On women's seasons and cycles - and coming back into relationship with our world.
As women, we are deeply attuned with nature’s eternal rhythms. Becoming familiar with our body’s biological rhythms and tuning in to nature’s daily and seasonal cycles realigns our internal balance and strengthens our constitution. Consider Ayurveda’s simple recommendation to wake before sunrise and go to bed before 10pm each evening. It fits hand in hand with modern science that tells us the pineal gland is influenced by sunlight and moonlight - and is communicating with the hypothalamus to regulate our hormones.
This is the essence of Ayurveda’s dinacharya (daily routine) and ritucharya (seasonal routine) healing practices, aligning our bodily rhythms with the flow of nature's cycles. And as Terra Rafael* so eloquently suggests, an Ayurvedic approach to women’s wellness can be as simple as acknowledging the sun’s rising and the moon’s phases. Or as complex as considering the forces that allow that to happen.
If we begin by considering the possibility that our bodies are not the same and rather are changing throughout our monthly cycle, we are able to act, eat and care for our bodies to make the most of the healing and regenerative opportunity inherent to our cycle. Ayurveda views menstruation as a time for cleansing, guiding us to take time for rest and self-healing. As we move through the phases of our menstrual cycle each month, our energy levels and doshas are shifting too. Yoga asana and pranayama offer further support for each phase of our menstrual cycle and alignment of our cycle with the phases of the moon.
In Yoga and Ayurveda, there exists embodied invitation to deepen connection with the world within us and the world around us. In much the same way as we support our doshic balance by living in alignment with our inner cycles and tuning in to the lunar cycles, so too we can be adapting our seasonal routine (ritucharya) to strengthen our constitution and support our microbiome in accordance with the seasons of the earth.
Look to the garden, orchards and fields surrounding our home to observe the foods that are seasonal and bountiful at different times of the year. Those foods, picked as they ripen and prepared fresh, are rich in prana (life energy), offer timely support for our changing microbiome with their varied nutrient composition, and bring balance to our doshas (bodily constitution) as we adapt each season to the influence of changing environmental elements. Eating seasonally is yet another way of coming back into relationship with our world - by coming back into relationship with our food - and deepening our connection with nature's eternal rhythms.
* For more on Terra Rafael’s rich perspective of Ayurveda for women’s health, visit her website www.wisewomanhood.com and read her book Ayurveda for the Childbearing Years.