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Ayurvedic Seasonal Regimen: Ritucharya for Preventing Lifestyle Disorders - AVCRI | Since 1947



Ritucharya – a principle in the science of Ayurveda.


INTRODUCTION

The basic principle of  Ayurvedic system of medicine is “Swasthyashya Swasthya Rakshanam”, which means to maintain the health of the healthy, rather than “Aturashya Vikara Prashamanancha”, means to cure the diseases of the diseased.

 For this purpose the Dinacharya (daily regimen) and Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) have been mentioned in the classics of Ayurveda.

The human body is significantly influenced  by external environmental factors.When the body fails to adopt the stress which can vary with changing traits of the seasons,it  can lead to imbalance of doshas and this is termed as dosha vaishamya  which can make the body more susceptible to various illness.


Adaptation to seasonal changes is crucial  for maintaining the health Thats where Ritucharya explains comprehensive points to maintain health .

Ritucharya involves specific dietary and lifestyle practices tailored to each season to help maintain the balance of the doshas and support overall well-being

A poor knowledge or lack of awareness for appropriate seasonal variations can diturb the bodys balance of doshas and can lead to various illness like obesity ,diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and so on.

Ritucharya is prominently discussed in the first few chapters of most of the Samhitas of Ayurveda.


Main theme of this blog  is to make people aware concerning the methods to live in accordance with the environment. Here we have  discussed on the Ritucharya


Classification of Season, based on the teachings from the Ayurvedic medical college.

The year according to Ayurveda is divided into two periods Ayana (solstice) depending on the direction of movement of sun that is Uttarayana (northern solstice) and Dakshinayana (southern solstice).

Each is formed of three Ritus (seasons).

The word Ritu means ―to go. A year consists of six seasons, namely, Shishira (winter) from mid-January to mid-March, Vasanta (spring) from mid-March to mid-May, and Grishma (summer) in Uttarayan; and Varsh (monsoon), Sharada (autumn), and Hemanta (late autumn) in Dakshinayana.


Uttarayana and Its Effect

Uttarayana, also known as the northward movement or ascent of the sun, is characterized by specific environmental changes that profoundly impact the body and its doshas.  In this period the sun and the wind are powerful, which corresponds to the time from mid-March to mid-May when such environmental conditions are prevalent. The sun takes away the strength of the people and the cooling quality of the earth. It brings increase in the Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent), and Katu (pungent) Rasa (taste), respectively, which brings about dryness in the body and reduces the Bala (strength). It is also called Adana Kala.


According to modern science

The concept of uttarayana closely matches to modern scientific understanding of earths movement around the sun to the position, in which the rays of the sun falls perpendicularly at 30 degree meridian of the North Pole on June 21st every year, called as summer solstice. The northward journey of the Sun from Tropic of Capricorn to Tropic of Cancer happens. The Uttarayana period, stretching from mid-January to mid-July, corresponds to the time when the sun’s rays gradually become more direct in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to increased warmth and dryness.

During Uttarayana the seasonal changes in Indian subcontinent is from Shishira (winter) to Vasanta (spring) and to Grishma (summer). The period can be compared to mid-January to mid-July, when warmness and dryness in weather increases. It has an overall debilitating effect on environment, to which human being is also a part.

 

 

Dakshinayana and Its Effect

Dakshinayana refers to southward movement of sun and this period exactly contrasts with uttarayana and is marked by different climatic  conditions  bringing its own  effects in doshas

In this period, the wind is not very dry; the moon is more powerful than the sun. According to the science of Ayurveda, such an environment is prevalent for balancing the doshas. The earth becomes cool due to the clouds, rain, and cold winds. Unctuousness sets in the atmosphere and Amla (sour), Lavana (salty), and Madhura (sweet) Rasa are predominant, so the strength of person enhances during this period. It is also called Visarga Kala.


According to modern science

Dakshinayana  can be compared with the gradual movement of the earth around the sun to the position, in which the rays of the sun fall over 30 degree meridian of the South Pole perpendicularly on December 21st every year, is called as winter solstice. The southward movement of the Sun occurs from Tropic of Cancer to Tropic of Capricorn, symbolizing a significant phase in the science of Ayurveda.


