Living In Flow ~ embracing the seasons of your cycle

For most of my post-pubescent life I went about my days with little attention to my period. I very often found myself surprised by my own blood once a month and the whole ordeal was nothing more than an annoyance and an inconvenience that was getting in the way of everything else I was trying to do that day or week. I don't imagine my own experience is very far off from most other menstruating women, and how could you blame us? Those very first periods are talked about in hushed whispers behind closed doors and with an air of shame for most of us. The conversations about our changing bodies are embarrassing and sometimes minimal. Growing up I had no idea that my body was moving in a predictable rhythm, or that there was more to periods than just ovulation and bleeding.

As I've aged I've learned about my body, my cycle and my period, but still with the focus being on pregnancy (or preventing it). Thanks to Taking Charge of Your Fertility, a book by Toni Weschler, my mind was absolutely blown wide open by how little I actually knew. By tracking my cycle I prevented pregnancy for years, got pregnant immediately when we were ready, and continued to prevent pregnancy for years after. It has been a lovely and empowering experience, but just last year I had another ah-ha moment of realizing that I still know so little about my natural rhythm and cycle! And after diving in a little deeper, what I found was that I could actually live every single day in complete harmony with myself and my own rhythm, which suddenly allowed me to feel way more connected, be more productive and I feel as if a crucial piece of my own self-care that has been missing my entire life is being restored. I've realized that periods are powerful!

Periods are not all about making babies or not making babies. I have to wonder if my awareness of only the ovulation and menstruation parts of my cycle are somehow linked to our society's view of the female body- which only functions and operates to make babies, of course. *insert eye roll here*. I have a lot of thoughts on this, but I digress.. there are two phases of the cycle that I was missing out on: the follicular phase, and the luteal phase. Where I am now, I relate to the four phases as the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. This helps me relate to where my physical body, emotions and mental energy will be functioning at the various times of the month, and helps me to plan ahead, honor where I am at, and generally live "in my flow". I will explain further..

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Springtime: the follicular phase

this is the period of time right after you finish bleeding. What I have learned about this time of my cycle, is that just like Spring, I feel a sort of new awakening. I have new ideas, a fresh spring in my step and a hopeful eye to the future. For me personally it is a good time to make plans. Start fresh with naming my current desires. It's a high time of creativity! This time is when I will set my new intentions for the coming month.

Summer: Ovulation

   Oh sweet summertime. This is the week where I am feeling pretty hot! My skin always seems extra glowy and pretty this week, and I skip the makeup. It's obviously a great week to jump in bed with my hubby and try something fun and new, and I give over to the energy of the week. (With protection if you aren't making more babies!) I usually find myself really passionately relating to my students this week~ delivering great yoga classes and speaking from the heart. Connection is my word for this phase, and I really put myself out into the world.

Autumn: the luteal phase

   As a younger Jasmine, I felt taught by the women around me that this was a crappy week. This is the "I'm bloated and grumpy" week of your cycle.. or so they say. What I've discovered is that most of the uncomfortable symptoms that we deal with at this time are due to imbalanced hormones. Sometimes finding balance can be as easy as eating the right foods. For me, this is a week of being clear with my boundaries and paying close attention to what is falling away. What isn't working from the intentions I set during Spring? Can I let some of the unnecessary shit go? I'm starting to go inward this week, and I intentionally make less plans that require a lot of my energy. I take more breaks for self-care throughout the day, even if it is just 5 minutes of breathing. This is when I notice I start to be less out in the world and more in my own head. And I go with it.

Winter: Menstruation

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   The life/death/life cycle. Letting the old die so the new can be reborn... I feel this big time while I am bleeding. What intentions and dreams do I need to let die so I can give life to other desires? What isn't working like it should and needs to be rearranged or changed. Like pruning and tending to the garden~ this is my winter phase. Taking an internal inventory, checking in with my body and my emotions, and starting fresh. This is a time for warm oil self-massage, comforting cacao (which offers plenty of minerals we lose while bleeding, so bonus points on the cacao!), maybe binding my belly in my postpartum belly bind for comfort, and extra time to snuggle up on the couch with a good book. I don't schedule meetings this week if I know I will need to be "on" for that particular person. I let myself take naps instead of exercising. I nourish myself well.

(And a word here about the products available ~ if you aren't already using a menstrual cup, I highly recommend looking into them! I made the switch last year and very much wish I had discovered them sooner. There will be a future blog post all about menstrual cups, but for now you can check out one of my favorites here ~ the MoonCup.)

