If you know someone who is – or are yourself – nearing your 50s, and are starting to experience sudden mood swings, skin dryness, lower sex drive, constant headaches, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sudden weight management issues, or any other unprecedented changes in your body, chances are that Menopause could be near.
While it is an inevitable phenomenon, for some, it is scary enough, and for others, a window of growth and new opportunities. Unfortunately, it is also a phase of uncertainty and ambivalence.
Luckily, Ayurvedic experts have devised a myriad of approaches that can help ease many of these challenges and reassure a graceful, luminous transition!
The menopausal stage in a woman’s life is similar to when a candle’s flame burns to its fullest, becomes low and then finally dries out.
Ayurvedic experts point out how natural this phase of life really is. While modern medicine has taught us to view Menopause as an illness to be cured and dealt with, Ayurveda envisages that on the other side of this hormonal shift lies a bigger appreciation for freedom and an inlet to more wisdom and knowledge and an ardor to take up more challenges in life.
Sadly, while one goes through this stage, all of this seems like a distant reality.
Which is why we've compiled this information available in the Ayurvedic chest of enlightenment about menopause and how to approach its side effects through various expressions of self-love!
Ayurveda looks at menopause in light of the Doshas (constitutions), the Dhatus (tissues) and the Ama (toxins).
Each time of life, from an Ayurvedic perspective, is assigned to a particular Dosha. Childhood is a time of Kapha – a period of great growth and development.
Adulthood is a time of Pitta – the time of drive and achievement. This is also the time when estrogen and testosterone make an appearance. Throughout our adult years, estrogen and testosterone fuel the work of Dhatu Agni.
And our elder years are a hallmark of Vata Dosha. During this time, estrogen and testosterone take a back seat. We no longer have a strong hormonal force driving Dhatu Agni. We start to depend on our diet and our lifestyle to maintain the tissues of our body.
The Vata period of life is that time when we lose that fire of hormones, and our cells are breaking down faster than we can replace them. The key with Ayurveda is to maintain these tissues as long as possible, to do what we can with the foods we take in and the demands we put on our body via our lifestyle.
Did you know that menopause is diagnosed a year after the last menses? So, you go through a long period of what is called "Perimenopause". It is the body preparing for the full shift of the progesterone and estrogen levels in the system.
Experiencing symptoms during menopause is a completely natural occurrence. During this phase, the estrogen and progesterone levels – two major hormones that affect many tissue layers and the stability of the state of mind, drop. This sudden drop lead to a cascade of effects in the body.
Now, Ayurveda believes, without a shadow of doubt, that each human being is unique and is a specific combination of the three Doshas found in nature. And for the same reason, it also believes, while menopause is a universal experience amongst womenkind, the symptoms for it vary from person to person. And these symptoms are just a manifestation of the imbalances that have already established their place in our body, bumped up by changing hormones.
For ease of understanding, Ayurveda has categorized these symptoms of menopause into three types, based on the Dosha in which the symptoms are manifesting:
If you have a Vata-type constitution primarily, with this Vata-aggravating phase, things might get double-dicey and difficult.
Skin dryness, nervousness, anxiety, loss of skin tone, mood swings, vaginal dryness, scanty bleeding during perimenopause, irregular periods, insomnia, mild hot flashes, constipation, palpitation, bloating and joint pain.
If you have a Pitta-type constitution primarily, you’re likely to have a slightly easier time with menopause than Vata-Types.
Skin irritability and acne, prone to hot temper, anger, irritability, feeling hot, hot flashes, heavy bleeding during perimenopause, night sweats, excessive bleeding, urinary tract infections.
Primarily having Kapha constitution, made up of earth and water, gives a lot of strength and resilience. Kapha women have the easiest time with menopause compared to the other 2 types.
Excessively oily-looking skin, large pores, weight gain, lethargy, fluid retention, laziness, depression, lacking motivation, slow digestion.
While these menopausal symptoms may vary from person to person, Ayurvedic experts found some exciting alternate ways to get through the phase with more nourishment and contentment from within!
Since symptoms vary from doshas to doshas, from person to person, a diet that brings the doshas into balance is highly recommended.
We've compiled for you a list of balancing diets for each Dosha in combination with the menopausal "Vata" stage of life:
Increase the intake of warm foods and drinks. Make regular use of warming spices like fennel and cumin while preparing your meals. Make sure your meals are well-cooked to aid digestion.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, and refined cold sugar drinks from your diet. Also avoid eating late at night.
