Greeshma Ritucharya – Ayurvedic Guidelines for Summer

greeshma_ritucharya_summer_ayurvedic_guidelines
Greeshma Ritu in Ayurveda is a two month season of peak summer, which is from the period of Mid-May till Mid-July. Greeshma Ritu is also the last of the 3 season in the Adana Kala period,  when the Sun moves in a northern direction ( this is the same as Uttarayana ).
Adana Kala is considered a period of “reduction” or “extraction by squeezing out energy” for human beings, and all sentient beings in this planet.  Due to the northern movement of the Sun which starts from the Makara Sankranti  day in mid-January, the earth’s atmosphere becomes more dry and more hot. So as Adana Kala period proceeds from late Winter up to Summer, we can find a gradual depletion in kapha dosha and the overall Ojas in the body (this is because Ojas is linked to healthy Kapha Dhatu).
There is an increasing feeling of tiredness, listlessness in our bodies due to steady depletion of kapha dosha. This is due to the increasing and piercing intensity of the Sun.
Adana Kala peaks in Greeshma Ritu,  the summer season which is why so many of us are adversely affected by the Season. We often speak of feeling “wrung out” or “squeezed out like a fruit” in this season, and the Ayurvedic texts confirm this effect as well.
greeshma_body_weakest_adanakala
In the Uttarayana path of the Sun, there is a strong increase in the teekshna (piercing and intensive), ushna (hot) and rooksha (drying) properties of the Sun and in turn the earth’s atmosphere. This weakens the softer and gentler aspects of the “prithvi” panchabootha. So in this season , there is an increase in the tastes of “tikta” (bitter), kashaya (astringent) and katu (pungent / sharp) of all fresh produce and water bodies  which are affected by this piercing intensity of the Sun.

Properties of Greeshma Ritu

Due to the  strong increase in the power and intensity of the Sun, which in turn affects akash + vayu in the atmosphere, leading to an increase in hotness, dryness and intensity around us

  • Increase in feeling of “sankshipata” ,  a feeling of being “wrung out or squeezed out”
  • The combined affect of the Sun + Wind leads to a gradual weakening in Kapha dosha and an aggravation in Vata dosha in the body.
  • Weakening of kapha dosha, aggaravation in Vata dosha & incrase in sun’s intensity means that the basic digestive process is impaired
  • There is not enough “Kleda” or moisture in the body to sufficiently coat the food and slowly “cook” it with our digestive “Agni” to extract nutrients fully.
  • The increase in Vata means that Agni will be fanned to “teekshna” or intensive levels in those with pitta dominant prakriti.
  • When we cook and we turn on the gas to high, and dont have sufficient moisture, food gets burned and is unpalatable.

 

greeshma_chars_food

 

This “charring” of food inside our bodies in what happens to those with Pitta dominance in summer season.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 So overall, we are all able to absorb less from our food. Our body is weakened and we cannot handle heavy or hard to digest food. The inability to extract nutrients efficiently also hampers our strength , all Dhatus are weakened . Hence the Greeshma Ritu is the point when our bodies are at their weakest in the whole year.

Basic Ritucharya guidelines for Greeshma ( Summer)

 

  • Avoid aggravating Pitta dosha + Vata dosha.
  • Reduce lavana (salty), amla (sour) and katu (pungent or spicy) foods.
  • Some examples of foods to AVOID -> pickle, papad, vinegar based salad dressing, high amount of olive oil (katu vipaka), tamarind, raw mango, amchur, sour fruits, raw papaya, brine cured vegetables & meat , salt cured dried vegetables like cluster beans, salty dried fish.
  • Compound foods with amla rasa which are heavy to digest must also be avoided. Examples are  curd and cheese , which are to be avoided.
  • Eat easy to digest food, that is watery and with the correct tastes (explained in detail below)
avoid sour, salty & spicy foods in summer
  • Avoid heavy Vyayama (exercise) which aggravates Vata and Pitta further in the summer season.
  • Vyayama in Greeshma must be done earlier in the day & you must exert yoursef lesser than usual. The cool down period after exercise must be longer.
Avoid excess exercise in Greeshma Rtucharya
  • Avoid high sun exposure in summer , especially between  9 AM – 4:00  pm.
  • Avoiding hot sun exposure is CRITICAL for babies, children and older people
  • This also means that the household must be up earlier if they want sun exposure at the correct time

