The feminine is such a beautiful and powerful thing. According to Sankhya Philosophy, or the philosophy of creation, the feminine is the force behind the birth of the universe. Prakruti, this female energy, manifest nature. She is the creative potential that is the source of creative will and awareness in the universe. The female body is an amazing representation of this creative potential. Taking care of our bodies is always important, however it is ojas, or the nectar of our reproductive systems, that give us immunity, strength, vitality, and ultimately a long life.
The superior by-product of Artava dhatu, or the female reproductive tissue, is ojas. For a woman to be successful for a healthy pregnancy and general well-being, it is crucial that we protect and nourish ojas. Menstruation can offer insight into the health of our ojas. Through emotional experience, color and consistency of blood, and generalized pain in the body, we can understand which dosha is being affected and how to pacify that dosha. Here are some examples of what each dosha may experience as an imbalance during a woman’s cycle.
Vata imbalance: may experience sharp, intermittent lower back pain. Typical out of balanced vata emotions may be prevalent such as anxiety or fear. The blood flow may be scanty and dark in color.
Pitta imbalance: General heat in body, including inflammation, diarrhea, or nausea. Unbalanced pitta emotions may be prevalent such as anger and judgment. Color of blood is general red with a slight smell as pitta dominates a sour scent.
Kapha imbalance: Kapha tends to be dull pain, with heavy emotions such as depression. The consistency of the blood may be thick and have mucous with a heavier and longer flow.
A healthy cycle will not induce pain or a major emotional response. The blood will be bright red and not stain clothing, as staining is an indication of ama, or toxins in the body. Traditionally, the menstrual cycle starts on the new moon. Nourishing ojas can mean many things, so let us explore some practices to keep our ojas happy and healthy for an easy menstrual experience and overall health of a woman’s body.
- Ayurvedic Rasayana’s Female Support is a blend of herbs formulated to support the proper function of the female reproductive system. Shatavari, the main ingredient, has an affinity specifically for the female reproductive system. As a root, this herb is unctuous and not only grounds vata, but cools pitta.
- Exercise. Walking and stretching can help move stagnation in the lymphatic system and offer a healthy flow of energy. Ideally, when a woman is menstruating, she is not doing anything to put strain on her body so heavy exercise is contraindication. This is most important for the first couple of days during menstruation. If there is pain in the lower back, wind relieving pose can release tension. Simply lay on the ground and gently hug your knees to your chest. Slightly tilt chin towards chest, and breath deep into the lower back.
- Meditation and relaxation. It is important that the body is honored, especially during menstruation. Inward reflection enhances awareness to the connection we have with our bodies and nourishes ojas. Refraining for strenuous activities or stress allows the body to put energy into menstruating and the cleansing this time offers. While pranayama is also contraindicated during the first couple of days, deep breathing can allow oxygen and proper blood flow to decrease stress and offer vital nourishment to ojas.
- Diet. Eating well cooked, nourishing and simple meals is key to offering proper minerals and nutrients during menstruation. Simplicity supports and eases digestion so that the body can focus on cleansing. Consider adding digestive supportive herbs such as ginger, black pepper, cumin, and coriander to your meals so that agni is happy. Ghee, which has a similar consistency to ojas, is a great addition to soups, kitchari, or cooked meals, especially during menstruation. A simple meal allows the body to easily process our food so that it can do the amazing job of cleansing through menstruating.
Of course, actively balancing your individual dosha throughout the month and keeping up with healthy habits will be crucial to a healthy, happy, cycle.
Beverly Foster is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and 500 hour Ayurvedic Yoga Instructor. She received her certification from The Ayurvedic Institute in 2016 under the clinical guidance of Dr. Vasant Lad and worked directly with him as one of his herbalists. She is also a board-certified National Ayurvedic Medical Association Professional Member. She currently lives in Southern Oregon where she offers consultations, including Zoom and phone appointments. For more information, questions, or to schedule a consultation, you can contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.shineayurveda.com