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..
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.
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.
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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