I had my first menstrual cycle when I turned 13. I remember my mother telling me that now I have become a woman, but I am not sure I knew exactly what this meant at the time. When I think about it, beside knowing what was happening in my body biologically speaking, no-one really told me about hormones and hormonal fluctuations, how the release of oestrogen and progesterone in different quantities throughout the month can affect my thinking, my emotional state and physical wellbeing.
Many years later, in fact too many years later, through self-observation and self-education, I started understanding that women’s menstrual cycles are kind of a big deal and understanding the different stages we go through during our monthly cycle is crucial to living a fulfilling and happy life.
As much as I believe times have changed, there is still a lot of misunderstanding, false beliefs and stigma around women’s biology. In fact it is still a staple of popular culture that a woman’s biology can befuddle her brain. If we are moody, we are being asked if it’s ‘that time of the month’. If we’re feeling sexual, we are told we might be ovulating. What’s not widely known is that the menstrual cycle can affect women’s brains in positive ways, too.
In the search of other ways to educate and empower women on the topic of their Menstrual Cycle and how understanding the female body rhythms and biology can transform their lives, I’ve met with Ines Kelly, women’s mentor and holistic health coach, with who we’ve started discussing hormones and female cyclical nature but we ended up talking about a lot more: astrology, spirituality, motherhood and the importance of finding and living with a purpose.
Tsitaliya: Hello Ines, there are a lot of women’s health coaches out there, but what I really like about you is the diversity in your methodic when you work with women and how deeply connected you are to nature and astrology. I love how you honour women’s individuality and personal intuition and your holistic approach to each person. We are so different and yet we do have the same love-hate relationship with our menstrual cycles. I find that the reason is in not knowing enough about our own bodies. How can we heal this relationship? And what can we teach our daughters about it?
Ines: I think what’s really important to start healing this relationship we have with our menstrual cycles is becoming aware of the different phases of every cycle, getting to know our reactions and behaviours through each phase and accepting that it will not always be the same. Sometimes we may feel introvert and we may experience a yin phase, meaning we need to rest more and nurture the relationship with ourselves. Other times we go through a yang phase where we are more action oriented and we are more social, outgoing. We feel like being around other people. Become aware of that, start tracking your cycle. Become aware by observing yourself and be more gentle with your body and what is happening.
A woman’s menstrual cycle usually takes 28 to 29 days and each week is different. In the spiritual practice very often these four weeks are described as the four seasons of the year:
The winter phase is the start of our cycle which is known as our winter phase. It begins on the first day of our bleeding/menstruation. During this time we are our most intuitive self, capable of receiving gut-intuitive messages from the universe. Which is also a reason why we feel the need to seclude ourselves. We embody the wise woman during this phase. We are very receptive during this time and our energies are low, due to the low hormone levels and release of our uterine lining. Our main focus during this time should be on honoring our bodies and if possible, stay in to be with our selves for at least the first two days of our menstruation.
Our spring phase represents our maiden phase. Our energies are slowly on the rise, as our hormones are rising. We feel light again. This is the phase society would like us to be in all the time. However, we are not only the Maiden archetype, as cyclical beings. During our spring we are most productive phases and are very much action-orientated. It is a great time to get organized for the month and make use to this positive surge in energy. The more we rest during our winter phase, the more we will be able to bounce back during the spring phase.
In the summer phase we are ovulating. our summer phase, also representing the enchantress archetype, is when we feel our most sexy, and alive. Our hormones have peaked and energies are high. Even though we feel our most energetic during this time, it is more of a yin phase, as we do more nurturing during this phase. We are fully invested in our relationships, making it an optimal time to nurture any type of relationships in our lives. Conducting meetings, having heart-to-heart conversations, networking are all great tasks to take on now.
The Fall is probably the most unpopular, yet most misunderstood phase of all. It is also known as our wild woman phase. We are full on premenstrual by now, as our hormones are decreasing and we are feeling possibly quite agitated easily. Nevertheless it is more of a yang phase. The connection between our right and left brain hemisphere are now the most active allowing for out of the box thinking. An optimal time for creative work. However, I would recommend to work alone if possible. As it is a time to give to ourselves and not others.
In my experience many women who manage to create that kind of awareness about their body, and the different phases they go through, helps them reduce the premenstrual symptoms, because in a way they are honouring their body, they are listening to it. By giving your body what it is asking for, instead of always trying to be the same, always productive, always out there, always social, you honour it! Women need to learn and live with that: We are cyclical beings.
