Menopause, also known as the ‘change of life’ is a natural transition in a womans’ life. As a woman begins to age the production of oestrogen declines resulting in a cessation of ovulation. This lack of ovulation results in a woman being unable to bear children. Many women embrace this as a great freedom. Some women go through this natural transition with ease,but most experience symptoms because of the hormonal changes taking place. These may include fatigue, mood swings, disturbed sleep patterns, hot flashes and irritability. Another consequence of oestrogen deficit are loss of bone mass and rising blood cholesterol levels causing post-menopausal women to be at risk of skeletal and cardiovascular problems.Because oestrogen is necessary for building bone tissue, menopausal women are susceptible to osteoporosis.
Ayurveda sees this transitional time as a woman leaving the pitta phase of life and entering a vata phase. If pitta is out of balance before this stage of life then symptoms may be exacerbated.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and good routines will prove very valuable at supporting you through this time. Transcendental meditation can help with this change of life ,helping to clear the mind and allow a feeling of being aligned to your inner self,releasing a confidence and calm presence.
Abhyanga ( daily massage ) is an excellent way to incorporate greater personal care on a daily basis by helping to soothe your emotions and care for your skin.
Vata and pitta imbalances can cause sleep problems that can make menopausal symptoms worse. Try to get to bed before 10pm and rise early before 6am. Sleep comes easier and deeper between these times. Following a good bedtime routine will help balance both the vata and pitta dosha.
A herbal tea may be soothing in the evening.
Regular exercise is particularly important. It can help build bone mass, prevent weight gain and alleviate symptoms of stress. Weight bearing activity can help build muscle mass and stimulate bone growth, helping to protect from osteoporosis. A daily walk is also easy to fit into the day, it can be very valuable to feel closer to nature and enjoy fresh air. Yoga poses are another wonderful way to support yourself during this time, they can help increase blood flow to the head and heart. Any exercise though will be beneficial and help induce sleep.
Try not to skip meals or over-eat. Aim to eat at the same times each day. Eat your main meal as close to noon as you can,this is when your digestion is at its peak. Sit for a while after food and take time to enjoy each meal. If possible eat fresh and organic foods. Avoid left overs, pre-packaged food, preservatives, processed food, artificial ingredients and salt. Also try to reduce alcohol intake.
If you are prone to pitta based problems such as hot flashes or irritability follow a pitta
- avoid hot spicy foods, cayenne and black mustard seeds, jalapeño peppers, salty and sour foods
- favour foods that are bitter, astringent and sweet, these include most vegetables. Sweet foods include milk, cream, wheat products. Sweet juicy fruits also pacify pitta dosha.
For vata problems and to bring vata dosha back into balance-
- reduce or avoid cold foods and drinks, cayenne, chilli peppers and other very hot spices, onions, white or processed sugar, unripe/sour fruits.
- favour warm foods and drinks, grains, legumes, vegetables and spices such as cumin,ginger, cinnamon, cardomom, ripe fruits, goods oils ( ghee or olive oil ).
A vata pacifying diet favours warm cooked foods and hot drinks. Soft foods such as pasta, cereals and soups should be favoured. Raw vegetables should be avoided,as should cold drinks and frozen desserts.