Updated: Sep 3
Evenings are a sacred part of our daily flow. Wind down and rebalance with these simple Ayurvedic evening rituals. Pick a few that provide you with the greatest benefits.
Explore more on the Saumya Blog, selected top Ayurveda blogs and websites to watch.
10 Ayurvedic Evening Rituals for a Calming Night
Our busy days pull us in a million different directions. As a result, our bodies and minds stay revved up long after we finish our to-do lists. Establishing a daily rhythm (known as dinacharya in Ayurveda) can help us reclaim balance.
We’re often too exhausted to think much about our nightly habits. But our quality of sleep sets the tone for our entire day. Intentional evening rituals help us flow from busy day to restful sleep.
How can evening rituals improve my sleep?
Evening rituals quiet our “working” minds and signal it’s time to unwind. With simple, mindful practices, we can release the day and ground our energy. When bedtime rolls around, we’re calm, relaxed, and ready for shut eye.
In Ayurveda, Pitta dosha is active from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. During the day, Pitta energy helps you focus and get things done. At night, if Pitta is working over time, it interferes with restorative sleep. Have you ever had work dreams? Or dreams where you are in conflict in a personal relationship? Unfortunately, if you’re still awake – it can spark, not a second wind, but rather a second fire of productivity when we need to be asleep.
"Now I'm sleeping so well at night, naturally waking at 5:30. It's magical. I sleep so well at night, it's a huge change and I feel like a completely different person." A.D., USA
Ayurvedic evening rituals help us let go.
We all know the feeling of a frantic morning. We hit snooze, hit snooze again, and struggle to catch up the rest of the day. When we clock out and head home, it’s easy to stay in this frantic autopilot. Evening rituals help you break the cycle and reclaim your personal life.
If you recoil at the idea of adding anything else to your to-do list, don’t worry. Evening rituals are simply pathways to a supportive natural rhythm. You don’t need to follow a strict regimen; integrating even one or two of the following habits can change your life.
“We need to save ourselves. If we don’t, who will? If not now? When?” Receiving guidance specific to you will provide the greatest return on investment. A few simple, correct adjustments in lifestyle, result in significant improvements in mental and physical health. Read our client testimonials and see what changes our clients have created in their lives." – Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
1. Eat an Ayurvedic dinner
Too often, life drags us straight from work to dinner. We grab food on the run, or throw together whatever is easiest, turn on the TV, and tune out. But evening meals are a powerful opportunity to slow down, unwind, and connect.
Eat 2+ hours before bed: Give your body ample time to digest before you hit the hay. Late-night meals can cause indigestion and bathroom urges that interfere with sleep.
Eat something light and healthy: Eat your largest meal midday, when you’re most active. At dinnertime, small portions of healthy foods help ease the body. Start with our ginger carrot soup recipe or a room temperature quinoa salad.
Disconnect to reconnect: Set down the phone, turn off the TV, and connect with your family or roommates over dinner. Try not to vent about work or other stressors. Instead, find restoration in being present and of pleasant mind with your favorite people.
2. Make time for gentle movement
Take a peaceful nature walk after dinner to calm your mind and aid digestion. It’s a simple activity with huge benefits. Studies show regular strolls can help prevent issues like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even depression.
Download Walking for Health by Harvard Medical School to learn more about the power in your own two feet.
Gentle stretching is another powerful Ayurvedic evening ritual. These simple yoga poses help relieve stress, soothe nerves, and calm busy minds:
Viparita Karani (Legs Up Wall)
Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
3. Diaphragmatic breathing
Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life. Time to reclaim your calm by shifting from flight-fight-freeze mode, to the rest, restore, relax side of our nervous system.
What is so important about diaphragmatic breathing?
Breathing links us both to the mind and the body. And the more we pay attention to breathing by way of a gentle awareness, the more we can relax and find our mind concentrated. That’s where diaphragmatic breathing exercises come in.
Change my breath and it changes my life? It may seem an overly dramatic claim, yet it is not. Without breath, where is life? There are many sayings in English about breath, we lost our breath, we catch it, we hold it, we take a deep breath--yet the breath of life--meaning something one depends on, is among the most profound. Breath is not something we tend to connect with consciously yet is foundational in Ayurveda and to life itself.
4. Pranayama: Nadi Shodhana (Alternate nostril breathing)
Once diaphragmatic breathing is established as a habit, then alternate nostril breathing follows. Pranayama practices should not be attempted until diaphragmatic breathing is a well-established habit.
Alternate nostril breathing is one of the most effective pranayama exercises to relieve anxiety (Vata dosha), intensity (Pitta dosha) and dullness (Kapha dosha). This exercise can restore balance and put your body and mind at ease.
1. Bring the right hand to the nose, fold the index finger and the middle finger so the right thumb can be used to close the right nostril and the ring finger can be used to close the left nostril (vishnu mudra). Alternatively, you may place the index and middle fingers on the bridge of the nose between the eyes.
2. Close the passive nostril and exhale completely through the active nostril.
3. At the end of the exhalation, close the active nostril and inhale through the passive nostril slowly and completely. Inhalation and exhalation should be of equal duration.
