Part of the reason Ayurveda places a strong emphasis on maintaining a regular routine is largely due to the damaging effects that irregular lifestyles have on our natural bio-rhythms. Our bodies have a wide variety of vital mechanisms associated with maintaining physical and psychological balance.
One significant function reliant upon regular cycles for example is the digestive system. Our body goes through a cycle of ingesting food, breaking down substances, and separating them into absorbable nutrients and waste products. During this process, various channels are responsible for delivering nutrients to the cells and bringing back waste products to be removed via the digestive and urinary tracts.
Ayurveda calls this mechanism dosha-gati, which is the process of vata, pitta and kapha moving from the digestive system into the bodily tissues and returning back to the digestive system. This perpetual cycle explains why the digestive activity is more chemically active, at certain times of the day.
You may have noticed yourself feeling very tired immediately after eating from time to time. This is due to the body requiring a higher concentration of enzymatic and acid activity to break down food substances in the stomach and small intestine. The exchange for increased acid in the stomach is a higher concentration of alkalinity in the form of bicarbonate ions in the bloodstream. This reduces systemic metabolic activity. This feeling of fatigue is a result of weak digestive and metabolic fire; therefore one may experiences lethargy shortly after ingesting food.
To harmonize this tidal flow of substances moving in and out of the body and to strengthen digestive and metabolic potency, Ayurveda encourages regular routine. This gives the body adequate time to effectively balance itself.
Ideally, we eat; digestive juices are formed and nutritional substances are separated from waste products; they are absorbed into the channels of circulation and the tissue and metabolic functions are maintained; metabolic waste products are returned to the channels of elimination and effectively expelled from the system. The previous substances of this process in the form of dosha contribute to the digestion of the next meal and newly assimilated nutrients along with the doshas move back into the body to supply proper nourishment and energy to the cells and the process continues.
If there is poor routine this natural biological cycle is disrupted and will lead to imbalance, accumulation of ama, and eventually disease.
The most effective way we can support this process is to maintain regularity with the times we eat, the times we go to the toilet, and the times we sleep. If this remains consistent, we give our body and mind the best chance of proper nourishment and effective removal of waste products, reducing the accumulation of morbid substances, and preserving homeostasis.