Women have an amazing aid to living a healthy and happy life. The menstrual cycle. Now, if you are man, please don’t stop reading here as likely as not, you know a woman. She would likely be very impressed and grateful for any glimmer of understanding of this topic and I can assure you that knowledge of it will help you too.
Menstrual cycles get a lot of bad press. They are actually really helpful.
All of us, male and female, have rest-activity-rest cycles; most notably our daily circadian rhythms and less obviously yearly seasonal rhythms. These allow us to do activity supremely well when we are active thanks to regular and deep-seated rest when we are not. Imagine if we decided sleep was for wimps and that we were going to just stay awake all day and night and get more done; a disastrous experiment in health and effectiveness. Women have a very clear monthly rest-activity-rest cycle too and following the natural pattern of these can mean that like the sleep-awake-sleep daily cycle, we can be brilliant during activity due to nourishing rest on either side. It is, however, often ignored and there is a bizarre expectation that rather than rest-activity-rest it should be activity-activity-activity at the same level daily throughout the month. Men can also benefit from a monthly rest-activity-rest cycle but the makings of it are not so apparent and they are less forced to listen to the cues.
Another reason menstrual cycles are good news is that if they aren’t going smoothly, this can tell us a lot about what is out of balance with us and gives us a chance to do something about it.
There are monthly phases which feel (and look) different
This monthly rest-activity-rest cycle has phases. Understanding these phases allows us to truly enjoy and maximise all our activities due to taking physical, mental and emotional rests when needed.
The diagram below shows the phases of the cycle, showing which doshas are predominant, what the hormones are doing and what is happening in the uterus during these phases. Day 1 of the menstrual cycle is the day that menstruation (the period) starts.
Signs that things may be going wrong
If we suffer, particularly in post ovulation / menstrual phases, it is often because we are living out of sync with our needs and we need to rebalance. For example, if you suffer from strong PMS during the post-ovulatory pitta phase, it can often be because you haven’t withdrawn enough during the menstrual phase or have expectations of 110% energy and activity all month round. Often I see women who give give give all month long and don’t stop to have a little take. These scenarios will leave you depleted and more irritable, volatile and physically suffering during the run-up to your period.
The signs and symptoms of each phase will indicate which dosha has been thrown out of balance but that is another blog for another day! All sorts of imbalances can happen at each phase of the cycle and when they do, check back in with how you are looking after yourself during each phase and also at your life in general to see what maybe out of balance.
Until next time, take care of yourselves.
Author: Kate Siraj, Ayurvedic Practitioner, BSc Ayurveda, MChem (Oxon), MAPA.
© The Ayurveda Practice
Green cycle photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net