For more than 15 years I pushed myself through hard workouts every day of my cycle. Some days I was killing it and ended up taking double kickboxing classes, or went on a run after training; other days all I could do was a restorative yin yoga class.
I come from a controversial family background: My mom used to follow Jane Fonda’s and Cindy Crawford’s workout tapes when I was little but suddenly stopped one day and wasn’t really active anymore. My dad on the other hand used to be a competitor (he retired from it last year at age 55) and trainer in kickboxing, always trying to push us more than the day before. I learned to train in a man’s world, expecting the same results from myself each day; not knowing that as a female, I’m a cyclical being.
While High intensity trainings could be sustainable each day of the month for men, women were biologically not built for that. Men have a constant stream of hormones throughout the month with little to no change. Women experience a whole lot of change in hormones and hormone levels even, throughout the whole month. This has a big impact on how women feel and how our body responds to everything. To live a balanced and fulfilled life and experience and use our femininity in its full embrace, we should all learn how to live in harmony with our own cyclical nature.
Menstrual cycle awareness focuses around these phases or as it calls them: our inner seasons. Just like the seasons in nature, our inner world has its own winter, summer, spring, autumn throughout our cycle. Let’s take a look on each of them:
Inner Winter: Menstrual phase
Winter relates to the actual bleeding part of our menstrual cycle. It can feel like a raw, vulnerable time. I often feel very tired and sad for no reason. TheJust like trees in winter, we drop our leaves and retire, it’s a time to go inward, to rest and relax. I love to spend my winder days with gentle yin yoga, walking, meditation, releasing with journaling, centering myself with burning candles, hot drinks and cozying up.
Inner Spring: Follicular or Pre-Ovulatory phase
As nature wakes up when spring arrives, so is our body in the pre-ovulatory phase which begins on the first day of your period and continues until ovulation. We start to get more energy as our estrogen rises. One really important thing is to pay attention to your energy levels. It’s easy to overdo things and go too hard on yourself with the sudden rush of new energy. If you think about the spring metaphor, young plants and sprouts need more care- if you overexpose them to sunlight or over water them, they die easily. If you are able to spare some of your energy, anaerobic exercises, cardio, HIIT and weight training, vinyasa yoga can be beneficial.
Inner Summer- Ovulatory phase
Around ovulation estrogen is at its highest level,.I often find myself dressing more feminine, I loved to play with make up and hairdos when I had long hair. I was more flirty and smiley, feeling more sexual than usual. I love this phase of my moon cycle, it makes me feel more “myself” and I can really just rock my world this time. I can go wild with everything and enjoy myself and life.
High intensity trainings, hard cardio exercises and heavy weights are my favorites. This time I’m also rocking my hardest ashtanga classes. But be careful, once you ovulated start the transition out from really high intensity and hard exercises as you get more prune to injury.
Inner Autumn- Luteal or Pre Menstrual phase
Our premenstrual phase is a time when a lot of people experience PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome) and symptoms (). Though many experience it, we shouldn’t consider it normal. Anything that is adversely affecting your life shouldn’t be due to your menstrual cycle. I love to spend this time with focusing on what’s going on inside. Most of the time I experience really bad PMS symptoms because I’m out of alignment with myself – I’m not being honest with my needs and wants, people pleasing or just engaging in too many activities that don’t make me happy. It is a great time to come home to yourself. The highs of estrogen has fallen away, so now is the time to put yourself out there as the true essence of who you are. The best ways of movement are hatha yoga, weight trainings and light cardio.
This is a very basic overview on how our menstrual cycle affects our training as women, based on my own experiences and studies as a holistic health coach. I advise you to learn more about Menstrual Cycle awareness. Everyone is different so your cycle might look very different from mine so pay attention to your body and start learning to train according to your own menstrual cycle.