Ritucharya – Ayurvedic Seasonal Regimen
Ritucharya, as defined by Ayurveda, refers to the seasonal routine one should follow to maintain optimal health throughout the year. It entails adhering to specific guidelines that guide lifestyle, diet, and daily routine changes with every season change.
Ritucharya plays an essential role in adapting to our ever-evolving environment, with seasons changing along with their qualities and the consequent effect they may have on both physical and mental well-being. By adhering to Ritucharya we can sync up with nature’s rhythms while striking a balance between our internal and external environments.
Ritucharya can provide many advantages, including improved digestion, increased immunity, better sleep quality, and higher energy levels. Furthermore, following Ritucharya helps prevent seasonal illnesses like colds, flu, and allergies and can support our body’s natural healing mechanisms to support health over time.
Ritucharya is an essential aspect of Ayurveda that promotes holistic well-being by emphasizing living in harmony with nature. By following its guidelines, we can maintain optimal health and prevent illness – leading us to live a fulfilling and joyful life.
We shall now discuss the Chapter Ritucharya seasonal regimen as preached by Atreya and other great sages. 1
Six Seasons – in the Ancient Ayurvedic Calendar
There are six seasons (ritus), each measuring a period of two months and starting with the month of Sisira, Vasanta, Grisma, Varsa, and Hima (Hemanta) successively. The three commencing with Sisira (Sisira, Vasanta, and Grisma) together pertain to the northern solstice (Uttarayana), also known as Adana kala because the strength of the people is taken away daily by the sun during this period. 1-2
Uttarayana diet regimen / Adana kala – mid January to mid July
During the northern solstice, the Uttarayana, because of the nature of the path, both the sun and wind become very powerful and they dry and take away all the cooling qualities of the earth.
The bitter (tikta), astringent (kashaya), and pungent (katu) tastes become more powerful, respectively, in the three successive ritus of this solstice; therefore in nature, this adana kala remains like fire. 3-4
Dakshinayana diet regimen/ Visarga Kala – mid-July to mid-January
The southern solstice (Daksinayana) relates to the three ritus the Varsa, Sarat and Hemanta. It is referred as the Visarga kala as during this period the sun releases the strength of the people; because the moon is more powerful and the sun loses its strength, the earth remains cool from the heat of sunlight by the effect of clouds, rain, and cold wind. During this period, the unctuous tastes (sour) amla, salt (lavana), and sweet (madhura) are powerful in their respective order. 5-6
Variation in strength as per season
The strength of the people could be maximum during the cold season, comprising of winter and dewy seasons (Hemanta and Sisira).
During rainy and warm seasons (Varsa and Grisma), it could be poor,
while the natural strength of human beings remains moderate during the rest of the seasons . 61/2
Hemanta Ritucharya / Ayurveda Winter regimen: Mid-November to Mid January
Regimen during winter
The people remain strong during the Hemanta. The fire in the digestion (anala) remains overwhelming as during this season it gets obstructed from spreading out by the cold atmosphere. It starts to consume the body’s tissues supported by (vayu in the body).
So, it is advised to utilize sweet, sour, and salty (Madhura,Amla,Lavana) foods throughout the winter (Hemanta). 7-8
In winter as the nights are longer, individuals feel hungry in the early morning, but they should not start eating at that time.
Routine in Hemanta ritu / Ayurvedic Regimen during winter
They should start with a routine like,
1. the oil bath (abhyanga), which involves applying medicated oil with a variety of calming effects over the head and body.
2. bathing the head with much of oil
3. mild massaging of the body,
4. wrestling with the wrestlers to half of one’s strength and
5. careful trampling of the body by experts. 9-10
Washing with astringent decoctions, powders, and the like should clear the head and body of the oil.
The next step is to take a bath.
Afterwards, kumkuma and darpa fine powder, also known as kasturi, should be applied.
Aguru fumes should be inhaled by the body.
Meat soup mixed with fats, meat of fattened and well-nourished animals, wine prepared with jaggery, the supematent portion of Surd and Surd as well could be taken in this season.
The eatables prepared from the flour of wheat, black gram, products of sugarcane and of milk, as well as those prepared from freshly harvested, muscle fat and edible oils could be taken as part of meals during this season.
Similarly, hot water could be applied for bathing, and thick sheet made of cotton, leather, silk, wool, or bark of trees which are lightweight could be utilized during sleep.
Exposure to sunlight and fire could be resorted to judiciously in this season.
