Illness and poor health often begin with a change of seasons. Think of flu in the Fall, colds in winter, allergies in the Spring, and heat rash in the Summer. Seasons introduce a particular vulnerability to the digestive system and the lymphatic system, affecting our overall immunity.
Ayurvedic medicine pays close attention to the calendar year, because seasonal change is believed to usher in times of instability in the environment and the body. The study of seasons is known as Ritucharya. In Ayurveda, a subtle force in the body called Ojas -- sustainable, abundant energy -- must be nurtured especially well in these times of change.
The primary seasons of change
Since Ayurveda stems from India, it features six seasons. Here in the United States, we might especially think of two primary periods that contain these six sub-seasons:
- Uttarayana (the cold months) -- early autumn, late autumn, pre-winter, and deep winter.
- Dakshinayana (the warm months) -- spring and summer.
Matching up Ayurveda’s six seasons to our four seasons may sound a bit complex, but we can easily dissect them based on their specific conditions and symptoms that present themselves at various times.
Fortification of the immune system is especially important at the junctures between seasons when the conditions cause problems to accumulate in the body. Following is a list of particular symptoms commonly brought on by seasonal changes.
Autumn -- cool, rough, windy
As the wind blows and fall leaves turn colors and fall from the trees, we often see moods shift and the body’s natural defenses in the lymphatic system dry out.
Vata accumulation - initial symptoms:
- agitation, feeling ungrounded or restless
- dryness (skin, hair, lips, joints)
- poor circulation
Winter -- cold and dry
The cold Winter months may further accumulate Vata in the body, bringing the familiar winter blues and bodily aches and pains.
Vata accumulation - later symptoms:
- mood instability
Spring -- heavy, wet, damp
The moist surroundings of Spring can lead to an accumulation of Kapha, which presents itself in a congested fashion.
Kapha accumulation symptoms:
- slow digestion
- weight gain
- brain fog
Summer -- hot, fiery, inflammatory
The heat of summer accumulates Pitta which may show up as a potential period of excess or prolonged inflammation in the body.
Pitta accumulation symptoms:
- intolerance to heat
Adopt a seasonal diet that suits your dosha type.
Ayurvedic wisdom suggests changing your diet to accommodate the seasons. Autumn’s harvest often includes squash, corn, and apples, for example. Check your local farmer’s market to see what is in season right now.
You’ll also want to choose foods according to your dosha (vata, pitta, kapha) to select the best of the season for your constitution. Check out our guide, What Almeda Recommends for your Ayurvedic Dosha Type.
To address imbalances this fall and winter:
- Eat seasonally -- enjoy the seasonal bounty, balanced with your dosha type needs.
- Stay hydrated -- drink lots of fluids, seasonal herbal teas, and add a superfoods and adaptogens blend like Kasvi to your coffee and hot cocoa.
- Create a standard schedule -- stick to a specific rhythm in your days.
- Keep moving -- integrate flow to keep moving lymph that protects immunity.
- Meditate -- bring calming practices and soothing self-care rituals to your life.
We also recommend a daily liquid multivitamin like Encarna that promotes balance and synergy to the body year round. Plant-based solutions help fortify your system at crucial junctures, helping your body absorb what is most needed at the cellular level. We’re wishing you all the best as you enjoy and observe the ongoing change of seasons over time.