Ritucharya- The Ayurvedic Seasonal Regimen

By Arya Krishna

 

Ayurveda, the science of life emphasizes both on the preventive and curative aspects of diseases. The basic principle followed is ‘Swasthasyaswaasthyarakshanam, aathurasyavikaaraprashamanam’, which means to maintain the health of healthy, and to cure the diseases of the diseased. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle Ayurveda advises to follow Dinacharya (daily regimen) and Ritucharya (seasonal regimen).

Ritucharya has been discussed in first few chapters in all the major classics of Ayurveda. The reason being, prevention of disease to maintain health is the first and foremost aim of the holistic science of Ayurveda. Acharya Charaka says “The strength and complexion of the person knowing & practicing the suitable diet and regimen for every season is accordingly enhanced” [Ref Cha.Sa #3]

The year according to Ayurveda is divided in to two Kaala.

  • Adana kaala which constitutes Shishira (Winter) , Vasantha (Spring) and Grishma (Summer)
  • Visarga Kaala which constitutes Varsha (Rainy season), Sharath (Autumn) and Hemantha (Extreme winter)

Because of the nature of the path, both the Sun and wind become very strong, powerful and dry during Adana Kaala. It takes away all the cooling qualities of the earth. Bitter, Astringent and Pungent tastes (Tikta, Kashaya and Katu Rasas) will be more powerful, respectively, in the successive Ritus. Hence Adana Kala is dominated by fire. The strength of people generally decreases during this time.

During Visarga Kala, the Sun releases strength of the people. Here moon is more powerful, earth is cooled down due to clouds, rain and cold wind. Sour, Salt and Sweet (Amla, Lavana and Madhura)  tastes are dominant respectively during the three seasons of this period.

 Hemantha Ritucharya/ Winter Regimen

Picture Credits: www.consumerhealthdigest.com
Picture Credits: www.consumerhealthdigest.com

Properties of Hemantha Ritu

Mid-November to Mid-January is considered as Hemanta Ritu. Predominant Rasa is Madhura and the predominant Mahabhutas are Prithivi (earth)and Apa (water) . The strength of a person remains on highest grade and vitiated Pitta Dosha gets pacified. Activity of Agni is increased i.e person will have increased digestive fire. Nights will be longer.

Diet and Activity Regimen

Food prepared with wheat flour, black gram products of sugarcane and of milk, food prepared from freshly harvested corn, muscles, fat and edible oils should be used.

Meat of well-nourished animals, meat soup, wine prepared of jaggery can also be included in diet.

Due to increased digestive fire, food predominant in sweet and sour taste and which is heavy for digestion is advised.

Body massage with oils alleviating Vata dosha, exercise, fumigation with Aguru (Aquilaria agallocha) and bathing in hot water is advised during this season.

 

Shishira Ritucharya

The same diet and regimen of Hemantha Ritu is advised for Shishira Ritu as well. The intensity of cold and dryness will be more in this season.

 

Vasantha Ritucharya

Picture Credits: www.msricaim.com
Picture Credits: www.msricaim.com

Properties of Vasantha Ritu

The approximate duration is mid march to mid may. This is basically considered as flowering season. Vitiation of Kapha dosha occurs during this period. Kashaya will be the predominant rasa. Strength of persons will be medium.

Diet and Activity Regimen

One should take easily digestible foods.

Cereals-Old Barley, Wheat and Rice

Pulses- Lentils, Horse gram

Food items with Kashaya (astringent) , Tikta (bitter) and Katu (pungent) tastes can be used.

Honey should be included in diet. Easily digestible meat can be used.

One can take bath in warm water, can perform mild exercise, can do powder massage during this season. Day sleep is contraindicated during this season.

Panchakarma procedures like Vamana (emesis) and Virechana (purgation) is advised.

 

Grishma Ritucharya

Source: www.hollyhocklife.com
Source: www.hollyhocklife.com

Properties of Grishma Ritu

Mid-May to Mid-July is considered as Grishma Ritu. This is basically summer season; increased heat decreases the strength of person. Agni of the person remains in mild state. The predominant rasa is Katu (astringent). Kapha dosha gets pacified during this season.

Diet and Activity Regimen

Drink plenty of water, buttermilk etc in this season.

Food which is easily digested should be taken like rice, lentils etc.

Milk intake is ideal in this season.

Wearing light dresses and sleep during day time is advised.

Exercise, sexual indulgence, intake of alcohol should be avoided.

External application of sandalwood paste is ideal during this season, which provides cooling effect to the body.

VARSHA RITU

Picture Credits: www.fitnhit.com
Picture Credits: www.fitnhit.com

Properties of Varsha Ritu

Mid-July to Mid-September is considered as Varsha Ritu. The digestive fire will be weakened and measures should be adopted to increase the activity of digestive fire. The predominant rasa is Amla. Vata dosha gets vitiated and Pitta dosha also increases during this season.

Diet and Activity Regimen

Foods having Amla (sour) and Lavana (salty) rasa can be taken

Cereals- Old grains, Barley, Wheat and Rice

Meat soup can be taken.

Boiled or medicated water should be taken

Hot water for taking body bath after oil application is indicated.

Panchakarma procedure Basti is indicated during this season to alleviate vitiated Vata dosha.

Sleep during day time, sexual indulgence, exposure to cold, rain and wind is contraindicated during this season.

 

SHARATH RITU

Picture Credits: www.happyfit.net.au
Picture Credits: www.happyfit.net.au

Properties of Sharath Ritu

Mid-September to Mid-November is considered as Sharath Ritu. The predominant rasa is lavana. The person’s strength remains medium and Vata pacification takes place during this period. Aggravation of Pitta may also happen.

Diet and Activity Regimen

Foods that pacify pitta can be taken.

Wheat, Grams, Sugar etc have to be included in the diet.

Milk, butter, fully ripened sweet fruits like Melon, Grapes, Pears and Mangoes are good. Also, vegetables like Cucumber, Zucchini, Asparagus etc. can be used.

Food should be taken only when feeling properly hungry.

Panchakarma procedures like Virechana (purgation) and Rakthamokshana (bloodletting) are advised during this season.

External application of sandalwood paste is good.

Getting exposed to moonlight is advised during this season.

Exposure to sunlight, day sleep, excessive eating is contraindicated during this season.

Ayurveda systematically describes how the diet & activity of the previous season be gradually discontinued and that of the subsequent season be adapted to avoid diseases due to seasonal changes.  Ayurveda promises a strong, disease-free and healthy life to every individual who devotedly follows the Ritucharya.

 

 

   About the Author

Dr Arya Krishnaarya-krishna

Associate Editor,

American Journal of Ayurveda

Team Member,

Healthconnect 24

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-arya-krishna-872b7ba4

 

 

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