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Ritucharya (Seasonal Routines):

[EXCERPT from Up-coming book “Ayurvedic Wellness Tips”]

© Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham/Arogya Ayurvedic Health Ltd.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form, without direct permission from the author. Quotes may be used in research works, providing proper citations and references are given.

Ayurveda considers the effects of seasons on our lives, due to their constant changes due to exogenous effects, that can affect our daily metabolic functions, both physically and mentally.

We have discussed in the beginning, how Ayurveda correlates various times of the day and correlates them with the doshas and their aggravation. Likewise, as a part of the Ayurvedic circadian clock, Ayurveda also looks at various effects relative to seasons (ritu), which we will now discuss here, as an important topic, relative to the scope of this book.

As a part of its preventative medicine scince, Ayurveda thus looks at the effects of these seasons and the changes they have relaive to affecting us, as individuals.

According to the traditional six-season model in India, vata accumulates in the summer-time and aggravates in the early rainy-season; pitta accumulates in the rainy or monsoon season and aggravates in the autumn and kapha accumulates in pre-winter and aggravates in the spring.

Here, the six seasons are:

Vasanta
or Spring
Grishma or Summer
Varshaor Monsoon season
Sharada or Early autumn
Hemanta or Late autumn
Shishira or Winter

Today there are many that claim to use the classical six-season system of the classics of Ayurveda (introducing shishira or late-winter / cold season and varsha or rainy / monsoon season) and apply them to western and other environments. Yet, the reality is that that we cannot use the six-season model of Ayurveda as in India, as we don’t have six seasons! Moreover, the seasons also differ in the Northern and Southern hemisphere! In Australasia for example, we celebrate Christmas in the summer-time, not in the cool winter as in the Northern Hemisphere and hence the same regimens and times cannot be superimposed. India is also a tropical nation, whereas others are not and change accordingly.

Moreover, these differ as per nation as per specific climates and cycles also, especially in relation to the North and South pole, which Ayurveda understands well with desha (land or region)etc. which all of this also comes into.

The climates across the US alone can change quite dramatically, especially the South closer to the equator and the North which is closer to the North Pole! This reveals that different models are here required as seasons have different properties even in the North American continent, let alone between continents themselves and localised variations of weather patterns. Land-locked regions of the south are also different in the desert to those bordering coastlines etc.

Even ecologists today employ four-seasonal systems in temperate and sub-polar regions, but employ a six-season system for more temperate or tropical regions. Kerala for example has to be treated as a kind of “rainy season / monsoon” (varsha season) climate due to having the highest rainfall of India. Hence, such issues need to be addressed relative to these sciences, as such again doesn’t apply to the rest of the world – just as the consumption of turkey, chilies, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, avocados etc. native to the Americas[1] is suitable for those habitually used to other foodstuffs in their diets for thousands of years (as Europeans) – whereas such are anti-doted with spices to aid in their digestions in the orient where they were introduced through trade in the past 400 years[2] – what is known as satmya or suitability in Ayurveda, as per cultural and social norms in dietary, lifestyle and other habits that are not always the same. Not all nations eat curries or spiced foods as India does for example and thus may not be able to handle the hotter, more pungent spices (such as Indian long pepper, ginger and garlic) traditionally used in South Asia.

Here we must remember that regions nearer the equator will have different kinds of seasonal effects to those nearer the poles, especially relative to summer and winter. India as a more tropical climate has its system centered more upon this system which differs from many other nations here and thus such properties must be assessed in a more unique manner – just as one should differentiate between predominating doshic factors in a patient, as also their vayas (age) in which doshic predominating factors are high, as also relative to their ethnicity also, as such variations exist. Smaller eyes for example are not always a sign of a vata person, just as a larger nose is not a sign of a kapha person when it comes to race. India possesses various racial types from Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Australoid and Negrito. We have to allow for differences here, just as we do for seasonal changes and changes in climatic factors and properties relative to them.

As such, the following four-season model is adapted to the west and such relative to Ayurveda. We must remember that Ayurveda considered such things as desha (location) and the effects of such regional changes, relative to how it assessed various things and gave such various properties accordingly. We know these by our own regions, once we have understood the gunas or properties of these.


[1] As per Ayurveda, these foods wouldn’t necessarily cause issues to people habitually suited to them, but may for others newly adopting them. Ayurveda often,as Indian cooking, uses spices to “anti-dote” these toxic effects of new foods and those we are unaccustomed to. 

Here, Charaka Samhita, Chikitsasthana, XXX.321-325 gives examples of, just as how the diets of Chinese, Europeans etc. doesn’t affect them, though sometimes contrary to disease, so sometimes like qualities of the doshas can alleviate them, as pitta deep within the tissues can be brought out by heat as in poultices or hot application and that excreta from a fly, though causing vomiting sensations, can also cure it (things which are normally contrary, but in certain cases help the disorder)!

