In order to optimize our wellbeing, we need to learn to live in sync with our physiological cycles, in the same way we adapt our lives in accordance to the seasons of the Earth. One of the most important ( yet also most culturally overlooked) cycles for about fifty percent of the population is the menstrual cycle. For those who menstruate, recognizing that our needs, desires, and capabilities will be different at any given time of month, and adapting our behavior to these fluctuations, helps us to thrive.
There are many aspects of our lives to consider in this process of adaptation. Mindset and exercise patterns are two key elements. Let’s look at the best ways to shift these behaviors in alignment with each of the four phases of your cycle. And if you need a refresher on the phases check out my article on cycle syncing with Chinese Medicine here!
Movement and Exercise
Overall, your movement practices should be more vigorous during the first half of your cycle (except while bleeding), and gentler during the second half. This is because your Yang energy (i.e., basal metabolic rate) increases during your Yang and Qi phases, which means less (exercise) is more during this time (except right around ovulation when you’ll likely have extra energy to burn). And high intensity workouts can help you feel better when Yang energy is in decline (i.e., metabolism is slower) during your Yin Phase.
- Blood Phase: Mellow walking and gentle stretching are great movement options here. Stillness is also totally welcome.
- Yin Phase: Start upping the intensity of your workouts; try a mid-day run, boxing class, or dancing it out in the backyard
- Yang Phase: Team sports or group cycling classes with friends are great options during the beginning of this phase (ovulation). After ovulation, your energy may start to wane, so scale back to slow strength training or yoga.
- Qi Phase: Time to chill out. Opt for 30 minutes or less of moderate yoga, walking, or mild strength training. If you find yourself in the throes of PMS, try a restorative yoga practice in the evening.
- Blood Phase: All about reflection and analysis. Find gratitude for what worked, and consider making changes around what didn’t.
- Yin Phase: Get creative with your clear vision for the future. Set intentions, organize and plan for what’s next. Try something new.
- Yang Phase: Talk it out. Share your vision with others, find ways to collaborate and connect with your community.
- Qi Phase: Time to bring your intentions to life, and complete the work that needs to be done to get you where you want to be. As you move closer to your Blood Phase, it’s time to start turning inward.
You can access a plethora of cycle syncing resources (such as phase-specific nutrition, acupressure points, and herbal medicine/supplements) in our online course! Can’t wait to see you there!