Menstrual Cycle Awareness
With the first new moon of the year being in the sign of Aquarius many of us are looking for revolutionary and radical new ways of doing things. Each new moon is a time for new beginnings and the perfect opportunity to set your intentions. Below we have an in-depth look into our cycles and even have some recipes that work perfectly in our Fressko Flasks to compliment each inner phase.
If you’re feeling like your 2020 has gotten off to a rocky start or even if you’d just like another clean slate, the end of January is your second chance to start fresh. And we’ve got an exciting new way for you to look at it. Actually, it’s not new at all, it’s ancient but it’s something you might not have heard much about or given much thought to. It’s called Cycle Awareness and if you’re looking for something new to try, this might just be it.
*Please note this information is of a general nature and not intended to be prescriptive. Each individual is encouraged to determine which parts of this information resonates with them and to use it as a guide, rather than a rulebook. Cycle Awareness is not intended to be prohibitive or restrictive, but rather to help you unlock your inner power and practise self care.
What is Cycle Awareness (CA) ?
Simply put, CA is practising awareness around the different phases of the menstrual cycle (or moon cycle if you aren’t menstruating) and synchronising with those phases. Different aspects of your life can be organised around the different phases or you can create small changes within your daily life to honour your cycle. Rather than looking outside of ourselves for advice on how to practise self care, CA encourages us to look within and respond to our own individual needs.
What are the benefits of practising cycle awareness?
CA offers so many benefits, it really is the ultimate form of self care. To tune into your own individual cycle and live according to where you’re at in that cycle, rather than organising your life around others or society, facilitates a sense of personal freedom and power. CA has been known to help regulate people’s cycles and relieve menstrual symptoms. It can also increase productivity, creativity, confidence and intuition.
So how do you do it?
It really depends on how deep you want to go into CA. If you’re menstruating, tracking your cycle is the first essential step. There are apps, websites and booklets that can help with this, but essentially you’re recording what you’re experiencing on each day. You can record information about how you’re feeling, what kinds of thoughts you’re having, your basal body temperature, cervical fluid and position, mood, pain, cravings, skin conditions, sleep patterns, bowel movements, libido, energy rates, etc.
Once you have an understanding of the patterns in your cycle you may like to schedule your work, social calendar, self care, exercise and dietary choices in accordance with each of the four phases of the cycle. It doesn’t have to be 100%, even a 1% shift is beneficial in supporting your cycle.
The Four Phases of the Cycle
Inner Winter (Menstruation - Roughly Days 1-5); Moon Phase: New (dark) Moon
During our “Inner Winter” phase we may feel pulled to slow down, pause, reflect, or rest. It’s a time for introspection and tapping into our intuition. If we are open, this is a time where we might get intuitive downloads. We may need to take more time for self care, choose gentle exercise over strenuous activities, and clear our social calendar allowing more space for alone time. In terms of work the “Inner Winter” phase is a wonderful time for analytical tasks, for processing and reflecting on what is and isn’t working and how we can improve. To support our hormones and physiology, stimulants like alcohol and caffeine are best kept to a minimum, but dark chocolate and other foods rich in magnesium are beneficial. You might crave warming or spicy foods and if you’re seed cycling choose pumpkin and flax. For the perfect “Inner Winter” beverage try this Dark Chocolate Chilli Smoothie.
Inner Spring (Follicular Phase - Roughly Days 6-12); Moon Phase: Waxing (dark-light) Moon
This phase is like a coming out, an emergence from hibernation. After the “Inner Winter” phase, you are likely to feel your energy levels rising, you may feel more social and active. “Inner Spring” brings a sense of hope and optimism. It’s the perfect time to begin new things, to brainstorm and plan, particularly if you were able to tap into some insight about how you can improve something in the “Inner Winter” phase. You may want to start a new project, try a new class, restaurant, bar, socialise more, uplevel your self care or put more time and energy into your work or passion project. During “Inner Spring” you’re most likely to be craving light, fresh food. If you can digest fermented foods this is a great time to incorporate them into your diet. The best seeds for this phase are pumpkin and flax. For a Springtime beverage try this Rose and Cardamom Iced Tea.
