Haritaki or Chebulic myrobalan is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda. It is said to be as gentle to the stomach, as a mother is to her child. It has qualities to pacify all 3 Dosha, therefore its consumption in different combinations is recommended in different seasons.
For the first timer, dosage of Harad (common Hindi name for Haritaki) in each combination should start with ½ tsp and taken to one tsp, according to the comfort of consumer. Test intake of Harad from ½ tsp to 1 tsp for the first week. Take ½ tsp for first 4 days then increase to 1leveled tsp for next 3 days.
When you are comfortable with 1 tsp of Harad, then you can start with the Ritu Haritaki routine.
Sex is a factor of Vata. It increases mainly Vata in the body, increases Pitta to a small extent and reduces the effect of Kapha. Therefore sexual intercourse is highly recommended in cooler seasons in Visargkal, whereas it is not recommended in the hotter part of the year. Medium involvement in Shishir (late winter) and Vasant (spring), Varsha(rains) and very little or no sex is recommended in summers.
Same goes for physical exercise and lot of brainy work. This is true for all 3 Prakruti prominence types.
The comments according to Prakruti indicate the Ideal frequency of sexual intercourse during the respective seasons. However one should decide the frequency based on his body strength, presence of diseases and mental satisfaction. Overall essence of this practice is to protect and increase the momentum of body metabolism. Personal happiness, as stated earlier, is of paramount importance in order to ensure the physical health. Therefore nothing should be practiced forcefully.
The following table shows a healthy approach for sexual intercourse during the seasons.
Sleep is considered to be a vikara (defect) is not supposed to be there in condition of the an ideal body, where there is no hunger, digestion or physiological wear and tear in the body. According to Ayurveda, body is considered capable of absorbing direct energy from sun, just like mobile or laptop, like the way our body synthesizes vitamin D; which was the concept behind morning and evening sun worship 🙂
But since we eat and produce digestive waste and toxins, do physical and mental work; we have Vata accumulation in the body (can be understood as formation of lactic acid after physical labour, which is removed while resting.). Therefore sleep is indispensable for us.
It is said that only a person with clear conscious has peaceful sleep. Not only peaceful and deep sleep, his mind is always free of conflict and stress. As discussed earlier, our body is an extension of our mind. So the state of mind is reflected in the body.
Sleep reduces metabolism, both in terms of physical labour and bio chemical reactions in the body. It increases inertia, stability and has a cooling effect on the body.
Do Never Sleep Hungry
When the external environment is cold, the body needs to maintain the temperature either by physical labour or by the heat of digestion. There is no option of physical labour during sleep. So body burns the ingested food. If there is no food, body burns the stored fat. Practice of going to sleep empty stomach reduces the insulation benefits of the fatty layer gradually. This is particularly dangerous in the cold seasons. Therefore it is said that one should not go to sleep empty stomach, esp. the lean ones. Practice of going to sleep hungry is not good for fat people either since it increases Vata effect. When you start to sleep hungry, the first few days body secretions burn the stomach walls. In Pitta people, the secretions are strong enough to initiate stomach ulcers. Later the body adapts to the external low or zero food input and reduces the digestive secretions. This reduces the capacity to digest at the particular time when you skip the food and weakens the overall digestion. Body gets the indication that when it is hungry, it might not get the food; and makes abnormal modifications in its digestion process to accommodate hunger periods.
Seasonal Sleep Requirements
During Visargkal – Varsha, Sharad and Hemant, the nights are longer than the days so the amount of proper night sleep is ample for a healthy person.
The rate of metabolism should be kept high in these seasons to help the body get enough heat from body activity or digestion.
Sleeping in daytime will slows the metabolism and body might reduce the heat distribution to certain parts. This might vitiate Kapha and may cause drowsiness, uneasiness or headache. It will make fertile ground for development of other Kapha disorders ranging from common cold to sinusitis in the long run, depending on the Prakruti of the person.
Therefore day sleep or afternoon nap should be avoided during these seasons.
Also according to terrain, people in cold or hilly areas should not sleep in daytime normally.
Places close to equator, where the duration of days and nights do not change significantly with the seasons, afternoon nap is a very healthy thing.
