Grishma Ritucharya – Ayurvedic Regimen in Summer
Ayurveda has always stressed the importance of following a Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) based on the particular ritu or season. Ayurvedic texts mention that each season has a specific impact on our body and thus the diet and lifestyle have to be commensurate to that season for continued good health.
With summer/Grishma upon us, let’s find out more about Grishma ritu, ritucharya in Grishma and a certain Ayurvedic regimen in summer that needs to be followed for all round wellness.
Grishma ritu, or peak summer months that last for two months from mid-May to mid-July, is the last of the three seasons that make up the adaana kala period (or Uttarayan when the movement of the sun is towards north). A ritu characterized by harsh, penetrating rays of the sun and dry winds, this season weakens the Prithvi/earth’s cooling properties (Jal/water element is less effective due to drying up of water bodies, Akash and Vayu elements are assertive but Fire/Agni element is dominant in grishma ritu) making it hot and intense and also drains out energy from our bodies, leaving a feeling of dullness and lethargy.
Grishma Ritu & doshas
The tridoshas in our body – namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha – react subject to which of the Panchamahabhutas or the 5 core elements – Prithvi (earth), Vayu (wind), Akash (space) Jal/Apa (water) and Agni/Tej (fire) – are dominant in that ritu.
During Grishma ritu, due to the intensity of the sun, there is an overall lessening of the vitiated Kapha dosha as well as of Ojas or vital energy that strengthens our immunity and boosts spiritual, emotional and physical health.
Conversely, in the Grishma ritu the vata dosha starts accumulating and Kapha Dosha which was aggravated during Vasanta, starts pacifying . Grishma ritu makes all-important digestive fire or agni less effective (while reducing the moisture/kleda necessary to aid slow and proper digestion), impairing the digestive process and absorption of nutrients.
Grishma ritu is actually the season when our bodies are the weakest during the year due to weakened dhatus and digestive fire that affects the digestion and absorption of nutrients impeding immunity and strength.
During Grishma ritu, due to the fierce intensity of the sun, there is an overall increase in the tastes of tikta/bitter, Kashaya/astringent and katu/pungent of all fresh produce. The hot and intense sun during peak Grishma ritu weakens the digestive process and also leads to dehydration in the body. All these can leave our body exhausted, sluggish and dry. Following Ayurveda prescribed Grishma ritucharya or summer diet & lifestyle can help pacify/balance the vata dosha as well as keep the body hydrated and boost energy.
Diet for Grishma Ritu
- Eat food that is sweet/Madhura, sheetal/cool and drava/liquid. Include food items such as rice, lentils etc. that are light to digest
- Reduce consumption of foods with lavana/salty, amla/sour, katu/pungent or spicy and ushna/hot tastes to avoid aggravating the vata dosha. Pickles, vinegar, papads, excess of olive oil, amchur, overuse of tamarind etc. are some of the foods that need to be avoided in Grishma ritu
- Make sure you eat food that is cooked a short time ago (preferably just one hour before), avoid eating food that has been prepared and kept a long time or even previous day’s leftovers as they may contain harmful bacteria
- Fresh fruits such as mangoes, watermelon, grapes, peaches, plums, pears, berries etc. as well as vegetables such as cabbage, asparagus, sweet potato, cucumber, leafy greens should also be a part of the daily ahaar/diet
- Drink lot of liquids to keep your body hydrated in the Grishma ritu – enough quantities of water (boiled & cooled), buttermilk/mantha, fresh fruit juices, coconut water, kokum sherbet, lemon sherbet, are some of the liquids that help counter the intense heat and also help avoid dehydration.
- Panaka or fresh fruit juices that are prepared from sweet fruits and lemon & sugar, etc. are recommended
- Sugarcane juice is one of the best drinks during Grishma ritu, as it helps reduce the heat in the body and helps prevent burning sensations during urination, prickly heat as well as fatigue etc.
- Gulkand – a preparation made from rose petals and sugar – is one of the most beneficial foods to reduce the intense heat in the body. Not just a coolant, but Gulkand is also an excellent antioxidant that reduces burning sensations, itchiness, lightheadedness, eases digestion etc.
- Ideally don’t consume milkshakes as they aggravate the Kapha dosha (which leads to ama accumulation) as well as the pitta dosha. Avoid curds as well, instead consume buttermilk (if you need to eat curd, eat it churned and with some pepper)
- Avoid tea, coffee, aerated drinks as they are acidic in nature and can cause dehydration. Similarly, avoid alcohol as it is teekshna and can cause dryness in the body as well as increase the heat resulting in burning sensations
- In the need to consume cooling foods a lot of us drink refrigerated water or even foods kept in the fridge, but instead of acting as a sheetal/cooling influence, consuming refrigerated drinks & food products can aggravate pitta and produce extra heat in the body
Lifestyle during Grishma Ritu
- Avoid going out in the hot sun, too much exposure to heat and dry wind is not beneficial to our bodies. Stay indoors instead – at least during the peak afternoon hours when the sun is at its most intense
- Wear light, cotton clothes – cotton is soft, soaks sweat, is breathable and allows the heat to escape, keeping you cool
- Bathe twice a day – with normally cooled water (not overly cold)
- Don’t indulge in excess physical activities – Vyayama drains out the energy during the Grishma ritu, so ideally exercise early in the day before the sun’s gets scorching hot
- Use of sandalwood/Chandan (Sandal perfumes or sandalwood pastes) during the Grishma ritu is helpful as Chandan is known to have a cooling effect on the body
- A short nap during the daytime is beneficial as it can help rejuvenate the body. Ayurveda allows afternoon naps only during the Grishma ritu as they help increase Kleda/moisture in the body
- Avoid spending too much time in A/C rooms, as they suck the humidity in the room, leaving it dry and cold which can cause dehydration. Use water based cooling methods instead (soak curtains in water, squeeze out the water and then put them in the room, they naturally reduce the room temperature)
- Use pitta reducing lepas/face masks made from herbs like Vetiver, Chandana, Rakta Chandana, Ku-chandana (patranga), Nannari
- To counter depletion of energy and balance the vata dosha, apply a drop or two of cow ghee in the navel/belly button (nabhi) area at night
- Avoid sweat suppressing, chemically prepared body products as they can clog the skin pores and impair proper thermo-regulation in the body
Ayurvedic health care advises gradual inclusion of these diet & lifestyle changes so as to give your body enough time to adjust to the seasonal changes. Get expert ayurvedic consultation – personalized health & diet plans from a practicing Ayurvedic Vaidya or an Ayurvedic nutritionist – to stay cool & healthy during Grishma ritu.