Understanding the menstrual cycle is one of the most important tools for your health as a cycling woman. The fluctuations in hormones that you experience each month have profound impacts on your physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing. Living in alignment with your menstrual cycle is also a deep spiritual practice which will help you to connect with your self on a deeper level.
Understanding the menstrual cycle phases as inner seasons
Your menstrual cycle can be broken down into four phases, each with their own energy and personality:
- Menstrual phase
- Follicular phase
- Ovulatory phase
- Pre-menstrual or luteal phase
Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Wurlitzer, authors of the incredible book Wild Power, liken these four phases of the menstrual cycle to the four inner seasons. Understanding the menstrual cycle in this way can help us to approach the cyclic changes we experience in a mindful and non-judgmental way.
Menstruation is the winter time of the cycle when our energies tend to be at their lowest point. Many women can feel more introverted and need extra nourishment and warmth during this phase.
Following menstruation, the follicular phase is the spring time of the cycle. This can feel like a fresh start, bringing with it rising energy and motivation for projects and engagement with the outer world.
Ovulation is that bold, high summer energy when we feel at our most expressive and expansive. It’s a time of free flowing joy and unconditional giving and receiving. We can feel at our most social and drawn to beauty and sensual experiences.
The shift into the pre-menstrual phase can be the most challenging for many women. This is the autumn season of the cycle when the tide turns and we are called to retreat inwards again. Energy levels start to decrease and we may notice an impact on our mood.
Image credit: Woman log
Understanding the menstrual cycle phases as lunar phases
Another analogy I love is from my fertility yoga teacher and mentor Ana Davis. In her book Moving with the Moon she describes the menstrual cycle as the four phases of the moon: dark moon, waxing moon, full moon and waning moon.
Menstruation is the dark moon when the sky is dark and we are plunged into our inner dream world. Our follicular phase is the waxing moon when the moon, like us, steadily increases in vitality, beauty and brightness. The expansive, feminine full moon represents ovulation when we are also at our most juicy and fertile. The luteal phase corresponds to the waning moon as the moon turns away from the sun and we gradually turn away from the outside world.
This can be a lovely visualisation to help with understanding the menstrual cycle. For some women, their menstrual cycle actually aligns with these phases of the moon. Others experience the same four “inner lunar phases” but at different times to the actual moon. This is not something to worry about and there is no evidence that it negatively impacts your health. Although you may find that if you start tracking your cycle and the lunar phases they may just fall in sync!
Befriending your menstrual cycle
The theme for this week’s Yoga for Women’s Health class is “Befriending your Cycle”. We will be talking about how to start tracking your cycle and identifying these four phases. Understanding the menstrual cycle in this way will change your experience of life as a woman. Taking action to live in alignment with these phase can also help to promote hormonal balance and boost fertility. I will be sharing the basics of adapting your yoga practice and lifestyle to the phases of the menstrual cycle. This is a great class if you are just starting out with this work and wondering where to start!
Over to you…
If you would like to work with me 1-2-1 to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We will create a plan tailored to your individual needs and vision for your health. I will then be there for support, guidance and accountability as you work towards your goals!
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