The recommended afternoon nap should not be immediately after the lunch. Please ensure a gap of ½ hour (Pitta) to 1 hour(Vata, Kapha) between the lunch and the nap.
The sleep habits can balance as well as vitiate the Dosha physiology during different seasons.
Ideal Sleep Pattern according to seasons and Prakruti
In this season, the body gets ample rest at night, so no need for afternoon nap.
Vata – no sleep in the daytime, unless extremely tired
If you sleep, sleep duration should not be longer than 1 hour
No sleeping in evening after 4 pm
Same for Pitta
Sleep strictly prohibited for Kapha Prakruti
Kapha vitiation in this season invites maximum possibility of common cold, cough etc.
One should not drink cold water if you are thirsty in the middle of the night, esp. Kapha people. Prefer using warm water stored in thermos.
Day sleep is a complete no unless you are very sick, because it will decrease metabolism and heat production make your body more susceptible to cold and coughs.
So sleep pattern for all Prakruti is same as Hemant
Uttarayan starts with spring and the days start getting longer, following the Sandhikal practices (discussed in Sandhikal Chapter) you should gradually move the body towards afternoon nap. It depends from person to person, but slightly lying down for 15 min. rest instead of proper sleep in afternoon, is a good start for a healthy person.
Kapha gets vitiated during spring. The body is changing the metabolism pattern according to the season as discussed earlier. Therefore sleep pattern according to the Prakruti is :
Vata : ½ hour rest in normal conditions
Pitta : ½ hour nap in normal conditions
Kapha : 15 min to ½ hour rest in normal conditions
Common sense applies everywhere, so if you are sick and need rest then you should sleep as much as your body requires
Now the days are actually longer than the night so the rest required by the body is not fulfilled by night’s sleep. Also if it is very hot in the daytime, then afternoon sleep reduces the metabolic rates, also the heat production by the body.
2-3 hours’ sleep in afternoon is good if possible. Otherwise for office people, a light stroll is better which prevents you from being sleepy. Also the metabolism of people with sitting jobs in ac rooms does not require much sleep 😆
However if you are in sales job, you should have some rest time in afternoon, sitting.
Again the people in hill stations like Kashmir will do well with no nap or 1/2 hour nap; where as in people in Chennai can sleep from 2-5 pm if possible.
All Prakruti people benefit from this nap according to their need. But there should be no sleep in the evening time.
Varsha (Rainy season)
The temperature shift is very rapid in this season; the body and digestion is weak. And there is Vata vitiation as discussed in Effect of Ritu (seasons) on Dosha. This is the time to strengthen the digestion for next season and build overall body strength. Because of vata disturbance, so it is very important that you do not sleep immediately after taking food at night, because that will slow the digestion process and start fermentation, which will make you disposed to gas problem, acidity and constipation.
Gradually reduce the sleep from the summer duration to a slight rest by the time Rains start. Sleeping in daytime is prohibited in Varsha.
The sleep reduction completely depends on the strength and requirements of individual. Follow basic sleep schedule and make sure that you reduce your sleep to nil by the time Sharad sandhikal ends.
Sharad has Pitta vitiation which sleep can pacify as it has a cooling effect and reduces Vata and Pitta.
Vata: ½ hour rest in normal conditions
Pitta: ½ hour nap in normal conditions
Kapha: 15 min to ½ hour rest in normal conditions
Same for Pitta
Sleep strictly prohibited for Kapha Prakruti
Good Sleep Tips
Always keep a gap of minimum1 hour between meal and sleep, that means you should not sleep before 1 hour after meal, however it is not necessary vice versa
Also walking 100 steps after dinnerhelps in better digestion and significantly prevents gas trouble.
Beforegoing to sleep, you can try 5 min meditation or yoga nindra exercise for quality sleep.
Do not sleep during the transition period of daybreak or evening, esp. evening.
Ideal adequate sleep time is from 10 pm to 6 am. All Prakruti people should follow this.
Best time for deep sleep is from 12 am to 4 am and it must not be missed. This is minimum sleep you should have everyday
Who should sleep in day time in all seasons
Below is the list of types of work or engagements, which might weaken a person. A person weakened by excessive activity of this kind, can sleep in daytime if required, in all seasons.
