The following is a guest piece from the incredible yogi Nikki Belcher. I met her at our recent Elevate Retreat in Nicaragua. Nikki is a wise, kind, gentle and truly generous soul, and hosted us at our amazing beachside eco-resort. She took us through a magical moonlit restorative yoga practice one night as the waves crashed on the beach and shared some of this womb wisdom with us. I was truly moved after that class and asked if she would consider writing a blog piece. Thank you Nikki for this amazing insightful womb wisdom xx.
In particular cultures throughout history, a woman’s cycle has been deemed as shameful, disgusting, and dirty. It is considered taboo. Today, some women feel as though their menstruation is a nuisance – dreading the time of bleeding and the days leading up to it.
The truth is, our womb carries tremendous wisdom if we choose to tap into it. In some cultures, the female menstrual cycle was welcomed as a blessing and celebrated as a great gift of fertility and femininity. Our ancestors honoured menstruation by sitting together in a circle, reconnecting to the Sacred through prayer, meditation and communion.
As women, we are biologically connected to the cycles and rhythms of the moon. Many women even refer to their menstruation as their ‘moon -time’. The words ‘menses’, ‘moon’ and ‘month’ all come from the same root word meaning to measure. For centuries, humans measured time by the light of the moon. Each lunar cycle is 29.5 days – roughly the average length of our female cycle. When we connect to our cyclical nature, we are able to better understand our natural fluctuations – physically, mentally, and emotionally. This rhythmic blueprint is the source of all creation and a doorway to healing, transformation and growth.
Like the moon, our cycle can be broken down into four main phases: the beginning (new moon), rising (waxing moon), peak (full moon), and dissolution (waning moon).
While every woman’s cycle is a bit different (menstruating and ovulating during different phases of the moon) – below is a general outline of the four phases. In each phase I have described what is happening physically in our bodies, how we may be feeling mentally, emotionally and sexually, as well as recommending yoga postures to support each phase.
The Beginning (Days 1-7: Menstruation)
Like the new moon, this phase symbolizes the deep, dark and mysterious parts of ourselves. Although it is considered the beginning of a new cycle, it is also an ending. It is a potent time to draw our attention inwards and connect to the depth within. During this phase, it is important to take time to be still, relax and reflect. In the resting of our body and mind we create space for rejuvenation.
On day one, estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest. The belly and breasts are swollen and the uterine lining sheds (menstrual blood) as a way to purify the body from toxins that may have built up over the last month. The discarding of our menses symbolizes the release of what is no longer serving: thoughts, ideas, emotions, ways of being, expectations, etc. Our body is literally letting go of old energy so that we can create space for the new. Restorative and yin yoga along with yoga nidra and meditation are suggested during this time to support the experience of moving inwards.
We may feel tired and lack overall drive. This is a great time to reflect on what you would like to leave behind and well as what you would like to bring forward. Accessing other realms is easier during this phase. Intuition, sensitivities and insights are heightened. This is a period of gestation. During this cycle phase it is important to reduce external distractions (social media, computer work, TV, social events, etc.) and to carve out time to dream. It is a time to ask ourselves what we want to bring forward and to set intentions for the next cycle.
Self-care is extremely important during this cycle phase. If we do not take time to be alone, feelings of irritability and distress will arise. The need to clear away the past may become transparent through a desire to clean our spaces and enjoy hot baths. Journaling and giving ourselves permission to let emotions flow can help clarity.
Rising (Days 7-14: Pre-Ovulation)
This phase starts after bleeding has stopped. For some, it may be felt during the final days of menstruation. Estrogen levels are building, eggs are maturing and the uterine wall is thickening. Our body feels lighter and renewed. Because our body has the capacity to do more, it is a great time to start a cleanse or a new workout. Stronger yoga practices are encouraged to regain strength in the body- especially inversions as they increase circulation to the abdominal region, including the uterus, and restore the endocrine system. We tend to feel sexiest during this time, so wearing tighter and more playful attire can boost your confidence as you step into your power.
Because our energy is starting to move outward, we have an opportunity to be incredibly productive during this phase. This is the time to take action on the intentions set during the previous week. This is a period of inspiration and motivation; when our mental acuity is sharp. It is important to stay focused on the projects you are creating but be careful not to over commit!
As our light increases, we also feel more attractive and willing to connect with others. It is a great time to be social, attract a lover or collaborate with potential business partners. Because we tend to be more positive during this time, communication and heart to heart conversations can be powerful.
Peak (Days 14-21: Ovulation)
There is a shift happening at this time. Our eggs are being released from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes for fertilization. Our body is open and ready to create! We may feel very primal, sensual and full in our beauty. Dress in a way that accentuates your body and makes you feel beautiful. In your yoga practice, standing poses and backbends help support the overall feeling of abundance and totality.
During this phase, our ability to create and bring something into the world is at its peak. As much as possible, allow projects to unfold naturally. Mental activity may still be high, so engaging in intellectual conversations is important.
There is a slight shift happening in our energy. In some way, our energy is still moving outwards – making it a great time to make new friends and nurture and support your loved ones. However, at the same time, our energy is starting to pull inwards – so we may feel vulnerable. Make sure to honor your emotional needs during this time.
Dissolution (Days 21-28: Pre-Menstruation)
If womb fertilization does not happen, estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop. Women experience different physical symptoms during this time depending on their unique hormonal makeup. Some may feel tired, sluggish and bloated. Try to eat light. Practice meditation and restorative inversions like legs up the wall, shoulder stand, and plough pose to nourish and refuel your body.
This is a powerful and potent time to tune into the esoteric realms. Our intuition is incredibly high. It can be a great time to acknowledge what is and isn’t working – but do not make any major decisions. Use the active mind to stir inspiration and creative ideas for the future.
Emotions range depending on your unique balance (or imbalance) of hormones. Anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness are common indications that this phase has begun. Practice patience and honor your emotions by creating space for self-care. Stick to your daily routines and spend time alone.
Month by month – listen, observe and tune into your natural ebb and flow. Remember, every woman’s cycle is different. If you are taking birth control or are postmenopausal – this wisdom is still accessible! As you become more aware of your energy during each phase, you can gain insights into your innermost Self and increase understanding of the ancient wisdom of your body.
If you are interested in learning more about your cycle, here are a few suggested readings/teachings that I have found helpful:
- “Red Moon” by Miranda Grey
- “The Feminine Design Course” with Ashleigh Sergeant
LADIES: Do you know that your cycle can be a doorway to deep healing and transformation? The source of all creation, the womb is exquisitely designed to carry profound information and insight. When we tap into the natural rhythms of our body we unlock ancient wisdom and feel more in sync with the Divine.
Thank you Nikki! I will always remember that magical class you led in Nicaragua and I’m so grateful you’re doing this important work through your yoga teachings. Can’t wait to see you in Paradise again. You’re the yin to my yang! xx