Dietary cleanses — Isagenix, Purium, cayenne and lemon juice, etc. — are the rage these days. If you’ve ever committed to a cleanse, you might have noticed a surge in energy and mental clarity. Releasing and letting go of the buildup of toxins and non-beneficial chemicals in today’s food and products creates a healthier you. Sticking to a cleanse typically requires you to prepare and plan accordingly. It’s important to get the right ingredients to support your diet. You might even change your schedule while detoxing—maybe you don’t go out to dinner or for drinks with friends or family during your cleanse, or you postpone a Tough Mudder or 10K race. However, when was the last time you considered your monthly flow a cleanse, and took steps to honor your period process?
Tough PMS symptoms, fertility challenges, and other female reproductive issues might just be your body’s way of telling you that your system is out of rhythm and sync with your natural cycle. Monthly streams of red flowing downward and out is your body’s way of doing its unique and special girlie cleanse. This post explores tips based on ancient Ayurvedic practices to honor and support your restorative cycle.
My last post, on June 21, highlighted the original intentions of menstrual practices based on Ayurveda, an ancient healing science that’s existed for thousands of years. When Sinu Joseph, one of the creators of Mythri Speaks, presented Experiences from India: Reclaiming a Positive and Celebratory Outlook towards Menstruation at the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, she shared important information about menstrual practices in order to help shift existing taboos. The origin of these ancient practices— such as women avoiding temple during menstruation — were never meant to suppress or isolate women. Instead, these practices, based on science and our connection to nature, were rooted in honoring a woman’s body and energy for optimal health, balance, and flow.
After attending the conference, I reached out to my good friend, Shweta Parmar, an Aruyvedic Practitioner and Aruyvedic Doula in New York City. Shweta possesses a deep understanding of the ancient wisdom and healing benefits of Aruyveda. She also understands the daily hectic pace of constant action and stimulation in a modern city. “Why do you think it’s important for women in the US to know about these ancient practices in today’s modern world?” I asked Shweta.
“Mother Nature lives within all of us,” Shweta shared. “It’s the unbreakable and unbroken maternal energy within each of us; the same force that maintains the whole universe! Finding balance and-or healing can happen by keeping our inner rhythms aligned with Mother Nature, thus accessing our Inner Doctor.
“As womben, we embody this force as a power that reproduces life, that nourishes and nurtures not just ourselves but our current and future generations! Today, these innate powers within us—at one time celebrated—are not given enough attention and awareness to truly understand and live its potency .
“Unfortunately, societal norms of modernity impose a dualistic way of thinking, such as male and female gender roles, competition, and perceptions of inequality during seclusion during menses. Due to this dualistic way of thinking, the spiritual meaning of Life is lost . Womben themselves lose connection with their innate inner powers of Mother Consciousness. Living, loving, BEing according to how ancient practices guide us, brings us back to our True Self, our peaceful self, our wholeness, life purpose, and connection to the world.”
So what’s a lady to do in this fast-paced, go, go, go world we’re living in now?
We can start by incorporating ancient wisdom menstrual practices into our lives. My chats with Shweta inspired these eight Ayurvedic tips (my own) to connect to the natural rhythm of your cycle for optimal cleansing and rejuvenation:
- Hydrate wisely. Avoid bathing in cool water and drinking cold beverages before and during menstruation. Cold causes sluggishness, and the goal of menstruation is downward flow and movement. Instead, take warm baths and drink warm teas such as ginger and fennel, or try warm water with lemon and honey.
- Eat a light diet. Keep it simple, nutritious, and warm. Here are some suggested foods to consider:
- Fiber-rich foods: Whole grains, legumes, and potatoes are high in fiber and help flush excess estrogen from your system.
- Steamed vegetables and leafy greens are rich in vitamin and minerals.
- Green herbs such as basil, cilantro, aloe vera, and parsley aid in removing stagnation and are highly cleansing.
- Spices such as fennel, coriander, turmeric, and cardamom assist digestion.
- Focus on a simpler schedule. Seek out opportunities to ask for help or choose not to take on certain tasks, activities, or social commitments during your period.
- Rest. Ancient women met up in menstrual huts for a needed time out. Embrace being rather non-stop doing. Rather than force yourself to push through your menstrual day with upward movement (rigorous exercise, lots of talking, and constant action), allow yourself to find time to just sit, relax, and be so your body can clear and cleanse optimally.
- Let impulses flow. What goes up must come down. A fundamental belief of the ancient wisdom of menstruation was that anything interfering with a woman’s downward flow was not beneficial for her health. So let those tears fall, consider using triphala (an herb to help with constipation), and if you have to go pee at work . . . don’t hold it! Let it go.
- Find out if you’re a Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. Ayurveda considers that your monthly flow is affected by your body type. For example, if you’re a Vata, and you’re out of balance, you might be more prone to insomnia, depression, constipation, mood swings, and anxiety. If you’re a Kapha, you might be inclined toward emotional eating and water retention. And if you’re a Pitta, you might feel intense anger, an increased body temperature, or inflammation. Depending on your body type, there a specific foods, herbs, spices, exercises, and yoga poses to restore your female balance.
- Be aware of the lunar cycle. The menstrual cycle is tied to the rise and fall of hormones, similar to the lunar phases. The ideal female cycle is one that is in sync with the moon. A woman’s cycle should start on the new moon. The strength of the full moon pulls the egg out of the ovary for its miraculous journey.
- Connect to the Goddess inside you. These days, princesses are in, thanks to the animated movie Frozen. In ancient times, menstruating women were considered goddesses and revered. During your period, how different would you feel if when you looked in the mirror, and instead of glaring at an exhausted, cranky, bloated lady, you smiled in appreciation at the goddess before you?
Incorporating Ayurvedic practices helps women connect with their natural feminine energy. Back in ancient times, women benefited from their strong connection to the rhythm of nature and the moon cycle. Over thousands of years, the make up our bodies hasn’t changed dramatically, but our lifestyle, diet, technology, and relationship to our bodies have changed in a significant ways. Ancient insights and wisdom can help improve our appreciation to our amazing cycle and connect us to a healthier approach.
As an Ayurveda practitioner/therapist of GutsierLiving, Shweta supports people who eat organic and healthy and still feel like crap, to regain lasting energy in their day to day. She is passionate of healing the planet by healing birthing as an AyurDoula of BabyTheMama. Shweta deepened her passion to serve others after healing from polycystic kidney disease. She is driven by her reverence and love for Mother Nature, Ayurveda, Yoga and Universal Oneness.Shweta Parmar Ayurvedic Practioner/Ayurvedic Doula gutsierliving.com (267)575-5351 Lorraine Giordano Inspired To Health www.inspiredtohealth.net firstname.lastname@example.org 201.344.6448