Food rules for Greeshma (Summer)

  • Eat Madhura (sweet) tasting to replenish kapha and balance pitta-vata
  • Choose foods that are Laghu (light) to avoid aggravating or  straining the digestive process
  • Include Snigdha (slightly unctuous /oily) to counter the “Rooksha” (drying) nature of the atmosphere and to balance aggravating vata and to build kapha
  • Choose plenty of liquid foods that are Sheetya (cooling in nature) to balance Ushna and Teekshna properties of the atmosphere.
  • Ati-Snigdha (deep fried foods) must be reduced as they strain the digestive system
  • Foods which are rendered “Guru” (heavy), like dishes made from Maida (processed flour) should be avoided as it strains the digestive system
  • Avoid high amounts of tamasic food – examples are  over-sweet, fried, junk foods that induce lethargy . In greeshma , when the body is already weakened, it aggravates the condition

  Foods to be eaten in Greeshma Ritu  ( Summer season) 

  • Polished / Semi polished (bran removed) , white Rice (texts mention Rice that looks like the Moon or Jasmine) .White coloured rices are easier to digest, have good Madhura rasa and do not strain digestion or aggravate Pitta dosha
  • In summer, AVOID brown rice , red rice , black rice and millets
  • Drinks like Panaka , i.e. fresh fruit juices from sweet fruits prepared with lemon, sugar, etc are recommended
  • Rasala which is well churned lassi or buttermilk , both sweet or spiced is advisable in Summer
Well churned buttermilk is good for greeshma

 

  • Sugar cane juice is a panacea in summer. It helps with excess heat, burning sensation, burning urination, prickly heat, weakness, etc
  • Seasonal fruits, eaten whole  are good for summer. However be careful to choose organic fruits , grown without chemical contamination
seasonal, chemical-free fruits are good for greeshma(summer)
  • If you regularly eat Meat, then the Rasa (watery soup) of lean animals (jangla desha ) is the best format.
  • The daily dishes like Dal or Sambhar should be more watery than usual.
  • Use LESS tamarind in daily cooking. Try souring agents like Amla or Lemon (which have madhura vipaka), or non-sour versions of these dishes.
  • Boiled and cooled water stored in an earthen pot, flavoured with specific herbs like Patranga, Vetiver, etc is a very important seasonal rule.
  • Coconut water is a beneficial in summer as it is sweet & brhmanya.  Since it is guru (heavy) you can have it instead of your usual evening snack.
  • Well ripened natural mango, which has been plucked slightly raw and then ripened at home naturally can be eaten. Such ripened mangoes can also be had blended with milk as along as the Mango is fully sweet and not sour.
  • Well ripened Mango increases BOTH Pitta and Kapha and reduces Vata. In summer, increase of Kapha + reduction of Vata is welcome, But NOT increase of Pitta. To avoid the ill effects of increase of Pitta, do not over eat mangoes. IF you are prone to heat boils, sores after eating Mangoes due to excessive heat, soak Mangoes for one hour in clean water before eating – this is a folk practice meant to reduce Pitta property of mango.
  • Chemically ripened mangoes and pesticide sprayed Mangoes are tasteless , high in heat and very bad for the body – PLEASE AVOID chemically grown or ripened mangoes.

