This post was last updated on August 25, 2023 by srinivas krishnaswamy
Ritucharya (seasonal guidelines for good health ) and Dinacharya (daily living guidelines) are two cornerstones of health as per Ayurveda.
The Indian knowledge systems have divided the year into six different seasons of two months each. Due to the movement of the Sun through the year, the different parts of Earth experience the different seasons ( also called Ritu)
In each season or Ritu, the environmental factors impact our bodies in different ways. Therefore for each season Ayurvedic acharyas have given us clear guidelines that cover daily regimen, food and drink, exercise, Abhyanga, clothing, places to go to or avoid , gems , flowers, fragrances & accessories that can be used etc. By following these Ritucharya rules, we can prevent diseases due to seasonal weather changes and maintain good health through the year.
For example, did you know our bodies are at their weakest during the hot summer (greeshma ritu) season ? Therefore we should avoid vigorous exercise during this seaoson and beginners should avoid starting a new exercise routine during summers
Why is Ayurvedic Ritucharya so important? Why does following seasonal guidelines help improve our health and sense of well being?
In this guide, we will also the answers. We will also share the detailed instructions for each season , based on Authentic Ayurvedic references.
Adana Kala vs Visarga Kala: An Ayurvedic concept:
Depending upon the movement of the Sun, the Ayurvedic Acharyas have divided the year into 2 parts of 6 months each. Each of these 6 month periods have 3 seasons of 2 months each. Hence we experience 6 seasons according to Ayurevda: each lasting 2 months. 3 seasons fall in Adana Kala and 3 seasons fall into Visarga Kala.
Shishira (late Winter), Vasantha (Spring) and Greeshma (Summer) are the 3 seasons that fall in the Uttarayana period, when the Sun is seen to move in a Northern direction. The Acharyas term this period, “Adana kala” .
Adana Kala in Ayurveda:
Adana kala means “time phase / period” of “extraction / lessening”. During this phase, the sun travels towards the North of the equator. Henec the direction of the sun lends its name to the phrase “Uttarayana” or northern path of the Sun. As its heat becomes intense and piercing, it starts to evaporate the moisture of the earth and the organisms on earth. Therefore everything has less moisture content and the air is drier. All these changes affect the health and strength of all living organisms – so Adana kala is considered a period when “strength is gradually decreased or taken away”.
Greeshma (Summer) is the last season in Adana Kala. Hence in Greeshma, our strength is at our most depleted as we have gone through 3 seasons of decreasing body strength in this period, starting from late winter (Shishira), through Vasanta (spring) and finally Greeshma (summer).
Visarga Kala in Ayurveda
During Visarga kala , the Sun moves in a direction south of the equator (hence away from us living in India). This direction of the Sun is called Dakshinayana. As the Sun moves away from us, the Moon assumes greater importance in our life. The Moon’s saumeya / gentle properties weaken the agneya (fiery) properties of the sun. The coolness of clouds, strong winds and cold rains further cool the Earth which has been fiery until Greeshma ritu (summer).
Hence , unlike Adana Kala , all organisms gain strength gradually in Visarga Kala. This strength gaining period starts in Varsha Ritu (Monsoon) which is the first season in Visarga Kala. This strength gradually builds up until it reaches its peak in Hemanta Season (early Winter).
Both for conception and child birth Visarga Kala is considered ideal in Ayurveda. Children born in peak Visarga Kala, i.e in Hemanta Ritu are considered to naturally have greater strength and ojas. Similarly, chances of conception and good development of pregnancy when baby is conceived at this time is also said to be very good in Ayurveda. Of course this does not mean that all our efforts must be skewed towards this time. This simply illustrates how much season and direction of the sun can make a difference to our strength and well being.
The natural variation of Doshas in each season & the importance of Ritucharya
Just like the influence of the Sun , Moon , Clouds, Air and Space cause the seasons and affect all organisms externally, internally our bodies are also influenced by the change in seasons. Our Doshas do not remain still and in the same volume within our body throughout the year. They respond to external inputs like age, lifestage, stress levels, humidity, geography, day part, and most importantly to season.
Every season sees large variations in the way the Pancha Mahabuthas behave . For example, in Greeshma Ritu, there is a massive increase in the intensity of the sun’s rays due to the double combination of Adana Kala + the season itself. This piercing sun intensity dries up the atmosphere and earth itself ,depositing heat in every part of the world, including our bodies.
