We are products of nature and are therefore a part of nature, not separate or above it. The same energies or doshas that give us our distinctive traits and features also flow through nature. These Doshas ebb and flow according to the changing seasons, which is why our diets and lifestyles need to be in harmony with the changing seasons.
Importance of Ritucharya
Failing to follow an appropriate diet and lifestyle according to the seasons can result in Dosha imbalances that give rise to a variety of health problems. Fortunately, Ayurveda provides us with a detailed guide called Ritucharya that derives from the Sanskrit terms for season and to follow – Ritu and Charya.
Traditionally, the year is divided into two periods with three seasons in each – six seasons in a year. While this would be the ideal practice to follow, most of us today are only familiar with the three distinct seasons of summer, monsoons and winter, so that’s where we shall focus.
Ritucharya Practices for Each Season
Grishma (summer) Ritucharya:
The heat of summer is associated with the months of April to June with the Doshas of Pitta and Vata dominating the season. The season, therefore, bears their characteristic qualities of heat and dryness, increasing the risk of Pitta and Vata aggravation in the body. At the same time, Agni or digestive fire is in a mild state during the season.
- Opt for sweet, light and cooling foods.
- Include plenty of water, fruit juices and cooling herbs like mint.
- Avoid sour, pungent and heating foods.
- Include fresh fruit and veggies such as cucumber, melons and leafy greens in your diet.
- Practice regular Abhyanga with herbal oils to protect your skin.
- Try Shirodhara to relax and relieve your body from the chaotic effects of summer.
Varsha (monsoon) Ritucharya:
The monsoons typically begin in June and last until September, dominated by the earth and fire energies associated with both Kapha and Pitta. There is a risk of Vata aggravation as the Dosha accumulates during summer, while pitta now starts to accumulate. At the same time, the wet conditions dampen the strength of your agni.
- Opt for salty, sour and oil foods.
- Slowly transition towards heavy foods as your Agni gets a chance to regain strength.
- Avoid raw foods and try to consume freshly cooked meals that are warm or hot.
- Support your digestive fire with hot soups and herbs like ginger.
- Try Panchakarma treatment to cleanse and purify your body.
Shishira (winter) Ritucharya:
The cold and dry features of winter typically last from November to early March, peaking with a wet and cold atmosphere during January and February. This season is primarily dominated by the Dosha of Kapha and Vata to an extent, making us vulnerable to Kapha and Vata disorders, while Agni requires greater strength to maintain one’s health.
- Favor foods that are sweet, sour and salty.
- Include more fatty foods and fermented foods in your diet.
- Use warming spices like ginger and pepper.
- Avoid all cold foods and those with astringent qualities.
- Include whole dairy foods, root vegetables, fruits like apples and whole grains like wheat.
- Practice Abhyanga with warmed oils to maintain skin hydration.
- Try Swedana to help detoxify the body.
Keep in mind that this is just a simplified overview of the Ayurvedic seasonal guide or Ritucharya. For more detailed and personalized recommendations, you should consult an Ayurvedic practitioner.