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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