4. Repeat this cycle of exhalation with the active nostril and inhalation with the passive nostril two more times.
5. At the end of the third inhalation with the passive nostril, exhale completely through the same nostril keeping the active nostril closed with the finger.
6. At the end of the exhalation, close the passive nostril and inhale through the active nostril.
7. Repeat two more times the cycle of exhalation through the passive nostril and inhalation through the active nostril.
To Sum Up Nadi Shodhana:
1. Exhale Active
2. Inhale Passive
3. Exhale Active
4. Inhale Passive
5. Exhale Active
6. Inhale Passive
7. Exhale Passive
8. Inhale Active
9. Exhale Passive
10. Inhale Active
11. Exhale Passive
12. Inhale Active
Return your hand to your thigh and exhale and inhale through both nostrils evenly for three complete breaths. This completes ONE cycle or round of the nadi shodhanam practice. It is customary to do three cycles or rounds of the practice.
Note: When practicing three rounds in one sitting, the second of the three rounds begins with the opposite nostril, and the pattern of alternation is therefore the reverse of rounds one and three. The third round is exactly the same as the first round.
Diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing practices are the key two foundational pranayama. Practiced consistently and in tandem with our guided practices, you will observe changes in your body and mind.
5. Brew a sleepytime Ayurveda drink
Some folks like a glass of wine or whiskey to unwind after a long day – but alcohol is actually linked to insomnia. Instead, anchor your evening rhythm with an Ayurvedic bedtime drink. Our calming night milk is a perfect sleep aid. Simply warm one cup of organic milk on the stove, and stir in the following spices:
½ cup organic milk
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
¼ teaspoon Cardamom
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon powder
⅛ teaspoon Nutmeg powder
While this calming drink is suitable for all dosha types, an Ayurvedic expert can uncover the best herbal blend for your unique constitution. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.
6. Massage the day away with Abhyanga or Ayurveda Self-Massage
Loving self-massage creates an inner haven from outer stressors. Oil massage has many health benefits, even if you have just a few minutes before bed.
Padabhyanga (Foot Massage)
Pressure points in our feet are connected to our whole body. Padabhyanga foot massage can release stress, anxiety, and muscle tension and help improve blood circulation. Warm up coconut oil, ghee, or sunflower oil and coat your ankles and feet.
Massage your entire foot - top and bottom - in a circular motion. (Don’t forget the toes!). Put on socks and rubber soled slippers if you have an uncarpeted area to avoid slipping, or wipe your feet off after 15 minutes.
Full Abhyanga Massage
Abhyanga self-massage is an evening ritual that helps shift your whole body into sleep mode. Learn how to perform Abhyanga massage that suits the time and energy you have available. An Ayurvedic consultant can provide a specialized herbal oil for even greater health benefits.
For a comprehensive read on Ayureda massage, Abhyanga Massage - How to Do Ayurveda Self-Massage at Home
7. Unwind with aromatherapy
Certain scents trigger physiological responses that can help us fall asleep. Aromatherapy is a fantastic Ayurvedic evening ritual that’s easy to incorporate into your nightly flow. There are several ways to use essential oils:
Mist your pillow with a spray
Add a few drops to a warm bath
Use in a steamy shower (or a cool one if you run hot)
Disperse with an oil diffuser
Soak a cotton ball and place by your bedside
While the following oils are always beneficial, certain scents are more balancing for the each dosha:
Vata: warm, sweet, and sour aromas. This includes: lavender; rose; clove; patchouli; and vanilla.
Pitta: sweet and cooling. This includes sandalwood and jasmine.
Kapha: warm, spicy, and stimulating. This includes camphor; juniper; eucalyptus; marjoram; and clove.
8. Practice healthy sleep hygiene Ayurveda style
Generally speaking, there are ideal sleep and rise times for vata, pitta, and kapha. However, what is correct for you will depend on your current state, symptoms, stage of life, and other factors that are assesed during an Ayurvedic consultation. For example, if someone is predominatly kapha, but they are in a depleted state from caregiving to parents in hospice, some additional rest may be needed.
Sunrise varies according to the seasons, but on average Vata people should get up about 6 a.m., Pitta people by 5:30 a.m., and Kapha by 4:30 a.m.
If your schedule is not ideal, adjust schedule gently, 15 minutes per week until you are at ideal waking time. If one week you are not able to manage the change well, repeat same time for one additional week.
According to Harvard Medical School, "Growing evidence suggests that poor sleep is linked to a host of health problems, including a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease."
Tomorrow started yesterday; and proper sleep hygiene is the key to a good night’s rest. Set a regular bedtime to attune your body to a daily rhythm. You can consult an experienced Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner to determine an ideal hour, but in general, you’ll want to get to bed before 10 p.m.
It’s hard to get shut-eye if you’re still wide awake. Start removing stimulation as you leave work. Practice our 2 minute meditation when you first sit in your car-take a moment to transition and let go. As you get home, continue to signal to yourself that it’s time to wind down. Avoid bright lights, loud music, email communications, and screens (TV, phone, computer) as much as possible after work.
