In its essence, Ayurveda is a road map to happier and healthier lives by accepting that we are a part of the natural world. A lot of lip service is paid to our individual constitutions and to vata, pitta and kapha. There is a growing understanding of this even among those who were once skeptical. There does seem to still be a bunch of confusion on the seasons and I hope we can gain greater clarification right here and now on this.
First off, in Ayurveda, the year is broken up in to six seasons. Each location may experience the seasonal changes in slightly different ways or barely feel one or more of these seasons but the underlying premise remains the same. It's not only about the day to day weather but also the relation of the sun and moon to our location.
The first group can be seen in the northern solstice:
The second group which resides in the southern solstice:
It is important to note this seasonal breakdown because in the northern solstice months the sun is said to deplete us gradually more and more each day, and in the southern solstice there is the opposite occurring with the sun and moon giving strength and nourishing respectively. This means that by the time early winter comes around, we are in our strongest period to build health and immunity for the whole year. That is when our digestive capacity is the strongest so we are encouraged to not only eat more heavy foods but also warm and even spicy foods as a way to maximize the nourishment from our food. It is a gradual build throughout the second half of the year to get our digestion back to its strongest and then it will start to wane again. By the middle of July, our digestion is at its weakest and it is when we need to rest as well as eat light and moist foods due to the powerful sun depleting and drying us out.
Each of the six seasons has a unique natural ebb and flow with respect to the doshas. Throughout the year each dosha will go into an accumulation stage, an excitation stage and a baseline, calmed stage. For example, vata accumulates in early summer, excites in late summer and is brought back to a calmed state in autumn. Pitta dosha accumulates in late summer, excites in autumn and calms down in early winter. Kapha accumulates in late winter, excites in spring and calms down in summer.
There is no such mention in Ayurveda of there being only three seasons known as “vata season”, “kapha season” or “pitta season”. I have read in many places over the years that the fall or early winter is considered "vata season" and since that is not what any traditional Ayurvedic texts have said, I am not sure where that misinformation began spreading. What is clear to me is that we live in a culture that is predominantly vata and so I do think that general lifestyle precautions on not increasing vata should be followed year round irregardless of what season it is. What you shouldn't do is jump right into all the strong and pungent spices without understanding that early fall in Ayurveda is actually the time of year where you still are in a stage of excited pitta. If it starts to cool down faster in your location then you can shift the dates above a little bit or not go too excessive on foods like cucumber or coconut. Still, you never should shift your seasonal foods too fast. Check in with your body and make smooth transitions. The few weeks in between seasons is the time where more conditions and diseases are kicked into gear than any other.
Stay tuned for seasonal recommendations as the Year goes on...
Whether you have one apple or a whole box that you just picked, you can try this delicious and comforting Stewed Apple recipe for breakfast.
Cooking apples increases the digestibility and absorption of the many vitamins and minerals.
This recipe also calms vata & pitta, enhances strength, builds immunity, fires up the metabolism, stimulates regular bowel movements and adds to overall health & vitality. You will feel light and energetic all morning after eating this for breakfast.
1 organic apple
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon organic raisins or chopped dates
1 clove or pinch of ground clove
1/8 teaspoon true cinnamon (Ceylon)
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ghee
In Ayurveda, the three important pillars of health are diet, sleep and sex.
Just like with food, each person has a different kind and amount of sexual activity best for them. The general rules are that each constitution has a different amount of sex each month and then the recommendations are raised and lowered seasonally as well. Due to the ease in which vata dominant folks deplete, they do best with sexual activity just a few times a month. For Pitta dominant people the number doubles vata dominant. The ladies and gents with kapha constitution are cleared for the most sexual activity with multiple times a week being recommended.
Seasonally, the winter months and spring are the time where we are meant to keep warm by the side of a partner and have the most sex. It is when our bodies are the strongest and where we can expend the most kapha. In summer and early fall, our bodies are at their weakest and driest from the strong sun depleting our energy. This means that this is the time of year where we should conserve our vital force as opposed to constantly overdoing it.
An important thing to note is that you shouldn't hold back urges such as bowels movements, urinating, ejaculating, or sneezing so if you have a willing partner and a strong urge for sex then it is best you go for it. A pattern of not doing so can cause longterm problems in the reproductive organs, urinary system or digestive system. Engaging in morning sex before clearing the bowels or urinating also can create problems in those systems so if that is something you engage in and you experience frequent constipation or bladder infections then switch the order of your morning routine.
Many of the recommended Ayurvedic foods such as ghee, milk, almonds, figs and pomegranates build healthy sexual tissue. Drinking a glass of warm milk after sex is said to immediately replenish any lost energy. Adding an herb such as shatavari (women) or ashwaghanda (men) to your milk can have an even stronger effect.
Roses are mostly known these days as a symbol of beauty and romance but they have been used for thousands of years around the world in many different ways. In Ayurveda, roses are said to not only uplift the spirit but to reduce inflammation, act as an aphrodisiac, benefit skin, menstruation, liver, spleen, kidneys and eyesight as well as slow the aging process. With its cooling nature, we can use roses both internally and externally to calm our mind, body and soul. This is especially recommended in the early fall season as pitta is at it’s highest in the atmosphere.
3 Ways to Keep Cool w/ Roses
½ cup whole milk yogurt
2 cups of water (previously boiled and brought back to room temperature)
1 tablespoon rose water
3 tablespoons sucanat, turbinado or other raw sugar
pinch of cardamom (optional)
Calming Rose Facial Mask
3 dried rose buds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons besan / chickpea flour
Rose water (optional)
2 cups whole milk or coconut milk
1 cup water
6 tablespoons kudzu root starch powder
⅓ cup sucanat, turbinado, rapadura or coconut sugar
¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
½ teaspoon rose powder
¼ teaspoon vanilla powder
2 teaspoons rose water
1 tablespoon lightly toasted shredded coconut (optional)