In order to have a long and healthy life, one must be aware of the union of body (sharir), senses (indriyas), mind (satwa), and spirit (atma). Central to this ancient science is the concept of Ritucharya, or seasonal routine. Ritucharya emphasizes that we must adapt our daily routines, diet, and lifestyle choices to the prevailing season to support our physical and mental well-being. Since autumn is arriving, Vata will regain its dominance. Therefore, it is time to adjust our routines and diets to seek the warmth and nourishment essential for the season.
There is an intrinsic relation between the kala (season) and prakriti (body constitution) of a person since our conception and is believed to continue throughout our lifetime. Our prakriti is influenced by the three doshas, which often fluctuate with the changing seasons.Therefore Ayurveda prescribes specific regimens for longevity and maintaining our health, in the form of ritucharya (seasonal lifestyle) etc.
Rituchakra (season cycle) has a significant impact on our doshas, and ritucharya emphasizes on the importance of altering our routines, diet, and lifestyle choices in accordance to the prevailing season.
Each ritu (season) has its own peculiarity regarding its atmospheric characters, and it is believed that the prakriti or body constitution of an individual are likely to be vitiated with changing seasons. Different traditional and Ayurvedic texts, outline practices to embrace and avoid in each season. Following these seasonal regimens can help individuals stay healthy!
Sharad ritu or fall season is one of the six seasons in the Indian Ayurvedic calendar. It starts around September and approximately lasts till November. During autumn/fall, we are suddenly subjected to the heat after having adjusted to the rain and cold. During autumn (sharad), the Sun is scorching, making the overall atmosphere hot and intense and the Pitta dosha, which tends to get aggravated during the rainy season can be further provoked by the hot and intense sun.
During the autumn, the body's strength is considered moderate, resulting in a medium level of digestive power (agni). Charaka, in his dietary recommendations for this specific season, has taken great care to alleviate the effects of Pitta on our body. During this season, it is advised to consume only light foods that are easier to digest. Charaka suggests that, during this season, individuals should consume sweet, light, cold, and bitter foods and drinks, which have the potential to pacify Pitta, but this should be done in the right quantities and food should be consumed only when a person is feeling hungry.
To minimise the effects of Pitta, use of ghee prepared with bitter herbs is also recommended.
Sushruta shares a similar perspective as Charaka but suggests the incorporation of astringent flavors, along with items like sugarcane, dairy products, honey, and green gram pulse to help alleviate Pitta-related imbalances.
Here are the dietary recommendations and habits to follow during the autumn season:
In tasyashitya chapter of Charaka Samhita, it is said “Tasya Shitadiya Ahaarbalam Varnascha Vardhate. Tasyartusatmayam Vaditam Chestaharvyapasrayam,” which means ‘the strength and complexion of the person knowing the suitable diet and regimen for every season and practicing accordingly are enhanced.
During fall, the heat of the sun is penetrating and there is a drop in moisture content. As a result, there is a significantly high chance of our skin getting dehydrated and the chances of sun damage and tanning are also high.
Furthermore, the excessive exposure to sun and heat may also trigger the appearance of early signs of aging, irritation on the skin, etc. Therefore, an ideal skin routine would include:
There are some other tips and recommendations that can be considered during fall. These include:
The changing seasons and the external environment significantly influences our body and bring fluctuations in the concentration of the doshas. Therefore, it's essential to adapt our diet and behavior according to these changing seasons. Sharad ritu or fall, is a particularly dynamic period as it is the transition from sharp sun rays to the onset of winter. Thus, to navigate this shift successfully and maintain good health, following the sharad ritucharya is crucial.
To prevent the development of Pitta imbalances and related complications, it is recommended to consume foods with sweet, bitter, as well as light-to-digest. Using ghee, milk with added sugar, a small quantity of salt, wheat, barley, green gram, and rice is advised.
In addition, wearing light and clean clothing, spending early evenings under the moonlight is suggested. As a preventive measure, medicated ghee with bitter-tasting (tikta rasa) herbs can be consumed to maintain the balance of Pitta and ensure overall well-being.
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