Women’s bodies are complex—and powerful. From monthly menstrual cycles through pregnancy, early motherhood, and menopause, the female body is constantly changing and adapting to all that life brings.
Whether you’re married and raising a family, retired and flying solo, or anything in between, Ayurveda offers a wealth of practical knowledge to help you stay balanced at every age and stage of life.
Teens: Laying The Foundation For Lifelong Health
The teenage years are a time of rapid transition and change for young women. This stage of life is governed by Pitta dosha, which is associated with heat, metabolism, and transformation. It’s an exciting and expansive time, but all those hormonal fluctuations and changes can feel a little overwhelming at times (for parents, too)!
To harness the transforming power of Pitta, be mindful of your teenage girl’s underlying dosha and, when appropriate, feed her a cooling, nourishing, Pitta-pacifying diet that’s rich in well-cooked, fresh, colorful produce—especially sweet, juicy fruits and mild veggies like squash and green beans. Pizza and fries are best left as occasional indulgences.
Following a good routine can be very stabilizing for those hormonal ups and downs, as is getting plenty of rest and following a 10 p.m. bedtime when possible. Staying active is a great way to channel all that fiery Pitta energy into fun, feel-good endorphins and camaraderie with teammates.
When your independent teen is open, family time, father-daughter, or mother-daughter time are all nourishing to her heart—even if she never admits it! Read more on Ayurveda and the teenage years.
All too soon, it seems, it’s time to send our kids off to college! While they’re away, nurture them with Ayurvedic care packages that include cooling Organic Rose Petal Spread, Ayurvedic Herbal Soaps, Organic Rose Water, and our Intelligence Plus formula with brain-boosting herbs like bacopa, gotu kola, and ashwagandha. Vata and Pitta teas are also dorm room favorites.
20s and 30s: Stress Relief and Rejuvenation
As young women move away from home, start their careers, and embark upon their own families or solo adventures, Pitta dosha continues to predominate. During this dynamic phase, stress-management is key—whether in the form of meditation, yoga, or simply setting aside some time for self-care each day.
For a little herbal assistance, Stress Free Emotions offers natural resistance to life’s emotional stressors. Our Vital Lady formula also supports the reproductive system and balances the natural flow of hormones.
Women wanting to have children can turn their attention to nurturing their shukra dhatu, or reproductive tissue. Foods that nourish the reproductive tissue and boost fertility include fresh, organic produce, asparagus and broccoli (if your Vata type can handle the cabbage family), dairy, soaked almonds and walnuts, date milkshakes, and rice pudding, among others. Read more Ayurvedic fertility tips and learn about the Ayurvedic perspective on pregnancy and early motherhood.
Period problems? During your period, try to take it easy to support your body purifying itself. Rest for the first few days, do something you enjoy, and avoid any exercise more strenuous than a short walk. Here are a few more tips for a smoother menstrual cycle.
The 20s and 30s are also a good time to start wearing sunscreen daily, or protective clothing—if you aren’t already—to ward off sun damage. A daily abhyanga (warm oil massage) with Soothe Herbal Massage Oil offers myriad benefits, including moisturized skin, improved muscle tone, better metabolism, detoxification of your skin layers, better circulation, deeper sleep, and a greater sense of calm throughout the day, just to name a few.
40s and 50s: Making The Most Of Menopause
During their 40s and 50s, women begin moving gradually out of the Pitta phase of life and toward the Vata cycle. This is when you might begin to notice things like dry skin and symptoms of menopause (like hot flashes and emotional ups and downs). But fear not! You can minimize discomfort with a few dietary and lifestyle modifications.
If you’re noticing Pitta-based menopausal issues like irritability, hot flashes, and night sweats, try to follow a Pitta-pacifying diet: avoid spicy, salty, or sour foods, and favor bitter, astringent, and sweet tastes.
If you’re experiencing Vata-related menopause symptoms, like vaginal dryness and memory loss, bring Vata dosha back into balance with warm, unctuous foods and a Vata-pacifying diet. A daily oil massage with warmed Youthful Skin Massage Oil will also do wonders to calm the nervous system while deeply moisturizing your skin and toning your muscles.
Also helpful: our Midlife for Women I and Midlife for Women II formulas, which promote emotional, physical, and mental health during the midlife transition. These time-tested formulas help flush toxins, balance hormone production, and nourish reproductive health during menopause and beyond.
