Ayurveda is a very complete science which gives very comprehensive guidelines & instructions with regard to one’s Diet & Lifestyle according to the seasons – called “Ritucharya; and according to the time periods during the day – called “Dinacharya”.
“Ritu” means season, “Din” means Day, and “charya” means behaviour/habits/activities, etc. at the physical and subtle level. Ayurveda provides detailed guidelines for individuals, based on their doshas (Prakruti & Vikruti), their age, occupation, etc. and according to the seasons and time of day.
According to Ayurveda, one year is divided into 2 parts of 6 months each. Half year when the Sun is in the northern hemisphere, and another half when the Sun is the southern hemisphere.
Again, each period of 6 months is divided into 3 parts, called seasons, consisting of 2 months each. That means there are 6 seasons in a year according to Ayurveda. These are :
Shishir/Sheit (Winter) – mid January to mid March
Vasant (Spring) – mid March to mid May
Grishma (Summer) – mid May to mid July
Varsha (Monsoon) – mid July to mid Sep
Sharad (Autumn) – mid Sep to mid Nov
Hemanta (Pre-winter) – mid Nov to mid Jan
The 6 months’ period from mid-January to mid-July, when the Sun is in the northern hemisphere, is called “Aadan Kaal”. “Aadan” means “to take” and “Kaal” means “period”. During this period, the Sun pulls out the water element in the form of lubricants, moisture & vital energy from all living beings, including the plants, therefore this period is called Aadan Kaal.
During this period, gradually people start feeling depleted, especially after Spring season, when the Sun rays become very strong and the days become longer. Due to the strong influence of the Sun, there is too much heat in the environment which causes us to perspire profusely – to combat this heat and to keep our bodies hydrated, we tend to drink more water. This has a lowering/weakening effect on our digestive fire, resulting in low appetite. When we do not eat enough, this also results in low energy in general, and we feel depleted very easily.
The 6-month period from mid-July to mid-January, when the Sun is in the southern hemisphere, is called “Visarg Kaal”. “Visarg” means “to give/care/nurture”, etc. During this period, the Moon shares its nectarian effect through its rays with all creatures on earth. Due to the cooling and soothing effect of the Moon, we generally feel more energetic.
Nature has made a wonderful arrangement to nurture all living beings and when we understand the logic behind the whole concept, we will realise how scientific it is.
When the moon has a strong influence on earth, this makes the weather cooler. To combat the cold weather, the body produces more heat/fire, due to which our appetite increases and we tend to eat more. Now to digest this comparatively excess food, the body needs extra time. And Mother Nature provides that extra time in the form of longer nights where we can sleep longer and allow our bodies to digest the food properly and repair our body as well.
For this reason, Ayurveda recommends we eat a substantial quantity and good quality food during the cold weather, because our bodies can digest it well and transform it into energy. Ayurveda specifically recommends us to consume more sweets, e.g. honey, jaggery, maple syrup, molasses, rock sugar, sweet fruits (fresh & dry), nuts, etc. during the cold weather.
(Note : Reminder: Sweet does not mean white sugar, or sweets made with white sugar. In fact, Ayurveda says that processed white sugar is a slow poison. So one should refrain from consuming white sugar, and instead, use natural sweeteners like those mentioned above).
There is a very sublime & scientific reason behind consuming more sweets in the cold weather.
Since our appetite is enhanced during the cold weather, we tend to eat more, and our bodies are also able to digest the food well and transform it into energy. Now this energy has to be conserved within our bodies. According to Ayurveda, sweet taste has that quality to sustain/hold/maintain the energy. If we have followed the proper diet and lifestyle during the cold weather, then our bodies are well equipped to combat the depleting effect of the hot weather due to the strong influence of the Sun in the subsequent seasons, particularly after Spring season and in Summer.
In short, during the Visarg period when the Moon has a stronger effect on us compared to the Sun, we should take full advantage of this time period by eating and sleeping well at the proper time and thereby produce/store more energy in our bodies.
Previously we emphasized the need and suitability of “Detoxification” in Autumn. Now, with winter approaching, in the next few weeks, we will focus on the diet and lifestyle best suited to this season, in order to take full advantage of this season for nurturing, nourishing & rejuvenating ourselves.