With the changes in the seasons, doshas go through a cycle of accumulation, aggravation, reduction. The following table tries to summarize some key facts.
|Kapha||Jan-Feb (late winter)||Mar-Apr (spring)||May-Jun (early summer)|
|Pitta||May-Jun (early summer)||Jul-Aug (late summer)||Sep-Oct (fall)|
Nov-Dec (early winter)
|Jan-Feb (late winter)|
Starting from the beginning of the year, let’s see how the doshas tie in with the months and seasons.
In Jan-Feb (late winter), vata decreases and kapha accumulates. By Mar-Feb (spring), kapha peaks. So, late winter and spring is the time for kapha aggravations like allergies, colds, congestion etc.
In May-Jun (early summer), kapha reduces and pitta accumulates. By Jul-Aug (late summer), pitta peaks. So, summer is the time for pitta aggravations like inflammations, fevers, skin rashes etc.
In Sep-Oct (fall), pitta reduces and vata accumulates. By Nov-Dec (early winter), vata peaks. So, fall and early winter is the time for vata aggravations like dryness, nervous disorders etc.
Based on this, just as we have a daily routine, we need to tailor our routines based on the season. This is called Ritucharya (Ritu is season and charya is routine)
Spring is kapha season. Kapha is heavy, static, cold, oily, smooth, dense, soft, cloudy, gross. It thereby follows that our diet and lifestyle should balance these with opposing qualities of light, mobile, hot, dry, rough, liquid, hard, clear and subtle.
Our diet should favor food and drinks with hot, dry, light qualities. Eat more baked, broiled, grilled, warm foods. Avoid cheeses, ice creams and other heavy foods. Add pungent spices. Eat more vegetables. Cut down on sweets. Sweet, salty and sour tastes aggravate kapha, so they should be limited. Pungent, astringent and bitter tastes reduce kapha, so they should be added.
Massage should be done with dry herbal powders like haritaki or heating oils like mustard. Daytime sleep should be avoided as much as possible. Yoga practices like bhastrika pranayama (bellows breathing), sun salutations, lion, camel, shoulder stand, boat and bow pose can be practiced. Dress in bright, warm colors like yellow, gold, orange. Strong fragrances like eucalyptus are good.Favor herbs like black pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon etc.
Summer is pitta season. Pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, liquid, mobile. So our diet and lifestyle should balance these with opposing qualities of dry, mild/bland, cold, heavy, dense, static.
Our diet should be cool, heavy and bland to counter pitta’s hot, light and sharp qualities. Add more fruit and vegetables to the diet. Ghee is tridoshic (balancing to all doshas) and good for pitta pacification. Avoid pungent, sour and salty tastes. Emphasize sweet, astringent and bitter tastes, which pacify pitta. Avoid alcohol, fermented foods like sour yogurt, vinegar, spicy foods like pickles and deep-fried or oily foods. Incorporate drinks like lemon juice, coconut water, buttermilk into your diet.
Cook your meals in the morning to avoid working in a hot kitchen. Use coconut oil for your massage. Dress in cotton clothing that allows the skin to breathe. Favor loose-fitting clothes in white, grey, lavender, light green and pastel hues. Wear sunglasses but avoid red or purple tints. Choose swimming and such activities for keeping fit. Work and play indoors as much as possible, especially during the heat of the day. This is a good time to take a short afternoon nap. Fragrances like sandalwood, rose, jasmine are great cooling options. Yoga practices like shitali/shithkari pranayama, cow, cobra, fish pose are good. Herbs like amla, sandalwood, coriander, licorice are good.
Fall and early winter is vata season. Vata is dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile (windy), clear. So our diet and lifestyle should incorporate the opposite qualities of moist, heavy, hot, smooth, gross, static (grounding), cloudy.
Diet should be warm, moist and heavy (as much as the state of the digestive fire permits) to counter vata’s cold, dry and light qualities. Soups, stews, gravy foods are good. Nuts like almonds (soaked in water and peeled preferably) and seeds like sesame, sunflower etc. that are heavy and oily are good. Butter, ghee and cheeses are also good in moderate amounts. Avoid salads, raw vegetables and under-ripe fruit as these are vata aggravating. Avoid pungent, astringent and bitter tastes. Favor sweet, salty and sour tastes. Drinks like herbal teas with cumin, coriander and fennel (CCF) tea, warm milk are good. Avoid cold or icy drinks.
Massaging the body with sesame oil followed by a warm shower during vata season. Avoid exercising too much, loud noises and music.Yoga practices like alternate nostril breathing, forward bends, vajrasana, spinal twists, pavan muktasana and corpse (shavasana) are all good. Adopt a routine and stick to it as irregularities in the routine upset vata in the body. Dress in warm clothing in red, orange, yellow hues to pacify vata.
Between Seasons (Ritusandhi – Ritu (season), Sandhi (junction)):
This is approximately a 15 day period comprising the 8 days before the end of a season and the 8 days after the beginning of a new season. During this period, it is recommended that we gradually start customizing our diet and lifestyle to suit the oncoming season. By the end of this period, we should be in complete accordance to the new season. The rationale behind this is to gradually give up the old habits of the previous season and gradually incorporate the new habits suitable to the new season, instead of making any abrupt changes. The doshas of the approaching season have gradually started to accumulate and those of the previous season are gradually starting to reduce, so following good practices during the gap between seasons helps acclimatize the body slowly and prevent disease from dosha accumulation.