To cool and balance this naturally increased Pitta dosha energy, Ritucharya rules state that we should eat cool, watery , light ahara. This ahara is chosen as digestion is weakened due to excess Agni in the atmosphere. The body is unable to digest heavy, oily foods.
The dryness in the air and the body in Greeshma Ritu due to high , piercing Sun energy further aggravates in Varsha where the atmosphere is cold and windy.
So Vata dosha naturally aggravates in Varsha (monsoon) Ritu. This is also augmented by the wetness and coldness in the body due to the depleted Agni levels, which may have otherwise kept Vata levels in check.
These specific examples are given for us to understand that dosha vitiation is both NORMAL and NATURAL in each season.
To cope with this natural movement in Doshas, the acharyas have suggested Ritucharya – seasonal guidelines for living. When these Ritucharya rules are followed, they help keep the dosha aggravation in check. The Dosha imbalance is not allowed to peak, and it subsides normally and naturally with a change in season.
To reiterate: If we follow the Ritu sanctioned diet + Dinacharya practices, this improves strength and immunity and ability to absorb and metabolise nutrients better. In this strong state, we can cope with seasonal dosha variations without it getting too imbalanced. As we continue to follow daily and seasonal living guidelines, the aggravated dosha naturally comes to balance in the next season. This normal process of aggravated dosha going into a state of balance is called prashamana stage.
Natural Process of Dosha Vitiation – Ritucharya
In the normal process, when we take care to follow Ahara, dinacharya and Ritucharya guidelines, any natural Dosha aggravation in a particular season is part of a closed loop. It gets resolved naturally within a few months.
Dosha vitiation leading to Disease : when Ritucharya is NOT followed
If the body is weak, immunity is low and Dinacharya and Ritucharya practices are not followed, the normal stage of Sanchaya (gradual accumulation of dosha in season 1), followed by Prakopa (normal aggravation of dosha in season 2) and Prashamana (dosha is pacified normally in season 3) is not followed.
Instead of Prashamana (dosha is normally pacified in season 3), the Dosha instead undergoes Prasara stage (spreading stage) in Season 3. Here the aggravated Dosha grows in volume in season 2, as it has not been calmed by adopting Ritucharya measures. In this aggravated stage, it further spreads, until it spills out of its normal seat and spreads to other parts of the body.
Once it begins to spread, if it is still not found and calmed down, it goes into Sthana samshraya stage – where it spreads and attacks a weak organ / tissue. In this Sthana samshrya stage, disease manifestation begins, but is as yet not visible outside.
After Sthana Samshraya stage comes the Vyaktha stage. In the Vykatha stage, the aggravated spreading Dosha which has gone into weak tissue/organ manifested and visible signs appear which are noticed by the patient.
If not treated even at this stage, Disease proceeds to Bheda stage where it is difficult to treat / incurable.
When we read this, we can understand that no symptom of dis-ease is instant / starts overnight. It takes atleast 4-6 months for dosha imbalance to reach the spreading stage. If we then continue to ignore Ritucharya, Dinacharya and Ahara Niyama guidelines, we cannott blame anyone else for our symptoms!
Sadly, most of us recognize Disease symptoms only in Stage 5 – Vyakta stage when symptoms start to manifest. On the other hand, if we had simply understood the importance of Ritucharya and Dinacharya, and followed the Ahara guidelines, we could have controlled dosha aggravation right in Stage 2 itself.
Seasonal Guidelines for each Ritu
If you enjoyed reading this, here are the Ritucharya guidelines for each season:
- Hemanta Ritucharya (Early Winter seasonal living guidelines)
- Vasanta Ritucharya (Spring Seasonal living guidelines)
- Greeshma Ritucharya (Summer seasonal living guidelines)
- Varsha Ritucharya (Monsoon seasonal living guidelines)
- Sharad Ritucharya (Autumn seasonal Living Guidelines)
To sum up: the importance of Ritucharya
Ritucharya is a powerful, health giving ayurvedic tool that helps us live according to the changes in season and make internal adjustments so that our doshas are in a state of balance. Ayurvedic health guidelines are extremely powerful and potent. The importance of following Ritucharya is that we are able to stop disease even before it starts.
With health care costs on the rise, high stress lives and weakening immunity, Ritucharya and Dinacharya assume even greater importance to us. It helps us take charge of our health and our families health and gives us simple yet powerful tools to help our body.
This is a part of Krya’s continuing series on ayurvedic education where we share authentic , holistic and life changing information on health, harmony and well being from the ayurvedic texts. If you have any questions on this or any of our products, please email us or call/WhatsApp us – (0)75500-89090.