I came to Vaidyagrama for two primary reasons: 1. I wanted to see and experience the Ayurvedic panchakarma process first hand after studying it this past year, and 2. I wanted to get my menstrual cycle back (after 2 years of no period from being on oral contraceptives for so long) and heal my polycystic ovaries. I started the panchakarma process (diet, medicines, treatments, etc.) on January 5th and my period arrived on January 11th - a day full of gratitude, jumping for joy, and much, much relief! Over the past two years, I had been to more alternative healers than I could count on one hand on my quest to bring my cycle back naturally. As much as I tried to stay positive and keep experimenting with new methods with the hope that “this one has to work,” I always had in the back of my mind the gripping fear that something was seriously wrong and I was never going to be able to have children. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries which is a condition that can be no problem for some and cause infertility for others. There is no real “cure” in Western medicine; the focus is more on managing diet and lifestyle so that the hormone imbalance doesn’t worse and cause further complications. Since being diagnosed with this condition, I have talked to many different people and done much of my own reading / research in an effort to learn as much as I can to heal myself. Indirectly, I have become really interested in how women’s hormones and menstrual cycles get so out of whack and how we can naturally bring our system back into balance.
At Vaidyagrama, there is a library of resources of this topic which I devoured. I also spoke at length with my doctor about the importance of the menstrual process in a woman’s life. Ayurveda has some very interesting insight and I thought it would be useful to share in the event that you have any difficulties with your own cycle or the universally dreaded week before it begins (PMS).
Dissimilarly to allopathic medicine (which haphazardly dotes out birth control pills for every menstrual-related condition), Ayurveda isn’t about handing your 'dis-ease’ over to your doctor to deal with and give you a quick fix solution. Ayurveda is the science of life and teaches how each of us can be his/her own ‘self-healer.’ How you live your daily life is the key factor in determining your health and your quality of experience. It is also the factor over which you have the most control. What you do every day either builds up your health, vitality and resistance to disease, or wears you down. Ayurveda believes that we, as humans, are inextricably one with nature so getting ourselves in harmony with nature is the master key to good health.
As women, the way we live our life, especially during the week of our menstrual cycle, is of critical importance to creating, maintaining, or restoring health and balance in our lives. In her book, Women’s Power to Heal through Inner Medicine, Maya Tiwari says, “Menstruation is the monthly cyclical means by which a woman’s entire bodily organism is cleansed and rejuvenated. Through the menstrual process, the reproductive tissues and hormonal activities are revitalised while ama - accumulated matter that creates toxicity in the body that leads to disease - is involuntarily eliminated. This cycle is instrumental in health, wellness and happiness of women during their childbearing years.” So, perhaps try instead of regarding your monthly cycle as a pain-in-the-ass (or tummy, rather), think of it as your own monthly detox…for free!
Ayurveda believes it is extremely important to take good care of yourself during this process. Ideally, we should use this time each month for complete mental and physical rest. The more rest you give yourself, the easier it is for your body to eliminate the old blood, as well as toxins that have accumulated throughout the body.
In the go-go-go world in which we live in, it is easy to forget that rest is an integral part of life. It is ingrained in us to push ourselves beyond our limits. This constant pushing creates excessive stress which builds up in the body and leads to all sorts of lifestyle-related diseases. If take care of our body properly during this crucial time, we can minimise our risk for a variety of diseases, namely diabetes and PCOS.
Way back when in India, women on their cycles used to convene in a 'bleeding sanctuary’ (yikes) or retire to a designated room in their home to rest, and rest only. She wasn’t allowed to do housework, cook, take care of the children / animals, etc., and instead the family assumed all of these roles to allow her the time that she needed to cleanse and rejuvenate herself. Of course, nowadays we are not going to bring back to this ancient practice but it’s interesting to learn how much respect was given to a woman during her time of the month. I think what we can learn here is that we shouldn’t take the focus away from this important monthly process by trying to carry on life as usual. While it is impractical to think we are going to take the week off work and lay on the couch having our every need catered for, I do believe we can make more of an effort to respect our bodies during this time and pair down unnecessary activities as much as possible, at least for the first 3-4 days which are the most crucial.
What do you think? Do you prioritise rest during your cycle or do you find that too impractical in modern life?
Keen to hear your thoughts!
You might also like: