Your Doshic Clock & the Circadian Rhythm

by Colette Park
17 April 2020

Just as the flowers and leaves of plants open and follow the course of the sun during daylight, closing again at night time, so too do our bodies respond to different times of the day. In the 5000 year old system of Ayurveda, our own inner biological clock is understood by dividing the shifting energies of daytime and night time among the three Doshas (bio-energetic principles):

  • 2-6am and 2-6pm are dominated by the lightness of airy Vata
  • 6-10am and 6-10pm are dominated by the stability of earthy Kapha
  • 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am are dominated by the drive of fiery Pitta

Circadian Rhythms

The Circadian Rhythm, also known as the body clock, came into focus in 2017 when The Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded to three scientists who discovered genes and molecular mechanisms within cells that control the circadian rhythm. This vital inner clock is understood to regulate a variety of functions in the body, including metabolism, sleeping patterns, hormones, blood pressure and behaviour.1

(Image from the Press Release about this Nobel award)

Your Doshic Clock

Our bodies are programmed to adapt to the different phases of the day as the earth revolves around its axis. The Ayurvedic understanding of the body clock gives us beautiful instruction on how to spend our day:

The natural times for daily activities
Time Dosha Tendencies Natural Activities
2‑6am Vata • Early morning hours ruled by the 'space' element of Vata bringing inspiration • Awake before sunrise
• Ideal time for meditation, prayer or journaling
6‑10am Kapha • Physical body is at its strongest after a good night's rest • Ideal time for physical exercise, or physical work
• If you sleep past 6am into the Kapha time, you will feel more sluggish in the morning
10am‑2pm Pitta • The fire of Pitta brings clarity and focus
• Strengths of digestive system (our inner 'Agni' or fire) peaks when the sun (outer 'Agni' or fire) is highest in the sky
• Focus on work or projects that require analysis and critical thinking
• Make lunch your largest meal of the day, as your metabolism is at its strongest
2‑6pm Vata • 'Space' element of Vata brings creativity
• Vata energy is irregular which can cause an energy slump, hence our love for the very English 4pm biscuit and tea as a pick-me-up if we did not have a proper lunch
• Work on/Communicate new ideas, write a blog, do some art, socialise, meditate
• Have a small and light dinner before going into Kapha time
6‑10pm Kapha • The heavy and slow qualities of Kapha slows the metabolism and helps us to switch off • Do not eat a heavy meal after sunset, as the body and metabolism starts to slow down
• Do some light stretching or exercise
• Slow down and get ready for bed by 10pm
10pm‑2am Pitta • The transformative and fiery energy of Pitta dominates • During sleep the body uses the transformative energy of Pitta for detoxification and cellular repair. Mentally, this energy is used to digest your experiences and emotions of the day
• If you’re not in bed by 10pm, Pitta can give you a '2nd wind' and create hunger late at night – the cause of the famous midnight feast!

The timings and lengths of the 4 hour cycles in the above diagram changes according time of sunrise and sunset, with the sunrise and sunset initiating the start of the morning and evening Kapha phases respectively.


In addition to observing the daily phases of time, Ayurveda recommends very specific morning and evening routines called Dinacharya ('dina' or daily routine) and Ratricharya ('ratri' or night routine) to help cleanse and nourish the body and senses. These include grounding practices such as self-massage and the nourishment of the sense organs. After all, our quality of life is largely dependent on the strength and clarity of our sense organs – Ayurveda therefore recommends the cleansing and nourishment of each sense organ on a daily basis.

These practices can act as an inner compass, keeping us calm and on an even keel throughout the day. By aligning ourselves with these shifting phases of the day, we bring a sense of ease to the body, allowing it to function optimally.

1 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Mon. 13 Apr 2020. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/​2017/press-release/

Colette Park

BSc (Hons) Ayurveda,
MSc Clinical Nutrition

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