When we look at recommendations, graphs, and charts about things we should do according to our life cycle, lunar phases, and such we always have to remember that these are mere suggestions; better yet learning tools that help us deepen our innerstanding of the body. The body’s own signals trump everything else and so they should be our main guide.
The body is always communicating with us. Always sending us signals. If we learn to tune in we will discover the best guide, science, system, and manual within.
Always listen to your body first and foremost. Charts and recommendations are only there to give you a perspective but by no means can they tell you more about your own body than the signals you already receive from it.
That being said there is definite fluctuation in our moods, energy levels, muscular strength, and cardiovascular endurance during the different lunar phases of our menstrual cycle. even our level of optimism fluctuates with the lunar cycle.
The 4 main phases:
follicular (pre-egg release)
ovulatory (the process of release of the egg)
luteal (post-egg release)
One way to look at our moon phases is with GRATITUDE. They remind us of syncing with nature; the cyclical nature of mother earth. We get to experience all seasons each Lunar month. We get to have a New Beginning and a closure each month. The same goes for the lunar phases in Nature. We get to celebrate a New Moon and a Full Moon within each cycle which can be a great re-anchoring point. We get to pay attention to the greater world; the stars; the constelations, the transits; the way plants respond to nature; the energy of a beginning and an end. I personally love ryhtms; the rythmic nature of life.
1.The Menstrual Phase. Bleeding
This is a Yin Phase. Release, Relax, Cleanse, Turn Inward.
Corresponds to the season of winter- inwards, introverted activity; retrospection, contemplation; quiet creativity.
It typically lasts 1-5 Days and during this phase, Estrogen and Progesterone Drop and so do our energy levels.
During this phase, you should plan some of your most mellow classes and workouts. If you take level 2-3 because your energy allows it – do not push yourself. The hormones will slowly start to increase as this phase progresses.
Pilates style Fluid classes (I have quite a few of these)
Booty Classes with Bands towards the end of this phase. You know I love my booty classes.
This is where our differences come in – in the past I have often (not always) preferred a good standing leg workout with some jumping. I used to have cramps and standing movement was the best medicine for cramps. Our job is to use yoga as a tool that allows us to better hear the body. If the body needs movement and stretching – it will whisper it to you; if it needs a walk in nature you will feel it; if it needs rest you will know it. Learn to read the difference between feeling stagnant which requires movement so the energy moves and being truly tired and needing a day off.
Remember that if you suffer from cramps – light movement can be the best treatment. I personally love standing sequences for this phase; even Interval training without inversions works for me. Movement helps me move energy and keep stagnation at bay. Everyone is different. Some women need to rest; others have relatively high energy; a friend of mine loves deep twists during this phase (they are not for me). So there are no hard-set rules. Your energy will determine your activity level. Trial and error might be needed to determine what type of movement makes you feel the best.
Movement is medicine!!!
2. Follicular Phase
It starts during the bleeding phase. Days 1 to 11 of your cycle.
The hormones are on the rise.
A new beginning. The energy of Spring Time. Starting a new lunar phase. Creativity, strength, endurance, and mental focus are on the rise. Some women experience their peak during this phase, while others are still in the warm-up phase. All in all the energy peak will be some time during the Follicular or Ovulatory Phase.
Depending on your energy you can go for Vinyasa Yoga, Interval Yoga, Power Yoga; Interval Training, or a strength class with Props. Follow your energy and know when your peak phase is.
My coffee cups are ideal for this phase. My INTERVAL YOGA classes will get you the most bang for your buck here (I had to go with a truly American expression for this one)
I have mountain oc classes that are suited for phase 2 and 3. All my coffee cups and power yoga classes. literally over 500 classes to choose from strictly within the stronger Vinyasa Flow Style or interval Yoga Stile. .
3. Ovulatory Phase
Around Days 12 to 20. It lasts 3-5 Days.
An extroverted phase; focus on connection, relationships, communication, exuberance. Corresponds to the energy of summer.
Testosterone and estrogen are peaking.
You can continue with the strong workouts; strong classes; power yoga, my Death Circles, Coffee Cups; classes with weights; gym, hikes, dance, etc.
My strongest classes are the Sweat Lodges and the Interval Yoga Classes and the Death circles. Explore those during your peaks.
HIIT is great again for this phase. It boost the metabolism for up to 2 days after a workout.
Interval Yoga is amazing for both phase 2 and Phase 3. You get to boost your metabolism and at the same time stretch and do some inverted poses, posture adjustments. A good mix of cardio, strength nd flexibility all combined with mindfulness.
My more recent schedules that go into spiritual, nature, crystal, and plant subjects are also great for most phases. They combine strength and flexibility, fluidity, and cardio. A very good balance of movement styles.
4. Luteal Phase
Days 20 to 28 approximately. The days vary for every individual.
Progestrone will peak during this phase. Increase in body temperature.
Decrease in estrogen and testosteron.
Cardio might feel icky; we may feel hot; weaker, with less endurance; more muscle fatigue; slower recovery.
This phase corresponds to Fall- many call it the PMS phase.
Moodiness or decreasing endurance can be observed here.
You can lighten up your activities during the second part of this phase. Still do the variations of classes that I offer but vary the intensity with which you approach them.
The days before your period if you feel low energy go for
lighter or beginner yoga (I often include a beginner yoga class in the Intermediate Schedules)
light HIIT (I have a class called No impact HIIT for the small Muscles; you can find it in this schedule)
I have noticed that if I have any level of inflammation in my body it will peak during the end of this phase. This is the time to take a break if your body asks for that. The best activity here is yin yoga or a walk in Nature.
That being said, typically this is a relatively strong phase for me. A few times in my life I have noticed the very day before my period a drop in energy or an increase in inflammation. That doesnt happen 100% of the time. It seems to happen when in general I feel off during that period of life. If I have extra stress or any other issues. So to repeat myself for the 10th time (I know boring) – all the guidelines are just suggestions. Your body will really let you know how you feel and where your energy is at. Personally 8 out of 10 times I dont need a day off during this or the bleeding phase but there are those periods in life when our overall energy drops related to health or life stuations in general.
The rules are not set in stone. It is good to be aware of them yet you do not need to follow them strictly.