Strongly Avoid Alcohol

  • Avoid Alcohol in summer as it is teekshna (piercing), drying in nature, which is already the nature of the summer season
  • If Alcohol is un-avoidable , it must be SEVERELY diluted , otherwise it can cause giddiness, inflammation, fainting due to Pitta aggravation
Avoid Alcohol in Summer

Non-Food Greeshma Dinacharya guidelines

  • Bathing in slightly cool (not cold water) is suggested in the texts.
  • Bathing with snana choorna (herb bath powder) is preferred over Soap ( it is so in all seasons, but especially in summer)
  • There is a high chance of clogging of skin pores (srotas) due to sweating. Soaps and bodywash gels do not help unclog srotas at all.
  • Ensure your skin is clean and pores are properly opened and functioning well for proper thermo-regulation. Wweating must neither be excessive nor low.
  • Avoid use of sweat suppressing products like anti-perspirant deodorants
  • White and light pastel coloured clothing is recommended . Such colours help cool the body , and have a  fresh , pleasant feel.
  • Eating your foods on a banana leaf or a silver plate is beneficial – both are Kapha enhancing and are good for the body.
  • Drink ONLY Boiled and Cooled water, preferably with cooling herbs like patranga, vetiver, nannari added to the boiling water. ( this herb mix to add to water is readily available in all Ayurvedic stores) Un-boiled, plain water is Guru and heavy to digest in this summer season.
  • Summer is the season where hair can be freely washed twice a week with good hair oiling prior to the wash.
  • Use of pitta balancing Lepas (masks) and choornams ( powders)  is recommended . The predominantly aromatic  & pitta balancing herbs like Vetiver, Chandana, Rakta Chanadana, Ku-chandana (patranga), Nannari are great herbs for summer.
  • Krya’s Face Lepas, Hair Lepas can be liberally used this season. These products help cool down Pitta in the body
  • Reduction of sexual activity is highly recommended. (Texts suggest restricting sex to 3 – 4 times a month in Summer , unless you are trying to conceive ). Sex depletes kapha which is already quite depleted in this season. Further, other compensatory measures like drinking milk should be followed to make up for Ojas & Dhatu loss from sexual activity.
  • If you are feeling over depleted in greeshma, try Nabhi ghee application at night. In this a drop or two of cow ghee is applied ins the navel /belly button area. This helps balance both Pitta & Vata aggravation. 
  • Pada abhyanga at night with small amount of ghee added to the abhyanga oil, is useful, especially if there is burning sensation in the body. Here is the Krya video guide on how to do a Pada Abhyanga.
  • For those who are Pitta prone, please switch to Krya Classic Abhyanga oil OR Krya traditional baby massage oil (which is sweeter and more nourishing) or a 50:50 combination of both for Abhyanga and Pada abhyanga in Greeshma Ritu. 

