Ayurveda and Yoga Special to Women

Ayurveda and Yoga offer us tools for inner and outer gardening.  These tools have specific effects.  Ayurveda always encourages us to ask “for whom and when” a certain practice is recommended.

Women receive a flowering and blossoming cycle, a link to Creation.  Women have a heightened opportunity to connect with the power of Creation, and with the 5 great elements, the Pancha Maha-Bhuta, which are considered to be the source of all healing in Ayurveda.   This cycle requires a redistribution of energetic resources.

Menstrual Cycle

A woman's moon cycle is an incredible flowering and shedding cycle that provides her a direct connection to the Creator.  As the moon influences the ocean tides, so it does a woman's cycle.  When a woman has no relationship to the moon, she and her cycle tend to be more influenced by the women around her.  The more a young woman learns to honor and explore her cycle, the happier her fertile years will be, the more likely she will be fertile, and the easier her transition through menopause will be.

Menstrual Cycle   NO

INCORRECT LIFESTYLE DURING MENSES

  • Guess where I am in my cycle
  • Have no awareness of the moon
  • Numb out with alcohol, instead of tuning in to learn where pain might be and address the root cause of the pain (pain relievers are sometimes indeed needed) 
  • Binge / fast before or during menstruation
  • Work hard during period, push through it, mask it, ignore it, suppress it
  • Hide my period
  • Travel 
  • Try to process every detail of my personal life
  • Push myself to succeed at school and work, performance mindset
  • Sexual activity especially penetration

INCORRECT YOGA PRACTICES DURING MENSES

  • Long hard standing poses
  • Fast paced, athletic jumping yoga
  • Arm balancing, strenous strength requiring poses
  • Skip resting pose to rush to my next place
  • Heating practices like sun salutations
  • Invert my uterus in inversions like headstand, shoulderstand
  • Direct pressure on my uterus in bellly backbends like bow pose
  • Abdominal curls or exercises that contract my belly and force the down current
  • Vigorous breathing like clearing breaths (kapalabhaati)
  • Heating breaths like ujjaya, agni saara, right nostril breathing

INCORRECT AYURVEDA PRACTICES DURING MENSES

    • Oil massage
    • Deep tissue massage
    • Oil treatments of any orifice
    • Cleanses
    • Fasting
    • Excess sweet, sour, salty, pungent tastes in food and herbs

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Menstrual Cycle     YES

    LIFESTYLE PRACTICES

    • Chart my cycle each month to learn about my ovulation and menstrual cycle
    • Be aware of the moon, know the phases of the moon, walk under moonlight at appropriate times and seasons
    • More time in Nature, in beauty, in uplifting compassionate company, or alone
    • Rest during menstrual cycle
    • Skip sports and performance based activities; instead explore and reflect
    • Avoid hot weather and temperature extremes
    • Limit travel
    • Limit interpersonal processing
    • Stay home from school or work if needed
    • Abstain from sex

    YOGA  PRACTICES

      • Generally encouraged to skip all physical postures during the menses
      • If practicing yoga postures: shorter time in standing poses
      • Less determined, more relaxed practice
      • more floor postures, including hip and leg exploration, and reclined twisting
      • longer resting pose, with sense withdrawal (eye pillow, headphones)
      • legs up the wall pose instead of full inverting
      • supported postures using props, such as supported bound angle pose
      • breathing practices that bring balance and calm (alternate nostril breathing, sense withdrawal or bumblebee breath)
      • cooling breaths, such as left nostril breathing (chandra bhedana) or curling the tongue for inhaling (shitali) or sucking in through the teeth (shitakaara)

      AYURVEDA  PRACTICES

      • Use hot water packs in days before menstruation
      • Oil based Intestinal cleanse (basti) with proper rest in days leading up to menstruation
      • Light energetic bodywork such as marma, acupressure, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, reiki
      • LIght to medium direct pressure encouraging flow, over cotton clothing, such as shiatsu or thai massage
      • Baths with salts
      • Exfoliation using gentle dry brushing
      • Mud masks for pore cleansing
      • More sleep including early afternoon naps
      • Receive empathy
      • Eat mineral rich, easily digestible foods such as soups, juices, broths
      • Eat bitter greens to help cleanse blood (cooked in winter, fresh in summer)

      Pregnancy

      Pregnancy is different for each woman, each body type, and for each different pregnancy.  Pregnancies created from different body types tend to be more complicated and require more adaptation by the woman to the growing fetus.  In general, gentle yoga practice in regular level 1 yoga classes supports a healthy pregnancy with a few modifications.

