Ritucharya is an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle regimen or “Charya” that one should practice for each respective “Ritu” to stay healthy and better fare the seasonal changes.
Every season or “Ritu” has different features and hence varied effects on our bodies and environment! A lot of us struggle in one particular season or the other, where change in temperature, humidity levels, or wind wreaks a havoc on our health and we succumb to illness.
Ritucharya – A seasonal routine to combat Illness and Health Disorders
The seasonal changes in temperature and humidity allow certain Dosha to aggravate, or accumulate, or pacify. Since every individual has a unique Prakriti or body constitution, hence these changes affect different individuals differently. Every season brings prominence of different tastes and attributes in all living beings.
Ritucharya is the seasonal routine, involving guidelines on lifestyle, foods, and their modes of consumption for every season. Depending on one’s place of residence, one needs to follow Ritucharya guidelines.
This allows the body to well adapt to the seasonal changes that accompany the place where you are living. It also helps one to prevent the illnesses, allergies, infections, and related health disorders.
The Six Seasons – An Ayurvedic View
Sun’s position and movement affects the characteristics of the environment, hence seasons are defined based on their specific features. These seasonal changes are observed predominantly in the Indian subcontinent.
Each year is divided into two semester or “Ayana” based on Sun’s direction and each semester has three seasons. Each season has two months and season transition happens for fifteen days, covering one week of each season from end to beginning. Northern Solstice is termed as Uttarayana and Southern Solstice is termed as Dakshinayana.
Uttarayana – The Sun is strong and body is weak!
In Uttarayana, the Sun ascends or moves northwards from Mid Jan to Mid July. This brings warmness and dryness in the weather. High temperature, strong and dry winds reduce the strength and moisture in environment and living beings. Hence, people get weakened and dehydrated during this semester.
Uttrayana weakens the digestive power and the strength of the body. The prominent tastes or Rasa that prevail during this semester are Bitter, Astringent, and Pungent.
Dakshinayana – The Sun weakens and body gains strength!
In Dakshinayana, the Sun descends or moves southwards from Mid July till Mid Jan. This increases coolness and humidity in the weather. In this phase anabolic activity dominates over the catabolic activity in the environment.
Digestive power and strength of the body is high in Dakshinayana. The prominent tastes or Rasa that prevail during Dakshinayana are Sweet, Sour, and Salty.
|Ayana||Northern Solstice / |
|Southern Solstice /|
|Time of the year||Mid Jan – Mid July||Mid July – Mid Jan|
|Seasons (Ritu)||Late Winter (Shishira)||Monsoon (Varsha)|
|Seasons (Ritu)||Spring (Vasanta)||Autumn (Sharada)|
|Seasons (Ritu)||Summer (Grishma)||Early Winter (Hemanta)|
|Key Characteristics||Dry and Warm||Cold and Wet|
|Strength of Body||Low||High|
Ritucharya for the Six Seasons and the Three Doshas
The three Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) are the physical energies that govern the functioning of our body and mind. For a healthy functioning of the bodily systems, the three Doshas need to stay in a balanced state during the daily rhythm of the day, during the yearly rhythm of the seasons, and during different stages of a person’s age.
Unbalanced Doshas are the reason for health issues. The three Doshas naturally accumulate, aggravate, and pacify following the seasonal cycle. If Ritucharya is well followed, then the health of an individual is not affected. The relation between seasons (ritus) and doshas are given below:
Vata dosha accumulates during dry heat of the summer season. Rainy season aggravates it. If one further consumes Vata aggravating foods or follows a Vata aggravating lifestyle, then health disorders such as inflammation, allergies, and infections affect the body. Vata naturally pacifies during Autumn season.
After a hot and dry summer season, Pitta dosha prevails in the environment. It accumulates during the rainy season and gets aggravated during the Autumn season. If the Ritucharya is not followed, then one’s body gets affected by Pitta disorders as acidity, hot flushes, blood related disorders, hypertension, stress, indigestion, and acid refluxes. It naturally pacifies during early winter season.
Kapha dosha accumulates during early winters in the months of Nov and Dec due to cold environment created by heavy winds, clouds, and rain. It gets aggravated in the Spring season as the hot rays of the Sun start to melt the frozen Kapha in the body. If one follows Kapha aggravating diet and lifestyle during Spring season, one would be prone to Kapha imbalance related to respiratory disorders, weight gain, water retention, depression, and lethargy. This is also one of the reasons why Spring detoxification of the body is so vital! Kapha naturally pacifies in the Summer season.
Vasant Ritucharya – Prevent Allergies, Sinusitis, and Mucus Disorders
Spring or Vasant Ritu is the time of the year when Kapha gets aggravated in the body. This makes us prone to all Kapha health disorders such as Sinusitis, Allergies, Breathing problems, and excess Mucus.
A transition from cold weather to warmer temperature also affects our digestive fire. Our digestion often becomes poor during Vasant Ritu. Poor digestive fire leads to toxin build up in the system. Toxins severely compromise your Immunity!
- Consume light foods, observe fasting (by skipping a meal or two if your body permits), eat easy to digest meals and of course early and light dinner.
- Remove Kapha promoting cold temperature foods and drinks, stale foods, and processed foods from your diet.
- Increase use of dry or fresh ginger, Amla, Black Pepper, and Pippali in your diet to promote your digestive fire.
- Consume warm water, or herbal teas, and increase use of detox herbs such as basil, coriander, mint, and curry leaves. They will nourish your tissues and also remove the toxins from your bodies.
- Sleep well, wake up by 6 AM, and regularly exercise.