60s and 70s: Relishing the Golden Years
For many women, the 60s and 70s offer the opportunity for a rebirth of sorts. This is generally the period where people retire and turn their attention to family, travel, hobbies, passions, and volunteer work.
On the other hand, some women will continue to thrive on the vigors of their careers and may even find themselves at their most powerful. Whatever your path at this stage, Ayurveda can keep you at your best and brightest.
As Vata’s drying influence dominates this phase of life, a daily abhyanga with soothing warm oil just might be one of the most important things you can do to nurture the mind, body, and emotions. And if you’re feeling stiff and creaky, massage a bit of Joint Soothe II into your joints to help keep them lubricated, while eliminating impurities.
Veda 2240 Joint Plus helps remove toxins from the joints and support healthy flexibility, and Flexcel strengthens joint mobility. The goal is to stay active, limber, and to enjoy playing with the grandkids!
Staying hydrated is important at any age, but it’s especially crucial during the Vata phase of life. It’s also crucial to keep ama at a minimum throughout the body to help ward off chronic imbalances. Follow the diet that best suits your dosha makeup, and try to include stewed fruit in the morning; and if occasional constipation is an issue Organic Triphala Rose is also very helpful in this regard.
80s and Beyond: Aging Gracefully With Ayurveda
Generally speaking, the Ayurvedic lifestyle suggestions listed above for women in their 60s and 70s apply to this age range as well.
But as the Vata phase of life progresses, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated, moisturize your skin with daily abhyanga, and follow a healthy Ayurvedic dinacharya (daily routine) to balance Vata dosha and align your rhythms with nature.
Ayurveda offers easy solutions for many of the common challenges that can crop up during this period of life. If you occasionally feel constipated, Organic Triphala Rose helps improve elimination gently and naturally, without creating dependency.
Trouble falling asleep now and then? It’s common among seniors, but Blissful Sleep can help you fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed (whereas many over-the-counter alternatives may leave you with morning fog).
Feeling a little bit down, now and then? That can happen as we age and slow down. The uplifting Ayurvedic herbs in Blissful Joy can help you experience your inner bliss and all the many lives you continue to enrich simply by being you.
Think your days of being limber and active are over? Think again! Flexibility and gentle activity are possible well into one’s 90s. Even just getting out for a morning walk to enjoy the birdsong and sunshine will boost your mood and metabolism all day long.
General Ayurvedic Tips for Women’s Health
Keep Vata Dosha in Balance
"The key for women to stay in balance is to take care of Vata dosha," Ayurvedic health expert Sankari Wegman says. "When Vata dosha goes out of balance, it can manifest as worry, stress, and tension. And because it is fast-moving by nature, it goes out of balance easily and then leads the others. So Vata dosha is the key to staying calm and healthy."
Vata dosha, which is the mind-body operator that governs movement in the body, is quick, rough, dry, and irregular by nature.
"To balance Vata, it's important to maintain a regular daily routine, starting with a consistent, early bedtime and waking time," Sankari says. "Regular exercise, regular sleep, regular meditation, daily yoga, daily abhyanga, regular mealtimes—all of these things help keep Vata dosha in balance."
Include Your Family in Daily Routine Activities
Where will you find the time to add these extra items to your daily routine? For Sankari, the solution is to involve the entire family.
"It can be hard to fit anything new into your already-busy life," Sankari says. "But the good thing is that your family can do it with you. Then you don't feel separate from your family while taking care of your health."
For example, when she's doing her daily yoga asanas, her children follow along. "They don't have to do it perfectly, but they are learning healthy habits that will stay with them for life," notes Sankari. "When you have a regular daily routine, the whole family is on that routine and benefits from it."
Set Aside Time for Activities that Make You Happy
Once or twice a week, arrange for your husband or friend to take care of the kids so you can take a break from your chores and responsibilities.
"Taking dance classes once or twice a week in the evening, or meeting a friend for a walk early in the morning — these are things I do just for me," Sankari says. "I get to exercise and share time with friends. I think it's really healthy for women to take a break, to do something that brings joy, whether it's taking a painting class, meeting friends for breakfast, or going to the gym."
Sankari likes exercising with her friends because they help motivate her. "The key to balancing Vata dosha is to be regular, so combining exercise with meeting friends is a great way to bring more encouragement and support to staying on a healthy daily routine."
