Be Healthy. Be Happy. Naturally.
Have you ever felt more irritable in the summer, had dry skin in the autumn, feel heavier in the winter, or have sniffles in the spring? The change of seasons in particular can upset our balance and bring with it uncomfortable symptoms. Following a seasonal routine can help us adapt to the changing environment and this self knowledge of self care puts our health and well being into our own hands.
Seasonal Practices: Ritucharya
In Sanskrit, ‘Ritu’ means seasonal and ‘charya’ means lifestyle. As the seasons shift, and when we spend most of our time in nature, we instinctively make changes to our diet and lifestyle to keep ourselves healthy. In the summer when it is hot and humid, we naturally desire less food and favor things that are cool and light, as well as a more carefree routine. In the winter, we are drawn to heavier and heartier foods as well as to more sleep and introspection. In the spring, we eat the young sprouts and greens that come up and enjoy more movement.
However as most of us in the western world live in in a more artificial environment, we have lost some of our ability to “listen” to what we need to stay healthy. With Ayurveda, we can relearn what is best as we listen to our inner self once again. As Ayurveda focuses on preventing disease, supporting balance in our body and mind throughout the year by making daily and seasonal adjustments to the cycles of nature, will keep us healthy and content.
As each of us has a unique constitution, there is no one way to approach how to handle the seasonal changes. For instance, someone who is predominantly a fiery pitta will enjoy the coolness of winter, whereas someone with predominantly kapha will feel the effects of the cold more dearly. A well balanced individual can follow the seasons per se - using a cooling and dryer pitta routine in the summer, a warmer and grounding vata routine in fall and a light and dry kapha reducing routine in the spring. However, someone who is out of balance or has a very dominant dosha, must soothe that dosha all year round.
In India, Ayurveda divides the year into six distinct seasons. In the United States, we have either three or four, depending on where we live. Generally, the wetness and growth of late winter into spring increases kapha, the heat and intensity of summer increases pitta, and the windiness and dryness of fall increases vata. But summer in Maine is completely different than summer in Arizona. So rather than follow a calendar we need to pay attention to the qualities of the season, even the qualities of each day within the season, the time of day and the time of our lives, as well as to our own state of balance or imbalance. Although this might seem overwhelming at first, by becoming in touch with our inner wisdom we can create powerful changes to our health.
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall
Whatever is your predominant dosha must be given special care during the season that dosha governs. So if you are more Kapha or have a kapha imbalance, Spring can be more challenging for you as spring has many of the same qualities of Kapha - cool, wet, heavy and anabolic. The summer is more challenging for Pitta with more heat, light and intensity, and the fall for vata as it is light, dry, changeable, and catabolic. A cold rainy day in the middle of the summer when you are challenged with a head cold should be approached differently than on a blazing hot day.
Don’t worry if this seems complicated; it really is simple once you understand the qualities of the elements and the doshas. For now, the basic thing to remember is that like increases like and opposites decrease. So if you are hot and cranky, apply more things that are cooling and calming. A cool stroll in the moonlight, wearing lovely light cotton clothes along a lake shore will do wonders. If you have a mucousy cold - wet, heavy and stagnant, increase things that are warm, dry and mobile. A nice cup of hot ginger tea will make you crankier if you are hot and fiery but will help break up the mucous of a cold.
Knowing the diet and lifestyle that helps pacify each dosha during each season will help you maintain balance and prevent disease. You'll feel better and stay healthier.
During a consultation, we can decide what is best just for you.
In the meantime, be well and smile often,
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I am certified as an Ayurvedic Practitioner. I am not a medical doctor nor a dietitian, and I do not diagnose, treat or cure disease. My articles are not a substitute for medical advice. It is always recommended that clients work with their physicians for routine medical care and treatment of illness. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils, especially when pregnant or nursing.
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