One of the components I love of Ayurveda art and science is the attunement to the earth’s changes. For example, it considers the proper time, hour and season to collect medicines, change diet, go into purification and even when conceiving a child.

The art and science of considering the changes of seasons are called ritucharya. In this article, I would like to give you an overview of the Vedic teachings and some suggestions on facing the seasonal changes.

As per Charak Samhita, if a person follows a diet and routine according to the season, the intensity of his health is improved. So, Ritucharya is the best Ayurvedic practice. It comprises two words, “Rita” which means season and “Charya” which means discipline. Ritucharya in Ayurveda tells us to increase our mental capacity and build our physical strength to fight ailments which can happen due to seasonal changes. So, it balances all three doshas and keeps us fit and healthy.

The 2 Main times that Ritucharya consider

There are 2 Kaalas (time period) in a year. Each kaal has three seasons; collectively, there is a total of 6 seasons in a year. Each season is for two months and is found in the Indian subcontinent.  However, we truly can observe in other parts of the planet drastic and very distinctive seasons., Let’s examine them more closely:

The two main seasons (kaalas) are Adaam Kaal, related to the northern Solstice ( 14 Jan to July 14) and Visarga Kaal related to the Southern Solstice ( July 14 to Jan 14)

1. Adaan Kaal/Northern Solstice/Uttaryana (14 Jan. to 14 July) 

Adaan Kaal has 3 subdivisions:

  I). Shishir Ritu(winter) (Mid Jan. to Mid-March)

  ii). Vasant Ritu (Spring) (Mid-March to Mid-May)

 iii). Grishma Ritu (Summer) (Mid May to Mid-July)

2. Visarga Kaal/Southern Solstice/Dakshin Ayana (14 July to 14 Jan.)

Visarga Kaal has also 3 subdivisions:

  I). Varsha Ritu (Monsoon) (Mid July to Mid-September)

  ii). Sharad Ritu (Autumn) (mid-Sept. to Mid-November)

 iii). Hemant Ritu (Late Autumn/Pre-Winter) (Mid November to Mid Jan.)

What they are and suggested changes to keep balance in the change of seasons.

Adaan Kaal/ Northern Solstice/ Uttaryana

The sun and wind are potent during this season. This season provides balmy and parched qualities and absorbs energy and strength from plants & humans.

  1. Shishir Ritu (Winter)

The weather remains cold and windy during this season. As a result, people become sluggish and less energetic. This is because the deposition of kapha dosha occurs in the body, and Agni(catabolism) remains in a higher state.

Diet Routine: – Food like Amla prefers wheat/gram flour items, cereals, and pulses; corn is also suggested. Ginger, garlic, pippali (product of piper longum), sugarcane items, milk, and milk products are also incorporated into the eating regimen.

Food Having Tkta(bitter), Katu(Pungent), kashaya(astringent) dominating are to be kept away. Shita(cool), Lagu(light) foods should also be avoided.

LifeStyle: – Few things are essential to keep your body balanced like a massage with oil or paste. Shower with tepid water, exposure to sunlight and wearing warm clothes.

  1. Vasant Ritu (Spring)

This is the season of origin of new leaves and flowers. Mahabhuta and rasa during this season are kashaya(astringent) and prithvi and vayu. The strength of an individual remains medium during this season, vitiation of kapha dosha occurs and Agni i.e. (digestion power) remains low.

Diet Routine: – Easily digest able food should be taken in this season in which wheat, rice, old barley, cereals are suggested. Bitter, kattu(pungent), kashaya(astringent) tasting items should be taken. Honey can also be added.

 Cold, heavy and viscous food should be avoided.

LifeStyle: – Exercising is very important during this season. Massage with Chandan(sandalwood), Kesara (saffron), and Aagaru ( Oudh), and bathing with tepid water are considered ideal. Anjana (collyrium) and evacuative therapies like Vamana and Nasya are recommended. Sleeping during day time should be avoided.

