Ayurveda and Women’s Health, Pain-Free Periods

Ayurveda and Women’s Health, Pain-Free Periods

For many women, experiencing pain several days to weeks before the onset of the monthly period is an unfortunate reality. Research shows that almost 40% of women experience premenstrual symptoms which disrupt their daily lives.

According to Ayurveda, during a woman’s menstrual cycle, the Apana vayu, which is connected to the Vata dosha and governs the downward flow of energy in the pelvis, is working to cleanse the body of the uterine lining once menstruation takes place. The increased Vata qualities in the body can result in symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, fear, and scatteredness, inability to focus, feeling cold, constipation, and tiredness.

Ayurvedic Tips for Period Pain Relief

1. Yoga

Practicing Yoga daily and certain asanas during that time of the month can help keep period pains at bay. In general terms though, it is good to take rest during the first three days of menstruation. If you suffer from cramps or lower back pain, you can practise some soft and simple poses to ease your discomfort.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Yoga isn’t just about external flexibility. The impact of many poses also benefits your organs, acting as a sort of internal massage. Child’s pose does this by flexing your reproductive organs, as well as releasing tension in your back, shoulders, and neck.

Inverted leg pose – Viparita Karani
Physical, mental, and emotional benefits abound in this pose. The inverted leg pose improves circulation and digestion, lowers blood pressure, boosts energy levels, and soothes your nervous system. It’s also said to increase creative thinking and problem solving. During your period, be sure to only practise inversions where the pelvis is in contact with the floor or at the same height as your head, as inversions where the pelvis is lifted – like with salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulderstand) and sirsasana (headstand) interrupt the downward wind (apana vayu), which sets when your period is about to start. This could then cause additional health problems in the long run.

Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend – Upavistha Konasana
On your period or not, the wide angle seated forward bend asana is immensely helpful when the stress of life is getting to you. Like with every other asana, the benefits aren’t singular. This forward bend helps to stimulate your abdominal organs, leading to less painful cramps, both in the short and long-term.

Reclining Twist – Bharadvaja
One of the most popular poses for dealing with menstrual pain is the reclining twist. Why? Because it feels good and has massive health benefits. For starters, your back and hips will get a great stretch (much-needed if you’re dealing with aches and pains from your period). Moreover your digestive organs will get the required stimulation due to the fresh blood flow from this pose.

Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana
The Cobra asana helps to stretch the abdominal and lower abdominal portions. Your lower back and lower belly will both benefit from the cobra position. This helps relieve menstrual cramps and tension in the lower back.

2. Eat light, warm, cooked foods

While seemingly simple, this advice can actually pose a challenge for many women, who prefer a diet of raw vegetables and uncooked foods. However, the period is an essential time to eat simple, unprocessed, cooked foods. Most importantly, stay away from raw foods such as salad, raw vegetables, unsoaked nuts, beans, sugar, and processed foods, as they are more difficult to digest. Light, nourishing and cooked dishes will give your agni (digestive fire), giving our body the chance to focus on cleansing without too much additional work that a raw food diet could suppose, especially if you are generally prone to digestive problems like bloating or constipation.

3. Get plenty of rest

That’s right, sleep! Falling and staying asleep can be hard enough, and during periods it can get even more challenging. Go to bed before 10pm and if possible, allow yourself to wake up naturally, without an alarm. Even if your schedule does not allow for an alarm-free morning, be sure to minimize overexertion, and be kind to yourself during this time.

4. Stay hydrated

During periods, hot tea can provide menstrual pain relief. They can give much-needed comfort to your distressed muscles. Along with that, herbal teas like chamomile tea, ginger tea, peppermint tea, lavender tea, green tea, lemongrass tea, and cardamom tea can provide you with some much-needed freshness. It can also decrease the pain and relieve fatigue.

5. Massage with essential oils

In the days up till your menstruation, practise self-massage. Add a few drops of any essential oil to a carrier oil and give yourself a gentle massage. The ideal proportion is one drop of essential oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil. Give yourself a massage for 20 minutes for effective results. Also, while massaging, one should target specific points in the abdomen, back, and side, applying the oil in circular movements. Please do note that it is not advised to do a self-massage with oil during the first three days of your menstruation, as you also need to digest any oil you apply once it has been absorbed by the skin and entered the organs and body channels. Since your period is a detox in itself, we want to focus on the cleanse, to then afterwards nourish the body tissues. If you suffer from PMS-related symptoms like back pain, then it is advised to practise self-massage especially during 3-5 days until your period is due.

6. Use a heating pad

An age-old remedy, a heating pad or hot water bottle is all you need sometimes to get some menstrual cramp relief. This is because heat relaxes uterine muscles and those adjacent to them, while the body channels also dilate, giving way for the menstrual fluid towards the vagina for elimination and promoting a good flow.. Heating pads and hot water bottles can also be used to fight lower back aches during your period.

