Written by Dr Vishal Bhalla BAMS. Adv. Dip Naturopathy, Secretary AAA
Ayurvedic medicine emphasises the importance of seasons for health maintenance as they have a natural effect on three vital energies or tridoshas. The rationale behind it according to traditional texts is that the strength of a person is enhanced when suitable diets and routines are adopted according to each season. To achieve this level of health, one must have knowledge of the qualities of the seasons and their influence on three doshas. The doshas have a natural tendency to be accumulated during seasons that share their qualities and once they have accumulated more than a limit they tend to be imbalanced and manifest as illness or symptoms.
So it makes sense to know to do the right thing as per season to keep your-self in balance and fit. Currently we are in the summer months in southern hemisphere and we can all relate these changes in our bodies with some careful observation and application of ayurvedic principles. Therefore this article will outline the summer season routine as per ayurvedic texts.
A season as per ayurvedic texts is believed to be of two months (Masa). There are 6 seasons roughly in a year which are broadly classified under two solstices or semesters known as northern solstice and southern solstice or uttarayan & dakshniyan . Uttarayana – Adana kala – Northern Solstice – mid January – mid July as applicable in northern hemisphere can be correlated as per southern hemisphere
Seasons of northern solstice
Shishira Ritu (winter, dewy season) – Magha and Phalguna (Mid January – Mid March)
Vasanta Ritu (Spring season) – Chaitra and Vaishakha (Mid March – Mid May)
Greeshma Ritu (Summer season) – Jyeshta and Ashadha (Mid May to Mid July)
The above three Ritus form Uttarayana – Northern solstice. Here, fire is dominant. It is also called as Adana Kala, where in the human strength is relatively low. Because of the nature of the path, both the Sun and wind become very strong, powerful and dry during this half of the year. It takes away all the cooling qualities of the earth. Bitter, Astringent and Pungent tastes (Tikta, kashaya and Katu Rasas) will be more powerful, respectively, in the successive Ritus. Hence Adana Kala is dominated by fire.
The following three seasons form Dakshinayana – Southern solstice. It is also called as Visarga Kala, wherein the human strength will be relatively high
Varsha Ritu (Rainy Season) – Shravana and Bhadrapada – Mid July – mid September
Sharath Ritu (Autumn season) – Ashvayuja and Karthika – Mid September to Mid November
Hemantha Ritu (Winter season) – Margashira and Pushya - Mid November to Mid January
In Greeshma (summer) the sun rays become powerful and appear to be destructive. Kapha decreases day by day and Vata increases consequently, hence avoid use of salt, pungent and sour foods, heavy physical exercises and exposure to sunlight, during this season.
The predominant Rasa is Katu (pungent) and Mahabhuta are Agni and Vayu. The strength of the person become less, deposition of Vata Dosha occurs, but the vitiated Kapha Dosha is pacified during this season. Agni of the person will remain in mild state
Food which are sweet, light (easy to digest), fatty, cold and liquid should be taken, take cornflour mixed with cold water and sugar after taking bath in cold water.
Herbs & spices
Most herbs and spices are balancing to Vata dosha though very drying spices such as chilli, mustard seed and black pepper should be taken in moderation.
Food items to take in summer
- During summer, boiled rice, which is white in colour, (like full moon) should be eaten along with meat of animals of desert.
- Meat juice (Mamsarasa) which is not very thick,
- Rasala (curds churned and mixed with pepper powder and sugar),
- Raga (syrup which is sweet, sour and salty)
- Khandava (syrup which has all the tastes, prepared with many substances),
- Panaka panchasara, (syrup prepared with raisins (draksha), madhuka, dates (karjura), kasmarya, and parushaka fruits all in equal quantities, cooled and added with powder of cinnamon leaves, cinnamon and cardamom etc) and kept inside a fresh mud pot, along with leaves of plantain and coconut trees, and made sour (fermented) should be drunk in mugs of mud or shell
- Very cool water kept in mud pot along with flowers of patala and karpura (camphor) should be used for drinking.
- Food articles like sasanka kirana (hollow, finger-like, fried pastry made of corn flour) should be taken at night
- Buffalo milk mixed with sugar and cooled by moonlight and the stars should be used for drinking.
- Avoid taking foods that are too salty, sour and pungent and alcohol use is to be avoided completely or minimised
Top tip STAY COOL internally and externally for a complete balance of Pitta & vata
Activities to do in summer
Day time regimen as per charak samhita SS
Day time should be spent in gardens having tall trees reaching the sky such as shala (shorea robusta, Tala – Borassus flabellifera etc, which obstruct the hot rays of the sun, or in houses around which bunches of flowers and grapes are hanging from their creepers.
Sheets of cloth spreading sweet scented water, are arranged (to fan the air) , all around.
Sleep on soft bed prepared with flowers of banana, kalbara, lotus etc. with fully blossomed flowers place all over.
Spend the day remaining inside the house cooled by water fountains, water being scented with usheera (Cus Cus grass), and thereby relieve yourself from the heat of the sun
Restraining from coitus on very hot days is highly recommended as it will cause vata to vitiate and increase pitta
At nights, one should sleep on the terrace, facing moonlight. Exhaustion due to heat of the day is relieved by, anointing the body with paste of sandalwood, wearing garlands, avoidance of sexual activities, wearing of very light and thin dress, by fanning with fans made of leaves of Tala or large leaves of padmini (lily) made wet; syringes sprinkling cool water softly, garlands of flowers of camphor, jasmine and of pearls and beads of white sandal paste, children, sarika (mynah bird) and shuka (parrot) talking pleasantly; keeping company with beautiful woman wearing bangles of soft lotus stalk, blossoms of lotus in their hair, moving about nearby.
Things to avoid or contraindicated in summer
- Avoidance of coitus as excessive sexual activity aggravates Vata
- Madya (wine) should not be taken; If very necessary, taken in very little quantity or diluted with more quantity of water (for Vata-Kapha types) ; If wine is taken in large doses, it will cause inflammatory conditions, it will make the body fragile and weak, increases burning sensation and causes delusion.
Common problems that can occur in summer due to disturbed or increased Pitta dosha
- Pitta related disorders such as heat strokes and dehydration
- Disease related with Vata due to excessive pitta stimulation such as hridroga (heart problems), atisaar, moha vibhram (syncope)
- Kustha rog (a battery of skin problems due to excessive heat internal and external causes)