"Every month, 1.8 billion of us across the world menstruate, yet it still feels taboo to discuss. Let's break the stigma around our periods so we can celebrate what a beautiful source of life they are and how we can tune in to love our bodies." Elix Healing via Instagram
Our menstrual cycle is more than just the few days we're bleeding. Bringing in awareness of our entire 28 day (more or less) cycle can help us with PMS, painful periods, fertility, and more.
If you're not ovulating (on hormonal birth control or post menopausal) or you don't have ovaries, you might choose to sync your yoga practice with the Moon Cycle phases.
There is no one-size-fits-all yoga practice. The practices within each phase can be adapted to your individual needs and goals. Schedule a private session with me here.
Menstruation (Inner Winter)
Phase 1 of our Cycle (our period) lasts approximately 5 days. During this phase, our body is clearing out the endometrium (lining of the uterus) completely to rebuild for implantation. The follicles start to develop here and your FSH increases. The process can be depleting. This is a great time for detoxification, especially if you find yourself with cravings.
One of our goals here is to regulate the movement of Qi and blood, to increase circulation and downward flow.
Some common- but not normal- changes that can occur... early periods, late periods, irregular periods, heavy periods, light periods, long periods, no period, painful periods
Follicular (Inner Spring)
Phase 2 of our Cycle is the Follicular Phase. This phase is from day 1 to day 11, though it's usually counted as days 6-11 (or the day after your period ends to 3 days before you ovulate).
The pituitary gland releases FSH to stimulate follicle growth in the ovaries. The follicles house the eggs waiting to be fertilized. The dominant follicle produces estrogen and the uterine lining begins to thicken to prepare for ovulation.
Your body will most likely be depleted after your period, though your energy will slowly climb towards ovulation.
In Chinese Medicine, this phase is very important to prepare for what will come. It's key to nourish yin and blood. Yin energy is linked to the blood and tissue in the uterine lining, along with estrogen.
Our Yoga practice should reflect this Yin to Yang energy, as a time to nourish ourselves, allowing your energy to slowly build.
*If you're not trying to get pregnant, it's still important to rest and recharge after your period. Adjusting your movement practices during the Follicular Phase will help create a more balanced cycle later.
Ovulation (Inner Summer)
The third phase in our cycle is the Ovulation Phase. In a 28 day cycle, it's day 12-16. Ovulation is the halfway point in your cycle.
In this phase, the egg is released from the follicle. Estrogen rising which triggers the luteinizing hormone, which then releases the egg. As estrogen starts to decrease, progesterone begins to rise. Progesterone regulates the condition of the inner lining of the uterus to prepare for possible pregnancy.
The cycle changes to Yang, you might find you have more energy.
One of the goals of this phase is to increase local circulation and find inner calm.
*If you're not trying to get pregnant, you might lengthen the follicular and luteal phases through your Yoga practices.
Luteal Phase (Inner Autumn)
The Luteal Phase is the fourth phase in our menstrual cycle. This is the phase where we commonly see PMS symptoms.
Your progesterone increases and your estrogen decreases. Progesterone (the "feel good" hormone) increases body temperature/ yang energy and softens the endometrium for implantation.
Some goals during this phase are to create warming (promote yang energy) and circulation, as well as, calming the mind/ de-stressing.
Your Yoga practice will vary, based on your individual needs and goals. If you are trying to get pregnant, this phase is also called the "2- week wait". You might also add some upward movement along with the warmth and calm- to create a welcoming environment for implantation.
If you are not trying to get pregnant, your focus will possibly be on decreasing stress and PMS symptoms. (Please note that while PMS is common, it is not normal.) Your Yoga practice might be more active to move through stagnation but also a sense of ease. Nutritional counseling and acupuncture might be a big help too.