7. Put cinnamon & ginger in your recipes

Cinnamon and Ginger have anti-spasmodic, anti-clotting, and anti-inflammatory properties, which are useful for menstrual pain relief. Cinnamon is an excellent source of fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese and Ginger is an excellent source of antioxidants. Stir one-fourth teaspoon of cinnamon powder and half teaspoon of crushed ginger into a cup of hot water, boil it for five minutes, add little honey ( optional)  when the tea becomes lukewarm, and then sip it slowly. Start drinking two to three cups of ginger cinnamon tea one to two days before your period starts to prevent cramps. Be sure you buy Ceylon cinnamon, as its quality is highly superior compared to other types like Cassia cinnamon.

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Pamela’s 3 favourite Yoga Asanas for a healthy life

Pamela’s 3 favourite Yoga Asanas for a healthy life

When I started my own yoga practice in 2011 I was not at a good place in my life. But it was the perfect time to begin practicing yoga, and that is what I always remember when I look back to my first yoga class. In short, I can say that yoga has saved my life, literally.
Yoga is a way of living, it is a tool that offers us guidance to live our lives on this planet to the best of our abilities in harmony with our surroundings, with awareness, and heart. And if I have to put it in simple words, I can say yoga has helped me to become a better person.
Today I would like to tell you about three of my favorite asanas. You can practice on a daily basis and that supports your health on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. The reason I chose these postures is because they can be practiced by everyone, whether you are young or old, stiff or flexible, and even if you have physical health problems you can practice a variation of each of these three poses.

Malasana (Garland pose)

The first asana I recommend you to practice on a daily basis is malasana, a seated squat. Malasana is easiest to come into from standing (tadasana). I truly enjoy this asana as it opens up the hips while challenging the strength of the calf muscles, hamstring and glutes. Due to the fact that malasana is a hip-opener, it promotes digestion while opening and massaging the area of the pelvic floor. At the same time, we work on a downward energy (apāna vayu), so we also work on our stability in order to get a sense of grounding. I personally love to practice this asana around the days of my period, because I feel it supports the downward movement of my flow. As you might know, both the elimination of stools as that of the blood we lose during menstruation need to have a proper rhythm, quantity and flow for it to be healthy if we look at the Ayurvedic perspective on health. So, if you find you have problems on getting a bowel movement, you will find that sitting on the toilet seat with your legs in malasana will support you greatly since it helps opening up the anal sphincter.

If you have difficulties on keeping your balance in this asana, for instance if you can’t touch the floor with your heels, then just roll up the back of your mat to create some height, or lean against the wall for some extra support.

Viparita Karani (Broken or Half Candle pose)

One of the first asanas I learnt was Viparita Karani, and it has benefitted me so much! The best way to get into this pose is to lay down in the fetus position, so on your left or right side with your legs curled up and your glutes against the wall. Then you slowly turn on your back while bringing the soles of the feet against the wall. Then straighten your legs and touch the wall with your heels while letting the legs fall out. Personally, I like to keep a bit of distance between my bum and the wall for extra support in the lower back, especially since I suffer from scoliosis (curved spinal column). Straighten your arms with your palms facing up and keep them not too far from your hips or legs. I always recommend you try to loosen up all your muscles (yes, even your jaws and eyebrows!) and imagine you being soaked in by the earth. Viparita is a great way to end your asana practice as an alternative to savasana (corpse pose).
The benefits of this pose are endless, but its most important benefit is the rejuvenating effect that it has. Viparita Karani balances out hormones, gives the heart a good rest, and it reverts the blood flow into the legs, as to which it is highly beneficial to those suffering from varicose veins. By increasing the blood flow towards the face which finds itself in a relaxed state, it is said that it can reduce wrinkles. In case you suffer from high blood pressure, neck pain or thyroid problems, I recommend you consult with your doctor and a qualified Yoga teacher first before starting to practice this pose.

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Vishes Pose)

As someone with a curved spine, I have to say this asana is one that I really enjoy since it always gives me the feeling of massaging my spine and surrounding areas. At the same time, I find it challenging not to become indulged by it, as I dread backbends (which probably means I need to practice them more, as my teacher would say ;)).

It is important for your glutes to be in contact with the floor at all times in this pose, because when you lose form, you lose the benefits as well. I like to practice ardha matsyendrasana with one leg folded, but if it is easier for you, you can keep the supported leg straight while holding the knee of your other leg (which is bent), twisting and looking over your shoulder. The hand behind the back firmly presses into the ground, while you keep space between the shoulder and the ear (avoid lifting the shoulder). Remember to keep a long and steady breath and try to find that sweet spot between relaxation, effort and steadiness.

What I like so much about ardha matsyendrasana is that it massages the organs of the digestive tract, supporting purification of the intestines, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. For those of you who are familiar with the doshas according to Ayurveda, it is good to know that although twists are beneficial to all mind-body types, this is an excellent asana for people who suffer from imbalances related to Pitta aggravation.

I hope today’s post has been of help to you. If you would like to learn more about a yogasana practice according to your needs at this moment of your life, feel free to get in touch. We are all unique in the most beautiful ways, and this also means we might need specific support in different areas of our lives.

We believe in collaborative relationship-based care where our Ayurvedic Doctors, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Ayurvedic Supplement Brands, Ayurvedic Nutritionists & Chefs, Yoga, and Meditation Trainers are in sync. Contact the team who passionately works together to hold your hand in this healing journey.