The word “Ritucharya” is derived from two Sanskrit words, “Ritu” meaning “season” and “charya” meaning “discipline” or “regimen”. Thus, Ritucharya refers to the changes in lifestyle and diet to cope with seasonal changes as recommended by Ayurveda. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that one can notice a connection between changes in seasons and changes in our bodies. As temperatures reduce, we tend to move indoors and rest and sleep more. Many people even notice a change in body weight: a few extra kgs during winter and equally leaner During summer. According to Ayurveda, this is our body’s adaptability to keep our bodies healthier. One important change that our body goes through is the digestive process or ‘digestive fire’. Also known as Agni (Sanskrit for “Fire”), digestive fire is responsible for converting food into energy which our body uses for its everyday functioning.
Ayurveda also says that a balanced state of body and mind helps us lead a healthy life. But with all the adjustments our body makes with every season change, how can we be sure that our body is keeping the important elements of the body – doshas, dhatus, agni, and mala – balanced?
Let’s dig deep into what Ayurveda has to say about this.
Different seasons according to Ayurveda
In common terminology, we can classify the different seasons as – Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Fall, and Winter. However, in ayurvedic terms, the three seasons are Vata, Pitta, Kapha. The doshas not only govern our body’s constitution but everything else in the cosmos as well.
Mid-Fall to Early Winter
Mid-Winter to Early Spring
Mid-Spring to Early Fall
Understanding the qualities of each season can help us reduce any adverse health effects. Our predominant dosha increases during the season it governs, so take care to choose foods and activities that will pacify and not aggravate it.
If we dig in deeper, then Ayurveda classifies the year into two Ayana (solstice) depending on the movement of the sun – Uttarayana and Dakshinaya. Each Ayana is formed of three seasons (Ritus). Therefore, the entire year comprises six seasons – Shishira, Vasanta, Grishma i.e., Winter, Spring, and Summer in Uttarayan (Northern Solstice) & Varsha, Sharata and Hemanta as Monsoon, Autumn and Late Autumn in Dakshinayana (Winter Solstice).
Let’s look at each season and the suggested lifestyle during those seasons.
Vata Season (Hemanta and Shishira)
Ayurveda characterises the Vata Season as dry, rough, harsh, irregular, light, and cold – something we can feel from the months of Mid November to Mid-March (In India). The weather turns cold, and the winds get dryer and harsher with every passing day. During this time, you must watch out for dry skin, improper digestion, and turbulent energy levels.
Eat Warm and Moist Food
During Vata season, we must eat warm, moist foods – soups, stews, and root veggies. One must avoid raw and cold foods – i.e., keep salads and cold snacks for summer. Dietary options should include – cereals and pulses, new rice, corn, flour preparations, green gram, Ginger, Garlic, Haritaki, etc. Include foods such as meat, fats, milk and milk products, sugarcane products, sesame oil and seeds in your diet.
Stick to Warm/Hot Beverages
Starting your day with a cup of warm water and finishing your tiring day with a cup of ginger lemon honey tea is the ideal routine for this season. These help in boosting the metabolism by igniting the ‘Agni’ of our body.
Maintain Your Routine
A healthy routine is a life hack for all seasons – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Practising Yoga and meditation are always beneficial. Sleeping late at night should be avoided and soaking in some sunlight during the day is highly recommended.
Kapha Season (Vasanta and Grishna)
According to Ayurveda, the Kapha Season ranges from the months of Mid-March to Mid-June (In India). This season is considered as the season of flowering and blooming during March and then transcends to a season with intense health and hot waves aka. Summer loo because of which the weather is really hot and even the river bodies dry up. The digestive fire is in a manda state during this time.
Eat easily digestible foods
During Kapha season, one can switch to beverages like coconut water, buttermilk, fresh juices and more. Dietary options should include – old barley, wheat, rice, lentils, mugda and others. To aid digestion, improve strength and improve the digestive fire honey should be added to the diet as well. Stews and soups can also be eaten. Steamed veggies and light food are highly recommended. Eating seasonal fruits is also an important part of keeping yourself healthy during this season.
Self-care is important
A healthy routine is a life hack for all seasons – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Practising Yoga and meditation are always beneficial. During this season, it is recommended to stay in cool places and apply aromatic pastes like sandalwood, jasmine, etc to the body. Enjoying an occasional siesta and wearing light and airy clothes also helps one stay comfortable and prevent skin problems. At nighttime, one can indulge in enjoying the night sky and take in some moon rays.
Pitta Season (Varsha and Sharata)
According to Ayurveda, the Pitta Season ranges from the months of Late June to Late October (In India). The weather transforms from cloudy skies and heavy rains during July to clear skies and a wet and moist atmosphere in September. During the Varsha season, the body strength decreases, and the digestive fire is also kindled. As we move to the Sharata season, the strength as well as the digestive fir increase.
Eat easily digestible foods
During Pitta season, one should avoid hot, bitter and astringent foods. Moreover, one should also avoid fats, oils, meat from aquatic animals, and curd. Dietary options should include – wheat, green gram, honey, and meat from dry land. One should also take sun-charged water, medicated water or boiled water during this season.
Indulging in natural healing
A healthy routine is important to keep one’s body healthy. Ayurveda recommends practicing yoga and taking out some time to meditate. One should only eat when hungry and should also avoid heavy foods. Ayurveda advises to use warm water for bathing and apply body oils after that. Also, avoid afternoon naps, getting wet in the rain, and doing excessive exercise. Bowls with flower petals and freshwater help spread positive energy. Use of sandalwood, rose, jasmine and other essentials oils also helps spread good energy in the house as well as in the body. One should also practice ayurvedic procedures such as Virechana and Rakhta-Mokshan during this season.
As seasons change, our bodies adapt to keep us healthy and safe from external factors that could have adverse effects on our health. Ayurveda suggests specific lifestyle routines/practices for each of the six seasons, this is referred to as Ritucharya. The purpose of these practices is to pacify certain doshas that tend to increase those times. Moreover, staying connected to the natural rhythm of life keeps us closer to the planet, to nature and to ourselves – which automatically helps us heal through any problem whether mental or physical.
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