  1. Grishma Ritu (Summer)

It is an intensely hot season full of unhealthy winds. The water of wells, lakes, and rivers dries up, and plants become lifeless. Deposition of Vata Dosha occurs, and Kapha Dosha becomes relaxed. Agni of an individual remains in a mild state. Amla(Sour), Lavana and Katu(pungent) tastes and warm food should not be taken.

Diet Routine: – Food which is light in a process like those having Snigdha (unctuous), Madhura(sweet), sheeta(cool) and Drava(fluid) Guna, for example, lentil and rice should be eaten. Drinking fluids like cold water, fruit juices, buttermilk, mango juice and a lot of water is advised. Before sleep, milk with little sugar should also be taken.

LifeStyle: – Stay at cool places, apply sandalwood paste over the body, decorate the house with blossoms, wear light clothes and nap during the day are suggested. Too much exercise and hard work, and alcoholic drinks should be avoided.

Visarga Kaal/ Souther Solstice/Dakshinayana

  1. Varsha Ritu (Monsoon)

It is the season of rain. The sky is always cloudy, and rain happens during this season. The wells, lakes, and rivers are again full of water. Rasa and Mahabhuta are Amla(sour), Prithvi, and Agni, respectively. An individual’s strength becomes weak during this season. Agni gets vitiated, and variation of Vata Dosha and deposition of Pitta Dosha are prominent.

Diet Routine: – Foods having the taste of Amla(tasty), Lavana(salty) and sneha(unctuous) should be taken. Old barley, wheat, rice, etc., are advised among grains. Soups can also be added to a daily diet. Boiled water is always preferred in this season.

Exclusive fluid and water should be avoided.

Lifestyle: – Massaging with oil and bathing with boiled water is advised during this season. Medicated basti(enema) is prescribed as an evaluative measure to expel vitiated doshas.

Exercising, napping during the day, drenching in the rain, and hard work are important things to avoid.

  1. Sharad Ritu

The sun turns out to be splendid. The sky is clear, but sometimes white clouds can be seen. The earth is smeared with wet mud. The transcendent Mahabhutas are Apa and Agni, and the prevalent Rasa is Lavana(salty). The appeasement of vitiated Vats Dosha and the vitiation of Pitta Dosha happens, and the movement of Agni increases during this season. 

Diet Routine: – Foods that have Tikta(sharp) and Madhura(sweet) taste and Laghu (light to process) and food with cold properties should be taken. Green gram, wheat, sugar-sweet, etc., should be incorporated into your eating routine.

Hot, sweet, bitter and astringent foods should be avoided. In addition, food products which contain fat oils, meat and curd should be excluded.

LifeStyle: – It is considered that the moonbeams in the initial 3 hours of the night are very favourable. So one should take water sanitized by the moon’s beams for drinking and bathing. Apply the paste of Chandana is also recommended. Restorative methods like purgation, Raktamokshna(phlebotomy), etc., should be done during this season.

Excessive eating, napping during the day and exposure to sunlight should be avoided.

  1. Hemant Ritu (Late Autumn/Pre-winter)

Cool breezes start to blow and feel chilliness. The Rasa dominating is Madhura, and the Mahabhutas are Prithvi and Apa. An individual’s strength and energy stay at the highest level, and vitiated Pitta Dosha gets assuaged. The movement of Agni is also increased.

Diet Routine: – Unctuous, salty, sweaty, tasty foods should be added to the diet. Rice pulses, green gram, and Masha are advised to be taken. Fats, milk and milk products, shidhu (Fragmented preparations), sugarcane items, Tila (Sesame), etc., are to be incorporated into the eating regimen.

Dry foods and vata aggravating food like laghu(light) cool are advised to have stayed away.

Lifestyle: – Living in warm places, exercising head and body massage, Atapa Sevana (Sun Bath) use of warm water, and substantial garments are suggested. Exposure to cold and strong winds and napping during the day should be avoided.