Person weakened by
Excessive singing (professional singers)
Excessive study (Students who do night study)
Drinking (sleep eliminates the effect of liquor to a large extent)
Excessive vomiting, loose motion etc
Carrying load (Manual workers with heavy manual work)
Best time to wake up is before sunrise. It is like to be prepared for the show before the spotlight falls on you.
This is true for all Prakruti and seasons. Before sunrise the Dosha or body metabolism is in an ideal balanced state. Our body is almost like the body of a new born, after the night long internal cleansing and detoxification of the body organs.
Kapha Dosha is easily vitiated in people who sleep late in the morning.
After waking up in the morning, people of all prakruti should drink 2-5 glasses of water according to individual capacity and comfort. Vata and Kapha prakruti people should take normal or lukewarm water according to the season. It is like washing your intestine in the morning before food enters it.
Unless you are hungry in the morning, you should have a drink as the first food intake and not solids, just like a new born. An appropriate drink will rinse away all unwanted elements from your intestines and balance any vitiated dosha. If you are hungry, definitely you should have something to eat as well. Otherwise eating should begin with proper breakfast, after sunrise. Sun influences our bio rhythm and affects digestion.
Below are multiple options for morning drink. One should experiment and choose the one which suits her/him the best
Please find the link below for Table containing indicative list of morning drink options according to seasons.
According to Ayurvedic literature, fruits and vegetables grown in other than their natural season should be completely avoided. Every fruit or vegetable has a natural growth duration and environment from which it derives its natural properties and constitution. A fruit grown in unnatural duration and unnatural environment will have unnatural properties, which might not be beneficial for the body.
Let us take the example of construction of a house. If appropriate time is not given to the construction ingredients to settle, the building will be completed fast but it will be frail and unsafe to stay in.
Besides seasonal fruits meet the natural demands of the body in their respective season, for example consider the fruits of summer – watermelon, litchi, mango etc. All summer fruits are juicy and help in maintaining the water and electrolyte balance in the body, which is much required due to continuous loss of water through perspiration in summers.
Nowadays fruits and vegetables are semi grown and unnaturally ripened, by exposing them to chemical compounds. Such products might have a very attractive external appearance, but they bring comparatively low amount of nutrition to the body.
In Ayurveda, the ease of digestion and absorption of a food item is more important than the amount of nutrients chemically present in it. For example, we need iron but we cannot eat iron bar or plain iron powder, because its digestion and absorption is impossible in our body.
Similarly fruits, vegetables or grains grown unnaturally, (these include products grown by using chemical growth promotors or genetically modified products.) are Guru or heavy to digest and absorb. On the other hand, due to incomplete digestion, they might putrefy and produce toxins in the body.
Therefore use only seasonal fruits and vegetables, organically grown if possible. Here is a link to the indicative list of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
There are certain qualities that a meal must possess. Food devoid of all these qualities must be avoided. These qualities are stated below according to their priority.
Warmth ignites and aides the digestion process, which is like slow chemical based disintegration of the ingested food. Optimal temperature is crucial for proper functioning of digestive enzymes. Extra warmth can be done away with through blood circulation, but extra heat required for digestion takes long time to build if the food is cold. Warmth helps to digest even if the food is not tender, improper food, eaten improperly and in excess amount. Therefore warm food is the most important factor.
Warmth also triggers the taste buds. Even not very palatable food becomes bearable when it is served warm. It pleases the mind, which is another vital aspect of food. Fumes of warm food excite the sense of smell and increases salivary secretions.
Warmth relaxes the muscles of the alimentary canal and melts the mucus lining to ensure smooth passage of the food.
Warmth pacifies Vata and Kapha metabolism (excess motion or excess inertia) and promotes Pitta( transformation process). Both excess Vata and Kapha hinder the digestion process; excess Vata may cause gas trouble, pain due to tensed muscles or dryness, similarly Kapha can cause constipation and heaviness.
So Eating ice cream is not great, esp. for Vata people!