      You can read an excellent, week by week blog on pregnancy and post-partum care from an Ayurveda perspective here

      Pregnancy  NO

      INCORRECT LIFESTYLE PRACTICES DURING PREGNANCY

      • Being afraid or angry or unclear about pregnancy, resolve and commit asap
      • Being alone, unprepared, or uninformed about choices for delivery
      • Being overly fixated on how delivery must happen (with "convenient" scheduled C-section on one end of the spectrum and "I must have a natural home birth" on the other end of the spectrum)
      • I must do all things myself
      • Vigorous exercise, especially jumping and jarring movements
      • Fast paced multi-tasking lifestyle
      • Travel
      • Sex during first trimester

      INCORRECT YOGA PRACTICES DURING PREGNANCY

      • Anything brand new, especially for thin women, during the first trimester
      • Vigorous, athletic practices
      • Arm balancing poses
      • Inversions including headstand, shoulderstand, handstand
      • Twists and forward bends without making room for the baby
      • Rapid or vigorous exhales
      • Anything that stimulates the downward current
      • Jumping or jarring movements
      • Rapid movements that might disturb the smooth breath (like sun salutations)
      • Belly backbends (cobra, bow, grasshopper) especially after the first weeks
      • Performance mindset

      INCORRECT AYURVEDA  PRACTICES DURING PREGNANCY

      • Fasting
      • Enemas (except after week 34)
      • Purgation
      • Excess Pungent, Bitter, Astringent tastes
      • Any new procedure or herbal supplement without proper professional consultation

              Pregnancy  YES

              LIFESTYLE PRACTICES

              • Find supportive, informed health care including a hospital enviroment (even if only for backup), an OBGYN, midwife, doula, massge therapist and women who have given birth
              • Tune into your body and its changes and modify your diet to the new healthy cravings
              • Learn to ask for help if you have not already
              • Take bodywork classes with your partner
              • Slow down and allow the "fruit to stay on the vine"
              • Avoid hot weather and temperature extremes
              • Limit travel
              • Limit interpersonal processing
              • Abstain from sex during the first trimester

              YOGA  PRACTICES

                • For vaata (thinner) women: generally any new kind of physical activity, including the standing postures of yoga, are not done during the first trimester
                • Shorter time in standing poses
                • Less determined, more relaxed practice
                • more floor postures, including hip and leg exploration, and reclined twisting
                • longer resting pose, with sense withdrawal (eye pillow, headphones)
                • resting pose on the side with bolsters for props under the head and top leg
                • legs up the wall pose instead of full inverting
                • supported postures using props, such as supported bound angle pose
                • chanting (the baby hears and feels vibration)
                • breathing practices that bring balance and calm (alternate nostril breathing, sense withdrawal or bumblebee breath)
                • toward week 35, learning the 3 part inhale (belly-diaphragm-chest) followed by exhale through the mouth

                 

                AYURVEDA  PRACTICES

                 


                 

                Menopause

                Menopause transition will reflect the history of a woman's flowering years.  The transformation through menopause is often accompanied by Pitta (fire-water) type symptoms, and so a general Pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle are encouraged.  

                YOGA PRACTICES

                Overall, menopause offers an opportunity for a woman to honor her change to a more spiritual age. 

                • Emphasize the inner practices of yoga
                • Cooling breaths using a curled tongue or gently sucking in through closed teeth
                • In yoga postures: longer, slower warm ups
                • Oily fluid movements within postures, focusing on correct joint movement
                • Do sweat, though pause and rest when overheating, including using a cool wet rag
                • Use a fan or open breeze for fresh air
                • Wear natural fiber light clothing
                • Exhale through the mouth when extra release is needed

                AYURVEDA DAILY PRACTICES

                • Pitta pacifying diet (minimize alcohol, vinegar, acidic food; minimize sour, salty and pungent tastes)
                • Walk under green trees, shade, and near running water
                • Walk in early morning, late evening and at night under the moon
                • Use cool water behind the ears and through the brow
                • Light gentle breeze
                • Limit opinions of other people's business
                • Limit time outdoors during the hot time of day
                • Supplement with fresh aloe vera, and plant based estrogens such as shatavari as appropriate to body type and hormone levels
                • Learn alternative cleansing methods as the menstrual cycle subsides, as appropriate to body type, examples include oil based enema (vaata type), intestinal purgation (pitta) and lymphatic exfoliation or dry brushing (kapha)