Welcoming and celebrating the beginning of a period of wisdom and grace
Menopause is a natural process, a transition. With the right preparation and perspective, you can master it gracefully. Most people don’t live a natural life anymore. Our modern society has an enormous influence on us and our choices. We work longer than past generations and we lost our connection to nature and natural processes. We don’t listen to the needs of our body or better: We don’t know how to listen to our body anymore. It is time to find back to our roots and take the needs of our body seriously. Menopause is the sign of the body that he wants to retire from a life of achievement and accomplishment. Let’s take a closer look into that.
The Ashrama System - 4 stages of life
According to the Vedas (text from the ancient vedic high culture of India) there are four different stages of life, called the Ashramas. Our life starts with a period of growth and education. In this stage, which is called the Brahmacharya Ashram our whole being focuses on building. Our body is growing, so is our mind. Kapha is dominant in those years. In our twenties we start our working life, some get married and form a family. This is the stage of Grihastha Ashram, our household life. Our focus lies on achieving our goals. These are the fiery Pitta years before we enter the Vanaprastha Ashram, the retired life.
It is the time of letting go the need of achievement. Vata is dominant and brings clarity and wisdom. Use this insight for deep reflections on our life. In this state of life, you stop achieving and start inspiring and advising others. By fulfilling our task of sharing wisdom, we get ready for our last stage of life, the Sannyasa Ashram. A period full of peace and balance. We detach from the material life and focus on spiritual practices. It is the time of complete inward meditation on our pure soul.
(Sanskrit: "conduct consistent with Brahma" Brahma=Hindu god of creation)
(Sanskrit: Grih=home, family, house, Asth=devoted to, "being in and occupied with home, family" or "householder")
(Sanskrit: vana=forrest, prastha= journeying to, "retiring to forest", "giving up worldly life")
(Sanskrit: Sama=all, nyasa=purification, "Purification of Everything")
|Youth / Student life||Adulthood / Household life||Retired life||(renounced life)|
|Growth (mentally and physically)||Achievement||Advisory role, share wisdom, Reflection,||Simple and spiritual life, detachment from material life|
Ayurveda and Menopause – Transition from Grihastha to Vanaprastha Ashram
The Menopause marks the transition from our householder life (Grihastha Ashram) to our retired life (Vanaprastha Ashram). Hence, the Pitta dominance in our body turns into a Vata dominance. This comes with enormous changes for our body:
- Loss of hormones: The biggest change is the loss of the sexual hormones estrogen and progesterone. This leads to a lack of Ojas in our body. Ojas are a refined version of Kapha, which are responsible for building immunity, stability, and nourishment. When we are low on ojas, we are prone to illnesses and imbalances, even in our usual environment and stress factors. Further our body is low on Tejas, which is a refined version of Pitta. Tejas are responsible for directing Pitta, so each cell understands what to do and when to do it. When we are low on tejas, our body cannot direct Pitta accordingly to our needs. That can lead to problems with memory and concentration and a higher predisposition to cancer.
- Loss of menstruation: With the loss of our sexual hormones we also lose the ability to menstruate. Menstruation is a natural Rakta Moksha (bloodletting), which cleanses the female body from toxins and releasing excess pitta. Naturally this transition would go smoothly, but in today’s world, we often don’t change our lifestyle accordingly to our life stage. With Pitta activities (achievement) we keep creating more Pitta, which is then trapped in the body. That often leads to hot flashes.
- More Vata in the body:Vata is the combination of the elements Air and Ether which brings dryness into the body. Hence, we can face difficulties with digestion and overall nutrition, dryness of skin, hair and nails as well as osteoporosis.
- Trapped Pitta:Pitta is the combination of the elements Fire and Water. It brings heat into our body, which can lead to hot flashes, insomnia and heart diseases.
Doshic Differences in Menopause
According to your Dosha, there will be certain symptoms, which might come up during this period of life. By knowing your Dosha, you can understand your personal menopausal transition better. It will also help you to adjust your diet or lifestyle to balance your Dosha.
Dryness (skin and mucous membranes)
Anxiety or fear
Bad concentration (spaciness)
Skin rashes and diseases
Anger, competitiveness, criticism
High blood pressure
Depression, sadness, greed
Weight gain / Overweight
Bad 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 irritations drive our stress. Take time and make peace with yourself, your life and everyone, who crossed your path.
- ♥ Monthly cleanse: Help your body to get rid of the excess pitta by cleansing your blood for four days every month with an ayurvedic blood cleanser (may consist of Manjistha root, Neem leaf, Turmeric root, Guduchi stem and Burdock root). Abhyanga (full body oil massage) will support this process.
- ♥ Rasayana (Increasing juices in body): There is too much dryness in your body. Thus, you must bring more liquid back to it. That can be done with Ayurvedic massages (Abhyanga - full body oil massage, Shirodhara - pouring liquids over the forehead), with drinking lots of water and eating one teaspoon Chyanvanprash every morning on empty stomach (Chyanvanprash is an ayurvedic herbmixture in capsules or as a paste form).
- ♥ Diet: Your diet should balance vata and pitta. Hence it should be warm, well-cooked and with 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 daily for 20 minutes to calm the nervous system. During hot flashes Shirkari / Sheetali cool down the body. Best is to learn Pranayama from a qualified teacher.
- ♥ Meditation: To calm our overly used nervous system and reduces stress you can meditate. Read here what meditation is.
- ♥ Yogasanas: Postures focusing on opening the hips and strengthening the pelvis and core are ideal for this transition: Halasana (Plow pose), Paschimottanasana (back stretching pose), Baddhakonasana (Butterfly pose), Natarajasana (Lord Shiva Pose) Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend), Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)