Why living cyclically?
Recently I stumbled across a workout plan of mine from 5 years ago. It included deadlifts, hip thrusts, kettlebell swings, push-ups, kb overhead-presses and so much more – 4 days per week, for 10 – 12 weeks. Every week, same plan. I would usually go even 5 – 6 times and repeat my fav. workouts of the plan. Oh, I loved to have a good work out, especially the feeling afterwards. However, there were days where it was just sooo much easier for me to channelize my energy. And there were other days where I felt so much weaker and even dizzy at times. I tried to analyze and observe if this could be related to my sleep patterns and my diet – and obviously there is a correlation. So, I got very accurate about it. But my energy levels kept changing. Sometimes I felt they were all over the place. As I’ve been very disciplined my whole life, I just kept going and most of the times I felt super good after the workout so I thought I just have to push through. Even on the days where it felt like I haven’t slept for days after an eight-hour-night-sleep, I would jump outta bed and get myself into the gym before work. Or if I couldn’t get up, I’d go after work, sometimes as late as 10 pm.
So, as you can tell, I loved going to the gym. And I still do now. But what has changed?
First of all, yoga entered my life. After encountering yoga in a gym in Miami, I completely fell in love. So, I would still go to the gym, but more and more attend yoga classes there. I was absolutely eager to become better at all the poses. So, yoga became my new “sport”. I practiced at least once per day, in the gym, in parks, in yoga studios, at the beach – anywhere. When I started to travel Latin America and South East Asia, I’d find the funniest places for my practice. In restaurants, hostels, at the beach, on rooftops, on hotel terraces, in lobbies, in gyms, in backyards,… My very constant was my yoga practice. I started with Ashtanga Vinyasa and moved through all kinds of yoga styles with all kinds of teachers. I loved how my body changed, how much more flexible I became and how fast I could get into advanced poses. I kept practicing every day. However, there were days where my intense practice felt so good and where I felt the need to practice longer and hold poses for longer and incorporate some extra vinyasas and stay upside down for long. And other days, where I felt so much weaker and out of breath and heated up. I thought, it’s probably because I had been changing places all the time and the high humidity in Asia and the fact that I would wake up every day before sunrise etc. And surely these factors contributed. So, I just kept going and going and going – each and every day. Perhaps taking a day off, or maybe two when it was “travel days”.
So, not much changed “just” through yoga, right?
As most of you know by now, I’m all about menstruation and the womb space and living with the moon and looking at everything from a menstrual cycle awareness perspective – why you may ask? Again, I have to start a little earlier. During my Asia travels I also traveled Bali and the day I arrived, I knew that I had to stay here for longer. So, I actually moved to Bali and started to dive deeply into the absolutely fascinating Balinese culture.
People in Bali literally live with the moon. At every Purnama (Full Moon) and Tilam (New Moon) there are three days of ceremonies. So, I went to these ceremonies and started to learn more about the moon cycles (side note: a few years back I would make fun of “moon calendars” as esoteric nonsense). After a very short time living here, I started to menstruate at new moon. I got more and more curious about my synchronicities with the moon and this inner feeling of being more grounded and aligned and peaceful. So, I researched more and started to learn about the outer moon cycle and the inner moon cycle. And I realized how absolutely phenomenal the female body and the whole universe actually is. I understood that everything, literally everything is intertwined and co-depending and that our whole lives are determined by our menstrual cycle. Our hormones, which regulate all body functions, change every month from one extreme to the other. And even if I couldn’t really grasp it fully, I more and more realized that this whole universe is far too intelligent to create a menstrual cycle, that is harming women and creating problems. It’s far more intelligent than to create a cycle that includes phases that are of no use, like the PMS time or the time of menstruation. Because that’s what we often believe. We just gotta “survive” the PMS time and menstruation and afterwards all is good.
