at such time. According to Ayurveda, sleeping at night should be done by latest 10pm when the Kapha time ends. Later than this, is Pita time and during this period there is a lot of work happening inside the body and heat is increased, which makes it more difficult to sleep.
Some people might say they are not morning persons and it would be difficult to manage waking up at such early hours. But this is the nature of our body. If we connect to that of nature, we can wake up when nature wakes up and sleep when nature goes to sleep, after sunset to begin to wind down.
For the spiritual seeker or devoted yogis, this falls under Abhyasa. If there is longing for self-realisation or to feel the connection of Divinity, consistency of good habit to support the practice is needed and done so through discipline. Naturally when we begin to live a more balanced lifestyle according to nature, eat at the right time, do other activities when it is most suited and sleep at the advised time, naturally the body learns to create and maintain that balance.