-by Monica Graves | 05/03/2019 |
Have you ever noticed that you find yourself drawn to one particular season over another?
Perhaps you are a chaser of the sun and avoid cold climates at all cost. Maybe you are more of the snow bunny type and become irritably uncomfortable with higher temperatures and humidity. Or perhaps overcast, rainy days are your jam.
Whichever end of the weather-partiality spectrum you land on, there is a good chance that your dosha, or mind/body constitution, is responsible for your preferences.
Depending on your own combination of the five elements, certain seasons will create a sense of peace and harmony within you because they are complementary to and/or pacify your own elemental expression. Others will instigate feelings of unrest and imbalance because they add more of the element(s) you already possess and create an aggravated excess.
Seasonal Rhythms In Ayurveda
As you’ve learned throughout this Ayurveda 101 series, everything in the entire known universe is an expression of one or more of the five great elements. The annual seasons are no exception.
Just as the doshas cycle throughout the day in tune to the circadian rhythm, so, too, do they cycle throughout the entire year in alignment with the seasons. While seasonal cycles are much longer than those of the 24-hour day—with each dosha appearing just once per year—similar tools and techniques are available to evoke harmony and wholeness.
Our bodies desire alignment with these rhythms to express their true nature and experience effortless ease of being. Though the demands of modern living have created somewhat of an interference with this natural fluidity, there are many subtle lifestyle shifts we can make to achieve balance.
From the foods that we eat to the daily routines that we keep, taking the seasonal rhythms of the Doshas into account can influence and benefit every area of our lives.
How To Make The Seasons Work For You
While Ayurveda does encourage a unique ritual to harness the magic of each season, it is important to maintain your own personal dosha-balancing routine through the senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Rather than complicating life by creating a brand-new routine every few months, maintain what already works for you with a simple subtle shift of focus as the seasons turn.
And, as always, maintain a sincere, curious self-awareness to notice how those shifts affect you. Then, apply the sensory gateways of healing tools you’ve learned to recalibrate where needed.
A quick side note on timing. We tend to think of the seasons in terms of certain months throughout the year, which we will do below for ease of explanation (in relation to the Northern Hemisphere). However, it is important to keep in mind that climate is very different regionally, and some seasons may be much shorter or longer where you live. Allow the characteristics of weather on any given day (rain, wind, heat, etc.) to serve as your guide in determining which dosha is dominant in that moment.
Let’s have a look at each Ayurvedic season, its qualities, and specific practices in which we can engage to make the most of their energies.
KAPHA SEASON // Mid-February to Mid-May
The mahabhutas of Water and Earth take over during kapha season, and bring with them the qualities of wet, soggy weather and heavy, cloudy skies. There is still a deep winter chill in the air, though slowly but surely it gives way to more balmy spring temperatures. There is a soft tenderness as kapha reminds us about taking things slowly, and a general sense of stillness in the world around us.
Kapha Season Diet
Late winter into spring is a time of renewal and release, and a kapha-balancing diet will welcome in a lightness of being while shedding the protective congestion of winter. Favor the tastes of bitter, pungent, and astringent to dry out excess moisture and warm the body in preparation of release. Our agni, or digestive fire, slows down a bit after being revved up all winter, so it is encouraged to drink ginger tea to keep it burning brightly to aid in metabolism and elimination.
Kapha Season Lifestyle
Finally, permission to slow it down! We spend so much of our lives in a rush, moving quickly from one thing to the next, and kapha season is a welcome invitation to simply relax a bit. Of course, we cannot put our entire lives on pause for a few months, but it is a perfect time to examine all that we have on our plate and identify a couple of tasks we can eliminate (or postpone) to allow proper time to recharge. Remember that one of the best ways to balance and invigorate kapha is to eliminate excess clutter or activities from our lives…The phrase spring cleaning fits in perfectly for kapha season!
Nature is designed for breaks and pauses…ebbs to the flow. As such, enjoy late winter hibernation to its fullest. Do be mindful that too much kapha energy can lead to loneliness, isolation and complacency…so be sure to incorporate plenty of time for slow, easy, enjoyable connection with your loved ones.
PITTA SEASON // Mid-May to Mid-September
Earth makes its exit in mid-May to create room for the element of Fire to join Water. Together, they create the energies of pitta season. Things start to really heat up, both internally and externally. Temperatures become warmer, days become longer, and the entire natural world begins to activate and fully express itself. There is a lightness and warmth to the air, with the occasional rain shower of relief.
Pitta Season Diet
With all the accumulated heat in our external world, it is extremely important to regulate and reduce the fire within so we do not overheat. For this very reason, our digestive fire naturally burns very low and light during the summer months. It’s our best natural ally for reducing heat within. As a result of this, our appetite often decreases in the summer. It’s best to honor that and resist the urge to overeat. Of the six tastes, we favor bitter, astringent, and sweet and need to drink plenty of cool liquids. Ayurveda discourages drinking too many icy cold beverages during pitta season, especially right after a meal, as they will smother what little agni is present.
Pitta Season Lifestyle
It’s the time for doing! Pitta is in its glory during the summer months—reflected in the intensity of activity, heat, and longer days. Pitta always craves more and even the extended hours of daylight lends itself to the feeling of being able to accomplish and achieve more in a given day.
While it can be very tempting to do it ALL, as with all things pitta, moderation is key in finding harmony. Take full advantage of the longer days by rising with the sun and staying out late to play but do allow yourself to retreat indoors and take it easy—especially during the pitta hours of 10 a.m.–2 p.m. The sun is high, the heat is intense, and the conditions can be just right for burnout if we do not temper the blaze with cooling activities and much-needed rest.
VATA SEASON // Mid-September to Mid-February
The elements of Space and Air become more present as we move into vata season. Their combined qualities of dry, quick, cool, and unpredictable are more noticeable with each passing day. Vata weather is a bit erratic and uncertain—one day sunny and bright, with hints of lingering summer; the next day, gray with a strong chill or perhaps a light snow, threatening of a winter take-over. Winds become stronger and we see a lot of movement and change in the external world as birds migrate and leaves begin to change.
Vata Season Diet
The digestive fire, agni, burns brightest during the winter months associated with vata season. This reflects our body’s innate knowingness that it needs more nutrients and energy to survive the winter. You will find yourself hungrier than usual to fuel this fire and it is okay to indulge. As you do, take care not to overdo it with unhealthy treats, but rather eat generous amounts of healthy, whole foods. Favor the tastes of sweet, salty, and sour. Warm, cooked foods are preferred over cold or raw, as they will help you feel nurtured and grounded during this time of instability.
Vata Season Lifestyle
If there were ever a season for social butterfly vata to shine, this is it! The end of the calendar year is chock-full of connectivity throughout the busy holiday season. Gifts are exchanged, cultures are celebrated, parties are thrown almost every other weekend. Even in our professional lives, we see everyone loosen up a little bit as the year end approaches and we make more time for play. Give yourself permission to do just that.
This excess festivity can be dazzling…and also extremely overwhelming. To make the most of the season without spiraling into a tail-spin, be honest about your calendar. Maintain a bit of routine in your schedule where you can to help counteract the spontaneity. And remember that it is okay to say no to opportunities that arise to make time for grounding and self-care.
What seasonal elements and weather characteristics are where you live now? How can you make subtle shifts to your diet and lifestyle to help you harness the qualities of the doshas?
Share a comment below and let us know about your experiences with the seasons from an Ayurvedic perspective!
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