Due to the revolution of earth around the sun, we experience different types of seasons. According to Ayurveda, the northern movement of sun is known as Adana Kala which consists of Shishir, Vasant and Greesham Ritu. The southern phase is known as Visarga Kala which includes Varsha, Sharad and Hemant Ritu.
Due to stronger energy level in the northern phase, the sun sucks up the moisture from the earth leaving it dry. The dry wind also conjugates with the sun and causes harsh atmosphere. During this half of the year, the body tends to get weakened.
In southern phase, the sun’s energy level begins to wane and moisture is released into the atmosphere. The body gains strength and vitality.
So, there is a great need of care for rhythmic seasonal variations adhering to proper diet and lifestyle.
According to Ayurveda, each of us has a dominant natural constitution which can be Vata, Pitta or Kapha or a combination of any of these. Each season pacifies or ignites these humors within us. Our system can be out of balance if we don’t take measures to adapt our body according to the seasonal changes.
Ayurveda lays a set of seasonal guidelines known as Ritucharya. Ritu means season and Charya means guidelines. These guidelines serve as a prescription for diet and lifestyle changes throughout the year.
A year consists of six seasons. These are:
- Shishir (Winter)
- Basant (Spring)
- Grishm (Summer)
- Varsha (Monsoon)
- Sharad (Autumn)
- Hemant (Late Autumn)
Uttarayana and its effect:
Uttaryana indicates the northward movement of the sun or the ascent of the sun. In this period, the strength of people becomes low which causes increase in Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent) and Katu (pungent) rasa (tastes). As a result, there is an increase in dryness in the body and reduction in bala (strength). This period is also known as Adan Kala.
During Uttaryan, the seasonal changes in Indian subcontinent is from Shishir to Basant and to Grishm. This period includes mid-January to mid-July. There is an increase in warmness and dryness in weather and debilitating effect on the environment, to which human being is also a part.
Dakshinayan and its effect:
Dakshinayan indicates the descent of sun or movement of sun in the opposite direction. In this period, the wind is not so dry, the earth becomes cool as the rays of the moon are more powerful than the rays of the sun, clouds, rain and cold winds.
The rasa (tastes) such as amal (sour), lavan (salty) and Madhur (sweet) are predominant. The strength of the person gets enhanced during this period. This period is also known as Visarg Kala.
During Dakshinayan, the seasonal changes in Indian subcontinent are from Varsha (monsoon) to Sharad (autumn) to Hemant (late autumn). This period consists of mid-July to mid-January.
State of Strength according to seasons described in Ayurveda:
In the beginning of Visarg Kala as well as ending of Adana Kala, i.e., during Varsha and Grishm Ritu, weakness occurs in the environment which impacts human body as well.
In the middle of solstices, i.e., during Sharad and Basant Ritu, strength remains moderate.
In the end of Visarg Kala and in the beginning of Adana Kala, i.e., during Hemant and Shishir Ritu, maximum strength is observed.
Six seasons according to Ayurveda are:
- Shishir (Winter): Mid-January to Mid-March
- During this season, the environment remains cold. The wind is cold in nature.
- The predominant Rasa (taste) is Tikta (bitter) and Mahabhuta (element) is Akash (sky).
- The strength of the person is less in this season and there is a dominance of Kapha dosha and Agni (digestive fire) remains in a higher state.
- Basant (Spring): mid-March to mid-May
- This season is considered as a season of flowering and origin of new leaves in nature.
- Predominant Rasa (taste) is Kashaya (astringent) and Mahabhuta (element) are Prithvi (Earth) and Vayu (Air).
- In this season, the strength of a person remains in medium degree. There is a vitiation of Kapha dosh and digestive fire becomes low.
- Grishm (Summer): mid-May to mid-July
- In this seasonal change, environment is prevalent with intense heat and unhealthy wind. The river bodies get dried up and the plants appear lifeless.
- The predominant rasa is katu (pungent) and mahabhutas are agni (fire) and vayu (air).
- The strength of the person becomes weak. There is a dominance of Pitta and Vata doshas but Kapha dosha is pacified during this season.
- Agni (digestive fire) remains in mild state.
- Varsha (Monsoon): mid-July to mid-September
- During this season, rain occurs without thunderstorm.
- The predominant rasa is amal (sour) and mahabhutas are Prithvi (earth) and Agni (fire).
- The strength of the person becomes less and there is a vitiation of Vata dosha and Pitta dosha becomes dominant.
- Agni (digestive fire) also gets vitiated.
- Sharad (Autumn): mid-September to mid-November.
- During this season, the sun becomes bright in the sky, sky remains clear and earth is covered with wet mud.
- The predominant rasa is lavan (salty) and predominant mahabhuta is agni (fire).
- The strength of the person becomes medium. There is a vitiation of Pitta dosha and pacification of vitiated Vata dosha takes place.
- Agni (digestive fire) increases during this season.
- Hemant (Late Autumn): mid-November to mid-January.
- In this season, blow of cold winds starts and chillness is felt in the environment.
- The predominant rasa in this season is Madhur (sweet) and predominant mahabhuta is Prithvi (earth).
- The strength of a person remains in highest grade.
- The pacification of vitiated Pitta dosha takes place in this season.
- Agni (digestive fire) is increased in Hemant Ritu.
Thus, in Ayurveda, the knowledge of Ritucharya is a first- hand guide to the concept of Kriya-Kala, which describes the stages as well as mode of development of diseases, with regard to the state of different doshas. For example, headache in evening is caused with the predominance of Vata dosha and the diseases due to Vata imbalance show a tendency to aggravate during the rainy season.
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