When you think of your period, what’s the first word that comes to mind?
For me, that word used to be ‘gross.’ I remember my very first period…my stomach hurt and I felt nauseated because I was so grossed out. I felt dirty and like my life had been interrupted by this inconvenience. Those feelings stuck with me. For nearly a decade, I took a birth control pill that suppressed my cycle so I wouldn’t have to deal with a period, even when I wasn’t sexually active. My doctor said, ‘There’s really no reason that you need to have a period.’
Fast forward to 2013. My husband and I were talking about growing our family. I dreaded going off the pill and having to deal with periods again. I also felt embarrassed because I didn’t really know how to get pregnant. Before you freak out, I was well aware that sex was the answer. I also knew that ovulation was a thing, however I didn’t really understand the timing of it. Possibly as a result of the abstinence education program at my high school and the conservative values of the community in which I grew up, I had this vague idea that any time a woman had intercourse, she was liable to get pregnant.
I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know more about my body. I did some research and I found a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility Naturally. This book was a game changer for me. It taught me everything my health class didn’t. I learned about the physiology of the menstrual cycle as well as how to tell where I currently was in that cycle.
As you can imagine, after a decade on The Pill, my hormones were all over the place. I had terrible hormonal acne and PMS. Here I was trying to get on better terms with my body and my cycle and it was just making me a hot mess. One friend recommended acupuncture (I tried it; it was awesome.) and another told me about a book by Christiane Northrup called Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. This book introduced me to the wisdom of the menstrual cycle and the parallels found in the lunar cycle - another game changer. Tapping into this wisdom, I discovered how I could sync up my lifestyle (and even my social calendar) with my cycle. As a result, my PMS symptoms decreased. I felt more comfortable and at peace with my body and good ol’ Aunt Flo.
This process of getting to know my body and learning more about my menstrual cycle has helped to instill a great trust in myself and my body. It’s taken me from ‘gross’ to ‘magical.’ On a physical level, this knowledge helped me see the imbalance in my hormone levels, to seek help, and then to conceive a child. On a deeper level, this journey into myself has helped me hear my intuition more strongly and has given me permission to let up sometimes. (Like we really even need permission to take breaks and rest!) I have discovered how I wax and wane with regards to my energy levels, sex drive, creativity, and more. I even feel more connected with nature, which is a big part of my spirituality.
In all my searching, I found quite a bit of material on what yoga poses to do while on my period and even some on using yoga to help with PMS. However, I couldn’t find much information about how to sync up my yoga practice with my cycle as a whole. That led me to develop my first Yoga for Your Monthly Rhythm series. I had fun with this series but every woman was in a different part of her cycle. This made sharing yoga sequences for each phase difficult. I also tried presenting the material in a workshop but I found it was just too much information for one sitting. I even worked one-on-one with women in private lessons but they needed more instruction on the yoga practices than a typed out sequence could offer. So now, I’m trying another approach.
In my upcoming Yoga for Your Monthly Rhythm series, we’ll meet in the studio each week for four weeks to share information, discuss, and meditate. Then, you’ll receive four, 15 minute videos (one for each phase of the menstrual cycle) so you can practice at home in conjunction with your cycle. I’m not promising that your PMS will evaporate or that you’ll suddenly create an altar out of tampons and menstrual cups. I hope though, that you can get some helpful information, learn about your body, and connect with other women in the process. I would love to work with you! If you have any questions about my journey or my upcoming series, please drop me a line.