Recently I have been completely enthralled by the book Wild Power by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer. I love all things hormone related so I was really excited to read this one and I really think it is a must read for all women! I know when I first started my periods as a teenager I didn’t really think much of it, it was usually just a monthly surprise that made me moody and stopped me from doing sports. It wasn’t until almost 10 years later that I actually started to dive in and learn about the intricacies of the full female cycle.
One of the best things I started doing along the way was tracking my cycle which is referred to in the book as “Menstrual Cycle Awareness”. I started off pretty basic tracking my basal body temperature and my bleeding days so that I had a rough idea of when I was ovulating and how long my cycles were. In the beginning they were all over the place with annovulatory cycles and sometimes skipping periods altogether but it was so interesting to see my body start to regulate again. Now, 2 years later, cycle tracking has become an important part of my daily routine.
I use an app called Maya to record any symptoms such as bloating, cravings, insomnia as well as my mood. The app estimates when my next period will be, when I am most fertile and alerts me to any expected symptoms based on my historical data. It might seem a bit excessive but I have been so surprised at the patterns I have seen and actually it has been a really great way to become more present and tune into my body on a daily basis. There are loads of apps such as Clue and Flo that do a pretty similar thing. You can also use them for tracking your fertile window if you are trying to (or trying to avoid!) getting pregnant.
Now this book takes Menstrual Cycle Awareness to the next level. They describe the four phases of the cycle or the “inner seasons” which this video sums up pretty well. Most women, including myself until pretty recently, see the cycle as either bleeding or not bleeding. You might be aware of mood changes in the run up to your period. especially for those who struggle with PMS but when we start to pay close attention we can see subtle shifts in energy all throughout the cycle as our hormone levels change.
The four phases can be put into two main vibes. Phases 3 and 4, the follicular and ovulatory phases are when the womb lining building itself up ready for the release of an egg. This represents the masculine or yang energy phase when energy levels are higher and is the time when we tend to feel like being out there in the world and getting stuff done. Phases 1 and 2, the menstrual and pre-menstrual phases are when the womb waits for the arrival of the egg then releases the lining if you aren’t pregnant. This represents the feminine, yin energy and usually is the call to retreat and move more slowly in the world, allowing time for intuition and reflection.
Unfortunately today’s world doesn’t seem to appreciate this feminine energy. We always feel the need to be productive and in control and this lower energy is not welcome. But just becoming aware of these changes in my body and mind through menstrual cycle awareness made me start to wonder, what if I did allow myself to listen to my body? And what happens when I don’t? I recently I had a busy weekend that just happened to fall when my period was due. I had a lot of work to do then I had a couple of late nights with my boyfriend and friends and it completely wiped me out. I was exhausted all of the next week and I couldn’t understand why. It was only later when I looked back and I realised that I hadn’t allowed myself the rest and time out I needed on those days. How could I expect to run without recharging my batteries!
So since then I have started paying more attention to my cycle, my energy levels and my moods. I find it very hard to say no to things, even when I don’t feel like it but I know this is going to be key to getting my health back on track. I have started writing a moon journal, not every day but when I feel like it and honestly I feel like superwoman. I feel like I have a secret weapon that no one knows about and it is amazing. It is early days but I really feel like I am starting to understand my own rhythms better than ever and hopefully I can use it to start organising my life in a way that I can do all of the things I want to but without exhausting myself in the process.