Ayurveda says human beings are the micro parts of a macro system called nature. According to Ayurveda the changes that happen in the macro system will visit their micro parts, that is, the human body. The degree of influence that each element demonstrates in nature depends on the geographical location, the season, the climate and the time of day.
Ayurveda advocates following a lifestyle in accordance with the rules of nature. According to Ayurveda, perfect health (swasthya) springs from total harmony between man’s inner nature and outside nature. When the harmony is upset, disease sets in. Therefore, to maintain health, one should lead one’s life in consonance with one’s inner constitution and seasonal peculiarities.
For a living being, survival means the art and science of adaptability—the ability for making intelligent adjustment to cope with the surroundings, which is the significance of dinacharya (daily regimen) and ritucharya (seasonal regimen), elaborated in the Ayurvedic texts.
Dinacharya means appropriate daily regime, which, when followed the Ayurvedic way, gives a physically, mentally and spiritually healthy life. The principle of dincharya is basically related with time management.
The mental, speech and physical aspects of well-being to follow every day are:
1. Pratharuthana/Getting up in the morning
“Brahme muhurthe uthishte swastho uraksharthamayushaha”:
One who desires a healthy, long life should get up from bed at Brahma Muhurtha—that is, before dawn, or around 45 minutes before sun rise, around 5 – 6 am.
The last three hours of the night – from 3 am to 6 am is known as Brahma Muhurta and is the best time for gaining knowledge.
2. Evacuate your bowels
On rising in the morning, the individual should pass urine and faeces. Train yourself to do this first thing in the morning.
Do not suppress nature’s urges, do not strain. After this, wash your hands clean.
3. Dantadhavana/Cleaning of teeth
Clean your teeth in the morning and after eating.
Clean your teeth with an herbal brush.
4 .Tongue scrapping
Tongue scrapping helps maintain oral hygiene.
5. Anjana – Collyrium
It is good to apply a special type of collyrium called, ‘Sauveera Anjana’ to the eyes. It should be applied daily. Rasanjana (aqueous extract of Berberis aristata), should be applied once in a week to drain out Kapha (secretions) from the eyes.
6. Navana, Gandusha and Dhuma (Nasal drops, mouth wash, oil pulling and herbal smoke)
After collyrium application, healthy persons should do Navana (Nasya – Nasal instillation of drops). For this purpose, milk, herbal decoctions, herbal oils are usually used. After that, Gandusha – gargling with warm water, milk, or herbal decoction or herbal oil, should be done.
Follow with Dhumrapana or medicated smoke inhalation—inhalation of smoke from herbs and spices, and then betel leaves should be chewed. Dhupana will eliminate vitiated kapha in the head region.
7. Abhyanga (Oil massage)
Abhyanga means massage. It should be done daily, in the morning. It delays ageing, relieves tiredness and excess of Vata (aches and pains). It improves vision, nourishes body tissues, prolongs age, induces good sleep and improves skin tone and complexion. Massage should be specially done on ears, head and legs. Massage should be avoided when there is an increase of Kapha in the body, soon after Shodhana (Panchakarma procedure) and in the case on indigestion.
8. Vyayama (exercise)
Exercise brings about lightness; it improves work capacity, increases digestion power and burns fat. It brings the body into good shape. People with diseases originating from vata and pitta, children, the elderly and people with indigestion problems, should not do exercise. Exercise should be done up to one’s half strength. Exercise should be done compulsorily by those having full strength and who take oily foodstuff. At the end of the exercise, one should undergo mild massage (pressing the body parts with mild to moderate pressure).
9. Udvartana (Powder – massage)
Udvartana is using a particular powder for massage. It helps to calm down aggravated Kapha and helps to burn fat. Hence, it is one of the therapies that many Ayurvedic centers offer for anti-obesity treatment. Udvartana also brings in stability to body organs, improves strength and skin complexion.
10. Snana (Bathing)
Bathing improves digestion, acts as an aphrodisiac, and prolongs lifespan, increases enthusiasm and strength. It helps to get rid of dirt, waste products, sweat, tiredness, excessive thirst, burning sensation and microbes.
Pouring warm water over the body bestows strength, but the same over the head, makes for loss of strength of the hair and eyes.
11. Wearing cloths.
Wear clean and comfortable cloth, according to the climate.
12. Wearing comfortable shoes
Good for eyes and protects feet from diseases.
13. Wearing garlands and perfumes
Herbal flowers, like sandalwood and jasmine, to please the mind.
14. Protect head and hair
Use appropriate covering to shield from the sun, wind, rain and dust.
15. Good food (Ahara) and proper sleep (Nidra)
Eat main meals with all six tastes and maintain regular sleeping time.
16. Sad Vritta – Good/healthy conduct
One should always eat, only after digestion of previous food and in limited quantity.
One should not induce natural urges forcefully. Example: urinating, when there is no urge to pass urine.
One should immediately attend to natural urges, whenever they come, without being busy in other activities.
One should undergo treatment for diseases as soon as possible.
The word Ritucharya is made up of two words – Ritu meaning seasons Charya meaning do’s and don’ts (regimen).
Ritucharya discusses in detail the different seasons and the regimen to be followed.
