Updated: Sep 4, 2022
Being a cyclical creature in a linear world is not always easy. In fact, it can feel quite impossible to flow with our innate nature as a woman when our culture is so fixated on the masculine energy of ‘doing’.
Did you know there’s more to your menstrual cycle than just the 3-7 days of your period and the week when you might be experiencing PMS symptoms?
How much do we know about your menstrual cycle? This isn’t a trick question! Not even doctors seem to understand our cycles deeply, asking us to pop a pill anytime we experience any symptom. The Menstrual Cycle is a Woman's main "Wellbeing Thermometer", if something is off, your blood will show you.
Let’s dive into each phase of the menstrual cycle below:
There are four phases to the menstrual cycle: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Each plays an important role, and each phase has an effect on hormones, moods, energy levels, food metabolism, skin, libido and more.
This starts on day 1 of our periods and will ideally last between 3 – 7 days. We’re shedding the lining of the womb during this time, so our energy and key sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, will be at their lowest points.
During menstruation, your body might be calling you towards slowness and stillness. You might want to include more hip-opening, restorative poses in your practice and ease off from more energetic practices such as HIIT classes.
After menstruation ends, we move into the follicular phase. Oestrogen levels start rising again, along with our energy levels, so we may feel a shift in our mood, perhaps feeling more creative.
This is the best time in our menstrual cycle to start something new, whether it’s a habit or a new pose or yoga practice. :) We also experience a rise in testosterone levels, which is helpful for strength building practices and poses.
Although this is just one day in our menstrual cycles, this is the peak that our bodies build up to. Our energy will be at its highest point, our skin and hair are at their most vibrant and we typically feel our best. We will release a mature egg from one of our ovaries in preparation for fertilisation.
This is one of the best times in our menstrual cycle for a strong yoga practice so take advantage of this peak in energy in a way that works for you.
We can actually split our menstrual cycle into two parts: early and late luteal. In the early luteal phase, progesterone is high and there is a second, smaller peak of oestrogen, which means that energy levels are still strong. We may feel calmer due to the relaxing effect of progesterone on our brains. If the mature egg isn’t fertilised, progesterone and oestrogen both drop, as our bodies prepare for the start of the menstrual cycle. Some of us may experience symptoms such as tiredness, anxiety, low moods, breast tenderness, bloating, cramps and cravings in the late luteal phase.
During early luteal phase, you may decide that you want to continue your stronger practice, however as you go into the late luteal phase, listen to your body and give it what it needs. Don’t push through.
Learning to work with the hormonal fluctuations of your cycle is one of the greatest life hacks available to women. Once you understand how to recognise and respond to your hormonal highs and lows you can access greater levels of productivity, intensified states of intuition, increased sensuality, greater creativity and personal insights.
If you want to learn more about adapting your yoga practice to both your own monthly cycle and the wider natural cycles around us, I offer an online course to deepen your inner wisdom and honour your cyclical life. Click below to learn more!