Fall Rtucharya: Ayurvedic Diet + Lifestyle + Herbal Guidelines For Fall
Here we take a look at Ayurvedic seasonal guidelines for the fall season. We also take a look at some diet, lifestyle, and herbal recommendations for fall.
The system of Ayurveda considers rtucharya(seasonal routine) to be one of the cornerstones of health maintenance and disease prevention.
Just like dinacharya(daily routine) provides a structure through which to balance dosha and guna within the context of the individual prakrtivikrtiparadigm, rtucharyaallows for awareness and alignment with nature.1
This is important in Ayurveda as doshas and elements in the environment fluctuate with the seasonal rhythms of the year.
The fall season is a time of transition and change. It is characterized most notably by Vata dosha and laghu (light), ruksha (dry), khara (rough), chala (mobile), and akash (empty), hima (cool) qualities.
In many parts of the world, fall invites cooler weather, shorter hours of daylight, drying of foliage, and increase in wind.
Traditionally, the beginning of the fall season is indicated for panchakarma to cleanse the body of excess Pitta which may have built up over the summer months.
Panchakarmaalso nourishes and prepares the body for the rise of Vata dosha in the environment.
Let’s take a look at some Ayurvedic diet, lifestyle, and herbal recommendations for fall.
Ahara Chikitsa – Fall Dietary Guidelines
- It is generally advised, depending on where you live and your present vikrti(disease/disorder), that a Vata pacifying diet should be followed in the fall.
- A Vata pacifying diet generally includes grounding, warm and nourishing foods such as soups and stews, grains (quinoa for example), root vegetables, steamed vegetables, nuts, seeds, and plenty of grounding oils such as ghee.
- Avoid eating an excess of raw foods as they may increase qualities of Vata as well as air and ether elements in the body.
- Avoid fasting, and emphasize eat meals at regular times to regulate chala (mobile) and akash (spacious) qualities of Vata.
- Drink warming herbal teas to kindle agni: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom.
- Drinking a cup of warm milk at bedtime with ghee, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg to soothe the nervous and digestive systems and help to promote sound sleep.
- Drink almond milk. Soak 10 almonds overnight. In the morning, peel the almonds and place in a blender with 1 pinch saffron and 1 cup boiled milk. Blend until creamy. This drink builds ojas (life essence).
Vihara Chikitsa – Fall Lifestyle Guidelines
Nasya: lubricating the nasal passages can reduce dryness and irritation of the sinuses as well as soothe the nervous system which may become aggravated in the Vata time of year.
- Ayurvedic color therapy recommends wearing colors to pacify the influence of doshas as well as the planets. Pacifying colors for Vata include red, orange and yellow.
Abhyanga: A daily self-oil massage with sesame or a medicated Vata oil blend is indicated to calm Vata dosha in the fall season.
Haritaki Gargle: Mix 10g haritaki in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes, strain and cool. Use the mixture as a gargle in the morning. Haritaki (one of the three herbs in triphala) pacifies Vata through its action on the colon.
- Practice nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) pranayama.
- Practice gentle yoga poses (camel, cobra and cow pose are especially pacifying to Vata), sun salutations, and brisk walking.
- If it is cool and/or windy outside, be sure to cover the ears as they are connected to the sense of shabda(sound) which is the sense most intimately connected to Vata dosha. (taste: Kapha and smell: Pitta)
- Aim to go to bed by 10 pm and to wake up around 6 am to facilitate a healthy circadian rhythm for fall.
Vanaspati Dravyaguna Shastra – Fall Herbal Recommendations
Ashwagandha is one of the primary Ayurvedic herbs used to support Vata dosha. It is a wonderful rasayana(rejuvenating) herb for the skeletomuscular system, majja vaha srotas (the nervous system), as well as weakness, fatigue, and sleep disorders.
Dashamula is a mixture of ten roots (dasha means ten and mula means root) which aims at pacifying Vata dosha through its action on the colon.
A decoction of dashamula is commonly used for basti enemas during panchakarma to eliminate excess Vata dosha from the body. It can also promote the cleansing of ama.
Bala, which means “strength,” is said to impart vigor, vitality and inner strength. It is a bronchodilator, strengthens the heart, calms pulse irregularities and arrhythmia, and provides building qualities in cases of emaciation or fatigue.
Bala helps to counteract the laghu (light), ruksha (dry) and khara (rough), qualities of Vata present in the fall season.
Tagar, also known as Indian Valerian is a wonderfully soothing and calming herb for elevated Vata.
It is a mild sedative which may be used to promote sound sleep, as well as to calm anxiety and racing thoughts induced by the chala (mobile) quality of Vata.
Tagar can also minimize menstrual cramping related to Vata and prevent the movement of stress to the GI tract.
Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before trying the diet, lifestyle, or herbal recommendations for fall mentioned in this article.
- Thakkar, Jayesh. “Ritucharya: Answer to the Lifestyle Disorders.” NCBI, 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3361919/