State of Strength

In the beginning of Visarga Kala and ending of Adana kala, that is, during Varsha and Grishma, weakness occurs. In the middle of the solstices, that is, during Sharata and Vasanta, strength remains in moderate grade and in the end of Visarga Kala and in the beginning of Adana Kala, that is, during Hemanta and Shishira, maximum strength is seen.


Seasons and Doshas

Vata dosha accumulates during the dry or dehydrating heat of the summer .It becomes aggravated during the rainy season which causes weakened digestion, acidic atmospheric conditions, and gas produced from the earth.

 

Pitta dosha 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 dosha 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.

 

A quick  glance on seasonal guidelines

 

·       Dosha -Kapha dosha is prominent during this season.

·       Regimen

·       Diet should ideally include fruit juice and cereals and pulses as recommended by the Ministry of Ayush. - one could consume energy rich food items like milk and milk products, carbohydrate rich food items like rice, wheat, whole gram, etc to help restore the balance in the body. Wine prepared from jaggery (molasses) can also be consumed.

·       Lifestyle  -Typically, one could get a hot oil massage and an udvartanam (application of dry powdered herbs on the body that is anointed with oil) with fine paste/powder of kumkum (kesar or saffron).

 

·       Character – Warm and moist

·       Dosha – kapha

·       Regimen

·       Diet - Light, dry, and warm foods like barley, honey, and spices. Reduce intake of dairy, sweets, and heavy foods. One must consume easily digestible food such as barley, honey, roasted meat, mango juice etc. Beverages such as asava (fermented infusion), arista (fermented decoction), sidhu (fermented sugarcane juice), honey mixed with water and water boiled with extracts of chandan (sandal wood) also help during this season. Hard to digest food items, cold food, sour, sweet and fatty food must be avoided as it increases kapha.

·       Life style - Engage in regular physical activity to reduce Kapha, practice dry massages, and use warming herbs like ginger and cinnamon. Typically, dry massages and nasal medication is taken during this season. The use of chandan (sandal wood) and karpura (camphor) is also recommended.


·       Characters – Hot and dry

·       Dosha – pittha

·       Regimen

·       Diet - Cooling and hydrating foods like fruits, salads, and dairy products. Avoid spicy, oily, and salty foods. One must increase the intake of water, juice, butter-milk, lemon juice, etc. All possible seasonal fruits must be included in one’s diet. Heavy physical exertion must be avoided in this season. Wine should be avoided or taken in very little quantities as it can cause burning sensation and/or debility

·       Lifestyle - Stay hydrated with fruit juice, avoid excessive sun exposure, wear light and breathable clothing, and practice cooling activities like swimming to maintain balance as suggested by the Ministry of Ayush. One could anoint the body with chandan (sandalwood) paste and bathe in cold water during this season


·       Characteristics – Cold and dry

·       Dosha – Aggravates vata and kapha

·       Regimen

·       Diet - Warm, oily, and nourishing foods like soups, stews, and ghee. Avoid cold and dry foods

·       Lifestyle - Regular oil massages (Abhyanga) to combat dryness, wearing warm clothing, and moderate exercise to stimulate circulation and warmth


·       Characteristics – wet and cool

·       Dosha – aggravates vata and pittha

·       Regimen

·       Diet - Warm, light, and easily digestible foods like soups and steamed vegetables. Avoid raw and heavy foods. One should consume easily digestible food items to avoid further irritation of the digestive system. Pulses, meat juice, soups, old grains and thin water of yoghurt can be taken in food. Thippali (Indian long pepper), honey, dried ginger could also be consumed with grains like rice, wheat etc.

·       Lifestyle -: Keep dry, avoid cold drafts, practice gentle exercise, and use warm oil massages to soothe Vata. One could get a Panchakarma (purification and detoxification) treatment, as advised by the Ministry of Ayush, to help restore the balance of the doshas in the body. Sleeping in the daytime and heavy exertion must be avoided in this season.