Special instructions for Greeshma Ritu

  • Avoid aggravating Pitta in your food by completing your cooking earlier in the day
  • Avoid daytime Vyayama (exercise). Many people do try to squeeze out a workout just before lunch or do their workout well after 9 AM when the sun is already hot. Such daytime exertions are to be avoided.
  • Keep yourself sensibly hydrated with fluids and liquidy preparations in your meals as well.
  • Avoid tough Vyayama in this season. This is also not the season for absolute beginners to start new exercise regimens like running or weights
  • Avoid the heat of the Sun by staying indoors in the daytime as much as possible
  • Avoid doing a late abhyanga Snana. In greeshma,  Abhyanga should be done MILDLY, and preferably before 8 AM.
  • Unless you are well used to a full abhyanga massage, Mini-abhyanga is preferable over Full abhyanga during the week. You can have the recommended once a week full Abhyanga ( Fridays for Women & Saturdays for Men in this Season). In summmer, we have to do Abhyanga to control Vata dosha which sneakily aggravates and creeps up on us, but must avoid over-straining ourselves by doing an vigorous abhyanga that depletes kapha.
  • Avoid Ice Creams – they do you NO GOOD. Stick to freshly squeezed fruit juices with some sugar (good quality, organic, sulpharless). Avoid drinking all iced ,frozen and cold foods as this freezes Pitta and causes blocks in the body. The fluids had in summer like buttermilk, sugarcane juice, coconut water are cooling in their action but they must NOT be had cold in temperature by adding ice or cold water.
  • Avoid CURD throughout Summer. Curd strongly aggravates Pitta and it can cause serious hives, prickly heat, itching / burning sensation on skin in this weather and excessive menstrual bleeding. Buttermilk as mentioned above is a better choice
  • Add melted A2 desi cow Ghee to all three meals.
  • Afternoon Nap (short) IS PERMITTED only in Greeshma Ritu as it increases Kleda (moisture) due to increase in Kapha. However, this increases BOTH Kapha and Pitta in the body. To avoid increasing Pitta and over aggravating Kapha follow these precautions if you intend to take a nap
      • Wake up earlier than usual in the morning; so body is sufficiently tired out to require an afternoon nap
      • Do NOT sleep with AC on. In fact it is always better to avoid air-conditioning.
      • Sleep on a non comfortable surface (floor wth pai / dhurrie)
      • Time your nap – sleep only for a short time (this duration varies in each person’s case – in my case, any nap above 10 minutes makes me foggy)
      • After the nap, wash your face and rinse out your mouth.
      • These Nap precautions do not apply for small babies, patients, older people, people who are very lean / emaciated

Unique, Ancient & Effective recommendations from Ayurveda

  • Have water based cooling devices in the bedroom – texts suggest hanging curtains which have been soaked in water and squeezed well. This screens the heat and blows cool air on the other side. This helps you avoid ACs which are bad for health in all seasons.
  • Spend evening and night times in terraces, especially when it is bathed in moonlight
  • Mind must be relaxed and withdrawn form all sexual activities, strain or stress in this time
  • Wear garments made of ultra thin or finely woven cotton cloth
  • Use of fragrant flowers like jasmine is encouraged to be worn in the hair or as a garland
  • Necklaces made of Natural pearls or Sandalwood beads or both are encouraged .
  • Prattling of small babies and toddlers is said to be very soothing – as this is very pitta balancing. We are encouraged to spend time with such innocent children.
  • Apply fragrant cooling , unguents like sandalwood paste on your person.
  • Spending summer days near rivers , lakes and forests with cool, fragrant trees is recommended.

Common Greeshma Ritu health problems & solutions

A.Stomach Ache / Diarrhea
  • Ensure you eat watery food, and non spicy / sour / salty food to avoid this from happening
  • Avoid all street food and chaat – immunity is low in this season and this food can trigger infections
  • Ensure you have 30 %-40% liquids in your diet.
  • Drink boiled and cooled water with summer-herbs, as mentioned above already.
  • Do not sleep late in the morning
  • Eat your meal in the right order – from sweet & heavy to light and end with Watery, well churned buttermilk (which also helps supplement gut flora)
B. Prickly heat / Rash
  • Spray rose water frequently on the affected skin areas.
  • Avoid using creams / lotions / moisturizers and any such pore clogging products
  • Apply the appropriate Krya body-wash (classic / after sun / classic plus / anti acne) as a LEPA  (mask) mixed in clean water on the rashy parts. Do not allow this mask paste to fully dry out on skin. Rinse it off in the bath. Avoid rubbing / scratching that  area.
  • Reduce heavy to digest foods and increase the fluids in your diet – include fresh fruit juices and sugarcane juice . Reduce the consumption of mangoes til the rashes completely subside.

Krya Products ideally suited for Greeshma Ritucharya 

2 thoughts on “Greeshma Ritucharya – Ayurvedic Guidelines for Summer

  1. Thank you for putting together this information so clearly. I have a pitta dominant constitution and following the right seasonal regimen and diet have been hugely beneficial for me. I always look forward to your blogs!

    1. that is great to know, thanks for sharing. We had also put up a 35-point program to help balance pitta-dosha in our facebook group. we will be updating the information on our blog soon.

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