Ayurveda, an ancient system of natural medicine, places great importance on adapting your lifestyle and diet to the changing seasons to maintain optimal health and balance. The Sharad ritu or what can be constituted as the autumn season in India, brings with it many health challenges that traditional medicine provides respite from.
The autumn season in India, unlike what is it known as around the world, is slightly different than the light nip in the air that is typical of this time. Also known as Sharad ritu, the period between the end of September up until mid-November, is a transitional season – also known as ritusandhi. While the monsoon departs and the sky clears up, making way for direct sunlight to increase temperatures in our surroundings, Ayurveda suggests the possibility of the tridoshas undergoing an imbalance during this time.
This seasonal change and scorching temperatures, also affect the body, leading to multiple health issues like acidity, acne and excessive perspiration. Since our immunities tend to be lower than ideal around this time, eating easy to digest, light meals is highly advised in traditional medicine. This, along with optimal hydration and occasional fasting is said to be the key to combat ailments and discomfort – thereby coping up with the seasonal changes.
Following Seasonal Diet
Image Credits: Healthy Nuskhe
Favour warm, cooked foods over raw, cold options by incorporating autumnal vegetables like squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes into your meals. Eating millets that are best suited to cool down the body – like barley, for example – as well as fruits that are in season, can boost the body’s immunity while also providing the nutrients needed to deal with the transition in weather. Remember to include medicinal spices like cinnamon, ginger and black pepper to help balance the oscillating qualities of the season.
Since the weather is hot during this period, staying hydrated by drinking water that has been boiled down to half its quantity, has been highly recommended by Ayurveda. Drinking warm herbal teas like ginger tea or hot water with lemon and honey, to support digestion as well as in maintaining the body’s temperature is of great help during the Sharad season. Opt for cooling ingredients like kokum, fresh rose petals and cucumber to incorporate into your milk or water before consumption, for additional cooling.
Oil Massage (Abhyanga)
Consider performing a daily self-massage or abhyanga with warm sesame or almond oil before your shower. Not only does this practice help keep your skin moisturized, supple and nourished during the dry autumn months, but it also promotes blood circulation in the body. Engage in gentle, grounding exercises like yoga or walking to stay active and maintain your energy levels, without over-exertion or spending too much time in the sun.
Autumn is associated with the vata dosha, characterized by qualities like dryness, coldness and mobility; as well as the pitta dosha, which aggravates body heat, digestive discomfort and causes various skin problems. Some additional symptoms of an imbalance in doshas also include restlessness, dizziness and feeling bloated – for which Ayurveda suggests bathing in lukewarm water, as well as consuming foods with moisture as opposed to ones that are oily. Avoid drinking beverages that are extremely cold and opt for warm milk, water or buttermilk to aid better digestion.
Image Credits: Vasanti Health
Incorporate stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises and regular relaxation to keep your mind calm and balanced. Ayurveda says that exposing oneself to the first three hours of moonlight during the evenings can be more effective than spending time in the morning sun. Placing drinking water in a copper vessel and allowing it to infuse with moonbeams has been known to possess many medicinal properties and restore overall well-being.
Include Traditional Medicinal Herbs
Using traditional herbs like Shatavari and amla, along with fresh sandalwood in your pickles, sherbets and milk, provide an immunity boost to the system. Additionally, adding herbs like saffron, aloe vera, Indian rose for your cosmetic purposes can also provide relief from acne caused due to excessive body heat, hot flushes and even hairfall. Adding natural herbs that are cooling as well as nutritional during this transitional season is a good way of staying true to our indigenous health practices.