Since 2018 I have been a trained yogini in Womb Yoga - a practise of yoga developed by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli which addresses the specific needs of women (and people with wombs) in the yogic sphere. Often in class we are adhering to a general practise when, in fact, we are on a very different wave length to those around us. This is because women are cyclical, which means our hormones, energy and mood are heavily influenced by where we are in our cycles.
Typically a woman's period cycle is around 28 days in length - though this can vary wildly! During this time we menstruate, ovulate, as well as go through the follicular and luteal phase in our cycles. Our hormones rise and dip so we can release eggs, grow a womb lining for the egg to live and (if unfertilised) ultimately release that womb lining during our period.
For all this to happen our hormone profile changes throughout our cycle - affecting mood, energy and recovery. So is there any wonder that what a woman needs one day varies from what she needs another? And we haven't even touched on the needs of women with PCOS, Endometriosis and those women experiencing their menopause!
This is where cycle tracking comes in. By just noting what day of your cycle you are on, you can growing awareness for what your body might need at any given time during the month. Day One is always the first day of your period and the cycle begins again on the first day of your next period.
In Womb Yoga we track each phase of your period in the seasons of the body, Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn. This is because, whilst you could say 'oh I'm in my luteal phase', each phase of the female cycle actually bears a lot of similarities with the seasons.
Your period. Like winter this is the time when we tend to feel a bit softer, more tired and lethargic. Now is not the time to start a new routine, it's the time to get snuggly, to do yoga nidra, to eat chocolate and to rest!
Those days after your period but before ovulation. You feel better, refreshed and on the upswing (like spring).
Ovulation. Your body feels energised, your sex drive is usually at its highest, your body is retaining less water and you tend to feel pretty good (you guessed it, like in summer).
The time before your period where your body is 'holding'. This can manifest as PMS, mood swings, stomach cramps, bad skin and bloating. You know something is 'off' but you can't put your finger on what.
This is a brief overview, a deep dive into each phase will come in other blogs, but by tracking these cycles and noting how you feel each day in relation to what day of your cycle you're on, you can start to make changes in your life that can support you during each time. For example, summer is the ideal time to start a new project and see friends, but you probably want to schedule more self care activities in Autumn and Winter, when you may just want to stay in with a book.
As always, people vary drastically in how they feel about each season, some people love Winter. Just like they love to wear snuggly jumpers and big socks, they like those few days when they can relax, or simply no longer be 'waiting' for their period. I hope this has offered a brief insight into why to track and how to begin. It would be great to know if you already do some form of tracking, what you do and how it works for you!