Tsitaliya: In what other ways women can support their bodies throughout the different phases of their cycle?
Ines: Feminine yoga is another way to start honouring your body cycle and rhythm. I often do workshops with a friend of mine. During these workshops I have talked about the importance of nutrition as well. There is a great book out there called The Woman Code by Alisa Vitti, which is an amazing starting point too. She also has an App called MyFlo Period Tracker.
In her book Alisa Vitti talks about nutrition, lifestyle changes and physical movement, and how to incorporate different types of food through each phase.
Understanding movement through the four phases of your cycle is really essential. Intense exercise is not always good for you and for example in your Autumn and Winter phase, which are your premenstrual and menstrual phase those are the times when your body is already working hard to prepare to release and those are the times when most women don’t feel like doing high intensity work outs. The alternative is feminine yoga, which a very intuitive way of moving your body. And another way for the Premenstrual and menstrual phase is intuitive dancing, somatic movement which can be very therapeutical.
Tsitaliya: How is Astrology being present in your line of work?
Ines: First of all women have always been known to be lunar beings. It’s no coincidence that the length of our menstrual cycles are synced up with the waxing and waning of the moon, occurring around every 28 days. If we are synced up with the moon’s cycle, we will menstruate around the new moon and ovulate around the full moon.
What’s interesting is that in the past when people didn’t have electricity and artificial light they believed that if women were exposed to moonlight more, their cycle would be in tune with the moon cycles. And most women would be in sync either with the new moon or the full moon, meaning that they would bleed on the new moon or bleed on the full moon (link to Ines article). In this period of bleeding women were given the chance to rest and spend time with themselves, channeling universal wisdom, meditating. They could spend time alone in red tents and when they came back they would share with the tribe what they saw. Sometimes that would be vital information that everyone could benefit from.
Such traditions have been lost unfortunately when religion came and everything changed. But to go back to your question about Astrology – I started tracking my period and then I started checking how it lines up with the Lunar cycle. Studying the Moon – astrology came automatically. As you know the Moon is always in a different Astrological sign every two and a half days, so it is always shifting. Plus I always loved astrology and now this love was rekindled. It was reinforced by another event in my life, when an old friend called me and offered to read my astrology chart. This is how I started honouring again this old interest of mine. Then I became interested in human design and had my Body Graph read. It is all so fascinating and it becomes one whole picture that helps you understand who you are, your energies and how you interact with the world.
If you want to learn more about the body graph chart and how to read your own you can find several sources at the end of this article.
Tsitaliya: What resources would you recommend to our community when it comes to educating ourselves better on the connection we have with the Moon?
Ines: Miranda Gray’s book and website The Optimized Woman (for the menstrual cycle) and Lunar Abundance by Ezzie Spencer (for the moon cycle). Another great online resource is Claire Baker and My Instagram where I talk a lot about aligning our body and cycles with the Moon.
Tsitaliya: You are a very highly spiritual and intuitive person! What do you believe in?
Ines: I believe in change, in transformation. I also believe that we have all kinds of experiences and sometimes we may perceive them as negative but without them we would be unable to fulfil our purpose in life. I believe if you understand that, you can give back to people a lot! I feel that’s often why we go through so much trial and error and it takes a while till we understand what is it that we want.
Unfortunately we didn’t grow up in a system where finding a purpose is being cultivated. It is been all about work, money, survival. Listening to your emotional intelligence, finding your true purpose is not something that we are taught from young age. That’s why transformation is a big part of finding your purpose.
Tsitaliya: How can we start this transformation and finding our true purpose?
Ines: I already mentioned how important is to cultivate stillness in your life. But I would also recommend journaling and free writing without judging what you are writing. Just let it channel through. Also write when you have intuitive hits. Write down all your ideas no matter how crazy they may feel to you. Usually our critical mind always has something to say but write it down and go back to it, let yourself be guided.
Tsitaliya: You are a mum of two boys. Motherhood can be challenging for women who are more active and they are busy building a biz as well. In this dynamic of living we tend to forget about our own needs or we feel guilt around that. What daily rituals would you recommend to women who have entered this phase of their life – family and motherhood.
Ines: I would recommend that you make every day time for yourself – morning, evening, any time in the day when you can create your own rituals to honour yourself. Could be reading, candles, taking a bath. Do something that fills you up with good energy!
You can find out more about Ines and how to work with her through some of her online courses.
Discover about Ines’ Wild Woman Balm here. A fantastic product I’ve been using now for more than a month!