For the Ladies: Relief for That Time of the Month

Embrace your lady vacation.

Embrace your ladies vacation.

Ladies vacation. Lady times. The crimson wave. That time of the month.

Whatever name you use for menstruation, Ayurveda offer lifestyle, diet, and exercise tips that will bring relief. If it wasn’t obvious, this one is for the ladies out there.

Minimal exercise

This is one of the most important bits of advice I learned during my studies. I used to hike, run, do handstands, and never take a break when that time of the month came. And I paid the price.

Apana vayu is the body’s downward energy that moves urine, feces, sperm, and menstrual blood out of the body. Exercise during your period increases vata dosha and disturbs this downward flow. By not honoring your body’s need to rest, increased vata can cause cramps, pain, clotting, and more serious lady disorders.

In fact, the first two or three days of your flow should be a time of quiet spent doing as little as possible. A bit of mild walking and restorative yoga can help, but anything more strenuous should be avoided.

A few yoga poses that tend to help relieve cramping and relax you are: reclined bound angle pose supta baddha konasana, legs up the wall viparita karani, head-to-knee pose janu sirsasana*, hero pose virasana (sit on a block), and reclined hero pose supta virsana  (see note below). Avoid doing poses that involve twisting, inverting, or engaging your abs.

Lighten your diet

During your period, a diet that’s light and not excessively oily or spicy, is ideal. Rice, steamed sweet potatoes and other easy-to-digest veggies, cream of wheat, and meat broth or veggie soups are recommended. Overly rich, salty, dry or crunchy, heavy, and fried food should be minimized (though that’s often what most people crave with a vengeance).

Add some warming, but not overly hot, spices like coriander, cilantro, cumin, dry ginger, ajwain, and cardamom to your food with a bit of ghee.

 Home remedies for cramps…

Before you reach for the pain meds, try these remedies to help relieve your cramps.

One remedy that helps reduce vata (which is the root of pain and cramping) is to make a tea from a small, effervescent seed called ajwain, also known as bishop’s weed seed. Take ¼ tsp ajwain and make a decoction using one cup water, boil it down to ½ cup and strain the seeds. Drink this mixture every two hours for cramps.

You can also rub warm castor on your belly and/or back and cover with a warm towel. Leave the oil on for up to 30 mins for cramps and bloating, rinse off in a warm shower.

In our busy lives, it’s rare that we take time to rest and relax. Use your monthly cycle as a reason to recuperate and reflect. May these suggestions bring a little more comfort and relief around your monthly cycle.

* Note: janu sirsasana is a pose that Geeta Iyengar, daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar and a yoga teacher who specializes in women’s health issues, endorses during menstruation. However, my teacher notes that this pose is technically a twist and should be avoided during your period. Ultimately, this is a vast science and often debate and discussion occurs. This is goodness!
To be safe, if you opt for janu sirsasana during your time of the month, it should be done as a restful and supported forward bend and not a twist. As always, if you’re uncertain or a pose doesn’t feel right, avoid it and/or seek the guidance of a skilled practitioner. Thank you to my fellow practitioners who mentioned this so I could do some further research and expound on this point.
Photo credit: michaelswiet

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