Vata’s qualities are associated with cold, dryness and mobility, and on the other hand, Pitta’s qualities are associated with heat, lightness, intensity and fluidity. A Vata-Pitta Balancing Diet should be a mix of both – with heating and cooling properties, moderately moist or oily, grounding and stabilizing in nature. Additionally, sweeter foods have a pacifying effect on Vata-Pitta doshas.
Kapha Dosha’s qualities are associated with cold, heaviness, dullness and rigidity, and Vata’s qualities are associated with cold, dryness, lightness and mobility. As heat is a vital force to pacify both the doshas, the food that you consume should always be warm, but a proper balance of dry and oily – neither too dry nor too moist or oily. At the same time, the food should also be energizing and stabilizing.
Sour tastes, particularly, have the ability to pacify both Kapha and Vata Doshas. So make sure you put them on your plate too!
In case you’re including sweet or salty foods to balance out Vata and astringent, bitter food to balance out Kapha individually, make sure you take them in moderation and in equal proportions.
Nuts and seeds are also a healthy snacking option, but in moderate quantities.
Keep reading to find out an important Ayurvedic Superfood recommended for all women undergoing Menopause!
Ayurvedic maestros say the food that we place on our plate each day, what we feed ourselves, have the power to make us look at our lives in a completely revamped manner. A core belief that diet is a personal choice is strongly resonated in this prescription of a unique plan based on Doshas.
Ayurveda’s knowledge on diet is as vast as an ocean and perhaps can never fit into one section of the page!
Simply avoid consumption of processed and refined foods and eat naturally sourced food as much as possible.
You might have often heard a doctor or a friend prescribing “Take slow, deep breaths” while someone’s freaking out.
Well, the ‘slow, deep breaths’ technique has its roots in the 5,000-year-old ritual of ‘Pranayama’.
Derived from the word ‘Prana’ meaning ‘Life Energy’, Pranayama refers to the different patterns of breathing which helps clear physical and emotional obstacles in the body. It helps engage and strengthen the entire range of our respiratory organs.
Ayurvedic experts say that practicing Pranayama daily is a sure-fire way to supercharge your system!
If you’re new to Pranayama, we recommend you start with Nadi Shodhana, meaning Alternate Nostril Breathing. Practice that for 20 minutes while keeping your posture straight and upright.
Syncing these breathing techniques with some of these yoga asanas can help navigate through menopause gracefully.
These yoga poses meant for restoration and cooling down of your body are aimed at letting go of emotional stress. It's always helpful if you don’t have the need to grip or hold on to a platform while practicing them. Letting your body go free is of importance here. We suggest using blankets and pillows to support your body.
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Sit up on your yoga mat with your legs stretched out in the front. Bend your knees such that it forms a ‘<’ and ‘>’ symbol.
Slowly drop your bent knees and lean backwards. If your abdomen needs extra support as you drop back down, bring your elbows to the mat.
Once you have rested your back on the mat, rest your palms on the abdomen. You can in fact place extra blankets beneath your knees for that additional comfort.
Completely rest your mind and your body and focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths in and out. Release all stress elements from your body, beginning from your toes, then your knees, your arms, shoulders, neck, and your head.
Perhaps you might have seen a curious, yellow-colored saturated fat in one of those Trader Joe’s butter aisles...
Also known as Ayurveda’s Food of the Gods, this saturated fat known as ‘Ghee’ comes with benefits galore. Beyond being ideal for just the yogi, ghee is considered nectar-like for all wishing for positive health.
A true embodiment of ‘feed your skin what you may feed your mouth’, this liquid gold has widely been used in skincare formulations and even in many Ayurvedic diets.
Rich in Vitamins A (12% of the Daily Value), E (2% of the Daily Value) and K (1% of the Daily Value), Omega 3 and 9 Fatty acids, ghee helps pacify both Vata and Pitta Doshas and has proven helpful during transition seasons, especially for women undergoing Menopausal symptoms.
It helps in optimal digestion due to its levels of Butyric acid and also enhances the gut wall intensity.
This clarified butter product is better for you than you think.
Ghee is a dairy product, it is, however, lactose-free. How? Because all the milk solids are completely removed during production. In short, it’s lactose-free butter!
No bloating, no cramps, no acidity. Wouldn’t you like one tablespoon with your veggies?
Simple. Follow these practices.
Have a glass of hot milk every day with a tablespoon of Ghee mixed in it.
