Understanding the seasonal routine, called Ritucharya in Ayurveda is very important to prevent diseases associated with it. These lifestyle diseases are linked with the way people lead their day to day life.
Lifestyle diseases are commonly caused by unhealthy lifestyle habits like excess alcohol, drugs and smoking as well as lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. These diseases include heart ailments, stroke, obesity, type II diabetes, depression, metabolic syndrome, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and many more…
Let’s understand Ritucharya:
Ritucharya is the 3rd chapter of the Ashtanga hridayasamhita, the Ancient ayurvedic scripture. Ritu means season & charya means Regimen or discipline. Ritucharya is a principle based on blending with nature. Ritucharya consist of the lifestyle & diet regimen to cope up with the influences caused by seasonal changes. Ritucharya helps us to increase our physical as well as mental strength to fight back any diseases that may occur due to seasonal changes. It also balances all the three doshas in our body and keeps us fit and healthy all year long. (To know more about what doshas are and how they affect you, read my earlier blog on it. Click here.)
6 seasons according to Ayurveda:
Ayurveda divides a year of 12 months into 2 kaals (time periods)
Each kaal consist of 3 seasons which gives total of 6 seasons in a year. These 6 seasons are precisely found in Indian subcontinent.
1. Aadaan Kaal / Northern solstice / Uttarayana (14 January to 14 July)
The sun and wind become increasingly powerful during this period. The Sun takes away the strength of the people, and the cooling qualities of the earth. The Sun gives hot and dry qualities to living beings and plants. In this period the increasing heat reduces strength of individuals.
Winter (Shishira) Mid-January to Mid-March
During this period kapha increases, severe cold and dryness occurs.
Spring (Vasanta) Mid-March to mid-May
Kapha which has undergone increase in Shishira (cold season) becomes liquefied and aggravates by the heat of the Sun in Vasanta (spring). It drops the digestive fire (Agni) and gives rise to many diseases.
Summer (Grishma) Mid-May to mid-July
In Grisma (summer) the sun rays become powerful and appear to be destructive. Kapha decreases day by day and Vata increases consequently.
2. Visarga kaal / Southern solstice / Dakshinayana (14 July to 14 January)
During this period the moon is more powerful, the earth is cooled due to clouds, rain and cool wind. Our digestive power / agni is good during this period. Food is more nourishing and strengthening.
Monsoon (Varsha) Mid-July to Mid-September
In rainy season, the agni (digestive fire) is weak. It further undergoes decreasing and gets destroyed by the Doshas. The Doshas get aggravated by the effect of thick clouds full of water, cold winds, dirty rainy water, warmth of the earth and sourness. The poor strength of digestive fire the Doshas start destroying one another and this causes many diseases.
Autumn/Fall (Sharat) Mid-September to mid-November
Our bodies become used to the cold temperatures of rainy season. When the body gets suddenly exposed to the warm rays of Sun, the Pitta, becomes greatly aggravated during sharath (autumn).
Late autumn/Winter (Hemanta) Mid-November to mid-January
During Hemantha, the people are strong, digestive fire becomes powerful, because it gets obstructed from flowing outward due to external winter. Like fire consumes the things which come into its contact, digestive fire may cause weakness of body tissues.
How to follow Ritucharya if you are living in a western countries, where only 4 seasons are considered:
Seasonal changes have effects on all living beings around the world. The six seasons stated by Ayurveda are very easy to understand. There is a separation of each of the Summer and Winter seasons between their wet and a dry parts. It makes two seasons of each, (an early and late) Winter and (an early and late) Summer. For the people from the western countries, add to these your normal Spring and Autumn seasons and you have 6 seasons, instead of 4 as follows.
Late winter – Spring – Early Summer (Aadaan kaal / Northern solstice)
Late summer – Autumn/fall – Early winter (Visarga kaal / Southern solstice)
From the above explanation, you must have got an idea about what Ritucharya is, and its effects on our doshas and health.
In my next blog I am going to write about lifestyle and diet changes one should make for each seasonal change to prevent diseases which may occur with that particular seasonal change. These lifestyle and diet changes will also balance your doshas and will keep you healthy and strong .
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