Staying Healthy Through Seasonal Shifts with Ayurveda

by Radha Schwaller

That person, who always eats wholesome food, enjoys a regular lifestyle, remains unattached to the objects of the senses, gives and forgives, loves truth and serves others, is without disease. —Vagbhata Sutrasthana, an ancient Vedic Text

At the core of Ayurveda, the science of life from India, is dinacharya, daily routine for balance, and Rituacharya, routines for seasonal balance. These ancient practices are the ultimate self-care regimes. Think daily home spa treatments, meditation, yoga, and healing food!

Dinacharya and Rituacharya are composed of many self-care techniques performed at relatively the same time each day to encourage balance in the body, mind, emotions and spirit and prevent disease by alleviating doshic accumulation (the five elements can build up and cause imbalance) in the many layers of the being.

When we create a personalized healthy lifestyle, meaning daily habits that are in balance with nature, there is more opportunity for harmony inside and outside of the body.

There are many influences on us from nature: seasons, climate, sun and moon cycles, global temperature changes, and aging. There are also many influences on us that are man-created such as traffic, stress, air-pollution, water-pollution, busy schedules, financial stress, and more. All of these influences that we come in contact with have an effect on us. If there are similar qualities that we are repeatedly in contact with, these can build up and cause imbalance in our body, mind and spirit.

Our personal nature has a rhythm that is communicated through our body’s biorhythmic clock. These bodily clocks synchronize with the sunlight, moonlight and temperature in the atmosphere, to name a few examples. It is also affected by what we choose to eat, think, when we sleep and when we rise.

For balance in the transition to spring (Kapha season) we rise with the sun, meditate, dry brush the skin, practice Abhyanga with warm sesame oil infused with tulsi, eat a light breakfast with cinnamom and clove, focus on the tastes of bitter, astringent and pungent, engage in some vigorous exercise daily, reduce dairy and clear clutter from our homes.

Spring is a marvelous time to go within to nurture, develop and plan your dreams and goals. Just as it is natural to plant seeds for our summer garden in spring, nature is also holding space for us to plant our own seeds now to be harvested in the fall. Anything done steeped in the energy of earth and water (kapha), is sure to take root and become a stable, nurturing endeavor.

Kapha balancing abhyanga/self-massage oil

A beneficial recipe for daily self-massage for kapha body types and in the springtime for anyone. Massage warm oil into dry skin after dry brushing and before your shower.

  • 2 oz organic sesame oil
  • 5 drops Rosemary Verbenone, Rosmarinus officinalis
  • 3 drops Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus smithii
  • 3 drops Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus dives
  • 3 drops Tulsi, Ocimum sanctum
  • 5 drops Cinnamon Himalayan, Cinnamomum cecidodaphne
  • 5 drops Lemon, Citrus limomum

For balance in the transition from summer to fall we rise with the sun, meditate, practice Abhyanga with coconut oil infused with rose, focus on oil and protein rich foods to sustain the digestion without drying the body, increase the tastes of sweet, grounding foods such as sweet potato, zucchini and carrots, slow our exercise down to gentle levels, and protect our body from wind.

Kitchari Recipe

This is a wonderful recipe to incorporate at the change of seasons to bolster immunity and enhance digestion. Note the spice suggestions change in the seasonal shifts.

  • 1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice (or other grains)
  • 1 1/2 cups split Mung Dal (split yellow) or red lentils, rinsed until water runs clear 6 cups (approx.) Water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs. ghee

Spring Spice blend

  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds or powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper

Summer Spice Blend

  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander ground
  • 2 tsp fennel ground
  • ½ tsp cumin ground
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder

Fall Spice Blend

  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp fennel powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1’’ grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 tsp fenugreek powder

Winter Spice Blend

  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp fennel powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1 tsp ginger powder

Heat ghee in pan and add spices, except turmeric (it burns easily), let the spices toast for 1-2 minutes in the pan, add turmeric, toast for 15 seconds. Add rinsed rice, mung dal and water. You can also add chopped vegetables if you wish. Bring to near boil, turn to low, let simmer covered for 30-40 minutes. Alternatively, you can add all ingredients to a rice cooker and set it to white rice and wallah!! Garnish with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

What I most love about this practice of deep self-care from Ayurveda is that it is very common sense based. If we are in touch with our body, mind and spiritual life and the way it communicates with us, we can usually sense if something we are doing, eating and are involved with is beneficial for us or not.

May you find the time and space each day to hear what is in alignment with your highest self.