One should also cover one’s foot with a footwear during the winter. 11-14
Sexual Activity During Winter Hemanta Ritu Ayurveda
During hemanta season, one should have relation with the women who have well developed thighs, breast and buttocks,
who are enchanting and exhilarated by the use of fragrant fumes, scents, and youthfulness and thus made warm in their person and who are charming. By their embrace such ladies drive away the cold. 15
The problems brought on by cold and dryness won’t harm those who spend their time living in buildings heated by fire, in innermost apartments surrounded by others, or in underground chambers.16
Sisira Ritucharya / Ayurveda winter regimen – Mid January to Mid March:
Regimen during sisira season
The same regimen as described above could be applied but more intensely in the cold dewy season (sisira) as because of the effects of adana kala during this period cold is severe and dryness is greater. 17
Vasanta Ritucharya (Ayurveda Spring regimen) – Mid March – Mid May
Ayurveda Regimen during spring
During the spring (vasanta), kapha which has undergone an increase in cold seasons (dosha) becomes liquified by the heat of the sun.
As an effect, the digestion in the alimentary tract (agni) is diminished, and it gives rise to several diseases.
The kapha should be controlled quickly by resorting to strong emesis/ Vamana, nasal medications, and other therapies and also by taking eatables that are easy to digest and dry (moisture free, fat-free) as well as by physical exercises and by dry massage and mild trampling.
Having thus controlled the kapha, the individual should take bath, anoint the body with the paste of karpura, candana, aguru and kumkuma, make use of old barley (yava), wheat (godhuma), honey (ksaudra), meat of animals of deserts, and meat roasted in the fire as eatable.
During the spring, one should also drink the juice of mango fruit mixed with fragrant substances in the company of friends, getting it served by the beloved women whose fragrant aroma on their bodies and the beauty of their lily-like eyes have made them more appealing. Such drink thereby produces satisfaction to the mind and heart.
The unspoiled beverages such as fermented sugarcane juice(asava), fermented grape juice (mardvika), honey water (madhava), or water boiled with sprigavera or extract of trees such as candana and the like (sarambu) or water mixed with honey (madhvambu), or water boiled with jatada or musta “should also be used during the spring. 18-22
In the company of friends, one should spend his mid-day happily and should involve himself in pleasant games, pass times, storytelling and the like.
During the spring season one should spend time in this season in forest or gardens which have cool breeze from south direction, with plenty of reservoirs of water all around with only a poor sunlight, the land covered with shining crystals, with the cuckoo everywhere making pleasant sounds and engaged in love-play surrounded with the trees of different kinds of beautiful and charming flowers.
Food to Avoid During Spring
That eatables are to be avoided during the spring, which are hard to digest and cold, are fatty, sour, and sweet and one should also avoid sleeping at day time. 23-25
Grishma Ritucharya (Ayurveda Summer Regimen) Mid May – Mid July:
Regimen during summer
In summer (Grishma), the sun rays become overwhelming day after day and appear to be destructive. In this season, the kapha decreases day by day while The vata increases day by day.
Food to Avoid During Summer
Therefore, in this season those eatables should be avoided that are salty, pungent and sour in taste. One should also avoid physical exercises and exposure to sunlight during summer. 26-27
What to eat during summer
Eatables that are sweet, easy to digest, fatty, cold, and liquid could be taken during the summers.
One could also take cornflour mixed with very cold water and sugar after taking bath in cold water.
Wine During Summer ?
Wine (madya) should not be taken during the summer; if necessary, it could be taken in a very little quantity and after diluting it with water.
Emaciation, debility, burning sensation, and delusion could be caused if wine is taken in large doses during this season. 28-29
During the summer, boiled rice that is white like the kunda flower and the full moon should be eaten along with meat of animals of the desert.
Meat juice (rasa) which is not very thick, yoghurt churned and mixed with pepper powder and sugar (rasaia), syrup which is sweet, sour and salty (raga) and syrup which has all the tastes (sadava), syrup prepared with several substances (panaka), syrup prepared with draksa, madhuka, kharjura, kasmarya, and parusaka fruits (pancasara) all in equal quantities, cooled and added with powder of patra, tvak, eld and the like and kept inside a fresh mud pot along with leaves of plantain and coconut trees, and made fermented could be drunk in mugs of mud or Shell.
Eatables known as hollow, finger-like, fried pastry made of cornflour should be taken at night.
Most Suitable Drink in Summer Ayurveda
Very cool water kept in a mud pot along with flowers and karpura should be used for drinking purposes during this season. 30-31
Buffaloes’ milk mixed with sugar and collected under moon light and the stars are the most suitable drink in the summers. 32
Where to spend time during the summer season Ayurveda
In forests having tall trees such as saia, taia and the like reaching the sky, the day time could be spent during the summers. These trees obstruct the hot rays of the sun.