Snigdha has 2 meanings – 1) Made with love , 2) tender with moisture or oil
Food should be made with love and eaten with love! Everything has certain vibrations, positive or negative. Therefore food offered in Temples is called Prasad, ideally it is purified with positive feelings like happiness, gratitude, humility and love.
Also it is said that one should not eat in places where the food is not offered or cooked with love. That ways, you also ingest the negative vibrations along with food.
That is why taste of food cooked by mother in early years, lingers in the memory of a person throughout the life.
Also food should not be very hard or dry. The amount of moisture in the food helps the intestines to move the food easily, very hard pieces of food might hurt the inner linings of the intestine. It is easier for the digestives juices to penetrate moist food
In proper proportions
According to Charak, the stomach should be filled 1/3rd with food, 1/3rd with water and 1/3rd with air to ensure proper movement of food in the stomach. Therefore we should stop eating when a little hunger is still left. One should not feel heaviness in the body after a meal.
According to Chakrapani (Ancient Commentator of Charak) one should include 175 gm. of grains, 40 gm. of soup (fluids) and 80 gm. of meat in a complete meal.
Eaten after complete digestion of previous meal
If the food is eaten before the previous meal is completely digested or without proper hunger, then the digestion capacity gets weakened. The digestive juices, ample to digest the next meal, take some time to get regenerated in their respective organs. Meals taken without the proper secretion of digestive juices, leads to improper digestion. Hunger signifies that the digestive juices are fully restored and have already started working in the stomach, and therefore it is best to eat only when hungry. Scientifically it is said that the food gets digested in 4-6 hours but every person is different and there are various factor governing the hunger and digestion capacity ; like age, physical activity, last meal, daily routine and Prakruti etc..
Improper digestion has 2 aspects: Insufficient digestive juices and delay in digestion because of other factors like heavy food, cold food, excess quantity or improper timing. Insufficient juices lead to incomplete disintegration of food. Since the food reaches a certain point in digestion and is sent to the next stage only after the reaching a certain level of disintegration, insufficient juices causes delay by stagnation of the food at one point. Also they are not able to prevent the purification of the food inside the body, which causes gas trouble and many other problems.
Therefore meal should be taken punctually, it helps your body to tune itself to your time table. The body can plan the digestion and other activities. Besides, more importantly, you should eat only when hungry and as much as hunger permits.
Compatible to the body (viryavirudha)
One should check for any allergies towards any food item. Some people are allergic to dairy products, some to eggs, some to certain fruits or vegetables or grains. For example, wheat causes allergies because of gluten contents.
According to Charak, each substance is digested in a different way in the intestine or each substance react differently to the digestive juices. Because of different Prakruti of individuals, the same substance might be digested, absorbed and effect the body in different ways.
In an agreeable place with good facilities
It is very important to have clean surrounding for a meal as insects might contaminate the food. This is very basic. Charak uses the word “ Priya” meaning the one you love. One should have food in the place which is loved by the person, place decorated according to the taste of the person, with friends or loved ones if possible, with appropriate resources.
Charak also stresses the importance of feeling gratitude, contentment and happiness during the meal, even if it is not great food. If you don’t like the food, you can leave it but preferably should not eat with a distressed mind.
Not consumed very fast
Digestion of food starts in the mouth as saliva mixes with the food. Also food gets broken into smaller pieces by chewing, which increases the surface area for further digestion of the food. People who swallow the food few seconds after putting it in their mouth, ensure improper digestion and thus incomplete absorption of nutrients. Such people even on consumption of a balance diet, might have deficiencies because of low absorption.
Also chewing for some time helps you feel the taste, texture and smell of the food. If you take interest in your food, it will reduce other stresses while eating. Also the food eaten with pleasure nourishes the body better.
Not consumed very slow
Some people have tendency of thinking or doing other things at the time of eating. Some chew unnecessarily for a very long time. They get the feeling of boredom or the hunger is no more after sometime. So these people might have poor intake of food.
According to Prakruti, normally Kapha Prakruti people or even Vata Prakruti people might face this problem. Pitta Prakruti people, in normal condition, have good hunger and good concentration.
