Welcome the beginning of a period of wisdom and reflection
Ayurveda and Menopause. The menopause is a natural process, a transition. With the right preparation and perspective, you can master it gracefully. Most people today no longer live naturally. Our modern society has an enormous influence on us and our decisions. We work longer than previous generations and have lost our connection to nature and natural processes. We do not listen to the needs of our bodies or better: we do not know how to listen to our physical structure anymore. It is time to go back to our roots and take the needs of our bodies seriously again. The menopause is the body’s sign that it wants to withdraw from a life full of achievement and accomplishments. Let’s take a closer look at this.
The Ashrama system – 4 stages of life
According to the Vedas (texts from the ancient Vedic high culture of India), there are four different stages of life, the ashramas. Our life begins with a phase of growth and education. In this phase, which is called Brahmacharya ashram, our entire being is focused on growth. Our body and mind are growing. Kapha is dominant during these years. In our twenties we start our working life, some get married and form a family. This is the phase of Grihastha ashram, our household life. Our focus is on achieving our goals. These are the fiery Pitta years before we enter the Vanaprastha Ashram, the life of retirement.
Reflection and Inspiration
It is the time of letting go and reflecting. Vata is dominant and brings clarity and wisdom. Use the insights gained for deep reflections of our past life. At this stage of life, we stop striving for success and begin to inspire and counsel others. By sharing our wisdom, we prepare for our last stage of life, the sannyasa ashram. A time of peace and balance. We detach from material life and focus on spiritual practices. It is a time of complete inner meditation of our pure soul.
|Brahmacharya Ashram||Grihastha Ashram||Vanaprastha Ashram||Sannyasa Ashram|
|“Acting in harmony with Brahma” Brahma = Hindu God of creation||Grih = home, family, house, asth = dedicated, “being busy with house and family” or “homeowner”||Vana = forest, Prastha = travel to, “retreat to the forest”, “give up worldly life”||Sama = everything, Nyasa = purification, “purification of everything”|
|Youth / Student life||Adulthood/household life||Retirement||Renunciation of life|
|Growth (physical and mental)||Achievement, Success||Advisory role, Sharing wisdom, Reflection||Simple and spiritual life, separation from material life|
Ayurveda and Menopause – the transition from Grihastha to Vanaprastha Ashram
Menopause marks the transition from life as a householder (Grihastha Ashram) to our life of retirement (Vanaprastha Ashram). The Pitta dominance in our body becomes a Vata dominance. This leads to enormous changes in our body:
- Hormone loss: The biggest change is the loss of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. This leads to a lack of Ojas in our bodies. Ojas is a refined version of Kapha, which is responsible for building immunity and stability. When we lack Ojas, we are prone to illness and imbalances, even in our familiar environment and with the same stress factors as before. Also, there are too few Tejas, a refined version of Pitta. Tejas directs Pitta at the right time to the cell where it is needed. If we have too few Tejas, our body cannot direct Pitta accordingly. This can lead to memory and concentration problems and a higher susceptibility to cancer.
- Stopp of menstruation: With the loss of our sex hormones we also lose the ability to menstruate. Menstruation is a natural rakta moksha (blood cleansing), which frees the female body from toxins and releases excess pitta. Naturally, this transition would be smooth, but in today’s world, we often do not change our lifestyle according to the phase of our life. With Pitta activities (performance, success) we create more and more Pitta, which is then trapped in the body. This often leads to hot flashes.
- More Vata in the body: Vata is the combination of the elements air and ether that brings dryness to the body. Therefore we may have problems with digestion, dryness of skin, hair and nails, and osteoporosis.
- Trapped Pitta: Pitta is the combination of the elements of fire and water. It brings warmth to our body, which can lead to hot flashes, insomnia and heart disease.
Ayurveda and menopause: Differences of the Doshas
Depending on your dosha, certain symptoms can occur during this period of life. By knowing your dosha, you can better understand your transition to menopause. It will also help you to adapt your diet or lifestyle according to your dosha.
- Dryness (skin / mucous membranes)
- Mood swings
- Reduced libido
- Poor concentration
- Hot flushes
- Skin rashes
- Irritability Anger, competitive thinking, criticism
- High blood pressure
- Heart Diseases
- Depression, grief, greed
- Weight gain/overweight
- poor concentration (dullness)
- High cholesterol or triglycerides
Ayurveda and menopause: Making a graceful transition possible
- Stay calm: One of the most important elements of this transition is to make peace with the past and accept the present and future. Anger and irritation increase our stress. Take your time and make peace with yourself, your life and everyone you meet.
- Monthly cleaning: Help your body to eliminate excess Pitta by purifying your blood with an Ayurvedic blood purifier (may consist of Manjistha roots, Neem leaves, turmeric roots, Guduchi stem, and burdock roots) for four days each month. Abhyanga (whole body oil massage) supports this process.
- Rasayana (increasing fluids in the body): There is too much dryness in your body. So you should bring back some fluids. You can achieve this with Ayurvedic massages (Abhyanga – full body oil massage, Shirodhara – dripping medicated oil or other liquids on the forehead), drinking plenty of water and Chyanvanprash. Chyanvanprash is an ayurvedic herbal mixture in a capsule or as a paste, which is eaten every morning on an empty stomach.
- Nutrition: Your diet should balance Vata and Pitta. Therefore you should eat warm, well cooked and add digestive spices (cumin, fennel, coriander, turmeric). Help your digestive fire (jatharagni) with a teaspoon of grated ginger with lime and a pinch of salt before and after meals. If you suffer from hot flashes, reduce caffeine and alcohol.
- Pranayama: Practice Nadi Shodhana for 20 minutes daily to calm the nervous system. During hot flushes, Shirkari / Sheetali cools the body down. It is best to learn pranayama from a qualified teacher.
- Meditation: We can meditate to calm our overused nervous system and reduce stress. Read here what meditation really is.
- Yogasanas: Poses that focus on opening the hips and strengthening the pelvis and core are ideal for this transition: Halasana (Plough), Paschimottanasana (Sitting Forward Bend), Baddhakonasana (Butterfly), Natarajasana (Lord Shiva Pose), Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1).
I wish you an elegant and peaceful transition to a time of wisdom and clarity. If you have any questions, please comment below or write to me.