One could also spend time in this season, in houses around which bunches of flowers and grapes are hanging from their creepers; sheets of cloth spreading sweet-scented water are arranged to fan the air, bunches of tender leaves and fruits of mango (ciita) hanging all around.
Individuals should sleep on a soft bed prepared with petals of flowers of kadali, and the like. To get rid of the heat of the sun, one should spend the long summer days remaining inside such houses that have fully blossomed flowers suspended all around, that are cooled by water fountains with the water being scented with usira and coming out from the well-shaped breast, hand, and mouth of statues. 33-36
What to do during summers an Ayurveda way.
Individuals should sleep on the terrace facing good moonlight at night.
The individual, who possesses a balanced mind in summer, should expel exhaustion due to the heat of the day by anointing the body with a paste of chandana, wearing garlands, and by avoidance of sexual activities.
He should dress in very light or thin clothing and make arrangements to fan his body with fans made of Reeds or big, wet lily (padmini) leaves.
One should also arrange for the syringes that sprinkle cool water softly. By sporting garlands of flowers of karpuramallika and of pearls and beads of white sandal paste (haricandana), by staying at place where children, mynah bird (sarika) and parrot (suka) chant pleasantly; by being surrounded by beautiful women wearing bangles of soft lotus stalk, the blossom of lotus in their hair, the wise could remove the heat of the summer. 37- 41
Varsha Ritucharya- (Ayurveda seasonal regimen for rainy season) – Mid-July – Mid-September:
Regimen during the rainy season
Digestive fire during rainy season
The digestion (agni remains weak in individuals during the rainy season as they are debilitated by the summer (adankala). The agni undergoes further decrease and gets vitiated by the dosas in the rainy season.
Dosha Avastha during rainy season
The dosas, in turn, get provoked by the effect of hanging, thick clouds full of water; the cold wind having snow and blowing suddenly; water getting dirty because of rain; the warmth of the earth, sourness, and the poor strength of digestion. Thus, the doshas start vitiating one another and cause various diseases.
Hence, one should apply all methods that actuate the dosas and should take up measures to promote digestive power. 42-44
Basti during Rainy season varsha ritu
During the rainy seasons, the individual should have the application of the asthapana basti/ Niruha Basti which is decoction enema therapy after undergoing purificatory therapies like vamana, and virecana.
What to eat during the rainy season according to Ayurveda
One should use old cereals, meat juice processed with spices and the like, the meat of animals of desert-like lands, soup of pulses, wine prepared from grapes, and fermented decoctions.
One could also take whey (mastu) processed with sauvarca/a and powder of paficakola.
Rainwater or water from deep wells, well boiled, should be applied for drinking.
The eatables should predominantly include sour, salty, and fatty, dry, mixed items and honey that are easy to digest on days without sunlight. 45-461/2
Lifestyle during rainy season
Individuals should move only in vehicles, they should use perfumes, and should expose their clothes to fragrant fumes. He should dwell in the upper stories of the house. The places devoid of heat, cold, and snow should be selected for residence.47
During the rainy season, one should avoid the river water and the beverage prepared with flour of corns mixed with ghee (udamantha).
One should not sleep during day hours / Divaswapa, and should not have exertion and exposure to the sun. 48
Sharad Ritucharya – (Ayurveda autumn regimen) – Mid September – Mid November:
Regimen during autumn
Dosha avastha in Sarada ritu Autumn
The pitta, which undergoes an increase in the bodies during the rainy season (varsa) becomes greatly provoked during the autumn (Sarad). In order to get over it,
Medicated ghee-based recipes Tikta Ghruta described in the treatment of kustha below should be opted.
Panchkarma during sarada Autumn season
The individuals should also undergo purgation therapy/ Virechana as well as bloodletting (raktamoksana).
Diet during Autumn season as per Ayurveda
When hungry, the individual should take eatables that are made of bitter, sweet and astringent tastes and are easy to digest, such as rice, green gram (mudga), sugar (sita,) dhatri (amtika), patota, madhu and meat of animals of desert. 49-501/2
Hamsodaka is the name of the water that gets an exposure to the hot sun rays during the day and that has been cooled by the cool rays of the moon during the night, and for several days so continuously, which has been detoxicated by the rise of the star Agastya which is pure, uncontaminated and capable of mitigating the malas or dosas.
Benefits of Hamsodaka
This neither produces more secretions or moisture inside the minute channels so as to block them (abhishyandi) nor is this very dry.
It does not cause dryness by the non-production of sufficient moisture in the channels. For drinking and other purposes, such water is like nectar (amrita). 51.-52
What to do during Autumn Sarada as per Ayurveda
The evening of the autumn season could be spent on the terraces of the painted white houses.
