Seasons According to Ayurveda
What is Ayurveda?
It literally translates to wisdom of life. It is a 5000 year old eastern medicine practice that originated in India. It has become more and more popular in the west as we seek other ways to treat disease in the body vs. taking pills like has become the norm in our society today.
Dinacharya means daily routine. In Ayurveda (the science of life) routines are a vital part of our daily existence. What we do on a regular basis is how we cultivate good or bad habits. When we get out of our routine is when we lose focus on our goals and our habits tend to shift. One of the most common times to lose our habits is with the change of the seasons. With each change of the season comes in new energy, weather, and attitude. If we don’t adjust accordingly we tend to fall off track and have trouble staying consistent and is one of the big reasons people don’t tend to stick with a goal. Below you will learn about all four of the seasons and some habit shifts to make with each change of the guard so to speak. First I want to start you off with a basic daily routine below that you can follow and modify as you see fit based on the time of the year.
Daily Dinacharya Example
Wake up at or around 6am
Say a prayer or as you put your feet on the ground say I’m transitioning from my headspaceinto my heart space. Or whatever phrase is calling to you to start your day with intention.
Scrape your tongues, wash your face and brush your teeth
Have a bowel movement (it is suppose to common naturally within the first hour of waking ifnot look into diet & lifestyle changes to help you become more regular)
Nasya oil or neti pot depending on the season
Meditation or movement depending on your dosha and what you need in your life
Divine Time see handout
Incorporate 10 minute medicine into your day as needed (see handout)
Self-massage at some point in your day- dry brush or using oils such as coconut oil
Early lighter dinner (eating something light and done eating by 6-7pm, the earlier the better) &early to bed (in bed by 10pm most nights)
Fall Season (Vata time of year)
The Fall is another great time of year to indulge in a cleanse. Late September or October are a great time of year to have a cleanse once the weather starts to cool down. The cleanse can be 1-3 weeks. Typically the first week you ease into it, 2nd week add a few more restorative practices, and week 3 you are able to fully submerge yourself into the cleanse.
The daily Fall Cleanse Lifestyle & Exercise Guidelines
-Notice the below avoid & enjoy tips are specific to the Fall cleanse
• Cold foods & drinks
• Raw foods
• Spicy ingredients- hot sauce, cayenne pepper
• Nightshades- tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, & white potatoes • Vigorous exercise- If you usually run, walk.
• Eating between meals
• Eating too much at one time
A nap if you need it
Epsom salt bath, steam room
Sipping hot water
Go to bed early
General Fall Tips
The Fall season is a time of transition. The trees, weather, plants are all changing around us and our bodies feel the effects whether we notice it or not. More grounding foods, and practices are needed to ground down. This is the time of the year to have heavy, oil, fat & protein based foods.
Routines are key in the Fall as that helps keep Vata grounded. The more you can wake up and go to bed around the same time the more likely you are to stay grounded in your body.
Fall season in general practices:
Forms of exercise- HIIT workouts can come back into your routine when the weather starts to cool down
Grounding yoga practice
Lighter strength training sessions think 15-20 reps if feeling a little “spacey” or“ungrounded”
Sleep is key to help rejuvenate during the Fall season
Have a set morning routine that you follow
Have a set evening routine that you follow
Go to bed by 10pm
An afternoon grounding practice such as a walk in nature, meditation practice, or afew yoga poses will help the afternoon fatigue that comes with the Fall season.
Spring Detox– I just started playing with a spring cleanse/detox. In Ayurveda a spring cleanse/detox is highly recommended to help remove the stuck energy, food, and just to transition the body into a lighter time of year. I have also found a cleanse/detox has helped me not get sick during the seasonal shifts. Not only is the cleanse about what your nourishing your body with but it is also what your nourishing your mind with. If you want to join my free Nourishing Spring Detox head over here to sign-up we are officially starting April 16th!
Spend time outdoors & wear layers- As soon as Minnesota has it’s first 50 degree day people are out in shorts & tank tops. That is not a good idea. Our bodies haven’t had time to adjust to the weather change. That actually leads to getting sick (our grandmothers were right, button up your coat & wear a hat) we need those items to help our bodies adjust to the sudden change in temperature.
Plan a new project- Spring is the ideal time to start something new. If you’ve wanted to build a she shed in your backyard now is the time, if you’ve wanted to plan a trip perfect time to start, or if you want to start a new habit such as a morning or evening routine the new spring energy helps push you to reach your goals. Along with the new projects it’s also why spring cleaning is so popular we feel like shedding layers we are taking off the sweaters so to speak.
Exercise- Hardcore workouts are great in the spring. The weather hasn’t gotten to hot so a run outside, a hot yoga class, or HIIT class is great. You might also feel the need to shed the excess winter weight you might have accumulated. Spring is the perfect time for doing so as your motivation typically has increased along with the days getting a bit longer.
Tune into what you want- Spring is the time we feel the most connected to ourselves. We have new energy and excitement. We might need to start a meditation, or journaling practice to get back in touch with what our bodies want but they are speaking to us.