The Six Seasons in the Ancient Ayurvedic Calendar
A season (Ritu) is comprised of two months (two Masa).
The above three Ritus form Uttarayana, Northern solstice. Here, fire is dominant. It is also called as Adana Kala, wherein the human strength is relatively low.
These three seasons form Dakshinayana – Southern solstice. It is also called as Visarga Kala, wherein the human strength will be relatively high.
Uttarayana – Adana kala – Northern Solstice
Because of the nature of the path, both the Sun and wind become very strong, powerful and dry during this half of the year. It takes away all the cooling qualities of the earth. Bitter, Astringent and Pungent tastes (Tikta, Kashaya and Katu Rasas) will be more powerful, respectively, in the successive Ritus. Hence Adana Kala is dominated by fire.
Dakshinayana – Visarga Kala – Southern Solstice
During this period, the Sun releases strength in people. Here the moon is more powerful and the earth is cooled down due to clouds, rain and cold wind. Sour, Salty and Sweet (Amla, Lavana and Madhura) tastes are dominant, respectively, during the three seasons of this period.
Human beings experience debility in the beginning and end, medium strength in mid-term and maximum strength at end and beginning of the periods, visarga and adana, respectively.
One’s diet (of various types) leads to promotion of strength and complexion only if one has knowledge of wholesomeness according to the different seasons, dependent on behavior and diet.
1. Hemanta Ritucharya – Ayurveda Early Winter Regimen
During Hemantha, a person feels strong, digestive fire becomes powerful, because it gets obstructed from flowing outward due to external winter. Like fuel consumes the things that it comes into contact with, digestive fire may cause emaciation of body tissues. Hence, in this period, one should consume food predominant with sweet sour and salty tastes.
As the nights are longer, a person feels hungry early in the morning. So, after attending to ablutions, one should resort to Abhyanga (oil massage) with oils that have Vata balancing properties. Massage should be done especially to scalp and forehead. Mild massaging, exercising till one’s half strength and pressing of the body is recommended.
Food to be taken in Hemanta season:
Heavy food, newly ripened rice and other grains, heavy non-vegetarian food, snigda, madhura amla, lavana rasas, wine. Honey, milk and sugar- cane products are recommended.
2. Shishira Ritu charya Ayurveda Winter Regimen
Even in Shishira ritu, the same regimen, as described above, should be adopted with more intensity. During this period cold is severe and dryness is more.
3. Vasanta Rutucharya – Ayurveda Spring Regimen
Kapha, which has undergone an increase in Shishira (cold season), becomes liquefied by the heat of the Sun in Vasanta (spring). It diminishes the digestive fire (Agni) and gives rise to many diseases. Hence, Kapha should be controlled quickly by resorting to strong emesis therapy (Vamana Panchakarma procedure), Nasya (nasal medication) and other therapies.
Food that is more dry and digestible (moisture-free, fat-free) should also be chosen to mitigate Kapha.
Physical exercises, dry massage and mild pressing should be applied.
Food to be taken in Vasanta season:
One-year-old barley, wheat and honey, meat of animals of desert-like land, and meat roasted in fire is recommended.
Beverages like asava, arishta, and other fermented medicinal drinks, juices of mango, water boiled with chandana, mustha and asana are also recommended.
4. Greeshma Ritucharya – Ayurveda Summer Regimen
In Greesma (summer) the sunrays become powerful and appear to be destructive. Kapha decreases day by day and Vata increases, therefore, avoid the use of salt, pungent and sour foods, heavy physical exercises and exposure to sunlight, during this season.
Food to be taken in Greeshma season:
Take sweet, light (easy to digest), cold and liquid more in this season.
Cold showers, a nap during the day time, staying in cool places, indulging in forest areas, and cold water with flowers are recommended.
Excessive physical exertion, Lavana, katu, amla rasa and alcoholic beverages should be avoided.
5. Varsha Ritu carya – Ayurveda Rainy Season Regimen
In rainy season, the agni (digestive activity) is weak. It is already debilitated by summer; it undergoes further decrease and gets vitiated by the doshas. The doshas get aggravated by the effect of thick clouds full of water, cold wind having snow, dirty water because of rain, warmth of the earth and sourness.
With the poor strength of digestive activity, the doshas start vitiating one another and cause many diseases. Hence, all general measures to mitigate imbalanced doshas and to improve digestive activity should be adopted.
Food to be taken in Varsha season:
Food with amla, lavana and snehaguna qualities are preferred.
Old cereals like old barley, wheat and shali rice, soups of grains, fermented grape drinks and arishtas mixed with honey are also recommended.
Avoid impure and contaminated water.
6. Sharath Ritucharya – Ayurveda Autumn Regimen
A person becomes accustomed to the cold of the rainy season. Then, when there is sudden exposure to the warm rays of the sun, the pitta, which has undergone an increase in the Varsha (rainy season), becomes greatly aggravated during sharath (autumn). In order to overcome this, Tikta ghrita, purgation therapy and bloodletting should be resorted to.
When hungry, the person should take foods which are of bitter, sweet and astringent tastes, and easily digestible, such as rice, green gram, sugar, amla, patola, honey and meat of animals from desert-like lands.
Avoid: Fatty and oily meat, yoghurt, alkaline preparations and daytime sleeping.