The human body is a delicate balancing act, and never more so than during a woman's monthly cycle. Fortunately, Maharishi Ayurveda offers a complete understanding of this balancing act.
Western doctors have started to recommend behavioral changes such as getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and eating a healthy diet.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians concurs, but Maharishi Ayurveda goes far beyond. This ancient science of health understands the variety of root causes and offers a wealth of techniques for re-creating balance — each targeted to a specific situation.
However, a simple understanding lies at the basis of this comprehensive ayurvedic approach: menstruation is an opportunity, not a problem. It is a chance for a woman's body to purify. Respect that opportunity, facilitate it, and you will feel greater comfort.
This understanding alone helps many women. Take the case of Ginger. When she was younger, she didn't let her period slow her down. "I wasn't the type to take it easy," she says. "Typically, I was out there doing everything I'd normally do." And unfortunately Ginger suffered the consequences. Her periods became more and more difficult, and finally she developed a condition that involved a thickening of the lining of the uterus. Now Ginger approaches her monthly cycle with a changed approach and with greater respect.
Rest Brings Relief
For Ginger, that means staying at home as much as possible during menstruation. A woman's body goes through lots of changes and works hard to eliminate toxins. Nothing helps this process along more than simply taking it easy. She also tries to take a relaxing and leisurely 15-30 minute walk.
Even if you do have to go to work, you can make allowances for yourself — not push quite so much, watch for opportunities to be more inward-oriented, and make a point of resting when you come home.
Rest. That's a key. Even Western medicine is coming around to that point of view. And diet is a second key.
Diet is Also Important
According to ayurveda, a lighter diet will make everything go more smoothly. That's Ginger's experience. "I find that it's a lot better if I eat light and easy-to-digest food — even mushy or liquid food.
While ayurveda gives us useful guidelines such as more rest and a lighter diet, it also tells us why. These guidelines are based quite firmly on a science of balance that identifies three basic elements in the physiology — Vata, Pitta and Kapha — and a number of sub-elements. Health entails keeping Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the right balance.
In regard to the menstrual cycle, Vata needs special attention. Vata is the natural force that governs movement. For the monthly cycle to be comfortable, healthy and even beneficial, Vata must be in balance. Then there can be a smooth downward flow. Avoiding over-stimulation is always helpful to soothe and balance Vata, which is why there's an emphasis on rest.
Vata is also soothed by a regular schedule, such as going to bed before 10:00 p.m. and eating your meals at about the same times each day. Ideal foods for balancing Vata are warm, liquid dishes with a smooth texture, such as soups and vegetable purées. Conversely, it's important to avoid raw or cold food or anything with a rough texture.
In addition to these guidelines, ayurveda also identifies natural herbs that help smooth out the monthly cycle. These herbs are combined and prepared in a meticulous formula named Smooth Cycle. This herbal formula aids digestion and removes toxins throughout the month so that the body has less work to do during the time of menstruation. This formula also promotes hormonal and emotional balance, while nourishing the uterus and genitourinary tract. Plus, it balances coagulation to aid normal blood flow.
For a Smoother Cycle
Beyond the general recommendations for the menstrual cycle, ayurveda helps with physical and emotional discomfort.
Sally Robinson, a mother and registered nurse who most recently has been working as a holistic health professional, knows that extreme discomfort well. In the days preceding her period she went through serious mood swings: depression, irritability, anger and anxiety.
"It was hard on my family," she says. "I really couldn't be there for them at those times. I was too overwhelmed with all those negative emotions."
She found relief through the ayurvedic approach. She adopted a more regular routine and took advantage of a purifying treatment called panchakarma. "When you take care of yourself, you're more able to take care of others," she says. Now she feels that she has a more open heart and more energy. She feels lighter, happier, more in the moment and more in tune with her body.
Different Symptoms Can Indicate Different Imbalances
The varied symptoms of the cycle can indicate different types of imbalances.
Typical symptoms of a Vata imbalance during the premenstrual period are anxiety, nervous tension, mood swings and feeling "spaced out." For Pitta, however, the mood is more anger and irritation. Kapha, as always, is typified by lethargy.
As one might expect, women with a Vata imbalance get the best results from rest, meditation and a regular routine. Those with a Pitta imbalance respond best to monthly internal cleansing, and those with a Kapha imbalance find that herbal supplements and a diet that reduces impurities have the best effect.
An ayurvedic consultation can help identify the general type of imbalance, but can even identify more subtle areas. American women are under greater stress and pressure than women in other cultures. The ongoing stress can cause an imbalance in the emotions. And when the tender feelings are frustrated, it upsets the menstrual cycle and purity of the blood, which can lead to discomfort.
So it's important to nurture the heart, or Sadhaka Pitta. It will help if you avoid emotional trauma and hot, spicy foods. The Blissful Joy herbal formula is very effective for balancing the emotions.
From the ayurvedic perspective, there is no reason for the monthly cycle to be uncomfortable. A woman's life should be filled with joy and bliss every moment, including during the menstrual cycle. Just making the simple diet and lifestyle changes to create balance will have a profound effect.
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