An Ayurvedic Guide to Menopause
For many women, menopause may appear to be a frightening, painful period of life. When we think of menopause, we think of hot flashes and sleepless nights, or of other challenges associated with aging.
To be sure, menopause carries with it unique challenges—especially for those who work, raise children or have other obligations that make it hard to find time to prioritize one’s health. However, when viewed with an Ayurvedic lens, menopause is not something to be feared or dreaded. Instead, it is a natural stage of life that, like all stages of life, presents both difficulties and great benefits.
Here, we go over the Ayurvedic perspective on menopause, how it affects our internal balance and remedies for alleviating imbalances during this time of transition.
The Ayurvedic Perspective on Menopause
In Ayurveda, life is divided into three major stages. In the first stage, childhood, is considered to be a Kapha period, as it is a time of growth, learning, stability and development. The second stage, adulthood, is associated with Pitta, as it is during this time that we establish ourselves, putting our ambitions into action and advancing in our careers and personal lives. The third period, elderhood, is associated with Vata, as we enter into a state of greater fluidity and focus on letting go some of the earlier preoccupations of life.
It is during the transition between Pitta-dominated adulthood and Vata-dominated elderhood that menopause occurs. During this time, it is believed that Pitta and Vata increase, while Kapha remains stable. If we are not attuned to the role these doshas play during this transition, both Pitta and Vata can become elevated, leading to the discomforts and pains we typically associate with menopause. If these two doshas are brought into balance through a healthy, tranquil lifestyle, then we can enter menopause with lucidity and happiness.
Signs of a Vata Imbalance
Vata dominates the lower half of the body (including the reproductive system) and is characterized by mobility, airiness and dryness. When Vata becomes elevated during menopause, it can carry essential energy and nutrients away from the digestive system, leading to problems like indigestion, constipation and bloating. It can also lead to dryness of the vagina. As is typical of a Vata imbalance throughout all stages of life, it can also lead to anxiousness, fear and insomnia.
Signs of a Pitta Imbalance
During a balanced and healthy transition to menopause, Pitta levels avoid elevation as the body transitions into a Vata-dominated stage. However, for many women today, we participate in Pitta-elevating activities that worsen this imbalance—we work and overexert ourselves when we should be be resting and bringing coolness to the body. When out of balance, Pitta, which is fiery, intense, passionate and hot, can lead to many of the most commonly-known symptoms of menopause: hot flashes, irritability, excess sweat and inflamed skin.
Tips for Bringing the Doshas into Balance During Menopause
To ensure a smooth and peaceful transition to menopause, it’s important to keep both Vata and Pitta levels in check. In addition, embracing the stability and groundedness of Kapha, whether through diet, exercise or other lifestyle changes.
Try Out Soothing Shatavari
Shatavari is a member of the asparagus family that is lauded for its impressive range of benefits for women’s health. It is also an adaptogen, meaning it adapts to the body’s unique constitution and aids it in responding to stress. Thanks to its phytoestrogen, Shatavari has been shown to be effective in reducing menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, brain fog and night sweats.
Reaping the benefits of this Ayurvedic herb is simple: all you need is to mix ½ teaspoon of Shatavari powder with warm water. You can also combine it with warm milk and spices like cardamom, turmeric and cinnamon for extra herbal benefits and flavor.
Eat a Vata-Pitta Pacifying Diet
To promote strong digestion and overall health, try to avoid over-stimulating foods that aggravate Vata and Pitta, like pungent and fermented foods, and alcohol and coffee. Instead, eat sweet and cooling foods like fruits, cooked green vegetables (Vata is aggravated by raw vegetables), black pepper, cardamom, mint, cheese, milk and nuts.
Prioritize Forgiveness & Letting Go
As we enter into elderhood, we become susceptible to looking back on our lives—and not always in the most productive or positive way. Holding onto regrets, grudges and anger can amplify both Pitta and Vata, leading to feelings of resentment and anxiety that will put us at odds with our bodies and with those around us.
It’s crucial to let go of these feelings to promote a peaceful transition into menopause. One way to do that is by instituting a regular journaling practice. You can also try meditating or practicing yoga. If there are certain people in your life toward whom you struggle to let go of certain negative emotions, check out our blog on sing Ayurveda to heal relationship conflicts.
Calm Down Hot Flashes with Pranayama
If you struggle with hot flashes, one simple, yet effective way to cool the body down during these periods is by practicing pranayama. Pranayama is a yogic breathwork technique that involves following certain breathing sequences to bring balance and peace to the mind and body. Sheetali pranayama, which involves breathing with the nose and curling the tongue, is an excellent pranayama technique for cooling down the body.
Self-Massage to Increase Hydration & Tranquility
Given the increase of Vata during menopause, we are susceptible to dehydration and dryness. It’s important to keep an eye on your hydration by drinking plenty of water, staying out of overly-heating situations and moisturizing.
One powerful practice for bringing deep hydration to the body while also promoting mental tranquility and self-love is self-massage. To self-massage, you massage essential oils into your body, imparting essential nutrients and boosting circulation. The benefits of this luxurious self-care ritual are impressive: it can relieve pain, boost mental function, combat irritation and inflammation and promote mental and emotional contentment. You can use specific essential oils depending on your needs. Or if you’re looking for a potent, versatile mix of Ayurvedic ingredients, you can try our UMA Absolute Essential Self Massage Oil, which incorporates the soothing, rejuvenating powers of calamus, cardamom, lavender and more for the ultimate self-care experience.