Life is a balancing act, and your period is no exception. One of the ways to stay balanced during this time of the month is to turn to the ancient Vedic medicine, Ayurveda. The sister-science of yoga, Ayurveda is a system fundamentally grounded in balancing the mind and body. Ayurveda is a fascinating and long-held tradition that has been shown to manage health effectively.
According to Ayurveda, a truly healthy person has learned to balance the three elements, or doshas, in the body: Vata (air), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (earth). Most people identify as predominately one element that contains our blueprint for living.
While you should learn more about your particular dosha, here is a primer on some general ways you can incorporate Ayurveda into your life to help ease your period:
Nourish with Simple Foods
Since your period is a cleansing of the body, treat your body kindly and gently. Eat easily digestible foods such as mashed sweet potatoes with ginger, cinnamon, and coconut cream, pureed roasted vegetable soups, fresh juices, and kitchari, a cleansing Ayurvedic dish made of mung beans, rice, spices, and ghee. By giving your digestion a rest, your body can use all its energy to cleanse.
Permission to Chill
Your body needs energy to cleanse effectively. During this time, take it easy. Avoid inversions and any exercise that is especially taxing on the body. Get a little extra sleep. You can work out, in fact, light exercise is beneficial, but replace hard-core workouts with leisurely strolls, swimming, or Yin Yoga.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
To move any kind of waste out of the body, hydration is vital. Drink plenty of clean filtered water, warm teas like ginger, lemon, and fennel, and other natural fruit and herb infused waters while on your period.
During my period, I make sure to make my special Bloat Be Gone water each night to enjoy the next day. Take one liter of filtered water and add about ten slices of English cucumber and half a thinly sliced lemon. Sometimes I switch out orange slices for lemon. I let it sit overnight and, in the morning, I fill one of my large Hydroflasks with it to keep it nice and cold to sip throughout the day. It relieves tension in the abdomen and prevents that uncomfortable, bubbly feeling that makes skinny jeans feel like sausage casings.
This is a fancy Sanskrit word for controlled breathing. The particular type of pranayama that’s especially beneficial for menstruation is called Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing. It removes toxins, balances the right and left sides of the brain, reduces stress, and revitalizes the nervous system. Here’s a quick video on how to do it.
Balance is something most women (and men) struggle with no matter what time of the month you’re in. Try a few of these tips anytime you feel your body needs a break. If it’s worked for thousands of years and millions of people, it’s likely it’ll work for you!
Photo courtesy of Mindbodygreen