Ritucharya is an Ayurvedic practice comprised of two words, “Ritu” which means season and “charya” which means Regimen or discipline. Ritucharya consists of lifestyle and ayurvedic diet changes aimed at coping with the physical and cognitive impacts caused by seasonal changes as recommended by Ayurveda .
Seasons and Doshas
Vata dosha accumulates during the dry & dehydrating heat of the summer. It becomes aggravated during the rainy season which causes weakened digestion, acidic atmospheric conditions and gas.
Pitta accumulates during the rainy season due to the acidic conditions of the atmosphere and a weakened digestion. It is aggravated during autumn when the heat returns .This occurs after the cooling spell of the rainy season.
Kapha accumulates during the cold season due to the cold and damp caused by the winds, clouds, and rain. It gets aggravated during the spring when the warm weather liquefies the accumulating Kapha.
1. Shishir Ritu (Winter):
Mid-January to Mid-March – During this season, the environment remains cold and windy. The strength of the person remains less in this season, deposition of the Kapha Dosha happens and Agni (Catabolism) remains in a higher state.
Diet Routine: Foods having Amla (tarty) as the overwhelming taste is preferred. Cereals and pulses, wheat/gram flour items, new rice, corn, and others, are suggested. Ginger, garlic, sugarcane items milk and milk items are to be incorporated into the eating regimen.
Foods having Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent) dominating Rasa are to be stayed away from. Laghu (light) and Shita (cool) foods should be avoided.
Lifestyle: Massage with oil and taking a shower with tepid water, exposure to sunlight and wearing warm clothes is essential.
2. Vasant Ritu (Spring)
Mid-March to Mid-May – An individual’s strength during this season remains in medium degree, vitiation of Kapha Dosha occurs and Agni i.e digestion power remains in Manda state.
Diet Routine: One should take foods that are easily digestible. In cereals, Wheat, rice, old barley is suggested during this season. In pulses, lentil, Mugda etc. can be eaten. Food items tasting bitter, Kattu (pungent), Kashaya (astringent) should be eaten. Honey can also be added in the diet. Foods that are cold, heavy and viscous should be avoided.
Lifestyle: Using tepid water for bathing is considered ideal. Exercising during Vasant Ritu is a must. Sleeping during the day is not advised during this season.
3. Grishma Ritu (Summer):
Mid-May to Mid-July – This season is intensely hot and the environment is prevalent with unhealthy wind. The strength of an individual becomes weak. Deposition of Vata Dosha happens but the Kapha Dosha is relaxed during this season. Agni of the person remains in mild condition.
Diet Routine: Foods which are light to process—those having Madhura (sweet), Snigdha (unctuous), Sheeta (cool), and Drava (fluid) Guna, for example, rice, lentils, etc.should be eaten. Drinking a lot of water and different fluids, like cold water, buttermilk, fruit juices, meat soups, mango juice, stirred curd with pepper, is suggested. At sleep time milk with sugar should be taken.
Lavana and food with Katu (sharp) and Amla (acrid) taste and Ushna (warm) nourishments are to be evaded.
Lifestyle: Remaining in cool spots, wearing light dresses and napping during the day time are useful. Extreme exercise or hard work is to be evaded.
Visarga kaal / Southern solstice / Dakshinayana
1. Varsha Ritu (Monsoon)
Mid-July to Mid-September – During this season the strength of an individual becomes weak. Variation of Vata Dosha and deposition of Pitta Dosha , Agni also gets vitiated.
Diet Routine: Foods having Amla (tarty) and Lavana (salty) taste and of Sneha (unctuous) qualities should be eaten. Among grains, old barley, rice, wheat, and so on, are suggested. Boiled water should be consumed.
Drinking river water, having a lot of water, excessive fluid and wine should not be taken. The foods, which are substantial and difficult to process, like meat, are prohibited.
Lifestyle: Boiled water for bathing and massaging the body properly with oil is advised during this season. Medicated Basti (enema) is prescribed as an evacuative measure to expel vitiated Doshas.
Drenching in rain, napping during the day, heavy exercising should be avoided.
2. Sharad Ritu (Autumn/Fall) :
Mid-September to Mid-November – The strength and energy of an individual stays medium and movement of Agni increases amid this season.
Diet Routine: Foods having Madhura (sweet) and Tikta (sharp) taste, and of Laghu (light to process) and cold properties should be eaten. Foods having the properties to mollify vitiated Pitta are advised.
Hot, bitter, sweet, and astringent foods are to be stayed away from. The food products, such as fats, oils, meat of aquatic creatures, curds, and so on should be excluded from the diet amid this season.
Lifestyle: Habit of eating food, just when there is a feeling of hunger is suggested. Napping during the day, exposure to sun light and excessive eating should be avoided during this season.
3. Hemant Ritu (Late Autumn/Pre-Winter) :
Mid-November to Mid-January – The energy and strength of an individual stays on highest grade and vitiated Pitta Dosha gets assuaged. Action of Agni is increased.
Diet Routine: One should eat unctuous, sweet, tarty, and salty foods. Among grains and pulses, new rice, flour arrangements, green gram, Masha, etc are suggested to be eaten. Different meats, fats, milk and milk items, sugarcane items, Shidhu (fragmented preparations), Tila (sesame), etc.are likewise to be incorporated into the eating regimen.
Vata aggravating foods, such as Laghu (light), cool, and dry foods are to be stayed away from. Consumption of cold drinks is likewise contraindicated
Lifestyle: Exercising, body and head massage, utilization of warm water, Atapa-sevana (sunbath), warm garments and living in warm places is suggested. Napping during the day and exposure to strong and cold wind should be avoided.