That’s also when the “women’s selfcare informed yoga teacher training” found me (it actually did find me as I wasn’t looking for it – fun fact: it started on Monday 4th of March – the last day of my job was 1st March and my birthday is on 5th March). I just knew I had to sign-up. And it actually changed my life. My whole perspective. My relationship with my body. With the people I love. The way I practice yoga, what type of yoga I do and so much more. Those of you, who have practiced with me, know what I’m talking about;)
Here are 5 crucial things that I’ve changed and/or integrated:
1. Understanding the different phases & tracking my cycle:
You can divide a woman’s menstrual cycle in 4 different phases and again in 2 energy streams. From Menstruation to Ovulation there’s the upward moving energy (Yang phase of the cycle) and from Ovulation to Menstruation there’s the downward moving energy (Yin phase of the cycle) present. Menstruation can be referred to as Winter, the time after menstruation as Spring, the time around ovulation as Summer and the time before menstruation as Autumn. And you can literally work with these four phases and schedule projects around them, your physical activities, your intellectual activities, your social interactions etc. It’s absolutely fascinating and definitely has changed my life.
I also started to track my cycle, not with an app as I don’t want to give this kind of sensitive data away, but with a menstrual cycle diagram. I’m writing down just one word every day and compare my days across the cycle and it’s absolutely mind-blowing which patterns can be seen.
2. Making a workout plan according to my cycle:
So, there are times during the month where women have way more energy and also potential to build muscles, than in other phases. So, when we do the same kind of workout every day or every week, we absolutely miss out on a huge potential. Also, the injury risk is much higher during the yin phase as our tendons and ligaments are more flexible, we retain more water in our bodies and we simply can’t focus as well as during the yang phase. So, as I very much like intense workouts I experimented when to do more endurance training and when to do more HIIT and when to take it super easy and found the ideal workout plan for me.
3. Scheduling social interactions according to my cycle and taking rest:
Well, obviously it’s not possible to arrange everything according to my menstrual cycle, but I realized that even just a couple of adjustments make a huge difference. I realized that taking the “me time” exactly when I need it the most prevents my body from getting sick. Previously I would get sick all of a sudden after stressful phases, which was simply my body telling me to slow the fu** down. By taking the rest I need, exactly when I need it, I prevent this complete system shut down and sustain a healthy balance.
4. Valuing the PMS time of the month:
We are so conditioned to see the time before menstruation or menstruation itself as horrible. We just want to get it over with somehow. I often felt exhausted or irritated or both. However, I learned to change my perspective: I realized that it’s all about my own response to my body’s needs. And I learned to see the gifts this time has to offer. It’s the time when we are most intuitive and can connect to our inherent wisdom. By taking “me time”, doing nourishing yoga practices, self-care practices and healing meditations. If we, however, try to “function as usual”, we fight against the rhythms of nature and feel lethargic, irritated, exhausted or whatsoever.
5. Changing my diet according to my cycle:
I started with seed cycling, which refers to consuming different seeds at different times of the cycle. Flaxseeds for example contain phytoestrogen, which is a plant nutrient that is similar to estrogen. Sunflower seeds, however, keep progesterone levels in check. Also there are various teas and nutrients to use according to our individual constitution.
Additionally, I have incorporated various selfcare rituals into my life, like yoni steaming. And of course I am practicing womb yoga, specific meditations, deep relaxation, breath work etc. And the totality of all these practices and lifestyle changes has led to me being so much more in tune with myself, my intuition, my body, my sexuality, my whole being. I feel empowered and know what I need when and why. I allow myself to rest when my body needs it. I’m no longer a victim of my circumstances, of my cycle.
As I’ve experienced this in my own body, my own life, I feel like every woman should have this knowledge. It should be part of our general knowledge – which it was, for a long time. But we forgot. Now it’s time to remember.
It’s become my passion and my profession to guide women back home to themselves, to their cyclical nature. Through holistic workshops, retreats, yoga classes and one-on-one coachings. I am here to serve women on their cyclical journey.
If this speaks to you, reach out anytime – let’s schedule a discovery call, completely free and non-committal.