Go With Your Flow
Our pelvis holds so much of our life. It is the seat of pleasure and pain, sexuality, pregnancy, orgasms, miscarriages, hysterectomies, and our moon cycles. The way we live during the month shows up in how we feel, the quality and quantity of our blood flow and how symptomatic or symptom free we are.
When training as an Ayurveda Wellness Coach, I learned how much our monthly cycle reflects our met and unmet needs. When we live with stress, anxiety, high intensity and/or repression, we tend to have painful and emotional menstruation.
Changing our relationship to our monthly menses by embracing it and using language that is honoring of it, can help change the patriarchal notion that women’s bodies are flawed and deficient; that bleeding is something to feel ashamed of or something to conceal. We have all heard or said negative and denigrating things in reference to our “time of the month.” We heal ourselves when we embrace our moon cycle and view it as a time to release, renew, clarify and cleanse. These shifts can right our relationship with ourselves and our bodies.
Women operate on a 4 (ish) week cycle. Even if you’re period is not a neat and clean 28-day cycle, you still move through 4 phases. We can work toward balancing ourselves naturally by implementing things that nurture our physical, emotional, spiritual, and energetic bodies during each stage.
The four phases are Menstruation, Follicular, Ovulation and Luteal. Generally, menstruation days are 1-5, Follicular Phase are days 6-14, Ovulation is around day 14 and the Luteal Phase is days 15-28.
Phase I: Menstruation is our bleed phase where both estrogen and progesterone drop, and we shed our lining. Our energy is typically the at the lowest point.
Nourishment: This is the time to eat grounding and building foods. The focus should be on nutrient rich foods that are wet and spiced. Good choices for this time: lentils, almonds, leafy greens, iron rich foods, dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, turmeric, ginger, lemon, black beans, avocados, grass fed beef and organ meats. Favor heavier fats, and grains like buckwheat. Avoid alcohol and sugar.
Supplements: Magnesium glycinate, zinc, omega 3’s, B vitamins, ashwagandha, licorice teas.
Movement: Since our energy is at the lowest of the month, movement like Pilates, yoga, low intensity cardio, swimming, sculpting with light weights, casual walking or bike rides will feel soothing and delicious to our body.
Emotional body: It’s a time to rest, restore and reflect by considering breath work, meditation, walking in the sunshine, journaling, lavender oil on feet at bedtime to soothe and deepen sleep.
A supportive mantra: I release or I surrender.
Phase II: Follicular phase is when our period ends, and our estrogen rises. This is our melting time. We start to prepare for ovulation. It’s a time to strengthen. Our sexual energy starts to build.
Nourishment: Think light and fresh. Lean toward lighter foods that are nutrient dense. Consider foods such as: oysters, chickpeas, seeds such as pumpkin and ground flaxseed. Eat fresh produce, onions, broccoli, and sauerkraut. We want to add liver cleansing foods like leafy greens, lemon, quinoa, EVOO. Eat lighter carbs like quinoa.
Supplements: zinc, probiotics or fermented foods, turmeric, and ginger. I get Gaia’s Golden Milk and use during this time. I add a scoop in my morning coffee or make a warm milk cocktail to put a period at the end of the day.
Movement: We get an infusion of energy so you can increase movement and intensity. It’s a fine time to strength train, box, dance or run.
Emotional body: This phase likes to set goals and intentions and overall “get shit done.” We also may feel more flirty, confident, and sexually energized.
Mantra: This is a perfect time to set a personal intention or write letters to our personal sweet heart.
Phase III: Ovulation is when our progesterone rises, and our energy hits its highest point. The choices we make during this phase set us up for a balanced, low symptom bleed.
Nourishment: We want to increase fiber to release excess estrogen. Estrogen is released when we eliminate, so hydration, gut support and all things that get your colon moving should be on the menu. Increase cruciferous veggies and leafy greens (mustard greens are a great option.) Make or buy bone both. Coconut yogurt and berries. Sesame and sunflower seeds. Lean protein. Continue to eat lighter grains like quinoa and millet and lean protein. Drinking mint tea is recommended; especially in the hotter months as it cools the body and aids in digestion.
Supplements: This can be a good time to take a break from all supplements.
Movement: You can keep or increase the intensity with cardio or HITT exercises, rowing, and/or kickboxing.
Emotional body: We are engaging and more communicative during this time. Plan social events, travel and get togethers. It feels the best to connect to beloved others. Your libido tends to peak the days leading up to ovulation. For many women, this is the “green light zone” when we tend to initiate, welcome, and want sexual connection with ourselves and others.
Mantra: I am light, unburdened, and free.
Phase IV: Luteal phase is when our hormones start to decline, and insulin levels rise. This is prime time to hydrate and flush your system.
Nourishment: Drink copious amounts of water and peppermint teas. Ingest dark berries, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, dates. Take in heavier fats, and dark chocolate or your favorite treat. Increase grains. Eats lots of greens. If you partake, start to decrease alcohol and caffeine. Reduce salt.
Movement: Our core temperature increases so we get hotter faster. Working out in the heat doesn’t feel as good to the body. If the weather feels moderate, outdoor walking, low moderate weight training and lower impact exercises like mat work, sculpting, yoga are supportive.
Emotional body: Increase morning sunshine to start the feel-good chemicals in your body. Do grounding work by putting bare feet on the ground. Read and listen to powerful and uplifting books, music, and podcasts. Make lists of what isn’t working in your life and address them. Sexual energy starts to decrease. For many women, this is the yellow to red zone where the desire to be touched wanes.
Mantra: “I take charge of my life.”
A few other very effective techniques that western medicine neglects to teach: is breast massage to move lymph and the magic (and mess!) of using castor oil packets. My Ayurveda teachers taught ancient, longstanding ways to care naturally for the parts of the body we tend to ignore.
Dr. Claudia Welch in Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life recommends castor oil packs as “castor oil has an astounding ability to penetrate through the tissue, dissolve obstructive masses and relax and open vessels. In this case, castor oil packs, can break up the stagnation in and around the uterus, relax the tissues and blood vessels and support free movement of qi.” In the resource section, I will put a link for instructions on how to make your own packet. I would recommend wearing old clothes when using castor oil as it stains and does not wash out. Throw them away at the end of your treatment, which can range from 30-90 days.
The main takeaways: Find ways to support the liver (greens and teas) because that is where we detox estrogen. Keep alcohol intake “low to no” as creates inflammation and negatively impacts hormones, the gut biome, our mood, and our liver. Learn ways to heal the gut. Reduce inflammation. Engage in mindful movement. Find ways to manage stress that work for you and intentionally add pockets of joy into every day.
As you begin to cherish yourself and learn about your cycle, you may look forward to (or at least not dread) your flow and cocoon into it with appreciation, knowing it’s a time for your body to restore and release what is no longer needed both physically and emotionally; a time to prepare for the “life of the next month.”
*Some of the information is adapted from lectures from Katie Silcox at The Shakti School.
*What is Ayurveda: “Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic “whole-body” healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, not fight disease. “
Lily of the Desert Aloe juice to cool the body and support the liver
CCF or Joyful Heart tea for digestion from Banyan Botanicals
Organic mint teas
Rishi and Pukka teas are good quality.
Golden Milk from Gaia https://www.gaiaherbs.com/products/golden-milk
Breast Massage techniques to move lymph:
Castor Oil Education: https://wellnessmama.com/remedies/castor-oil-packs/