The days leading up to your menstruation are likely not your favorite. Perhaps you experience excess fatigue, fluctuating emotions, tender breasts, or other symptoms. Ayurvedic wisdom says these symptoms are correlated with underlying imbalances in the mind and body. Let’s take a look at the causes of symptoms and top tips to smooth out your cycle.
The Ayurvedic Take on the Menstrual Cycle
In the West, menstruation is often considered a nuisance that hinders women in their everyday life. Before and during your period, you may feel fatigued or irritable, and experience pain in different parts of your body. Ayurveda, on the other hand, considers the menstrual cycle a blessing rather than a curse. Its purpose is not only to prepare the body for conception and pregnancy but also to cleanse toxins out of the system. Women have a unique chance to renew their body every month. With a few simple Ayurvedic adjustments, your cycle can be more comfortable.
The Causes of Symptoms
Each month, your hormone levels fluctuate according to which phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in. In the Western view, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) may result from an abnormal response to normal fluctuations of reproductive hormones, particularly estrogen. Changes in hormone levels before the monthly cycle can cause sadness, irritability, and anxiety. However, according to Ayurveda, PMS is associated with over 150 underlying symptoms.
The symptoms you experience depend on which doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and subdoshas (associated with specific parts of the body and their functioning) are out of balance. Additionally, how much ama (accumulated toxins) are in the body, and where they are located. This is the reason why the combination of symptoms varies for each woman, and even for the same woman from cycle to cycle.
Ayurveda suggests that PMS symptoms vary according to whether you have an underlying Vata, Pitta, or Kapha imbalance.
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.
If you have a Vata imbalance, you’ll get the best results from rest, meditation, and a regular routine. If you have a Pitta imbalance, consider monthly internal cleansing. And for a Kapha imbalance, herbal supplements and a lighter diet that reduces impurities have the best effect.
Diving Deeper with the Subdoshas
Apana Vata—the subdosha of Vata that governs elimination, sexual functions, and the menstrual cycle—is located in the lower abdomen and is responsible for the downward flow through the intestines, urinary, and reproductive tracts.
- When Apana Vata is out of balance, your menstrual flow can be irregular and painful. When it is severely out of balance it can lead to constipation and diarrhea.
- When Apana and Prana Vata (which governs the mind) are both disrupted, you can feel irritable and have difficulty making decisions and solving problems.
- Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha that supports the heart, becomes aggravated in a lot of women. When this happens you may experience anger and mood swings.
- When, in addition to Apana Vata, Samana Vata and Pachaka Pitta (which both govern digestion) are out of balance, symptoms such as bloating, upset stomach, and food cravings can occur.
- A lot of ama accumulated in the body can cause fatigue and lethargy. If ama is responsible for most of your symptoms, you usually feel much better after your period.
- Ama in the breast area can lead to breast tenderness, while ama in the skin can cause breakouts.
- When ama enters the mental channels and both Sadhaka Pitta and Prana Vata are aggravated, you may experience sadness, low self-confidence, and self-deprecation.
Top Tips to Overcome PMS
Because of the variety of symptoms and the involvement of so many subdoshas, it is always good to see an Ayurvedic physician who can tailor a program to your specific needs. However, you will benefit greatly from these general guidelines:
Prepare Ahead of Time with a Balanced Routine
A balanced routine during the entire month will reward you with less discomfort around your menstrual cycle.
- Prioritize early to bed and early to rise; going to bed before 10:00 p.m. and getting up at 6:00 a.m. will help you stay rested.
- Eat your meals around the same time every day.
- Regular, moderate exercise improves circulation and metabolism, which are essential for the purification process. Practice deep and easy breathing for increased vitality.
- Start the day with a full-body massage with Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Women.
- Pay attention to your elimination. If you don't have a bowel movement every day, include cooked prunes and figs in your diet. Cook them with a stewed apple every morning.
- Consume more fresh papaya, pomegranate, and pineapple to balance hormones and open up the channels of the physiology. Reduce eggplant, banana, bell pepper, tomato, and big beans in your diet, because they clog the microcirculatory channels of the body.
- Use the following spice mix when you cook to balance your cycle: Mix 6 parts fennel, 1 part black cumin, 1 part cumin, 6 parts coriander, 1 part turmeric, and 1 part black pepper. Sauté the mix in ghee and add it to your meals.
Reduce Ama in the Body
Ama results from improper diet, poor digestion, and inefficient elimination. To eliminate toxins from your diet, avoid stimulants such as alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee. Stay away from fast food, junk food, leftovers, and preservatives. Consume a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, lentils, milk, lassi, and fresh cheese—such as panir and ricotta. These fresh and nourishing foods will not only keep your body cleaner but will be easier on your digestive system.
Nurture Vata Dosha
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 overstimulation 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. 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.
Take it Easy During your Period
If you assist your body in purifying itself, the process will be smoother and more comfortable. Try to rest for at least one day — you probably don't feel like doing anything anyway. Turn inward, and try to avoid things that make you upset or worried. Do something you enjoy. Eat light, warm, preferably liquid foods that pacify Vata. Your digestive fire is weaker during this time, so try not to strain it. Avoid exercise more strenuous than a short walk. Skip your daily massage during the days of your period.
Take Advantage of the Power of Herbals
Ayurveda identifies natural herbs that help smooth out the monthly cycle.
- Take the Maharishi Ayurveda Smooth Cycle tablets every day for hormonal balance and a more comfortable period. This herbal formula helps aid digestion and remove toxins throughout the month so that the body has less work to do during the time of menstruation. This formula also promotes emotional balance, while nourishing the uterus and genitourinary tract.
- Organic Genitrac tablets also clean and support the genitourinary tract.
- To aid elimination and unblock the channels of Apana Vata, take Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) tablets for at least three days prior to your period.
- If you experience anger or mood swings, our Blissful Joy tablets and Blissful Heart Aroma Oil can help balance your Sadhaka Pitta.
- If you are under a lot of mental stress or your resistance to stress is low, take Worry Free tablets and Tea regularly, complemented by Worry Free Aroma.
Ayurvedic wisdom helps to uncover hidden imbalances in the mind and body that lead to PMS. By following a healthy lifestyle, keeping Vata dosha in check, and incorporating herbal remedies where needed, your cycle can be a much more comfortable experience.
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