Since I followed a hormone yoga class for the first time in 2018 with Iris Josephina (a beautiful wise woman, take a look on her website or Instagram) I have become more aware of my beautiful female body with the wise womb as the center. Also, I was reminded more than ever of how special it is to be a cyclical being. Since then I have been trying to live through my monthly cycle. Which for me remains a monthly challenge in our linear society. In this blog, I’ll write a short introduction about ‘living according to your cycle’ and my experience with it. At the end of this blog, you will find 7 practical tips to follow your monthly cycle and how to inspire others.
The woman’s cycle consists of four phases: menstruation, pre-ovulation, ovulation, and pre-menstruation. You can compare these four phases with the four seasons in our year. Menstruation stands for winter, pre-ovulation for spring, ovulation for summer, and pre-menstruation for autumn. Dem Good Chai offers blends that perfectly suit these seasons.
At the time of writing, I’m on the brink of bleeding and so I’m in the transition from fall to winter.
During my period, I feel the deep need to turn inward, take it easy, cuddle a lot with Bob, and let him take care of me. I especially don’t want to be focused on the outside world. When I completely surrender to this, I feel very happy, I feel free, beautiful, wise, and true to myself. In those times I prefer to lie on the couch with a blanket for 3 days, drink tea, and read books. For me, menstruation is a time for rest and reflection. This is incredibly important in human life and strangely enough, we generally pay too little attention to it.
As a teenager and student, I often felt that menstruation was just a difficult thing. That’s how it was taught to me: During our menstruation, you can’t swim, you have less energy, you are grumpy, you cry a lot, you let everything fall out of your hands and you can’t have sex.
Now I can’t even imagine I ever had these thoughts and I always look forward to my period. It may be my favorite cycle season. In part, also because during my eating disorder I stopped bleeding for a while. I was underweight and simply did not have a healthy body. The absence of my period was a wonderful way for my body to tell me I can’t reproduce now. My body shut down the reproductive system because it had to focus on survival. This is how our body reacts to stress; if we experience a lot of stress for a longer period, ovulation may not occur and menstruation can become more irregular. A clear sign that your body and health are calling for attention.
The day I started bleeding was much later than the day I was at my aimed weight and had already been declared ‘healthy’ by the hospital. My body simply needed more time to recover and allow the reproductive system to fully flourish again.
I truly feel that our body carries the most wisdom and honesty with it.
The day I bled, I celebrated because my body felt it was strong enough to keep the reproductive system working. And that is one of the reasons why I am so grateful every month that my body feels healthy and safe and that I can bleed. That my cycle is working. And that my body is fertile.
Since the birth of my son, I have experienced my bleeding differently than before. The bleeding is longer, now an average of 5 days, previously it was 3 days. And it’s a challenge to put myself completely in a rest position when a little toddler is constantly asking for attention. For now, I’m taking naps while he sleeps, playing with him a little less actively, and the day goes by a little more slowly. In addition, I am still looking into how to be faithful to my period during my work as a dance teacher. It’s a job in which I give a lot of energy, perfect during ovulation. However, during my period I sometimes stand with trembling legs in front of a group of 30 children. My biggest learning process now is how I can make the children dance with their whole bodies while I’m very low in energy. Sometimes that works well if I only explain verbally and use the children themselves as an example. Sometimes they feel my low energy and I can’t get them moving.
I still occasionally make appointments when I know I’m going to bleed (winter period). And then I cancel them all because it just doesn’t feel right at the moment.
So even though I am aware of my cycle, I still occasionally surpass myself and don’t always listen carefully to the wisdom and energy that is within me.
Nevertheless, I feel that I am growing towards a life in which I can be even more faithful to my cycle. In which I can celebrate, propagate and live it up to the people around me.
My ideal world
I wish with all my heart that we grow together towards a world where we can talk openly about our monthly bleeding. In which we stop using the Dutch word ‘ongesteld’ (that’s how we named our menstruation and it means sort of ‘not well’) and change it into a word or concept that has a positive connotation. I wish that we educate our daughters and sons about this beautiful feminine power openly and honestly. I wish that there is good education about the advantages and disadvantages of hormonal contraception. As a woman, you can always go to a specialist if you have any questions about this. I wish that time is taken in medical practices for cycle-related questions and that we let the four different phases within our monthly cycle work with us and use them as advisors. I wish that we normalize that women are allowed to be absent from work once a month or perform other (more appropriate) activities than usual during their period.
I hope that we all may honor the cycle of women and organize our lives more accordingly.
I’ll cheers to that with a delicious moon-chai to our menstruation and sacred bleed!
7 practical tips to live with your cycle and positively influence others.
1. Get to know your cycle.
I know when I am ovulating thanks to my Pearly. This is a device that’ll measure my temperature every morning. I can download my measurements in an app so that I can follow my cycle very clearly. Different types of apps can be downloaded for this. Accurate tracking, however, is only possible if you do not use hormonal contraceptives (hormones disrupt your cycle).
2. Inform your partner or roommates in which cycle you are in.
Include your environment in your monthly cycle to create more awareness and understanding. Also, evaluate or discuss with them whether they recognize certain characteristics per phase. Whether your energy changes and what this means for them. Start the conversation together and see what you can do for each other.
3. Plan your meetings and appointments in the right cycles.
Create a cycle diary in which you keep track of the days of your cycle. The days of a monthly cycle differ from woman to woman. My cycle lasts about 28 days. On the day I menstruate, I write a 1 in my diary, and from then on I count to 28. I’ll start with my winter season (day 1-6). My spring would then be on days 7- 13, my summer season on days 14- 20, and my autumn season on days 21 – 28. The ovulation period is very short (48 hours), but can continue well before the fall starts.
4. Be the example.
When someone close to you tells you that she is bleeding, ask what you can do for her. Offer to move your appointment or make it suitable. Go to her and cook together or sit on the couch with a blanket, for example.
5. Use your seasonal power.
When you are in pre-ovulation or ovulation, you can feel a lot of energy and want to get things done. Cleaning, social appointments, and work appointments. To-do lists are perfect for this period. In your PMS period, a straight, direct voice often comes forward and you’ll wear your heart on your sleeve. Use your voice at this stage when someone needs a critical eye or when you feel you want to get to the center of a relationship. During your period, wise insights can emerge about your past cycle. You might feel what you want to do differently in your upcoming cycle.
6. Connect to your womb once in each phase.
Place your hands on your uterus while still in bed after you wake up or at night time before you go to sleep, and breathe deeply into it. Try to notice how she feels there. You can ask questions like How are you? What do you need from me? Can I do something for you? Or just trust something that comes up; an image, a word, a color, a sentence, an emotion, or a memory.
7.Connect with other womb carriers.
Women circles, woman well-being yoga. There are very beautiful places where we come together with women (or anyone who feels like a woman) to share our daily experiences. Sometimes it seems as if we are alone in the world when we are dealing with uncertainties or complaints. Within these safe places, we can recognize ourselves in others and join forces. A great way to combat the competition between women that is still present in our society. Let’s come together with love and connection as a countermovement!