Ritucharya: Adapting to seasonal changes

When the seasons change, the affect on nature is very evident in our surroundings. As summer shifts to winter, trees pull their energy from the outside, in. And as winter gives way to summer, birds bring in the dawn earlier, and plants sprout new leaves all around us.

But can we be aware of the seasons shifting and changing rhythms within our own bodies and minds?

In Ayurveda (the science of life) we talk about ritucharya - adaptions we can make to our habits and routines in order to more effectively keep our balance and well-being while the seasons around us change.

It’s always a little difficult talking about seasonal changes when we’re in a group so widely spread across the globe. But I did want to touch on it, because as the sunlight, temperatures, and nature around us starts to change, easily our minds can become a little shaky too.

Here are a few general tips on how to move with the seasons, especially when it comes to maintaining your yoga practice:

Start with small shifts in habits

With the new season may come new routines, rhythms and social engagements. To allow for these changes while still maintaining a consistent yoga practice, try making small everyday adjustments to your schedule. For example; if you practice yoga in the early mornings but now it’s suddenly cold and dark and difficult to get up, try going to bed earlier the night before. On the other hand, if the sun is waking you up earlier, try getting up and cultivating a new morning routine - like reading or mindfully sipping tea before class.

Make your space

One tip for maintaining a diligent practice is to practice in the same place and at the same time everyday. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make some adaptions based on the season! If it's cold where you are, bring a hot water bottle with you to your mat (great for easing sore muscles too!) or dress in layers, and keep a warm, cozy blanket within arms reach of your mat. If it's warm, open a window and air the space out before you start class.

Read more about making your home studio space >

Pay attention to your diet

This may already come naturally to you but eating according to the season can have a huge benefit on your health and energy levels. One of Ayurveda’s main principles is “opposites balance”. To stay in balance with the seasons, try eating foods of the opposite quality. For example, in the heat of summer opt for cooling foods like fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables. In winter opt instead for warming foods, like cooked root vegetables and starches.

This is very general of course, and will differ based on your body type (a whole other topic for a different day!) but I encourage you to google more about eating for the seasons / Ayurvedic eating habits if you’re curious!