Inner Summer (Ovulation Phase - Roughly Days 12-16); Moon Phase: Full Moon
During the “Inner Summer” phase you’re likely to feel magnetic. People often cite that they feel most attractive during this phase. It’s a great time for communicating, pitching ideas, networking, advertising, creating and asking for what you want. This is why we manifest during a full moon. The “Inner Summer” is a time to be visible, to be open and to collaborate with others. Your self care may have more creative and social elements to it and you may find yourself more willing to engage in deep and meaningful conversations. The activities and forms of exercise you choose may be more fun and social, for example, you might like to try a dance class or join in group exercise. Light or raw foods are ideal during this phase and if you’re seed cycling, choose sunflower and sesame. If you like to indulge in coffee or alcohol, this is the best phase to choose stimulants. For a summery granita try this Pineapple, Mint and Lime Granita.
Inner Autumn (Luteal Phase - Roughly Days 17-28); Moon Phase: Waning (light to dark) Moon
Our “Inner Autumn” or “Inner Fall” is a time to turn inwards. You may feel your energy levels start to drop and feel called to spend more time at home. It’s a quiet nesting phase, a time to move towards doing less. Your inner critic may rise, so this is a great time to listen to what it has to say and analyse it. “Inner Autumn” is a great time to pass a critical eye over your work, to polish and edit, to tick off things on your “to do” list or finish up a project. Journaling, and freely expressing yourself through writing or some other creative outlet, is ideal at this time. You may want to choose strengthening exercises at the beginning of this phase and then move towards gentle and slow exercise in the later part of the luteal phase. Since you’re more likely to feel irritable during “Inner Autumn” this isn’t the best time to have important conversations. If you’re feeling frustrated about something, take note of it, but consider waiting until “Inner Spring” to speak your mind, you may feel differently about the situation by then. In terms of socialising, it may be best to keep your engagements to close friends, or schedule catch ups for “Inner Spring” or “Inner Summer” instead. During this phase you’re more likely to want higher calorie foods and will be best able to support your body by limiting stimulants. Root vegetables and brassicas are a great choice for this phase and sunflower and sesame seeds are ideal for seed cycling. For an autumnal beverage try this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.
Seed cycling is the process of rotating your consumption of different seeds according to which half of your cycle you’re in. It is most beneficial for those who are menstruating as different seeds are thought to help regulate the release of particular hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone. During the first half of the cycle (menstruation - follicular) pumpkin and flax seeds are best, whereas during the second half of the cycle (ovulation - luteal) sunflower and sesame seeds are ideal.
How do I follow the Moon’s Cycle?
The moon cycles through its phases over roughly 28 days. If you’re not menstruating you can follow the moon’s cycle instead. Beginning with the start of a new moon as day 1 of your cycle or “Inner Winter”, and progressing through the other three phases with the waxing moon on day 6 as the “Inner Spring”, the full moon on day 12 as the “Inner Summer”, and the waning moon on day 17 as the “Inner Autumn”.
Regardless of whether you’re menstruating or not, whether you follow cycle awareness completely, or just a little, becoming more in tune with our own natural rhythms and cycles is bound to be beneficial as it creates an opportunity for self awareness. Use whatever part of this information serves you and discover your own cycle and patterns by reflecting upon and tracking your experiences.
*This information is based upon my combined knowledge from the works of Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer (founders of Red School), Annie Carter from Eve Studio and Kate Northrup. See below for more resources about CA.
Written by Casey Pringle from The Courage Project. Casey is an intuitive life coach who supports sensitive souls in reconnecting with their true selves and finding their authentic path. An empath who’s passionate about community, connection and empowerment, Casey aims to spread awareness about the benefits of cycle awareness so that more people have the opportunity to practise self care in a way that’s aligned with their needs.
Wild Power: Discover the Magic of Your Menstrual Cycle and Awaken the Feminine Path to Power by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer (founders of Red School)
Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time Management for Busy Moms by Kate Northrup
Womancode - Alisa Vitti
The Optimized Woman - Miranda Gray
The Hormone Cure - Dr Sara Gottfried
Women’s Wellness Wisdom - Dr Libby Weaver
Moving with the Moon - Ana Davis
People + Workshops:
Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer (founders of Red School)
Annie Carter (Eve Studio)
Sammie Jamieson Fleming
Get the MOST Out of Work & Life By Doing LESS with Kate Northrup
The Wild Power Series - Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo-Wurlitzer