Anointing the body with the paste of candana, usira and karpura, wearing garlands are also good for these days.
A shining dress and moonlight are also worth enjoying during this season. 53
What to avoid during the Autumn season
The following factors are to be avoided during the autumn: exposure to snow or mist, indulgence in alkaline substances, and satiation with a hearty meal.
Use of yoghurt (dadhi), oil (taila), muscle fat (exposure to sunlight, strong liquors, sleeping during the daytime, and the eastern breeze should also be avoided during the autumn. 54
Use of taste as per season:
The seasonal regimen In brief
The first three rasas, the tastes such as sweet, sour and salt, (Madhura, Amla, Lavana)could be made use of especially during (Hemanta and sisira) and the rainy season.
The last three rasas, tastes such as bitter, pungent and astringent (Katu, Tikta, Kashaya) should be used during the spring season.
The sweet taste / Madhura should be used during the summer.
The sweet, bitter, and astringent (Madhura, tikta, and kasaya) tastes are to be used during autumn (sarad).
hemanta, sisira, rainy : sweet, sour, salt.
bitter, pungent, astringent : Spring.
Sweet : Summer.
sweet, bitter and astringent : Sarad
Qualities of food as per season:
During the autumn and spring (sarad and vasanta), the eatables and drink could be taken when they are dry, moistureless, and fatless,
While during the summer (grishma) and end of rainy season they should be taken cold.
Finally, in other seasons the eatables and drinks should be taken when they are still hot. 55-56.
For the maintenance of health, the habit of using all six tastes every day during all the seasons is ideal; however, one should emphasize taking the rasas prescribed for different seasons. 57
Inter seasonal period
The inter-seasonal period (Ritusandhi) pertains to the seven days at the end and beginning of each season (ritus).
During that period, the regimen of the proceeding season could be discontinued gradually, and that of the next season could be applied likewise.
Non-habituation (Asatmya) could result from sudden discontinuance or adoption of different regimens. 58-59
Thus ends the chapter- Rituchayra, the third of Sutrasthana of Astanga Hridaya Samhita composed by Srimad Vagbhata, Son of Sri Vaidyapati Simhagupta.
Ayushkameeya Adhyaya “Desire for long life.” आयुष्कामीय अध्याय : Ashtanga Hridayam Sutra Sthana Chapter 1
- How many Seasons According to Ayurveda
Six : Sisira, Vasanta, Grisma, Varsa, Sharada and Hemanta
- Months in Uttarayana
Mid January to Mid July
- Months in Dakshinayana
Mid july to mid january
- Body strength as per season
Maximum strength during cold (Hemanta,Sisira)
Minimum in Varsa and Grishma (Rainy,Warm)
Moderate in rest of the seasons
- What to eat a diet in Hemanta Mid November to Mid January
sweet, sour, and salty foods throughout the winter (Hemanta)
- What to eat a diet in Sisira Mid January to Mid March
sweet, sour, and salty foods throughout the winter (sisira)
- What to eat a diet in Vasanta Mid March to Mid May
The digestion in the alimentary tract (agni) is diminished and it gives rise to several diseases, eatables that are easy to digest and dry (moisture free, fat free) are to be taken
- What to eat a diet in Grishma Mid May to Mid July
Eatables that are sweet, easy to digest, fatty, cold and liquid could be taken during the summers
- What to eat a diet in Varsha Mid July to Mid September
One should use old cereals, meat juice processed with spices and the like, meat of animals of desert-like lands, soup of pulses, wine prepared from grapes and fermented decoctions.
- What to eat a diet in Sharada Mid September to Mid November
bitter, sweet and astringent tastes, and are easy to digest such as rice, green-gram (mudga), sugar (sita,) dhatri (amtika), patota, madhu and meat of animals of desert.
- What is Hamsodaka
Hamsodaka is the name of the water that gets exposure of the hot sunrays during day and that has been cooled by the cool rays of the moon during night
- Diet According to Season in Ayurveda
hemanta, sisira, rainy : sweet, sour, salt
bitter, pungent, astringent : Spring
Sweet : Summer
sweet, bitter and astringent : Sarad
- Qualities of food as per season
Autumn and spring : dry, moistureless, and fatless
Summer and end of rainy season : Cold
- Whats is Ritusandhi?
The inter- seasonal period (Ritusandhi) pertains to the seven days at the end and beginning of each of the seasons (ritus)
Dinacharya दिनचर्या अध्याय : Daily Routine According to Ayurveda : Ashtanga Hridayam Chapter 2