The Awakening of Waking Up Early. ~ Ripa Ajmera

 ajmera feature photo

 Harmony and Nature: Meeting the Sun

One of the greatest gifts I have received from the amazing art and science of Ayurveda is connecting with the abundant blessings of nature early each morning. Ayurveda is all about restoring our harmony with nature. In Ayurveda, we understand “nature” as both the macrocosm (the wider world we inhabit), and the microcosm (our internal world of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations). Ayurveda teaches us that we are eternally connected to one another, and to our universe at large. Therefore, in understanding our innermost nature, we can gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the world around us.

The ancient Rishis (sages) from India spent entire lifetimes living in remote woods to learn directly from Mother Nature some of her most jealously guarded secrets. From the depth of their meditations, they discovered that there are three gunas, or qualities, that pervade the entire universe.

Tamas guna can be best characterized by the triple Ds (that we DON’T want!): darkness, depression, and denial. Tamas is like a thick covering that veils the world around us with a dark, heavy cloak of negativity. Tamas is essentially inertia. It governs the realm of the unconscious mind, and is responsible for addictions and many criminal activities.

Rajas guna is connected with action, passion, and motion. We need this guna to counteract the force of tamas. Rajas, out of balance, however, can cause anger, violence, anxiety, and ultimately exhaustion, which naturally leads into tamas.

Sattva guna is the quality we are all, consciously or unconsciously, seeking. Sattva guna is associated with clarity, purity, peace, balance, harmony, health, happiness, and universal love. Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedanta explain that the nature of the soul encased within each being is sattva. The true nature of even the darkest criminal is sattva.

One of the best ways I’ve learned to counteract depression, connect with nature, and increase sattva guna in my own life is by waking up early. Rising during what is called as Brahmamuhurta (between 4-6am) helps destroy the twin demons of rajas and tamas. This is because Brahmamuhurta has been known by Yogis since time immemorial to be a spiritually elevated and charged time when sattva guna is dominant in the universe.

Ayurveda and its sister science of Yoga teach us how deeply our lives are interconnected with the Sun’s cycles. We are all solar powered creatures, and thus, we learn from Ayurveda the importance of sleeping early (ideally by 10pm) so that we can rise early to greet the Sun. The Sun (called “Surya” in Sanskrit) is a symbol of the strength, light, and power of one’s own soul. Every morning, since ancient times, Yogis have performed various rituals honoring the external Sun, as it reflects the eternal, which is really internal—the soul within is what we seek to connect with in this lifetime.

I have been fortunate to learn many profound Sun worship rituals from my Ayurveda teacher. One of these is an ancient ritual called Sandhya Vandanam, which is performed each morning to honor the Sun. In practicing Sandhya Vandanam regularly, I can feel the powerful impact it has had, and continues to have, on my mind, body, and emotions, and in connecting me with my own soul.

In the Indian spiritual tradition, we believe that the purpose of our human birth is to realize who we really are—which is the eternal soul, as reflected by the light of the Sun. Waking up before the sun, to prepare to greet the external manifestation of our internal, eternal soul, is a wonderful way to connect with the light within ourselves. Connecting with our own light enables us to start to see and connect with the light within others—and thus the beginning of heaven on earth! We start to see that no one is our enemy any longer—only a reflection of our true selves. A paradigm shift begins to occur, over time.

For those who may be feeling inspired to start waking up early, but are intimidated by the idea of rising between 4-6am (I was!), I recommend transitioning in stages. Sudden, dramatic change is generally unsustainable—so start slowly. Try going to sleep 15-30 minutes earlier tonight, so you can wake up 15-30 minutes earlier, and keep steadily working your way back.

I receive so many blessings and continue to feel a deeper part of myself awakening from rising early each day that I can’t ever even imagine going back to my former night owl life. I thus would love to invite you to join me in this exciting journey of awakening from waking up early.

Wishing abiding health, harmony, and happiness to one and all.


Relephant Links:

5 Top Health Questions with Ayurveda’s Dr. John Douillard.

The Seven Gifts of Ayurveda.

What We Didn’t Know About the Seasons & Ayurveda.


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Editorial Assistant: Edith Lazenby / Editor: Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: San Francisco Chronicle via Flickr

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Marsi's Aug 5, 2014 11:36pm

3 days out of the week I wake at 4:30 am for work. On my days off I got into the habit of sleeping later, sometimes not rising until 9am. And I feel the difference and it is a feeling that lingers all day. Sluggish, often depressed and tired. Granted on work days it can be challenging those first few moments but once I start moving I can actually feel myself get energized. I started getting up early, by at least 5:30am, on my days off and find I accomplish more, I am in better spirits, and my thoughts are clear.

Vinay R Shastri Jun 25, 2014 5:17am

Dear Ripa-ji,

Pranam. Your article is inspiring! Will keep trying to set the clock back step by step to 'brahma-muhuratam'. Need your blessings for that.

I can't imagine where I would have slumped without these ancient wisdom. Likewise, I want it to reach the needy and hence I have started compiling articles on yoga and meditation. I refer your articles. Need your permission 'kripa' and 'asheervaad' for this endevour.

Bowing down,

Ripa May 8, 2014 2:03pm

Thank you so much, Janne! Would love to read your poem of gratitude for the morning…I, too, have been loving your feed, Janne. So glad we are connected thru the world wide web of elephant!


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Ananta Ripa Ajmera

Ananta Ripa Ajmera is author of “The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World’s Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Less Stress, Optimal Digestion, and More” (Storey Publishing, 2017). She is a Certified Ayurveda Health Practitioner and Yoga Instructor who continues to study closely with Acharya Shunya, a renowned master teacher whose lineage extends back to ancient India. She serves as Director of Branding and Yoga Studies at Vedika Global, a foundation Acharya Shunya established to awaken health and consciousness with Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta. She has taught Ayurveda at Stanford School of Medicine’s Health Improvement Program, California Department of Public Health, UNICEF, Mother Earth News Fair, NY Insight Meditation Society, NYU, SFSU, and is certified to teach Ayurveda staff trainings at all prisons and police departments in California. Ananta has spoken at ABC News, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), Columbia Business School, UC Berkeley, Silicon Valley’s Health Technology Forum, and the Social Innovation Summit. Her work has been featured on Fox 5 News, Good Day NY, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, and Elephant Journal. She graduated from NYU Stern Business School, where she received an honors degree in marketing and was a Catherine B. Reynolds Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship. Learn more at Whole Yoga & Ayurveda.