Rest to De-Stress
The importance of good sleep and daily meditation cannot be overestimated.
"There is a tendency for women to do so much for others, to get tired, so you need to make sure you schedule time to rest and rejuvenate with your daily meditation," Sankari says. "Even though time is tight, you can juggle your schedule to make time. Alternate with your spouse, or meditate before the children come home. Just having that focus, the rest you gain in meditation goes a long way."
Sankari and her husband, Keith, follow a set morning routine, where one practices the Transcendental Meditation® technique and the other starts the children on their Ayurvedic oil massage, bathing, and breakfast. Then they switch roles, so they both get to meditate.
"They see us meditating, and they see it as Daddy's turn, Mommy's turn," Sankari says. "And now that my son is older, he is doing the children's meditation, so he takes his turn too."
Sankari says she doesn't feel guilty about the time she spends away from her children, because her children like it when she meditates. "When you're rested you dive within yourself and replenish, and you come out with more love, more to give."
Eat Wholesome, Fresh, Warm, Cooked Foods
Eating regular, cooked meals helps balance Vata dosha and leads to strong immunity for the whole family.
"Learn to eat those foods that are healthy for your body type, and avoid those things that are hard to digest," advises Sankari. "If you are tense or worried, for instance, it's not a good idea to eat salads for lunch every day. Rather, you'll want to soothe Vata dosha and eat warm, fresh, cooked foods and warm drinks."
Preparing home-cooked meals is healthier and draws the family together. For example, for winter breakfasts, Sankari prepares hot rice cereal or cream of wheat with cooked apples and raisins that she soaks overnight.
"This is something the kids love and is good for my husband and me too," she says. "It's so important for women not to skip breakfast, to sit down for a warm meal rather than eating on the go. It helps start the day right and balances Vata dosha."
If the family has to eat outside the home at lunch, one Ayurvedic option is to prepare kitchari (a complete protein made of rice and split mung-bean dhal) that cooks inside a small thermos, along with steamed vegetables.
For the evening meal, it helps to have part of the meal prepared before you come home from work, so you don't feel pressured and hungry while you cook. You could prepare the veggies in the morning, or prepare soup or veggies with grains in a crock pot.
"Even making fresh flatbreads (chapatis) is an easy thing to do, once you get the hang of it," Sankari says. "Kids love forming the dough into balls and rolling it out."
Sankari finds that her children have become accustomed to warm foods and drinks, and even requests them. "I've been giving my older son warm water or warm Organic Calm Vata Tea, and now he doesn't crave cold drinks. The warm foods and warm drinks support good digestion and won't throw Vata out of balance, thus contributing to better immunity."
Take Ayurvedic Herbs for Women’s Health
Taking herbal food supplements can help reduce stress and boost immunity.
“For women over 40, Rejuvenation for Ladies helps restore that youthful glow, '' Sankari says. It promotes cellular regeneration, which slows both biological and psychological aging."
Sankari keeps Bio-Immune in her medicine chest to help purify toxins and to support the body's natural immune response. She also recommends taking Maharishi Amrit Kalash regularly to rejuvenate the mind and the body and improve immunity.
"I highly recommend Stress Free Mind for anyone who is under mental pressure at work, or who is prone to worry, anxiety, and mental tension. Stress Free Emotions helps us handle emotional stressors that are causing irritability or sadness in our lives, whether from the family, money pressures, or work relationships.”
Since Vata dosha also governs the cycles of a woman's life, such as menstruation, it's important for the busy woman to give her body extra support, Sankari says. "Smooth Cycle helps us to maintain monthly cycles that are balanced and even blissful. And for the menopause years, Midlife for Women I and Midlife for Women II help prevent Vata disturbance and help keep the menopause years symptom-free," she says.
Sankari recommends consulting an expert in Maharishi AyurVeda to learn which herbal supplements and dietary and lifestyle recommendations are most effective for your mind-body type. And whenever you're taking herbal supplements, she advises following a regular routine and eating the right foods for the best results.
While creating balance in your life can take some effort, it's an investment well worth making! For all ages, staying in touch with your body is the key. Taking our Dosha Quiz can help you understand your current state of balance and allow you to make healthy Ayurvedic decisions.
© 1999, 2021 Maharishi AyurVeda Products International, Inc. (MAPI). All Rights Reserved. MAPI does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. See additional information.