As the yoga I teach is very closely linked to what is going on with the seasons and the cycles of the Earth, I want to talk to you about what this means for us as women and the qualities and gifts these seasonal shifts bring to us, both in the natural world around us and also when we look at our own inner cycles and the seasonal shifts we experience within our menstrual cycles, during transitions through perimenopause to menopause and life changes such as pre/postnatal or when we are recovering from illness or injury.
Each one of us is unique. We all have our own experiences of our ebbs and flows of energy; it is not a one size fits all. However, I want to share a few insights into some of the female archetypes associated with each season and some menstruality learnings from the likes of Uma Dinsmore-Tuli, Alexandra Pope and Diane Danzebrink, as well as from my own explorations and what I’ve learnt from the amazing women I’ve worked with and supported over the years – and who continue to teach me every day.
So, Winter time, where we are moving from, is the season of the Crone (other names include Witch, Hag or Wise Woman as I like to refer to her).
Winter as far as our menstrual cycle goes is our bleed time and when a woman is moving through menopause she is seen to be entering the Winter of her life, so the qualities we experience around the bleed time of our cycle can often be seen again once we move into the menopausal phase of life.
These qualities include the need for more rest, space and sanctuary. We are much more inward focused in Winter, quieter, reflective and intuitive, and the same goes when we move into the menopause. Many women I know come into their power in this phase of womanhood, fully able to be authentic and speak their truth and to heck with the consequences, which can often be said for how we are when we bleed, although this often gets labelled as PMT. But is it really? Or are we just finally saying what we repressed all month as we were too busy people pleasing when on our oestrogen levels were high?
In Winter time, both from a menstrual cycle perspective and in the cycle of our lives as we move into perimenopause and menopause, oestrogen production changes. If we are menstruating, we are governed more by progesterone during the Winter of our cycle. Progesterone calms and stabilises our stress response, which is why we often desire more rest and are more naturally inward focused.
Oestrogen either decreases as we reach perimenopause/menopause or it can start to fluctuate dramatically as the amount of progesterone decreases, so during the Winter of our monthly cycle and in our lives, we feel the need to slow down, rest more and people please less, we are more inward focused and we often have less energy.
Oestrogen has many roles, one of which is to prepare our internal environment for fertility by making it more sperm friendly. In the process, when we are full of oestrogen, we feel sexy and full of life and energy, often using this energy doing lots of doing, usually for others.
So, one of the changes that happens when oestrogen production declines, both in the Winter of our monthly cycle and when we move into the Winter time of our lives, is that we can’t be bothered to people please anymore, and we become more focused on our own needs.
Understanding this shift of awareness while we are still menstruating and ahead of reaching the Winter time of our lives is a good reason to practice cycle awareness. Understanding and working with our cycles from an early age gives us self-awareness as women of the different phases of our monthly cycle, which will give us an insight into the different women we will become during the different phases of our journey through womanhood, from Maiden through to Crone and when dealing with the challenges and rites of passage we experience along the way such as motherhood and menopause.
As we move into early Spring, the shift of energy in the world changes as it does within us too. The female archetype for Spring is the Maiden. Spring is a time to make plans and dream as we are full of energy and life and raring to go. It doesn’t quite have the same energetic quality as Summer, when we are juicy, ripe and womanly, but rather this is the time when we start to re-emerge innocent, fresh and full of new ideas and hope, much like a Maiden coming into the full bloom of womanhood.
This poem sums up this time very well:
Free like a flight of butterflies she runs on the wings of the wind.
Light as dandelion seeds, she spins until she falls to her knees,
arms outstretched to the sky.
She smells daisies and sugar, as she calls to me with her crystal clear voice.
She sings softly to herself when the moon is a thin crescent, a bright silver bow in the night sky.
She dances around me, graceful as a feather, dynamic as an arrow that strikes straight to the heart and rekindles my hopes.
Then she takes me by the hand, and together we turn and turn into a whirlwind of enthusiasm and vitality.
Her hair is the black of obsidian and her dress is white like the wings of a dove: she is young light reborn from the darkness. She is the maiden inside me.
From a menstrual cycle perspective, Spring is pre-ovulation time.
For women who are new mothers and not ovulating or those with hormone issues, for women who are breastfeeding and recovering or those going through perimenopause or menopause when ovulation is not regular or is ceasing, or for women who are recovering from chronic illness, fatigue, grieving or recovering from loss, the energy of Spring will be impacted. Although it will still be felt, it may not be quite as intense as it once was when in the full flow of the menstrual cycle.
And so as life changes, our place in life changes, our stage of womanhood changes and we move from Maiden to Mother and Mother to Crone, we get to experience, with every shift, a new experience of what it is for us to be in Spring now, at our new stage of life. And with that experience and understanding, we see fresh new gifts and insights, as well as changes. Some we might like and others we might not, but nevertheless they are happening. We can either fight them or embrace them, but with deepened awareness of ourselves we can learn ways in which to support ourselves, to make changes in our lives, to make ourselves more comfortable and to create more ease for ourselves. Cycle awareness is the ultimate self-care tool.
If you would like to dip your toes further into the water with this, contact me directly for your free 20 minute consultation to either get started with a Wise Woman, Womb Love Support Programme or online or to join our next group Well Woman Cycle Awareness Course.
If you would like to come and celebrate the changing of the seasons with me and the returning of the light after Spring Equinox, I’m running a fab Well Woman/Womb Yoga workshop at Yogakula in Leeds on 26th March 2017.
If you’re struggling with perimenopausal/menopausal changes, you can find further reading here:
Or again, feel free to contact me for your free 20 minute consultation and we can talk about ways Mizan abdominal massage, womb health awareness and a combination of Well Woman Womb Yoga and Restorative Yoga can help.
I use the incredible healing, calming, strengthening and restorative power of yoga to help you find the balance you need, no matter what stage of life you’re at. I couple this with Mizan massage, belly binding, birth preparation and doula services to support you as needed.