Eat seasonally & locally- As with any season remember to know where your food is coming from. You will have new fruits & veggies in season at this time of year so it’s a great time to look at what new produce is coming and noticing what produce is not quite as in season- good bye sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts : (
Like most things in Ayurveda we might have heard these things before or our grandparents have told us them. They are true as back when they were younger there was no internet and local libraries were not quite as well read as they are now a days. They learned this from their mothers, who learned it from their mothers. So this information has stood the test of time and one of the reasons we are losing touch is we are not slowing down to pay attention to what might actually feel good anymore. Instant gratification and self indulgence are winning out vs. the slow and steady pace of listening to our bodies and the season we are in.
Summer Season- How do we incorporate Nutrition
In Ayurveda we like to work with opposites. It’s hot outside so we need to cool down on the inside. That starts with food. During the summer months there are many great cooling foods that are better during the warmer months such as fresh garden veggies and smoothies.
Other Summer Routines to be mindful of:
Workouts- Now is not the time to go for intense workouts. Easing up with yoga, walks, swimming and doing it during the cooler times of the day. Workout out in the middle of the afternoon during the hottest part of the day is not advised. That will overdue the pitta dosha which is the predominant dosha in the summer months.
Spray yourself with flower waters to keep cool- rose or jasmine infused water are recommended
Staying outside and enjoying the moon. The moon will help pacify the intensity of the pitta dosha.
Coconut oil yourself up! Gentle daily coconut oil self-massage will cool you down and calm the nervous system and reduce dehydration.
Drink cool but not ice cold water. You can add mint, cucumber or lime for a little twist
Avoid intensity and conflict in July & August especially from 10-2pm. That is when the heat is the strongest and tempers tend to flare. Stay away from the people who trigger arguments with you at that time of the day.
Sleep on the right side to cool the nervous system
Essential oils for summertime- Rose, lavender, jasmine, lotus & sandalwood
Slow down. The summertime is not the time to add 50 new projects to your plate but to take it easy especially during the mid-day or afternoon slump. Pick when your most productive work hard during those hours and really do minimal tasks or scroll Facebook during your non-busy hours.
Ayurvedic Winter Tips
Keep your agni high- Agni is your digestive fire. In the winter constipation can occur as your colon starts to get cold & dry much like your skin. So making sure you’re eating foods to keep things moving. Such as soups, warm veggies, warm drinks, room temperature water. All of those help you keep your agni high which keeps your ama (toxins) lower. Which means you stay healthier which we all want during those winter months.
Sip on warm tea or water throughout the day- I love tea and look forward to my 2 afternoon cups. My favorite kind currently is Numi -Roobibos Chai Tea plus it has no caffeine so perfect to keep you toasty in the cold weather. If you start to feel as if you’re coming down with the sniffles make a cup of warm water, add 1/2 lemon the juice part, cinnamon, a dab of honey, a 1/2 inch of fresh ginger and a sprinkle of turmeric. That is perfect for helping keep your immune system high. I also enjoy taking a few shots of my fire cider which you can find the recipe over on my blog here.
Take a warm bath and add lavender to it to help relax the muscles or ginger to help stimulate the muscles.
Go to bed between 9-10pm- One of my favorite things to do in the winter. I get up early and I don’t mind going to bed as early as 8pm some evenings. Now if you’re someone who currently goes to bed at midnight start by going to bed at 11:45pm and slowly work your way back by 15 minutes until you get to 10pm. It’s also the time we can get extra sleep so don’t feel bad if you need extra hours during the winter months it’s quite common and honor your body depending on how it feels when you wake up.
Dress in layers- Yes your grandma was right wear layers. You can wear a sweater and a shirt underneath. We never know how warm someone keeps their home compared to us. I personally always bring along a sweater or jacket if I’m going somewhere new as I travel to many clients homes and everyone has a different set temperature they keep their homes at so I might need to layer up or down depending on where I’m at much like we all do. Your office could be colder than you prefer so you may need an extra thick pair of socks or slippers (if you can wear that at work) or maybe a blanket to throw on your lap. Another winter dressing tip is to try not to wear too much black or blue. That will bring down your mood. It makes us feel a little empty and lonely so the colder, more lonely season makes us feel a little more alone.
Avoid raw & cold foods- Just like the dry weather going on outside we need to make sure we eat foods that are more oily, warm & cooked. That will help keep things moving.
Give yourself a massage every morning– In Ayurveda they call it abhyanga. It will help ground the scattered energy, anxiety and it’s a warming oil that will make us feel nourished and taken care of. Sesame oil is great for the winter months. If you want an oil for your dosha or to treat an imbalance vata dosha responds well to sesame oil or mahanarayan oil. Pitta dosha responds well with coconut oil or neem. Kapha dosha responds well to sesame, almond oil or olive oil.
Be a homebody- Feel free to stay home this winter season. Enjoy being in the cozy comforts of your surroundings. Enjoy the fun of snuggling by the fire and binging on Netflix.
Enjoy golden milk before bed- Drink golden milk an hour or so before bed. Here is a sample recipe of golden milk. This is a great calming drink before bed to help you sleep through the night.
Workouts- You can be more active in the winter months. Enjoy your workouts intensely, bringing heat into the body. You want to bring in fire because it’s colder outside and the body is comfortable adding in the extra intensity. Now is the time for HIIT or hot yoga. Notice what the body craves and start to slowly make those changes during the winter months.