Replace your cooking oil for ghee. Since it has a high smoke point (485° F), it’s perfect for cooking! Roast your veggies in it, use it to grease your pan to make healthy pancakes or pour one or two tablespoons of ghee into your salad and consume it daily.
Ghee, along with rice or dal (lentils) are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. All you need to do is replace your processed butter for a bottle of ghee.
Use it as a delicious dip for crackers!
Replace butter with this as a delectable spread for any kind of bread.
As your one-stop portal for all-things-Ayurveda, we understand the importance of balancing foods during transition phases, especially for a woman. To walk with you on your menopausal journey, to support your body inside out, very soon, The Ayurveda Experience has something exciting in store for you. Watch out for our emails.
You’ll be the first to know!
Ghee is also famously known in Ayurveda for its oleating properties. As dry, rough skin is a common cause of concern among women undergoing menopausal symptoms, topical application of ghee or ghee-infused products can be a wonderful alternative to bid adieu to those flaky skin cells.
Ghees infused with vata-balancing herbs such as Shatavari works best for women undergoing menopause.
Applying ghee or ghee-based products to your skin, in areas prone to dryness, each night can help keep your skin looking smooth and glowing. Since it's clean and 100% natural, it can be applied ANYWHERE!
Mix a few drops of ghee with any essential oil of your choice in hot water while running your bath. This keeps skin looking soft and healthy.
Rasayana, an Ayurvedic technique meaning ‘the path of essence’, is the practice of promoting longevity to maintain optimal health. While there are many methods ranging from yoga to herbal remedies, the most effective of them all is a full body ‘Abhyanga’ or massage.
The practice of Abhyanga not just oleates the body, quite literally, but Ayurvedic studies say that it is also one of the most effective ways to calm Vata Dosha. Even modern scientific studies have shown that a properly-done massage doubles blood circulation in the body and helps one feel at ease and calm. In fact, a lot of women undergoing menopause opt for a full-body massage to help strengthen their joints and muscles and rid the body of fatigue.
For a thorough Ayurvedic massage, make sure you choose a targeted, Ayurvedic Oil that suits your body type.
You can begin by warming the oil by way of the double-boiler method where you place a bowl of oil in another bowl of warm water.
The warmth makes the oil easier to absorb and enhances its qualities.
An Ayurvedic Full Body Massage follows this golden rule of thumb: Massage straight on the bones, circular on the joints.
Barring the joints and the bones, there are 3 important Marma or Energy Points on your body.
Talahridaya, located at the center of your palm, is also called the ‘heart of the hand’.
This point is important because it is closely linked to ‘Anahata’ – also known as the Heart Chakra (the 4th primary chakra) and is thought of as an important point in stimulating circulation throughout the whole body.
Chakras are energy centers within our bodies. Each body has 7 core chakras which express different characteristics with a physical, emotional, creative and spiritual component.
It is also linked closely to the lungs and respiratory health. Massage this point for another 5 minutes, in a strong circular motion using your thumb and the finger of the other hand.
The Marma point ‘Hridaya’ or heart, is found at the sternum, or the central part of your chest.
The best way to massage it is by utilizing your palm with broad, gentle strokes employing an Ayurvedic oil containing Sesame Oil which can calm the heart, enhance circulation and help relieve stress and negative emotions.
In fact, it has been found that even just placing your hand can have a calming effect. That’s the power of touch!
Coming to another important Marma points on your body, also known as ‘Indrabasti’ - this point is found at the center of the calf muscle. Calf muscles are prone to becoming tight which is why massaging them proves all the more important.
Now, here lies the answer as to why exercising or thoroughly massaging is good for your heart!
What most of us don’t know is that our calf muscles are also the ‘second heart’ that pumps the venous blood back up to the heart through the veins as they contract and release by way of exercise and movement. Your heart takes the brunt when your calf muscles are unable to work efficiently.
This point is closely linked to the digestive system and small intestine too. Massage this point with a strong, circular motion for roughly five minutes.
Menopause, like puberty, is just another phase in our life. For most of us who may not have had menopause yet, the successful way to navigate through it is to start right now – no matter what age you are!
Ayurvedic philosophies state that discomfort during this phase is an expression of Doshic imbalance.
With these Ayurvedic remedies, this ancient science encourages you to embark on this journey with pride and embrace the enlightenment that comes with it.
At the end of the day, always remember that Meno-Pause, as the name suggests, is only a brief stage of pausing. Beyond what seems like a never-ending sea of discomfort lies a huge world of new possibilities and opportunities!