Ever since diving deep into supporting myself for each unique space I am in during my cycle, I have noticed huge differences in my own energy levels, my health and my mental well-being! It is such a small thing, but it has a big impact. To learn more about your own cycle, I highly recommend downloading the app MyFLO. This is in no way sponsored by MyFLO (although I would love that! Heeeyyy MyFLO, you can call me any time!), I am just a huge fan of the app and the way it has supported me these last 6 months since my period has come back after having baby #3. In the app you will find information about what your hormones are doing in each phase, how to best use your mental energy, what foods will support you where you are at and even the best kind of sex for that particular week. I'm telling you- this is a game changer, and I wish I'd had something like this 10 years ago!

I'd love to hear from you beautiful souls about how you honor your body and your cycles! Do you track the moon? Journal? Are you currently embracing menopause or diving deep into Nature's rhythms to integrate into your own life? Comment below!

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Four Sigmatic ~ my honest review

   "Ooooh... I don't really like the taste of mushrooms." -insert grossed out and confused face here-

   That is the general reaction I receive when I confess my love for medicinal mushrooms and mushroom coffee from almost everyone. If you have a similar reaction to hearing "mushroom coffee" you can rest assured knowing that if a coffee product actually tasted like a cup full of mushrooms then it wouldn't be gaining popularity and nobody would be drinking it. (Or maybe they would... but I certainly wouldn't be!) I have some feelings about the flavor of Four Sigmatic's mushroom coffee flavor, but before I get into that and share my honest review- here is a little bit of what you should know about medicinal mushrooms.

   Before I found Four Sigmatic I was already on board with drinking mushrooms; specifically chaga mushrooms. I would buy chaga chunks, make a strong tea out of them in my crockpot, and sip on the concoction throughout the day for the incredible health benefits.

   Some of those benefits include vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, and the list goes on. Chaga is known for boosting the immune system and keeping you well during the colder seasons, and in my opinion it tastes so good!

   Chaga was my first introduction to this world of undervalues superfoods, but there are many more varieties of fungi that are considered a medicinal mushroom, such as reishi, lions mane, cordyceps, shiitake, and even your simple white button mushrooms have health benefits. As a bonus, all of these are extremely easy to add into your diet, whether sauteed or in a crockpot the way I used to do with my chaga.

   Still not convinced? Mushrooms are a perfect superfood thanks to their extreme bio-availability, and you can read more about the overwhelming benefits of consuming medicinal mushrooms  here

   Onto my personal review and experience of the company that is spreading medicinal mushrooms far and wide: Four Sigmatic...

   I loved the earthy, grounding ritual of brewing chaga tea myself on the kitchen counter, but when I heard that there was a company who had made the ritual easier and more portable, I was intrigued. The very first product that I bought from Four Sigmatic was a sample box that contained 2 of each of their most popular products. (You can find the sampler box here.) 

   Immediately I was hooked by the packaging (I'm a sucker for marketing!) and how easy it was to get my hands on some of these harder to find mushrooms. Have you ever tried to find Lion's Mane to make a tea out of? These cute little packets made the whole process simple, and you can sip on mushrooms pretty much anywhere! Grab a cup of hot water from your local coffee shop and you are good to go. 

   Right away I began experimenting with some of their other products- one of my favorites was this Beauty Blend. I found myself craving my morning elixir and noticed some benefits after just a few days. I felt that the products didn't just look cute, they were using quality ingredients. I began to use the mushroom products throughout my day for specific purposes~ 

   Sitting down to get some computer work done? Lion's Mane first for some serious brain power.

   Meeting a doula client at the hospital? Chug some chaga to fight off all of those hospital cooties!

   Unwinding after a long day? Reishi takes center stage.

   I always have a packet or two of something in my yoga mat bag to sip on before or after class, and I make sure my purse is stocked for when the craving hits.

   But I promised an honest review, and there is just one thing that I don't love about the brand, that I feel I must share in the name of full transparency....

   I am a huge coffee snob. I have been spoiled by our incredible local coffee shops (who literally win awards from their house roasted coffees) and I am accustomed to a certain flavor. I am not a fan of instant coffee... well, of course it would be nearly impossible to make a packet of mushroom coffee any other way~ so they utilize the quick and portable instant coffee. And I do taste that distinct instant coffee taste.

   If you are also a coffee lover/snob, here are some of my tips for how I've gotten around my snobbery:

1. I make a mushroom coffee elixir at home using homemade almond milk, and whisk in some other superfoods and flavors such as lucuma powder and ashwaghanda powder.

2. Sweeten it up by plopping a dollop of Coco-whip on the top!

3. I don't buy the mushroom coffee as often as I buy the single mushrooms. You can add the mushrooms into your own coffees, cacao elixirs or drink them on their own!

