Oh yes, change is in the air. It is most definitely that time again. In fact, Ayurveda even has a name for it…Ritusandhi. It's a Sanskrit word that refers to the junction between seasons, and guess what—you're sitting right in the middle of it!
Ritusandhi (actually pronounced “root-tu-sahn-dee”) is the two-week period that spans the last week of the old season AND the first week of the new one. And according to Ayurveda it's got two very key distinctions worth noting:
- It's the time when we're most vulnerable to illnesses and disease.
- It's the perfect time to make transitions in our diet, exercise and routine to support the coming season.
Are You Ready?
Ritusandhi typically occurs four times per year (and up to six in more tropical climates), but the key junctions are those that most of us are experiencing right now—namely, summer to autumn (in the northern hemisphere) and winter to spring (in the southern hemisphere). No matter how drastic or mild the weather shifts where you are, making the choice to honor your connection to the natural world by going with its flow is both inspiring and empowering.
Why? Because change is inevitable. It's one of the few things in life that we can count on 100%. Regardless of how aware of it we are, our bodies change right along with the weather and cycles of the sun and moon. Watching it, embracing it, and supporting it feels a lot like that “dance with life” that I'm always talking about and is a simple and beautiful way to own the awesomeness that is you!
So first let me say that just being mindful of how your body and mind change as the seasons transition is a pretty powerful thing. But if you're feeling particularly proactive here's a few suggestions for shifts you can make over the coming weeks to ease the transition from…
Summer to Autumn
1. Diet - Begin to transition from cold, raw, cooling foods and drinks to foods that are cooked, warming and grounding. It's time to start incorporating those warming herbs and spices back into the diet, like fresh ginger, black pepper, mustard, garlic, and cloves.
Make the shift from bitter and astringent foods (lettuces, beans) towards foods that are a little heavier (root veggies and well cooked greens) with sweet, salty, and sour tastes. Start to add a little more healthy fats into the diet to offset the drying effects of autumn. And keep an eye on your digestion as it can start to get pretty variable during this time of year.
2. Routine - This is one of those seasonal transitions that can leave you feeling a little out of sorts with all the “back to school” activities and the looming holiday season. Creating simple morning and evening routines to anchor your day can help to settle your mind and body, alleviating anxiety and stress and promoting a good nights sleep.
Simple things like five to ten minutes of meditation morning and evening, self massage with lightly scented sesame oil, or an evening bath can smooth the transition from the energizing warmth of summer to the cooler temperatures of winter.
3. Yoga - Your yoga practice is one of those things that will change from day to day (and moment to moment) whether you notice it or not. So why not take the time to notice how your mind and body respond to the changes going on outside of you?
Your mat is a beautiful stage from which to get a real clear picture of where you are in the swirl of the seasonal transition. And as we shift towards cooler weather you might find yourself naturally seeking a slower and more focused practice, one that is more grounding and comforting in response to the light and variable energy of vata season…go with it!
For southern hemisphere dwellers like me, here are a few suggestions to support your transition from…
Winter to Spring
1. Diet - Two words: lighten up! Time to shift from that comfort food that you've been enjoying all winter towards lighter, brighter, and more cleansing flavors. Think leafy greens, bitter, light, warming and astringent fruits and veggies (think apples and pears, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower and corn).
You'll still want to keep everything cooked, but steaming and baking are preferable to stewing, frying or sauteeing. Substitute a little of the salt in your diet with flavorful and pungent spices. Kick up the heat with spices like cayenne pepper, chilli, fresh ginger and garlic! And as the days start to get a little longer see if you can get a light dinner in before sundown.
2. Routine - Add some energy back into your routine. Early morning energizing yoga or exercise, warm water with lemon to get the digestive fire pumping. If you spend a good amount of your day sitting, infuse a little lightness and stimulation by taking regular “dance” breaks, getting up to move around or grab a short (or long) walk or two during the day.
Also…it's time to start decluttering. Consider getting rid of at least one thing each day that you no longer need. Be proactive and make a plan or checklist for deeper cleaning during the first few weeks of the spring season.
3. Yoga - Time to warm things up a little. Start practicing with an intention to energize and stimulate the body and mind and shake off the heaviness left over from winter. Create a short morning practice of sun salutations (10–15). Incorporate heart opening poses and inversions into your regular practice. Now might also be the time to throw some vinyasa flow or kundalini classes or into the mix to add variation.
Kick up the heat by incorporating warming breath and continuous movements.
So now over to you…How can you take action over the next couple of weeks to ensure you make the most out of this ritusandhi? What self-care and seasonal rituals can you embrace in order to honor your connection to yourself and the natural world? Whatever changes you choose to make, no matter how big or small, remember the benefits to your health and happiness, and own 'em…like a boss!