5 Minute Read
Words by WYLDE MOON staff writer
Rather than dreading our period, we could be harnessing its power to our advantage, according to Anja Brierley Lange.
Can you imagine feeling inspired and empowered by your menstrual cycle? How amazing if your changing moods, energy and temperamental skin issues could actually be a route to making you feel empowered.
According to ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher, Anja Brierley Lange, it’s possible. She says when we understand our internal cycle it can be a privilege and a gift and we can use the cycle of the moon as our inspiration.
Here is her WYLDE MOON Guide…
Understanding the moon cycles alongside our own
Anja’s belief in āyurveda, the traditional medicinal and healing system in India, informs her attitude towards periods.
Ayurveda is translated as the knowledge (veda) of life (āyus). It is a complete approach to healing our physical and emotional being. Many āyurvedic approaches are now being researched and used in modern science too.
In āyurveda, the seasons of the year are acknowledged alongside the changing weather, the daily rhythms and the cycles of the moon. Āyurveda also honours the phases of the menstrual cycle and how we can work with our body’s cycles rather than ignore them.
The actual moon cycle is around 29.5 days but our menstrual cycles may be shorter or longer. It is rare that our menstrual cycles will actually follow the moon’s. Yet, we can still reap the wisdom and inspiration from both the moon in the sky and our ‘inner moon’.
“Our inner cycle is very like the actual moon cycle”
Perhaps the most important teaching of āyurveda is to listen to your body and the wisdom of your womb. We are all unique but Anja says we can work with our cycles rather than ignore or work against the changes happening in our bodies.
“Our inner cycle is very like the actual moon cycle,” she explains. “The moon moves from the new moon through the waxing moon to the full moon before she wanes into the void of the dark moon. And we flow through menstruation (bleeding), to the follicular phase ( when the follicles are stimulated which could mature into an egg), then we ovulate (when the egg is released) and finally the luteal phase ( when the uterus prepares for pregnancy) before we start our period again.”
The dark moon/new moon compared to our bleeding phase
The moon is in the void. There is no light as the moon is in hiding. In moon magic, we think of the dark moon as a time to let go and release. What are we ready to release and let go of?
In our inner cycle, we can compare this to the menstrual phase. We are releasing the menstrual blood along with endometrial tissues. We are literally letting go. In yoga and āyurveda, it’s a natural time for us to be in contemplation and rest.I usually enjoy more restful poses
The waxing moon compared to getting ready to ovulate phase
The moon is slowly growing and building up again. Every night it’s getting a little brighter and lighter in the sky. This is a time when we can plant the seeds of intentions so they can grow alongside the expansion of the moonlight.
The waxing moon is similar to the follicular phase leading up to ovulation. Like the moon the endometrial layer in our wombs is getting ready. The hormone oestrogen is also increasing at this time. We generally feel more energised. Even our muscle repair and muscle build-up is at an advantage in the follicular phase.
In āyurveda the elements of earth and water increase, bringing extra strength and endurance.
In our yoga or exercise we can enjoy more dynamic movement, work on muscle strength and perhaps have more confidence to try new things.
The full moon compared to our ovulation phase
The abundant glow of the full moon feels magical and full of potential. A time of manifestation.
The full moon is only 100% full for a moment and ovulation only happens for about a day and has the potential for pregnancy. But we can feel the energy and glow for days. We can sense a desire for manifestation. It may not be a pregnancy but a project or an idea that is growing and our creative potential coming to fruition.
Hormones are high, too. In āyurveda, this could manifest as feeling like a sensuous earth goddess, enjoying pleasure and sensuality.
In yoga practice, our confidence could be expressed in more challenging sessions. Alternatively, we may enjoy a more fluid or dance-like movement. Be creative and express your inner goddess.
Waning moon compared to our pre-menstrual phase
After the high energy of the full moon, it slowly gets darker in the sky. It’s time to focus on your priorities and anything that needs completion.
Your hormones change as you go into your luteal phase. From an āyurvedic perspective, some of us feel this expressed as excess fire or heat. It can make us see things clearly and we can take action. But when it’s too much or imbalanced it can manifest as night sweats which are common in the pre-menstrual phase. Excess fire can be experienced as anger, irritability and being short-tempered. Typical premenstrual symptoms.
One of my favourite practices to cool and calm both body and mind is the “cooling breath” or Sitāli prānāyāma. Roll the sides of the tongue into a tube shape. Inhaling slowly through the tongue and then relaxing the tongue as you exhale. Repeat a couple of times.
Anja’s book – Teaching yoga for the menstrual cycle – an Āyurvedic approach – addresses the importance of the menstrual cycle and how Ayurvedic principles can best be applied to understand the anatomical, physiological and hormonal changes that take place during different stages through the menstrual cycle.
Photo credit: photos taken from Anja’s book Teaching yoga for the menstrual cycle – an Āyurvedic approach and photographed by Pete Muller – petemuller.co.uk.
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