4. Ice it! For some reason I absolutely love the taste of the mushroom coffee when it's iced. 

And with all of that said, I will say this about their coffees~ the flavor is smooth, not bitter and it's not as bad as some instant coffees I've had in the past. It is also one of the only coffee products I can drink without my anxiety creeping back in! (Stay tuned for a future blog post on my postpartum anxiety and why I can't drink coffee anymore.) Maybe it is the addition of the mushrooms, but this coffee works for me and doesn't cause any of the ill-effects that I've been experiencing with regular coffee.

A quick word about medicinal mushrooms while pregnant or nursing. Always listen to your body and consume anything intuitively. Reishi and Chaga are not only safe, they have immune boosting benefits during pregnancy to keep you feeling your best when your immune system is naturally compromised due to growing a tiny human.

I hope you check out Four Sigmatic and fall in love with them as much as I have! While you are shopping, take this discount code with you to save money and support yours truly: omshantimom10 ~ enter at the checkout! Or click this link and shop away: http://www.us.foursigmatic.com/#_a_omshantimom10

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Yes, that is an affiliate link. No, that does not mean I just made up the entire blog in the name of making a dollar! (Come on people, you should know me better than that.) I am an affiliate of Four Sigmatic because I honestly love these products and whatever small amount of money that I make from sharing my affiliate code with friends is money that keeps this website running and allows me to provide the experiences that I do as a yoga teacher and doula! (Love the freebies and goodies you get from me as a doula client? You can thank Four Sigmatic for that!) Aaannnd you get a sweet discount, so honestly everyone wins!

So don't be shy, use the code, soak up the good vibes, and cheers to your health with medicinal mushrooms!  

QUICK HOME REMEDY FOR TUMMY ISSUES

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Once you are a parent, conversations around various types of poop become pretty common. We learn all about newborn poop, acceptable poop, worrisome poop, and as your kids get older the standard response to any sort of tummy trouble is generally: "When was the last time you pooped?"

I feel pretty lucky that we don't have too much drama in the area in my house. My two girls seem to be thriving and pooping well on their mostly vegan diet. However, that doesn't mean the occasional tummy bug won't rear it's ugly head, and then it's time to discuss the worst of all poops... diarrhea.

In addition to being gross and possibly inconvenient, diarrhea can be uncomfortable or even downright painful for our little ones. In the worst case scenarios, it can even be mildly dangerous as diarrhea can quickly dehydrate a little body. As a "crunchy" parent, I don't agree with most band-aid solutions that simply stop the symptoms of an uncomfortable situation, and even most doctors agree in this case, as antidiarrheal drugs have unpredictable consequences in children. 

There are times when "the runs" need medical attention, and I leave that up to you decide where the line is for your child, but in general this is something to be treated at home. Most doctors will prescribe rehydration through something like Pedialyte or a Gatorade type drink, and a simple diet of easy to digest foods. Many refer to this as the BRAT diet, or Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Tea (or Toast). There are also homeopathic remedies available, and you can find some of those in Natural Baby and Childcare by Lauren Feder, M.D. (If you don't already have this book, I highly recommend it! A useful addition to any household with little ones.)

But I can't believe I don't hear more about the solution that I have found to be way more effective and easy to use! For my family, I always have tucked away in the back of my cupboard, a small bag of carob.

Yes, carob!

Carob is appealing to some in the health community because of its similar taste to chocolate, without the stimulating effects for those who are sensitive to cocoa or caffeine. Roasted carob seeds have even been used as a coffee substitute in Germany, as it has that deep, rich taste that coffee drinkers love. Carob is Relatively low in calories and high in Fiber. It is a great source of Vitamin A, B2, B3, and B6, and boasts a number of minerals including copper, calcium, manganese, potassium and magnesium.

 

But the reason I make sure to always, always have some carob on hand is for it's medicinal effects when it comes to uncomfortable tummy troubles. According to The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, "In addition to being a healthy alternative to chocolate, carob provides other benefits. In particular clinical studies have confirmed the use of carob for treating diarrhea. A double-blind clinical study has demonstrated that carob is useful for treating infants with diarrhea...

Carob's beneficial effects are due primarily to its tannins and large sugar molecules. Unlike many tannins, those found in carob are not water-soluble, so they don't bind to proteins and render them unavailable , as many tannins do. Instead, carob's tannins not only have an astringent or drying effect in the gastrointestinal system but also bind to and inactivate toxins and inhibit growth of bacteria. Its large sugar molecules make carob pulp gummy and able to absorb water and act as a thickener, helping to bind together watery stools. Taken with plenty of water, 15 grams of carob mixed with a little applesauce or mashed sweet potato provides a child-safe remedy. Adults should use at least 20 grams."

For my own home remedies, I have also made a drink similar to hot chocolate, by mixing carob powder with homemade almond milk and a little bit of raw honey or coconut sugar to taste. It works quickly and effectively, and my kids love the taste!

If you have any effective home remedies that are not commonly known, I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment below and let me know what your family does for the tummy troubles.