According to Ayurvedic medicine, the world is comprised of five elements – aakash (space or ether), vayu (air), teja (fire), jala (water) and prithvi (earth). A combination of these elements results in three forces or doshas known as Vata, Kapha and Pitta, and together they dictate the mental, psychological and emotional health of a person.
The menstrual cycle is a series of changes that happen in a woman’s body in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy. It is an indicator of her overall reproductive health, and while a regular cycle lasts 28 days, our bodies don’t always work like that. Every person has a unique ratio of these doshas, and different doshas have a different impact in specific parts of the menstrual cycle.
- Kapha dominates the first half of the cycle which happens after your period.
- Ovulation marks the start of the next phase, influenced by pitta. A drop in estrogen during this time leads to PMS symptoms.
- If the egg is not fertilised, the last stage arrives and sees a sudden rise in Vata, enabling the menstrual period.
The pre, post and menstrual symptoms are directly related to the balance (or imbalance) of the doshas in your body.
Characteristics of a Vata impaired flow
In the female reproductive tissue, Vata works through blood vessels, helping to reduce the flow. Without Vata’s grounding effect, there is a likelihood of imbalances occurring in the pelvis, leading to various disorders. As Vata filters through the blood vessels into the uterus, its cold and dry properties bring a sense of tightening. This dryness depletes bodily tissues, hence bringing menstrual flow to a stop. Most Vata cycles are accompanied by sharp discomfort, often in the back or lower abdomen and feelings of anxiety and nervousness.
Balancing the Vata Flow
Ayurveda states that menstrual blood is a by-product of lymph or rasa dhatu and what and how we consume has a bearing on our rasa.
Welcoming qualities of warmth, heaviness and stability prove to be nourishing during a Vata menstrual cycle. Embark on a Vata-pacifying diet by eating warm and mushy foods prepared in plenty of ghee. Before your period starts, applying castor oil packs can nourish the tissue by penetrating heat internally and stifles stagnation and blockages caused by dried up Vata. It is equally essential to hydrate the body with water and other fluids such as flaxseed oil. Practising pranayama before your period also pacifies the erratic nature of Vata.
Characteristics of a Pitta impaired flow
Pita brings heat and fluidity and allows the blood to flow with ease. Pitta menstrual cycles are often heavy and have a steady flow at the beginning that truncates towards the end. Accompanied by feelings of anger and irritability, it can also cause swelling and tenderness in the breasts.
Balancing the Pitta flow
Counterbalance the sharp and hot properties with coolness and softness. Start by avoiding spicy and oily food and make way for a pitta lifestyle by keeping a healthy tab on work-related stress and competition. Applying a coconut oil pack before your period brings relief to potential imbalances such as headache, nausea and diarrhoea. Sheetali and sheetkari pranayamas are ideal for helping the symptoms of a Pitta individual.
Characteristics of a Kapha impaired flow
Those with a Kapha imbalance may face issues of stagnation and blockages giving way to the sensation of bloating, puffiness and swelling during the premenstrual and menstrual period. More severe blockage results in the denser overgrowth of the tissue, which results in a heavier flow than the Vata cycle. Mostly followed by discomfort, depression and emotional eating, it can also lead to swelling, water retention and yeast infections.
Balancing the Kapha flow
Slow down the dullness and thickness that Kapha brings to the system by inviting fluidity and lightness. Increase the use of warm spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and keep warm and dry throughout the day. Staying active helps stimulate the circulation of lymph and blood in the body.
Using a castor oil pack before your period can help break up the stagnation in the pelvis. However, don’t be startled if your flow is heavier than usual as it is a sign of blockage release. You can massage yourself with a salt scrub to bring the heat to the skin and initiate movement in your lymph. Practising Bhastrika and kapalbhati pranayama helps energizes muscles that massage the pelvis and lower abdomen.
Adopting an Ayurvedic approach can make a world of difference if you want a healthy menstrual cycle. Ayurvedic practices offer long term solutions without the burden of side-effects, and in the long run, can even reduce or eliminate the unbearable pain that comes with periods. You can learn more about the benefits that come with adopting an Ayurvedic approach at Hempstreet. You can even seek specialised guidance with an expert practitioner to help better manage your menstrual cycles.
Published by Hempstreet