[2] There is evidence to support the use of potatoes, chillies, maize, pumpkins etc. in India and Indian cooking in the pre-Columbian period.  Maize is seen on Hoysala and other sculptures in earlier times, as as early as 100AD (Sorenson, John L & Johannessen,  Carl  L: Scientific Evidence for Pre-Columbian Voyages Sino-Platinoc Papers,  Dept. of  East Asian Languages and Civilisations,  University of Pennsylvania, April 2004.).        Amaranth has also been culyivated since Indus-Valley times (source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/indus-valley-non-vegetarian-national-museum-6278349/).

Here, we know that India-America relations were possible in the earlier centuries AD, as also as early as the Ramayana and the Chola etc. Empires. Thus, it’s possible we used chilies much earlier!

According to the Asian Scientist magazine (June 1, 2018), sweet potatoes have have first been cultivated in India itself, and not the Americas as history tells us., due to fossils of leaves around 57 million years ago (Source: https://www.asianscientist.com/2018/06/in-the-lab/fossil-sweet-potatoes-asia-india/ ).


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Ayurveda and Diets: Some Clarity

I am vegetarian/vegan. Isn’t this Ayurvedic?

A: Whilst certain diets and those such as juicing, veganism and vegetarianism can be fine for certain people, it goes even far beyond what dosha a person has predominantly and has to be weighed up against various factors such as environment, age, sex, locality, seasonal effects, psychological typing, genetic suitabilities and any psychological disorders in addition to nay disorders and ones metabolism (enzymatic effect).

Thus, Ayurveda recommends such and even various combinations and manners of cooking foods (or not) relative to preparation after all of these are considered during a full Ayurvedic examination by a trained practitioner. Ayurveda recommends meat for some people and abstaining from such for others, depending upon such factors.

This is also that why vegans and vegetarians sometimes argue the higher amount of iron in certain vegetables or greens as spinach, they are harder to absorb than in meats (eastern diets consider methods to properly metabolise and absorb these, as well as heavier supplements); an absence of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an Omega-3 fat, predominantly found in fish, which is useful for eye and brain health among other things, which is lacking in vegan diets.

Certain cultures were vegetarian historically, but Ayurveda views such, relative to suitability over generations, rather than fad-diets and health-implications these may cause. Here, traditionally foreigners in Ayurvedic hospitals were given their local dietary substances (or closest to), so as it didn’t alter with their nutrition as it has evolved. Radical changes (as from meat to vegetarian or vegetarian to meat diets) can cause severe health concerns.

Book a consultation with us to find out what is best for you.

Is it good not to eat animals?

A: Yes, however, we must remember that many food articles that are deemed karmically ‘evolved’ as animals don’t stop there; many substances and foods that are consumed by those in modern Ayurveda and Yoga movements such as chillies, garlic, onions and wine are considered more evolved or causing issues to the mind in orthodox traditional Brahmin circles of India, who have been habituated to such regimes over thousands of years. If their people took up eating of meats, they would also have issues, just as westerners and others adopting such vegan and vegetarian trends without a full understanding or examination.

Ayurveda understands this as satmya (suitability) and notes that not all foods and substances are good for, nor should be avoided for all races (those in various geographic regions) based on their genetic suitability and evolution. The French Diet for example contains many fats, yet the French have themselves become accustomed to eating such foods and thus consumption doesn’t affect them. They also eat in smaller portions.

Other diets such as the Mediterranean diet are well-known to be useful for a number of disorders from cardiovascular to inflammatory conditions. Yet, again, much depends upon ones own suitability to such, as also relative to diseases. Generic diets, due to food energetics can actually cause issues for many, due to poor metabolism.

Cultural/genetic suitability here must be remembered as the Classical Ayurvedic teaching over emotional virtue-signalling or sanctimoniousness.

Durgadas has explained this in his many books on Yoga and Classical Ayurveda, which are available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble etc.

Book a consultation with us to find out what is best for you.

I have been having raw foods and also kale smoothies for breakfast. I heard this is healthy for me?

A: As noted, the Ayurvedic system works on a different level of energetics to other systems, dietary fads and medical systems. It even treats diabetes according to twenty different types – so there is a lot of specificity in Ayurvedic medicine compared to mere allopathic-based diets and biochemical models.

Hence, many factors are considered in classical Ayurveda and being even beyond one’s biology, which itself can be finely-tuned into many sub-categories also. Thus, even one pitta person in Ayurveda wouldn’t be treated the same as another, given their unique sensitivities and refined nature as well.

Raw foods and those such as kale, whilst can be useful for reducing acidity in the body for example, aren’t always useful in Ayurveda and can be seen to cause complications and even causative factors behind long-term diseases for others. Again, age, sex, locations, climates, environmental impressions and numerous other factors have to be considered, as well as best combinations for you.

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