Classification of seasons according to Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, the year is governed by the direction of the movement of the sun and is divided into two periods (solstice) that is Uttarayana (northern solstice) and Dakshinayana (southern solstice). Ayurvedic ritucharaya is based on Dosha and Panchmahabhuta theory.
When there is heat outside, the key to balance is to find ways to cool down inside- physically, mentally and emotionally. Summer season brings it with the host of symptoms such as excessive body heat, sweating, dehydration, skin rashes, sunburns, acne, diarrhoea, lethargy etc. Summer is hot, bright and a season of Pitta. Thus, it is recommended to maintain the body cool and not allowing the Pitta dosha to become aggravated.
Summer season is known as “Grishm Ritu” in Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, there is a detailed description regarding different seasons and the regimen to be followed.
Reference: Astang Hridyam Sutrasthanam, Chapter No. 3, Shloka No. 26-27)
Meaning: According to this shloka, in summer season, the rays of the sun become powerful and destructive. Kapha dosha decreases day by day and Vata dosha increases consequently. Hence, avoid the use of salt, pungent and sour foods, heavy physical exercises and exposure to sunlight during this season.
- In Ayurveda, it is mentioned that there is a predominance of katu rasa (pungent taste) during summer season and Mahabhuta which are predominant are Vayu and Agni. Therefore, the strength of the persons becomes less.
- One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda is that our dietary habits and daily routines should flow with the seasons. It is a fundamental rule that ‘like increases like’ and cause imbalance and that opposite creates balance.
- It is mentioned in Ayurveda that foods which are light to digest such as those having madhura (sweet), sheeta (cold), drava (liquid), snigdha (uncutous) should be taken.
- Drinking plenty of water and other liquids such as buttermilk, fresh fruit juices, churned curd with pepper are advised.
- Food with Katu (pungent), Amla (sour) taste and Ushna (warm) foods should be avoided.
Ayurvedic ways to stay healthy during summer months
1. Protect yourself from the sun:
According to Ayurveda, summer is considered to be a Pitta dominant season and Pitta dosha is aggravated by solar force.
- Ayurveda considers this a time of dehydration that occur both inside and outside the body.
- So, Ayurvedic measures based on Pitta pacification measures should be adopted.
- To pacify Pitta dosha, it is necessary to protect yourself from the sun.
- Eat juicy fruits such as melons, pears etc.
- Drink a glass of lemon water to keep yourself cool
- Drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated.
2. Take Cooling Beverages:
It is a well known fact that carbonated beverages or a packed bottled juice don’t give any relief from the scorching heat. Rather, the system becomes dehydrated by the consumption of carbonated drinks.
- Chilled cold drinks are harmful as they disrupt the ‘jatharagni’ or digestive fire.
- Instead fresh seasonal fruit juices should be consumed.
- Include water melon shake, fresh coconut water, bael sharbat (juice prepared from Aegle marmelos), aam panna (prepared from raw mangoes and spices), buttermilk are healthy as well as refreshing drinks.
3. Take cooling diet:
Ayurveda recommends cooling diet to be consumed during summer season which includes seasonal fruits and vegetables that are sweet, juicy, bitter and astringent in nature. It is recommended to consume more alkaline foods in the diet during summer season.
- Use rose petals in summer season as in Ayurveda, rose is renowned for its powerful cooling effect on the physiology.
- Apply organic rose water on the face and if the eyes burn due to heat, then lie down for 10 minutes with organic rose water soaked cotton wads on closed eyes.
- You can also splash some organic rose water in the bathing water.
4. Eat at right time
Lunch should not be skipped during summer season as the digestive fire is strongest during mid-day.
- Skipping lunch during summer season means upsetting the Pitta dosha.
5. Eat light foods:
In summer season, our bodies naturally crave for light and small meals because the digestive fire disperses in order to keep us cool.
- It is a time to include sweet, astringent and bitter tastes in the diet and to enjoy cool, liquid and slightly oily foods.
- Summer is considered as the best season for the intake of fresh fruits and salads.
- Fresh and sweet dairy products can also be included in the diet during summer season such as homemade yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese etc.
- Pranayam such as Sheetali Pranayam and Chandrabhedi Pranayam are very effective for cooling down the body temperature
1. Sheetali Pranayam:
Stick your tongue out and curl the sides of the tongue upwards towards the center of the tongue.
- Now, breathe in through the mouth and hold the breath.
- Slowly exhale through the nose.
- Repeat this procedure 5-10 times.
2. Chandrabhedi Pranayam:
This pranayama has a cooling effect on the nervous system and on the subtle channels of energy in the body.
- Close the right nostril with the right thumb.
- Now, exhale completely through the left nostril and then breathe in through the left nostril.
- Close the left nostril with the little ring finger and exhale through the right nostril.
- Repeat this procedure 5-10 times.
- After this pranayama, lie down in Shavasan (Corpse pose).
Diet and Lifestyle to be followed during summer season:
- Stay in cool places.
- Excessive exercise or physical activity should be avoided.
- Avoid sun exposure during the day time especially between 11 am to 3 pm.
- Vegetables like cucumber, asparagus, green leafy vegetables should be consumed.
- Milk mixed with cow’s ghee should be consumed during night.
- Applying sandalwood and other aromatic and cooling pastes over the body is helpful.
Foods to be avoided:
- Avoid foods that produce heat in the body such as sour fruits, garlic, chilies, dark meats as they tend to heat up the system.
- Avoid taking alcohol in the summer season as it heats up the system.