Make your bedroom a sacred sleep space. Keep your phone out of the room (use a regular alarm clock if you need.) Hang darkening shades so street lights and passing cars don’t disturb you. And lower the thermostat to cool down and chill out.
Explore More: Ayurvedic Tips for Good Sleep
9. Downshift starting in the afternoon
Vata time starts around 2:00 in the afternoon and continues until about 6:00 p.m While we still may be at work, commuting, attending our child's activity, internally, we can begin to downshift, that is to say, relax and release. We've been at it at day, now it's time to embrace vata's quality of lightness and let go of intensity. Our outward actions may remain the same, but internally we have acknowledge the shift in the dosha tie of day, and we're aligning with it.
A few helpful Ayurveda tips: 1. Enjoy a small healthy protein and fat snack can be grounding, espeically helfpul for Vata and satiating for Pitta. A date roll with a schmeer of almond nutbutter is quick to make, travels well, and tastes great.
2. Organize your work so you're performing the more mundane tasks in the afternoon, and not the tasks that require the most of you.
3. If you can avoid rush hour by leaving a few minutes early or later, do it. Your nervous system will thank you.
4. Practice our Two Minute Meditation.
By time you arrive home for the evening, you'll be in a more relaxed state and by bedtime, following your Ayurvedic evening routine, you will be coasting in an effortless neutral state.
10. Embrace the Kapha time of the evening
Kapha is dominant from about 6:00p.m. to 10:00p.m. The energy of this time of evening is sweet, snuggly, soft, protected, and peaceful. Embrace this energy instead or bee-bopping around more. Reclaim evenings as your rejuvenation time. It's the perfect time relax and unwind by reading an inspirational book, disconnecting from screens, and simply being present to yourself and to those you with whom you share your life.
"Be embraced by Kapha's nourishing energy-it's the perfect balance to our typically overwhelming and intense days." - Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Being aligned with the qualities of Kapha time, naturally prepares us to be relaxed and ready to let go and slide into a good night's sleep.
There is a saying, "The mind is more in the body, than the body is in the mind." The Saumya 3 Step Meditation Process shifts us from fight-flight-freeze mode, to rest-restore-relax mode. Give it a try for forty days and observe the changes. The more grounded and relaxed we are, the smoother life flows.
"The breath is the connection between the mind and body, so by training the breath, we become calm, focused, and grounded, we slow down the aging process by decreasing stress. These practices are so simple and easy to have as part of our daily life. We actually feel and look younger."
- Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
1. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life. When we re-learn to breath diaphragmatically, we move from the flight-fight-freeze mode, to rest, restore, relaxation mode from where we want and need to live.
3. Ayurveda Daily Routines: --Ayurvedic Morning Routine | 6 Rituals for a Calm and Centered Day
"Choose a couple of practices from the routines that provide you with the greatest support. Perform them while applying our two minute meditation technique and your mundane tasks, just transformed into a mellifluous meditation. This is meditation applied to daily life." - Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
“Veena was able to help me regain my energy in just a few months and I’m feeling like my “young” self again! I love the food plan she designed for me, and all the supporting practices (am/pm routines, breathing techniques, herbs, and spice mixes) are so enjoyable to incorporate into my day. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda if you want to feel better and have more vitality.”
-Molly Rossini, Minnesota
Explore More: Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama
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Integrate a couple of our 10 Ayurvedic Evening Rituals for a Calming Night into your evening routine.
We all want to be heard, understood, and cared for as whole beings, not a set of isolated symptoms. True health is more than the absence of disease, which is why Western medicine so often leaves us feeling hopeless and unseen.
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“Veena was able to help me regain my energy in just a few months and I’m feeling like my “young” self again!
I love the food plan she designed for me, and all the supporting practices (am/pm routines, breathing techniques, herbs and spice mixes) are so enjoyable to incorporate into my day. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda if you want to feel better and have more vitality.” -Molly Rossini, Minnesota
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She has a wealth of knowledge for many different aspects of Ayurveda which helped me expand my own experience with the practice.
The treatment plans she devised, was very insightful and specifically designed and purposed for me and my situation--which I loved.
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Veena is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and meditation teacher, and monk.
She is President Emeritus of the Meditation Center and former staff member of the Minnesota Institute of Ayurveda.
Veena fell in love with the traditional medicine used in her family’s home learning herbal remedies at her grandmother's knee. She remains passionate for over 30 years, helping clients feel their best physically, emotionally, and spiritually with Ayurveda.
Veena individualizes treatment plans to each person, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach, so it fits your life and becomes woven into your daily life, naturally.
Vata (tan) and Kapha are our two newest members of the Saumya Ayurveda pack. After a light, early diinner, we all enjoy a walk. This helps us digest our meal and it is a perfect way to get end of the day gentle movement in as part of our evening ritual. The whole pack is ready to snuggle up (picture is worth a thousand words) and enjoy a calm night and a good restorative sleep.