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Aligning your Yoga to your Menstrual Cycle

If you are someone who menstruates, you've probably noticed that some weeks during your cycle feel much harder to practice certain yoga asana than others. For me, I used to struggle to practice asana at all during the PMS and period weeks of my cycle! That is until I discovered how to align my yoga practice up with my menstrual cycle. I learned how the four week cycle corresponds to the four divine feminine archetypes, and how each one relates to each week of our cycle. In this post, I'll do my best to dive deep to explain these and how to align them to your yoga asana practice. If you're post menopause, you can use the moon phases in place of your cycle, and I'll also include the phase of the moon that each week corresponds to!

Week After Period- Maiden Archetype- Waxing Moon

During the maiden or waxing moon phase of our cycles, we often feel stronger and more of a surge of energy. We've just finished our period which is often a very low energy time, (more on that later) and we're starting to feel the momentum pick up again. During this week of my cycle, I tend to want to practice stronger asanas. Poses that work on the legs, arms and core mostly, to help harness this building energy after having a quiet week during my period. I also tend to feel more active than usual in the mornings, maybe doing my practice earlier than I normally would, and being more motivated to do a morning meditation. Inspiration is running high during this time, so it's also a great idea to work on your goals and make plans. This is the time in your cycle that you will feel the most motivated to do so.

Ovulation- Mother Archetype- Full Moon

The week during which we ovulate is often the time when our energy is at its peak. If you have menopaused, you will feel this during a full moon. During this time, you may feel like practicing your yoga a bit faster than usual. Practicing flows like Surya Namaskar and Chandra Namaskar. (Sun and Moon salutations) You might feel like adding more of a flow to your practice, less holds in postures and more variety with movement. Things like a flowing cat/cow or a flowing downward dog are great to practice around this time. The ovulation or mother week of our cycles is often when we feel the best about ourselves too, and is a great time to socialise and get out into the world. It's a great time to be productive and get things done. I also find that practicing inversions is more effective and fun during this time, if they are part of your current yoga practice!

PMS - Wild Woman Archetype- Waning Moon

When the hellish flames of PMS start to sink in, it can feel hard to find motivation or energy. As with the waning moon, our wild woman week is when our energy starts to slowly lower. This often means we need to practice a little bit of tough love in order to keep our practice up. For me personally, I find it very hard to practice any kind of strong asana during this week of my cycle. I often feel the need to work on my hips, thighs and hamstrings during this time, almost preparing the lower body for what's to come! I find that a mixture of some active and some passive yoga poses works best during this phase. Practicing more pranayama can be helpful in this phase too, as our breath has a great power to calm us down and bring us more clarity. Full yoga breath or alternate nostril breathing works great for me during PMS week.

Menstruation/Period- Crone Archetype- New Moon

The week of our period is when our energy is at its lowest. Most of us see our period as a bit of a rubbish time, where we feel gross and tired, but since aligning my yoga practice with my cycle, I've actually found a reason to get semi-excited about menses! Our period is actually a great time to practice self-care. It is a wonderful time to meditate and connect with your intuition. I practice exclusively yin yoga during this week. For those that haven't done yin yoga before, it is basically a much slower practice of yoga. Postures are held for 3-5 minutes, and are almost all floor based postures. Lots of props are used to help comfort whilst holding the postures. It is basically mostly a meditation whilst doing asana. I always get excited now about my little 'yin week'! A great way to think of your period is a mini retreat. You will still be living your normal life, but use it as an excuse to take it easy on the days you are bleeding. If you are post-menopause, the new moon is the time to practice this. All this self care is bound to give you a great second week of your cycle, when you re-enter maiden phase and your energy starts to pick up again.

I hope this post has helped you, and given you some ideas to start aligning your yoga asana practice with your cycle. It really does make such a difference! As trying to practice strong inversions or arm balances while we're feeling rubbish isn't really that fun, is it?

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Becca x x

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