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Ayurvedic Guidelines for Monsoon: Nurturing Balance and Well-being

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Introduction: The monsoon in India, with their refreshing showers, thunderous presence and lush green landscapes, brings a welcome respite from the scorching heat. The rains have the power to dispel the dullness and lethargy that may have settled during the preceding season. This revitalization is not only external but also stirs a sense of aliveness within us and remind us of the beauty and resilience of life itself. The monsoon encompass two sub-seasons known as Heavy Rainfall and Lighter Rainfall The Season of Abundant Rain (Varsha) (mid-June to mid-August) With the arrival of the monsoon season, there is a noticeable reduction in temperature. The dryness that prevailed begins to dissipate, replaced by an increase in humidity. This change impacts our body's water requirements, reducing our thirst and signaling the rekindling of our digestive fire. However, it is important to exercise caution when it comes to consuming heavy foods during this time. The heightened humidity poses a challenge to digestion, as water tends to dampen the digestive fire.

It is worth noting that the accumulation of Vata, the elemental force associated with movement and dryness, starts during the summer season. With the arrival of monsoon, the body undergoes a cooling effect. Cold temperatures, by their very nature, tend to cause constriction. This constricted state of the body inhibits the free flow of Vata, the internal wind. Consequently, Vata related issues tend to dominate during this season. This change in weather, makes it essential to adopt a balanced approach to maintain health and vitality. Let's explore Ayurvedic principles and recommendations for diet, lifestyle, and self-care during this enchanting season.

Diet: To balance the internal Vata and external atmosphere (humid & windy), our diet should be light (since digestive fire is not at its best), warm, slightly oily, and have less water content. Sweet, sour, and salty tastes are beneficial during this time.

1. Cereals: Opt for lighter cereals like rice and millets, ensuring proper cooking. Wheat preparations such as phulka are recommended, as they are lighter on the digestive system. This can be the cereal choice for anyone who has a disturbed digestive system, irrespective of the season.

2. Pulses: As pulses tend to increase Vata, it is advisable to consume them in moderation. Cooking pulses with oils or ghee and adding sweet, sour, or salty tastes, such as using jaggery, tamarind, or salt in soups, helps reduce their Vata-aggravating effects. 3. Vegetables: During Sharad, it is beneficial to consume sweet and sour tasting vegetables rather than bitter, pungent, or astringent ones.

4. Milk and Milk Products: Avoid excessive consumption of liquid dairy products. If consumed, ensure they are consumed warm. Heavy sweetmeats should be avoided, while moderate amounts of ghee and butter can help balance Vata.

5. Fruits: The need for fruits decreases considerably during this season. Watery and cool fruits can cause digestion problems during the rains. Additionally, the availability of fruits is naturally limited during this time.

6. Oils: Sesame and mustard oils are the recommended ones in this season for their warming properties. Sesame oils are considered as an excellent remedy for controlling Vata dosha. These oils can be used for cooking as well as for massage, providing a sense of well-being during this rainy season. Make note, that moderation is key, the humid conditions during this season reduce the requirement for oils and ghee in the body.

7. Spices: Turmeric, ginger, asafoetida, dry ginger, and mustard seeds are beneficial spices for this season. They help to curb the aggravated Vata. However, it is advised to limit the use of highly pungent spices such as red and green chili or black pepper.

8. Water: It is crucial to consume water and other liquids mindfully during the rainy season. Since the atmosphere already has high humidity, our body's water demands are reduced. Unnecessary consumption of liquids can further dampen the delicate digestive fire, leading to various digestive issues like - nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and dysentery. Boiled and filtered water is recommended is this season, and opting for warm water can help alleviate Vata-related symptoms. Avoid chilled drinks and foods during this season. 9. Fasting: Fasting during this season is common and can be observed for various reasons, such as religious purposes or sacred ceremonies. While these fasts have a spiritual significance, they also serve a health purpose.

According to Ayurveda, fasting, also known as "Langhan", is recommended to achieve a feeling of lightness. It means feeling lighter and naturally fasting should be done only until that stage. The duration of fasting varies from person to person, but once the body feels light, refreshed, the stomach is empty, and hunger / digestive fire is back, the purpose of fasting has been fulfilled and should not be prolonged unnecessarily.

These fasts bring back the extinguished fire within the body, as excess or heavy food during the rainy season can suppress the weakened digestive fire. Fasting provides rest to the stomach and allows the remaining fire inside the body to take care of undigested food. Once digestion is complete, a sense of lightness and hunger returns.

However, it's crucial to be cautious and avoid over-fasting. Extreme fasting can lead to weakness, loss of strength, dullness, dizziness, and Vata-related issues. It can eventually harm the body's healthy structure, causing damage and negative health consequences.

Listening to your body is essential when fasting. Balancing your health and well-being should always be a priority when engaging in fasting or any other health-related practices.

Daily Routine: Protecting oneself from getting wet is of utmost importance during the rainy season. If by chance one does get wet, drying off as soon as possible is essential to prevent illnesses caused by coldness. Maintaining a warm environment at home, dressing in cotton clothing for warmth, and using electric heaters or coal furnaces can help combat the cold and humidity. Massage with sesame oil and hot water baths are highly recommended for their therapeutic effects.

Exercise and Travel: Due to the body's recent exposure to the intense summer heat and the need for nourishing food, heavy exercise should be avoided. Heavy exercises could lead to fatigue and Vata aggravation. Engage in light warming exercises, preparing the body for more vigorous activities in the next season. Limiting travel helps reduce Vata-related imbalances and minimizes the risk of infections.

Conclusion Understanding Ayurvedic principles for the rainy season allows us to adapt our lifestyle, diet, and self-care practices to maintain balance and promote well-being. By following these guidelines, embracing the enchanting rains while taking necessary precautions, we can nurture our health and experience a happier rainy season.

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