Period got you down? You’re not alone. It’s one of those things nobody talks about. But we should. It’s not gross. It’s not taboo. It’s part of being a woman and part of life. We can learn so much about ourselves by studying our cycles. All of those pesky PMS symptoms are signs that something it out of balance. It’s an opportunity to confront our bodies and set new intentions; to start fresh.
I feel lucky to have grown up surrounded by women who weren’t afraid to talk about their periods. In fact, they celebrated womanhood and each time one of us girls came of age they’d throw us a party. As the youngest in the community I viewed these celebrations with awe and reverence, waiting year after year for my turn. When it finally came, my mom and all her friends gathered together to pamper me, wash my feet, brush my hair, read me poems and offer me life lessons. Everyone brought a bead and we strung them together into a necklace that I still keep tucked away in my hope chest. Looking back on my coming of age ceremony, I can’t help but cringe a little remembering all the new age pomp. But, despite the chanting, tarot cards and smudge sticks I still feel so grateful to have learned at such an early age to celebrate my womanhood and my body despite the pain, discomfort and inconvenience of each new cycle.
I’ve always struggled with PMS, irritability, cramps, tender breasts (“tender” is an understatement), breakouts, heavy bleeding (and the accompanying anxiety that goes with it every time you have to leave the house and go out in public). In high school and college I took Midol regularly, went on the pill, bought Tampax (with the applicator), pushing aside the fact that I knew that I was essentially bleaching my insides and using unnecessary amounts of plastic. Eventually, my desire for long term health and sustainability outweighed my need for convenience and I switched to hot water bottles and organic unbleached cotton tampons. But, I still didn’t address the underlying causes of my symptoms. Only recently have I started to see my cycle as a reflection of my overall health and wellness and to invest the time and energy into charting my period (I use this app) and incorporating a more comprehensive “ladies’ holiday” self-care routine into my life.
In the Ashtanga tradition, it’s typical to not practice for the first three days of your period. They call it “ladies’ holiday” which I just love. We deserve our own special holiday every month right!? So in honor of “ladies’ holiday” I’ve got the recipe for this Spiced Beet Tonic and some Ayurvedic tips for self-care during that time of the month. Keep in mind that these suggestions are based on my personal experience. As such, they address Pitta type menstrual symptoms (loose stools, heavy bleeding, a burning sensation during urination, fibrocystic breasts, hot flashes, acne, and inflammation). Recommendations will vary for Vata type menstrual symptoms (bloating, cramps, lower back pain, constipation, scanty bleeding or spotting and missed or absent periods) and for Kapha type symptoms (cramps, bloating, water retention, heaviness, and lethargy). If you have questions about how to address symptoms not covered in this post, comment below or shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to help you out.