Slow eating is esp. not good in the cold seasons of the year since less food intake might lead to various digestion problems as discussed earlier.
Eaten without talking or laughing
Talking or laughing might lead to food entering the air passage, which is lethal.
According to the body requirements and interest
This is the last factor mentioned, which signifies that it is the most dispensable one, but at the same time, if convenient and affordable, one should always have tasty food, cooked well with nice fragrance and beautifully presented. The point is that the unhealthy/cold/very dry food, even if tasty and good looking, should not be given preference according to the earlier mentioned factors.
There are preachers who say that you should have control over your taste buds. And in order to ensure this, they insist on eating tasteless food, which is a wrong approach. Eating bad food increases craving for good food. And good food is body’s natural requirement, because good food positively affects not only body but also the mind.
Food consumed without following any of the above guidelines creates “Aam” or toxins in the body.
According to Ayurveda, the real essence of a food item is not based only on the chemical composition, nutritional content or the calorie count.
The first parameter is the easy digestion of the food. If the stomach or intestine is not able to digest the food properly then all the nutritional value will go to waste. The factors responsible for easy digestion are 1) Temperature 2) particle size 3) amount of digestive juices required to burn the food. Therefore food which is freshly cooked or warm with smallest particle size (liquid or powder) and in right quality and quantity is the best food. No doubt milk is one of the best foods.
Second most important factor is easy absorption of food. There are various methods of absorption in the intestines. Diffusion is the easiest method; other types of absorption might require active effort by the body. Therefore the food that can easily diffuse the nutrition in the intestine is the best food. Otherwise we might spend 2.5 calories to gain 3 calories which is overall not the most profitable deal.
According to Ayurveda, raw form takes the longest to digest. Different types of food preparations and their absorption efficacy is as discussed in the following link :
Satmya means something that is naturally favourable or comfortable for the body. It is said that even if something is not compatible to the human body in general, after exposure for a long time, starting with small quantities; the body makes physiological changes to adapt itself to that particular substance. It can be anything, from excessive salt in food to poison. It is believed that in ancient times, little girls were given small portions of poison to develop them into assassins (Vish kanya or poison girls).
Satmya is of two types according to 2 Kshetra of human existence – Manasic (Mental) Satmya and shariric (physical) Satmya.
Mental Satmya is clearly more important than the physical Satmya.
Let us consider an example to understand the mental Satmya. Some communities eat living fish, because according to them it is the freshest, which is true beyond doubt. They have a mental acceptance for this recipe. But people unaccustomed to this, will find it very gross and unpalatable.
Let us take another instance; for stanch Hindus, eating beef will be absolutely disagreeable, even if they are starving. Same goes for pork in case of Muslims. Eating beef and pork is not seriously detrimental to human body in general. Only risk is the one posed by tapeworm infection. But a Hindu might feel sick of guilt after eating beef; this is more dangerous than actually falling sick.
Mental Satmya is very important. One should not eat anything that she/he does not like. In fact, according to the ayurvedic rule for ideal meal, one should eat things that she/he loves (Priya). A meal that does not result in happiness and contentment does not nourish the body. The concept of Satmya starts with the mind and evolves in the body. If mind accepts a food, body will be nourished from it. According to some researches, people hypnotized and given non-existent/ fake food survived and even gained weight!
Examples of shariric (physical) Satmya are multiple. Eating fish along with milk is not considered a healthy combination in ayurveda. But people in West Bengal are accustomed to it. Too much of vinegar is not a healthy choice, but people in China, Thailand etc. consume lots of vinegar every day and still stay healthy and live long.
The essence of Satmya is that either we should get accustomed to something or don’t eat it at all. Any variation from the ideal meal also comes at a price. Body has to accommodate the change somewhere else in the body or the mind. Charak says that generations of people habituated to excessive intake of acids have slanted eyes and wrinkled face, as in case of population of noodle eating countries.
Do not eat something that is not compatible to you mentally or physically in large quantities. If you must get adapted to the incompatible or astamya, start with little quantity in a disease free state of body and gradually increase the dosage according to your comfort. The initial quantity and the incremental dosage differ from individual to individual. Consulting an experienced physician will be a better choice.