Why Your Period Is Your Greatest Power
Recently I have to come to realise that there is much to be gained from getting up close and personal with my menstruation cycle. Notice your reaction to that first sentence. Did you feel slightly uncomfortable? Or super uncomfortable? Or just plain confused as to why anyone would want to get close to that!?
In a society where we are encouraged to hide our cycle, to feel shame and embarrassment about it, it’s not surprising that many of us are disconnected from the idea of our cycle being something to pay attention to, to understand and to gain deep wisdom from.
We are expected to organise it, control it and even stop it with pills and injections. We pay for sanitary care that encourages us to think the best product out there is the one that enables us to continue as normal. And when are body is in pain, (pleading with us to at least acknowledge it) we take a painkiller and get on with it.
I was at full time dance college in my early twenties, and not once did I give myself a break in response to my cycle. Everyday I pushed myself to train with exactly the same amount of gusto and drive.
I didn’t make the connection that perhaps on the first day of my period pirouettes in front of everyone was just going to feel a little bit harder than during the ovulatory part of my cycle for example. Instead I would get angry at myself, push harder and end the day exhausted and frustrated. And why would I make such a connection?
I had not been taught anything about my cycle apart from PMS, tampons and chocolate.
Through studying yoga, the work of Judith Hanson Lasater, Alexandra Pope, Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Elena Brower has been the beginning of understanding that growing as a woman without understanding your cycle is like a tree trying to grow without working with the sun.
The first time I stumbled upon a yoga class with Elena Brower specifically designed for women on their period I literally cried. My body cried tears of joy and relief at finally being acknowledged.
I was about 28. Up until that moment I had never experienced anything that not only addressed this fundamental part of being a woman, but was specifically designed to support and celebrate it. I left my yoga mat that day feeling understood, connected to myself and my premenstrual body and mind soothed like never before.
Since that first class I have discovered that yoga can support us during the different parts of our cycle. It is a way to get connected to our innate intuition, creativity and sexuality.
In order for yoga to support our cycle, we first have to get to know our cycle. Tracking our cycle with an app is one way to do this. I love Kindara, but there are many to choose from. For the first time in my life I know what part of the cycle I’m in each month and can now make decisions accordingly in my day to day life.
Alexander Pope’s description of each part of the cycle as a season is such a helpful way to understand the journey us women go on each month.
Pre-ovulation is spring time. After the quietness of menstruation we begin to see our energy and our desire to get back out into the world increasing. There is optimism, focus and drive. Life is once more okay again!
Ovulation is summer. It is a time of high energy, productivity, feeling beautiful and the ability to give to others. Our energy is naturally outward focused and with ease we can be everything to everyone.
Then comes autumn, where we find ourselves premenstrual, wanting to turn inwards and slow down. This transition from summer to autumn can be tricky if we don’t know it’s happening. We can end up beating ourselves up for not being enough, instead of practising self-care and giving ourselves what we really need; good food, sleep, time alone and minimal stimulation.
Then of course menstruation; winter. Just like winter, it is a time of hibernating, retreating and resting. It is also a time of reconnecting to ourselves, of being quiet and still. It can be a time of increased intuition and reflection, or a time of frustration and struggle if we don’t acknowledge that it’s winter and are still banging it out like it’s the height of summer!
When we track our cycle and get to know ourselves during each season we can then begin to understand how yoga can support our cycle , or how it can completely disrupt our cycle if not practised with awareness. But that’s a whole other article! ( the next one actually ).