·       Characteristics – Cool and dry

·       Dosha – aggravates pittha

·       Regimen

·       Diet - Sweet, bitter, and astringent foods like apples, pomegranates, and leafy greens. Reduce sour and spicy foods. one could include bitter, astringent and sweet tastes in their food consumption. The diet must include easily digestible food items like honey, small peas, green vegetables, green berries, red-rice, etc., along with cereals and pulses as recommended. Heavy food, curd, oil and strong liquors must be avoided in this season.

·       Lifestyle - Practice calming activities, avoid overexertion, and engage in cooling practices like moonlight walks.


Concept of Ritusandhi

The last seven days of preceding Ritu and first seven days of following Ritu are together known as Ritusandhi. During this period the regimen of the previous season should be discontinued gradually and those of the succeeding season adopted slowly.

Particular padanshika krama (sequential regimen) has to be adopted i.e. Unhealthy things which one has become accustomed should be discontinued gradually and healthy things should be adopted gradually with intervals of one, two or three days.

On the other hand, if they are discontinued or adopted suddenly, diseases due to unaccustomed foods and activities develop.

 

It is a significant advice, as the changeover of external environment from one season to other is very rapid, but our endogenous system needs some time for smooth change over.


Q: What is Ritucharya in Ayurveda?

A: Ritucharya refers to the seasonal regimen followed in Ayurveda, which emphasizes adapting one's diet and lifestyle according to the changes in seasons for maintaining overall health and well-being.


Q: What is the significance of Ritucharya in preventing lifestyle disorders?

A: Ritucharya helps in aligning our bodies with the natural cycles of different seasons, thus promoting balance and harmony within the body and mind. This ultimately helps in preventing lifestyle disorders caused due to environmental changes.


Q: What are the different seasons considered in Ritucharya?

A: Ritucharya recognizes six seasons, including Varsha Ritu (rainy season) and Sharad Ritu (autumn), and provides guidelines on diet and lifestyle practices, emphasizing that fruit juice should be included in the diet, tailored to each season.


Q: How does Ayurveda recommend adjusting diet routine during different seasons?

A: Ayurveda suggests including seasonal fruits, vegetables, and grains in the diet during different seasons, along with specific food combinations and cooking methods to ensure a balance of nutrients and energies.


Q: What are some general tips for following Ritucharya during the winter season?

A: During the winter season, Ayurveda recommends consuming warm and nourishing foods, staying hydrated, and incorporating herbs and spices that help in maintaining body heat and immunity.


Q: How does exposure to sunlight play a role in Ritucharya?

A: Exposure to sunlight is crucial in Ritucharya as it helps in regulating the body's circadian rhythm, boosting vitamin D levels, and promoting overall well-being during different seasons.


Q: Are there any specific regimens for diet and lifestyle mentioned in Ritucharya?

A: Yes, Ritucharya outlines specific regimens for diet and lifestyle practices to be followed during each season, taking into account factors like individual's strength, environmental factors, and the prevalence of certain diseases during that season.


What is Ritucharya with respect to yogic lifestyle?

In India's traditional medical system of Ayurveda, ritucharya is the term for the dietary and lifestyle regimens that are based on Earth's seasons. Illness can be prevented if diet and lifestyle reflect the changes in weather conditions. The term comes from the Sanskrit, ritu, meaning “season,” and charya, meaning “to follow.”


What is Ritucharya according to Charaka?

Seasonal regimen prescribed for preservation of health and prevention of diseases is termend as ritucharya according to Charaka


What is Ritucharya according to vagbhata?

The changes in diet and practices in response to the change in climatic (seasonal) conditions like cold, hot, rain etc is called Ritucharya according to Susrutha


What is dincharya and Ritucharya in Ayurveda?

Dinacharya is a daily routine, while ritucharya is a seasonal routine


What is the Ritu Chakra in Ayurveda?

Menstruation cycle occurs in females it is termed as Rituchakra in Ayurveda. 


What are the 6 Rasa in Ayurveda?

Madhura, amla, lavana, katu, thiktha, kashaya are considered as shad rasas 


What is panchakarma in ritucharya?

Ritusodhana means Panchakarma according to specific Ritu   helps to eliminate accumulated doshas


What is the concept of Ritu shodhana?

Ritu Shodhana is a bio-cleansing system which  involves removing doshas from the body during a specific season, or Rutu, when they increase beyond acceptable level

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