By Rebecca Warfield
Continuing with this month’s theme of making natural choices for our bodies, this week we’re talking about how to harness our innate connection to nature, and turn that energy into serious period-power. When we connect with our body and its natural rhythms, we gain a new level of understanding, acceptance, and even comfort with ourselves. You have the power to rethink the way you look at your period – and that important shift can work wonders for your physical and mental well-being.
No matter how much we embrace our bodies, sometimes having your period can seriously suck. PMS can make your skin freak out. Cramps can distract you from your daily activities. And the other plethora of menstrual side effects can make a few days of your cycle less than desirable. But no matter how uncomfortable menstruation is, it is a not-so-subtle reminder for us to harness the moon’s innate potential. Plus, it is a perfect time to either start or get back into your yoga practice.
Let’s backtrack. We talked about this in a recent blog post. But in case you’ve forgotten, traditionally, women’s cycles match the cycle of the moon. During the full moon, for women who are synchronized with Nature’s pattern, ovulation occurs. When the sky goes dark at the New Moon, women begin to bleed. If you aren’t synced up with the moon, there are plenty of natural ways to get your body back in rhythm.
Whether you and the moon are jiving in sync or not, menstruation reminds us to get in touch with the moon, and the feminine side of the body. According to ancient yogis, all humans have a sun and a moon side. The sun side is the right side of the body, and is traditionally connected to masculinity. It is on this side that we find qualities such as analysis, aggression, logic, and action. On the other hand, the left side of the body is associated with lunar, feminine attributes: intuition, creation, potential, creativity, and nurture. Of course, bisecting the body as male and female is not intended to suggest that women cannot be logical or assertive. And it certainly doesn’t claim that men can’t be nurturing or intuitive. Rather, it reminds us that all humans are made of both the sun and the moon—the masculine and the feminine.
Yogis believe that we all possess these qualities. As such, one of the goals of yoga is to balance the solar and lunar sides of the body. But if there is one part of the female experience that is completely lunar, it is our periods. Menstruation is the body’s reminder of the power we possess as women. Sure, when you are scrounging around in your bag for a tampon or praying to the powers that be that your bloating goes away, you might not feel powerful. But you are.
In Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony, Ming-Dao Deng writes, “The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.” For a moment, consider how much power the moon has. Though it is totally passive, the moon shifts the entire Earth’s tides. Moreover, throughout history, the moon has been the focus of intention-setting. For thousands of years, people wished upon the moon, not stars, to ask for blessings and fortunes upon their crops and well-being. Yoga embraces the lunar side and reminds us that same incredible power can be found within us.
You’re probably asking, now what am I supposed to do? Dance naked under the moon when I’m menstruating? If that’s your style, sure. But you don’t have to get all Salem-witchy about it, if that’s not your thing. Here are a few ways yoga can help you connect with your lunar side and harness your menstrual power:
– Practice yoga. Because yoga postures are done on both sides of the body, the practice inherently balances the sun and the moon.
– Do all yoga postures on the left side first to honor the feminine.
The next time your period arrives, give some of these techniques a try. You might just find that syncing up with the lunar side of yourself helps to alleviate the menstrual blues, naturally.
Rebecca Warfield lives in a small town on the southern coast of North Carolina. In addition to being an avid traveler and writer, she is a university English instructor and RYT-500 yoga teacher. Rebecca spent her 20s traveling solo around the globe, studying literature, and dancing. In her 30s, a New Year’s resolution brought her to yoga, and she hasn’t looked back. She currently teaches yoga full time and is dedicated to sharing yoga’s teachings with others.