Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Honouring our menstrual cycle is something that many of us overlook. Society often calls for us to exist in a very masculine way, with the cyclical nature of the feminine rejected.
It’s a way of life that many of us have grown up with. Our cycle has been something to be controlled, ignored or even prevented if we should hope to succeed. But this couldn't be further from the truth. By living in harmony with our cycle, we’re better able to support our wellbeing and get more out of life than we ever thought possible.
Here, we chat to feminine embodiment coach and yoga teacher, Mel Andrews of Inner Wildflower. She explains the simple ways you can begin to work with your cycle to transform your life.
It's not always been this way
It’s a sad truth that we live in a world where the natural rhythms and rites of passage for women are shamed, shunned and hidden. Menstruation, giving birth, breast feeding, menopause - these are all things that we've been told to hide away. But, as Mel explains, it’s not always been this way.
“During our ancestral times when humans used to live in tribes, women’s periods would sync together following the cycles of the moon,” she says. “When the women bled, they would all gather together in a place titled the Red Tent to hold a sacred ceremony.
"They would spend their days resting, releasing, singing and sharing stories as a sisterhood and emerge to their pre-ovulation time with renewed energy and enlightenment. It’s unfortunate that since this time we've become disconnected from our wondrous cyclical nature.”
Instead, many of us will understand the daily pressures of work, having to consistently perform at a high level. We often feel close to burnout, a far cry from our glorious, creative and vibrant wild woman selves.
“The world is focused on the male body clock of 24 hours and removed from the feminine rhythms,” says Mel. “Women are expected to show up in the world every day as though we are constantly ovulating. This is our most extroverted high energy phase.
“We’ve become detached from our natural cycle and have stopped listening to our inner wisdom. We no longer understand how or when to slow down and we often ignore our symptoms and supress our emotions.”
How to connect with your cycle
Connecting with your cycle requires observation and work. It can seem incredibly overwhelming to begin with, but this knowledge will soon help you to transform your life.
“There is a wealth of wisdom in our cycles and this inner knowledge can teach us so much,” says Mel. “Working with our inner cycles is a way of moving forward and healing. It’s a way of re-building a relationship with ourselves and allowing us to come home to a deeper understanding of who we are.”
And it’s something that all women can benefit from, whether or not you regularly menstruate, have a womb, take contraception or no longer bleed. Learning to live with your cyclical nature can have a huge shift on your perspective. But how do you get started?
Attending a menstrual cycle workshop is a great place to begin your journey (find details of Mel’s upcoming online workshop here). These workshops give you the opportunity to join a sisterhood and learn from the experience of others.
Journalling is another great way to tune into your cyclical nature. Charting your emotions alongside the days of your menstrual cycle can help you to notice your rhythms and patterns. If your cycle is unpredictable, or you no longer bleed, you may benefit by working with the phases of the moon instead.
“This information can really help us plan our lives accordingly to suit our cyclical nature,” says Mel. “Once we understand our energy levels throughout the month, it makes it easier to plan around work and social commitments.”
Learning your natural rhythm
In general, there are four phases of a woman’s cycle, and these can also be associated with the different seasons, life stages and phases of the moon.
Phase one: Menstruation, associated with winter, the crone and the dark/new moon. A time for rest and nourishing your body.
Phase two: Pre-ovulation, associated with spring, the maiden and the waxing/new moon. This is a very creative time, with lots of ideas and possibilities.
Phase three: Ovulation, associated with summer, the mother and the full moon. This is a high energy phase when you’re feeling at your best. A time to commit to current projects.
Phase four: Premenstrual, associated with autumn, the menopause and the waning moon. A time for reflection and letting go of what’s no longer serving you.
Once you begin to notice these phases, you can work with your body and plan your life accordingly.
“Where possible, it’s great to plan our month so that we’re more socially active around pre-ovulation and ovulation,” says Mel. “Then aim to be less active during our pre-menstrual and bleed time as we are drawing more inward and craving space and rest.”
Having this knowledge and awareness will allow you to tap into your inner powers, helping you to create a life where you can flourish.
“We need to honour our cycle in a way where we aren’t hiding it from the world," says Mel. "We can start to help more women to create beautiful relationships with themselves and to not feel embarrassed or ashamed in talking about their menstrual cycle."
About Mel Andrews & Inner Wildflower
Mel Andrews is the creator of Inner Wildflower, an organisation dedicated to championing women. From feminine yoga classes and womb meditations to online menstrual cycle workshops, Inner Wildflower celebrates the sacred sisterhood.
Inner Wildflower has a beautiful Online Menstrual Cycle Workshop coming up on the 19th of July. Limited places available. If you can’t make it along to this one, gather a group of friends and Mel can run a private workshop for your group. Keep an eye on Inner Wildflower's Instagram and Facebook pages for future events, including online womb meditations and online restorative yoga classes. Mel will also be holding some beautiful monthly goddess gatherings with her dear friend, Anna Rose Wellness, online soon.
The reading list
We recommend these books for furthering your knowledge and expanding your practice:
Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell - a must-read for embracing the energy of the wild feminine.
Moonology by Yasmin Boland - how to use the phases of the moon to transform your life.
Thirteen Moons by Jane Hardwicke Collings - a journal for tracking your emotions with your menstrual cycle and the phases of the moon.