The Connection Between Our Culture And Our Cycle
How we welcomed our first (and first of many) moon cycles has a lot to do with our feelings toward our cycles now.
In India, the first menstruation is celebrated in a ceremony called ritu kala samskara. Family and friends gather to welcome the girl to womanhood, both physically and spiritually.
In America, the onset of menstruation is usually hush-hush! It’s met with awkwardness and embarrassment. A neighborhood celebration is out of the question.
Once we’re adults, we might move beyond embarrassment, but nonetheless greet our monthly cycles with disdain. It’s not uncommon for women to purposefully skip cycles by skipping inactive birth control pills, and some even make this a habit. Going on vacation? Skip a period! Have a hot date on the books? Again, skip a period! While some doctors say that this has no negative effect on the body, our feminine intuition should tell us otherwise.
Our rhythmical moon cycles are as natural as our rhythmical sleep patterns.
They’re an integral part of the female body clock. To block or alter this cyclical pattern is to meddle with our body’s inherent rhythms. This can create an imbalance in the doshas, the body’s internal energies that sustain health when in balance and cause dis-ease when out of balance. For a woman, this dis-ease might be any sort of menstrual issue, from cramps to cysts.
Rather than purposefully skipping cycles because they’re inconvenient, we need to shift our attitude around toward our cycles.
They’re not a burden, but a blessing.
How To Welcome Your Cycle For A Happier Period
As women, our bodies naturally purify themselves each month. We get a monthly reset without having to make any effort toward cleansing at all. Menstruation is what sets us apart as creators. There is no creation quite as amazing as creating another human life.
When it comes to self-care, there are several ways that we can support ourselves during our cycles. Rather than ignoring that this intense purification is happening, and continuing with our work and workouts per usual, our bodies benefit from extra rest in these days.
This means refraining from exercise. While some fitness gurus and even yoga teachers believe that it’s totally fine and even beneficial to workout while menstruating, ayurvedic thought teaches otherwise.
The body is already going through a great deal of stress during menstruation; so, exercise, which diverts the body’s energies elsewhere, is best avoided. Otherwise it could bring on cramps, mood swings, and irregular, absent, or excess flow. Simply refraining from working out during at least the first three days of our cycle, if not all, can create less painful, more balanced moon cycles.
Similarly, refraining from excess work supports more balanced cycles. Even though “moon days” are yet to be implemented like “sick days” and “personal days” (perhaps someday!), we have the power to rearrange our schedules at least a little bit, thinning out our workload and to-do list while our cycles are heavy. If that big meeting can wait, then by all means postpone it for a few days. Not only is this good for the body, but we’ll make better decisions and emit a more energetic, positive attitude while we’re not going through our monthly purification.
One more way that we can promote more balanced cycles is by being mindful of what we eat in the week beforehand. Cravings don’t have to be part of our period—the healthier we are, the less cravings we’ll have. And indulging in unhealthy cravings will only imbalance the body.
Some great advice on will power (in regard to eating well) can be found in this motivating talk by health expert, Eric Edmeades:
So, what to eat? Light, warm, nourishing, easily digested food is best in the week leading up to and during our moon cycle. The ayurvedic dish kitchari is a perfect example. Made of beans and rice, this savory porridge is wholesome comfort food. Warm one-pot meals and soups with digestive spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, and ginger are great options too.
Shifting our attitude from disdaining or ignoring our cycles to acknowledging that they’re a beautiful blessing; backing off of a heavy workload and exercise during our cycles; and eating the kinds of foods that the body needs in the week before our cycle onset lead to less dramatic and intense cycles. We might not even experience PMS at all.
And perhaps, in the not too far off future, our society will adapt a celebratory attitude toward a girl’s first cycle so that we can shift our attitude toward menstruation as a whole.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with us about having more mindful moon cycles? Please do so in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you!