It was not until recently that I really believed that a pain-free, normal period was possible. Having popped various pills to mitigate the excruciating pain I used to endure during each and every cycle, I made a firm resolution at age 22 that I would no longer take any kind of painkiller during my periods; I decided I would simply take the pain.
Pain-free periods became not only a perceivable possibility but rather a reality only after I encountered Ayurveda.
How Ayurveda Helps
Ayurveda is the knowledge or study of life. It is the sister science of Yoga, which allows us to experience the amazing feeling we get off of our mats every moment every day.
What sets Ayurveda apart from the modern medical system of healthcare is that it actually addresses the root causes of why people manifest certain health problems in the first place. That’s right—this is not mere symptom management, which keeps you caught in a continuous cycle of helplessness and hopelessness.
Ayurveda is empowering because it gives you the tools to say goodbye to symptoms and keep them away, by providing customized solutions that take into consideration a wide range of causative factors for disease.
Disease Fighting Through Daily Routines
Ayurvedic daily routines allow us to live in greater harmony with nature and to thereby prevent the onset of a variety of different diseases. These daily routines also actually activate health.
The lifestyle recommendations extend to many different situations, including how to optimally manage one’s monthly cycle so that it does not manage you instead (as often happens when we are not armed with knowledge to empower ourselves).
Following these tips has truly transformed my whole experience of that time of the month, which I no longer anticipate with dread:
1. Avoid Exercise (Including Yoga)
This may come as a surprise for some of you who may utilize the endorphins released from exercise to counteract pain during or before periods. But Ayurveda recommends avoiding exercise during one’s cycle as it activates a bio-force called Vata dosha in the body. This means no yoga asanas.
Vata dosha comprises the ether and air elements. When aggravated in the body, as it does when you exercise during your period, Vata dosha has the potential to create 80 different diseases (compared with only about 40 and 20 diseases associated with the other two doshas, called Pitta and Kapha).
In addition to creating disease and disturbance throughout the body, as well as the mind, an imbalanced Vata dosha also creates pain. Hence, Ayurveda emphasizes balancing and calming the Vata dosha.
2. Abstain From Sexual Activity
Sex is a form of exercise, and it is for the same reasons listed above that Ayurveda recommends abstaining during that time of the month.
There are five subtypes of Vata dosha, and sexual activity disturbs the flow of the downward-flowing Vata dosha, in particular. When downward-flowing air and ether get disturbed in their natural course for too long, you can increase your chances of menstrual disturbance, painful periods, and even future miscarriages.
3. Cut Down On Unnecessary Travel
Vata dosha represents the dynamic dimension of the three doshas in Ayurveda. Because the nature of air is to constantly flow, Vata is accordingly connected to the principle of movement.
Hence, too much motion aggravates Vata dosha, which is why Ayurveda recommends that menstruating women just say no to unnecessary travel during their cycles.
4. Eat Light
The health of the digestive fire (called Agni) is considered a reflection of one’s overall health in Ayurveda. Ayurveda teaches how important it is to eat foods that are light, warm, and cooked as heavy, cold, and raw foods are considered aggravating to the Vata dosha, which is cold by nature.
The digestive fire is naturally lowered when a woman menstruates, so it is especially important for women to follow this tip during periods.
5. Drink Warm Water With Ajwain Seeds
Ajwain seeds (Bishop’s weed) is an amazing Ayurvedic spice that you can boil in a small pot of water. You can then drink this Ajwain water hot, warm, or at room temperature depending on your particular constitution (which an Ayurvedic practitioner can help you determine) whenever you are having active period-related pain. It was so amazing to me to discover that a solution to all those years of painful periods was right in my traditional Indian mother’s spice cabinet all along!
One caveat: Those who are suffering from excess heat or heat-related conditions, or suspect they are, may not wish to follow this advice, as Ajwain seeds are heating in potency. If you are in doubt whether this advice suits you, do consult an Ayurveda practitioner.