If it seems like your period has a personality of its own—well, that’s because it does. (And, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s the type that doesn’t play well with others.)
According to Los Angeles-based Ayurvedic wellness expert Hemalayaa, our menstrual cycles tend to lean heavily toward one of three physical and emotional constitutions, or doshas. (Don’t know what your dosha is? Take our quiz and find out whether you’re more of a vata, a pitta, or a kapha.) Just like diet and lifestyle habits are said to throw the entire body’s dosha balance out of whack, they can also affect your period.
“What we’ve done from the end of the last period to the beginning of the next period—what we eat, stress levels, movement, travel—will impact what our next menstruation is going to be like,” Hemalayaa says. And although our natural body type tends to have an impact on what kind of cycle we’ll have—for instance, if you’re a pitta person, you’re likely to have a pitta period (obvs)—it’s not uncommon for, say, a pitta person to sometimes have a vata flow.
“If we’re doing things that are out of balance in one way, it’s going to affect our menses,” says Hemalayaa, who dove deep into researching the foods, essential oils, and self-care practices that are helpful for each menstrual dosha in an effort to bring her own kapha period into balance. “You’ve got to watch how you treat yourself the whole month.”
She says that the ideal period consists of a moderate flow—“If it’s too light, you’re not getting rid of what you need to get rid of, but if it’s too heavy, you get really tired”—with relatively few symptoms. And if you’re really in balance, she says, you’ll begin to ovulate with the full moon and menstruate on the new moon. (Um, #PeriodGoals?)
Keep reading to discover your period’s dosha, as well as Hemalayaa’s tips for bringing it into balance—peace out, PMS!
Physical symptoms: Light, short flow; frothy, thin, dark-colored blood; prickly, sharp feelings in the abdomen
Emotional symptoms: Anxiety, fear, nervousness, mood swings, spaceyness
What you should eat: Warm, mushy foods cooked in spices, like this kitchari; lots of ghee, butter, and oils (flax, hemp seed, coconut); plenty of water and ginger tea.
Self-care practice: Create a castor oil pack for your belly a few days before your period—but don’t do it while you’re menstruating. Here’s how it works: Take a soft cloth and immerse it in the oil, then squeeze out the excess oil, lay down (on a towel!), and place the oil-soaked cloth on your belly. Cover the oil pack with a plastic kitchen bag, then place a heating pad or hot water bottle on top of that and let it sit for 45 minutes. When the time is up, remove the pack and cleanse the area with water and baking soda. (You can store the oil pack inside a plastic bag in the refrigerator and use it again later.)
Helpful essential oils: Basil, orange, rose, geranium, clove, patchouli, vanilla
Physical symptoms: Red, hot blood; strong odor; steady flow at the beginning and light at the end
Emotional symptoms: Anger, irritation, irrational behavior
What you should eat: Cooling foods—fruit, yogurt, coconut; anything sweet; no hot spices; drink aloe vera juice twice a day. (These coconut salad rolls are perfect for pitta periods.)
Self-care practice: Create a coconut oil pack for your belly a few days before your period—but don’t do it when you’re menstruating. (See the previous slide for instructions.) Breast massage also helps relieve PMS symptoms.
Helpful essential oils: Sandalwood, ylang ylang, lavender, rose, fennel
Physical symptoms: Dark, clotted blood; heavy flow; slow to start, then lasts longer than 5 days; feeling of lethargy; dull cramping; bloating
Emotional symptoms: Depression; emotional eating
What you should eat: Light foods that incorporate warm and drying spices—ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper—like this smoky broccoli soup.
Self-care practice: Walk every day to break up stagnation and scrub your body daily with salt.
Helpful essential oils: Rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, basil, frankincense, ylang ylang