Varsha Ritucharya – Ayurveda diet & lifestyle tips to boost your health during the monsoons!
One of Ayurveda’s definitive teachings says that we are an integral part of our surroundings and that our health and well being is fundamentally related to the rhythms and changes of nature’s yearly cycle. Ayurveda believes that various seasons impact us in different ways and recommends dietary and lifestyle adaptations, suitable to changing periods, in order to maintain a holistic balance, boost immunity and act as a preventive measure against diseases.
- What are Ritus?
According to Ayurveda a year is divided into two kaals (periods) – Uttarayan and Dakshinayan with each containing three seasons (ritus) or a total of 6 ritus. Uttarayan or the winter season consists of Sharad, Hemant and Shishir Ritus where as Dakshinayan, the summer months, include Vasant, Grishma and Varsha Ritus.
- What is Ritucharya?
Ayurveda believes that each individual has a distinct Prakruti (body type) which is established right at birth and is comprised of the interplay between the tridoshas namely vata, pitta and kapha. Each season has a different effect on these doshas and can create imbalances between them leading to health troubles.
The ancient practice of Ritucharya (ritu = season, charya = routine/regimen) outlines a detailed dietary and lifestyle discipline to help us deal with and overcome physical and mental effects of seasonal changes. Ritucharya balances the tridoshas in our body, boosts immunity, aids mental health to keep us healthy all year round.
- Varsha Ritu and health
As per Ayurveda, the rainy season or Varsha Ritu which falls between the months of Shravan and Bhadrapad, according to the Indian calendar (the exact months may vary a bit for Northern and Southern India) or July and September, increases the humidity in the air which weakens the strength of a person, causing an imbalance in the doshas (vata, pitta & kapha).
The digestive system gets affected as the agni (digestive fire) is weakened during the rains, making our bodies vulnerable to diseases related to digestion. The weak agni also aggravates vataand causes pittaaccumulation, a main cause of many ailments.
- Varsha Ritucharya
Ayurveda has long recommended that the diet and lifestyle of a person should be in sync with the season in order to maintain all round health. So, during the monsoons the Varsha Ritucharya, should be such that helps balance the vata and pitta dosha in our body.
- Dietary recommendations for Varsha Ritu
- Eat foods that have amla (sour) and lavana (salty) taste in your daily diet such as tamarind, kokum, raw mango, pickles, fermented foods, citrus fruits etc.
- Eat freshly cooked warm food that is easy to digest, avoid stale food and raw salads
- Preferably use boiled water for drinking. Don’t drink excess fluids as they may slow down your metabolism
- Intake of honey with lukewarm water or lukewarm milk is recommended during rainy season as honey is known to pacify the vata dosha. Also, honey has anti bacterial and anti fungal properties that are beneficial against infections which can be caused during the monsoon season
- Make sure to include ginger, lemon, black pepper as they are good for digestion. In fact, a little bit of ginger with rock salt before mealtime helps increase the digestive fire
- Foods made from barley, rice and wheat are light on the stomach and can be a part of regular diet during the rainy season
- Have lentils, cow’s ghee, green grams, vegetable soups regularly but avoid high intake of leafy vegetables
- Drink buttermilk at the end of your lunch, but eating curd should be avoided during the rainy season
- On cool days, fried/oily foods are fine in moderate quantities
- Lifestyle tips to maintain your health during Varsha Ritu
In addition to a health conscious, seasonal diet, changes to daily lifestyle are necessary to achieve best results. Some simple adjustments can make a lot of difference to your overall health such as
- Avoid taking those afternoon naps, sleeping during daytime can aggravate the kapha dosha and weaken the digestive fire
- Getting drenched in the first rain may be fun but it’s not good for your health as it aggravates the vata dosha. As our agni or digestive fire is low during the rains, our immunity is weakened and can cause respiratory infections
- Always wear dry clothes and make sure you keep your feet dry too. Getting wet/wearing damp or wet clothes can aggravate the vata dosha and can also cause chronic old diseases such as joint pain, asthama to flare up.
- Get an oil massage and follow that by a warm water bath. This helps pacify the vata dosha
- Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma which are body cleansing treatments or detoxifications, during the Varsha Ritu, to correct dosha imbalances. Out of all the panchakarmas, basti is mainly advised as it is beneficial in pacifying the vata dosha
Following Ayurveda recommended diet & lifestyle can go a long way in preventing dosha (vata & pitta) imbalance and keep you healthy and fit during the monsoon. Ritusandhi, a duration of 2 weeks, is the interval when one ritu ends and the next one begins. It is advisable to make these dietary & lifestyle alterations during this period, not drastically but in a gradual manner to give us enough time to adjust to changes in the daily routine.
Adopting Ayurveda Varsha Ritucharya will help keep both your mind and body in harmony, ensuring you enjoy a healthy, disease free rainy season.