Grishma is the sanskrit word for summer, ritu means season and charya means self-care regimen to follow during that season. Ayurveda has recommended a systematic self-care regimen for each season of the year.
Grishma ritu occurs from July through mid-September and is the last season of Aadaan Kaala, the half year period of Uttarayana when the sun is moving toward the northern hemisphere. The intensity of the sun’s rays during this season is high and causes the depletion of kapha or moisture and cooling properties from the atmosphere. This has an effect on the human body and leads to an accumulation of heat and dryness. The fire element is dominant during Grishma ritu making it intensely hot which depletes the energy from our bodies, leaving a feeling of dullness and lethargy.
During this period, pitta dosha increases immensely in the body. The increased heat lowers our digestive strength or fire and therefore, we must eat less food that is light to digest. Due to the increased heat, our bodies demand more liquids, and we must consume plenty of water, and sweet fruit and vegetable juices. However, we need to monitor our digestive fire and only eat when feeling hungry. During this season we are more prone to dehydration, exhaustion, lethargy, and feeling dry with a lack of energy. Ayurveda recommends a lighter diet with less activity to maintain normal energy and health during this season.
Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations During Grishma
Prefer foods that are madhura (sweet), laghu (light), and drava (liquid), use ghee (clarified butter) for cooking. Plenty of liquids should be consumed in the form of Jala or fresh water, Panaka (fruit juices) freshly prepared from juicy fruits like mango, grapes, pomegranate with ginger, cardamom, and sugarcane, tender coconut water, Mantha is a cooling liquid prepared from soaking raisins, figs and dates in cold water for an hour and then blend, and diluted Panaka syrup made from herbs and fruits - ananta (sarsaparilla), kamala (lotus), gulaba (rose), amra (mango), draksha (grapes), chandana (sandal), ushira (vetiver), and jambhira (lemon). These can be made into a syrup and diluted with water to be served when needed.
Gulkand is prepared using rose petals and sugar is an excellent Ayurvedic preparation, prescribed to reduce the excess heat and avoid its bad effects which can be taken on empty stomach (1-2 tsp) with milk. This reduces the burning sensation in the body, eyes, palms and soles, giddiness due to heat, itching, digestive disturbances, stomach acid and many more.
Foods to avoid include deep fried, hot, spicy, salty and sour items, smoothies (milk and fruits combined together) and yogurt. Alcohol should be avoided as it increases the qualities of burning and dryness in the body which leads to debility.
To avoid feeling fatigued during the summer; it’s recommended to sleep for a short time during the day in a cool place. This is recommended because nighttime is shorter during summer and also the excess heat causes fatigue. Apply a paste of sandalwood all over the body and then take a cool water bath. Try to stay indoors avoiding exposure to the sun as much as possible. Wear thin light clothes and use flowery perfumes that are cooling in nature. Avoid exertion and strenuous exercise during the hot summer season.
During the summer months, Ayurveda recommends following a cooling pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle to help stay healthy during this challenging time of year.
There are a few herbal formulas that are good to take/use during the summer season. They help offset the bad effects from the summer heat and reduce vata and pitta dosha.
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The Ayurvedic text lists four types of fats with medicinal healing qualities. They are ghritam (ghee), oil (sesame), vasa (muscle), and majja (marrow). Each one has its own unique properties, however ghritam has several special qualities that are unmatched. Ghritam will maintain its own healing qualities even when combined with herbs with different qualities.