Seasons & the Menstrual Cycle
Just like nature moves through different seasons in a year, women also move through an Inner Winter, Inner Spring, Inner Summer, and Inner Autumn with every menstrual cycle. Learning to tap into the natural ebbs and flows of the menstrual cycle and how we can support ourselves during the different phases can help us understand our body better. Moreover, associating our menstrual cycle with the seasons works as a tool for us to honour our femininity and ourselves as women.
Our menstrual cycle not only affects our hormones and the physical body; it also affects our emotions and energy levels.
The Four Seasons of Our Menstrual Cycle
Each phase of the menstrual cycle is influenced by the natural shifts of hormones. As a result, this affects how we feel physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and energetically. Each cycle brings in a new focus as well as new challenges that, when understood, can help us grow as a person. Utilising our menstrual power can even help us blossom as a woman!
In a 28-day cycle, the four seasons can be mapped down as the following:
- The Inner Winter from Day 27 to Day 5
- The Inner Spring from Day 6 to Day 11
- The Inner Summer from Day 12 to Day 19
The Inner Autumn from Day 20 to Day 26
Keep in mind, however, that we don’t want to get caught up with these exact days or length of each cycle and phase – this is just a guideline and you may find that your cycle is shorter or longer, or that you enter a certain season earlier or later each month.
This is why tracking your cycle and taking note of the changes are so important when tapping into your own natural rhythm.
Inner Winter: The Menstrual Flow
Inner Winter is a time of surrender, hibernation and rest. It usually begins one or two days before menstruation. Oftentimes, you’ll experience a shift in energy where you draw in a lot more into your own little cocoon and need more rest.
This phase will last until your bleeding fades away, but some women with very short cycles may feel the qualities of Inner Winter even a few days after they stop menstruating. For this reason, it is vital to take note of and understand your unique cycle.
Surrendering and Letting Go
Hormones drop right before menstruation, which is why you’ll feel this dip in energy. Your uterus is working hard to shed its endometrial lining (your menstrual blood), so it’s normal to experience some light cramping or sensitivity around the reproductive organs, lower belly and lower back. Your immune system is also at its lowest point so it’s really important that you prioritise sleep and rest during the first days of your period and avoid strenuous workouts. I suggest you only engage in restorative exercises.
You may also be experiencing some changes in your digestion and bowel movements, so it’s a great idea to eat more warming and nurturing foods such as slow-cooked vegetables and lentil stews. I highly recommend bone broths as they’re rich in amino acids, minerals and compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline. These will help soothe, restore, and nourish your gut, support the immune system, and promote restful sleep.
Keep in mind that we not only cleanse the physical body when we shed the endometrial lining; we also have the opportunity to shed and let go of things that no longer serve us mentally, emotionally and spiritually. To do this, it’s important that we make time and space for ourselves. As much as possible, let go of daily duties to engage in self-practice of nourishment, reflection, and your own sacred rituals.
According to ancient wisdom, women would gather in menstrual huts or tents during their bleeding phase to nurture and connect with their inner wisdom as their intuition is said to be the most powerful during this time of the cycle.
Creating for yourself a ‘red tent ritual’ is a wonderful way to start enjoying your menstrual phase. Light some candles and have some warming cacao drinks, chai or any other herbal teas. Some calming essential oils can also help to enhance this feeling you’ll have for the following phases moving into spring and summer.
The Inner Winter is a great time for you to set some new intentions for the following cycle – to plant seeds for something that you want to manifest in your life. Start thinking of what you’d like to engage in if you didn’t have to do any work or home duties on your first day of menstruation! In what ways would you nourish and show love towards yourself? Now bring that to reality by doing at least 1% of these in your next bleed!
“Surrender is your ability to let go and allow. It sounds so simple but in our action-driven and activity-packed world, surrendering can feel almost impossible. How will you create space for yourself to be able to surrender in your bleeding time?”
As you allow yourself to surrender at menstruation, you have the opportunity to release tension and emotions to repair, refuel, and prepare your body for the following month. It’s your time to reconnect with yourself and remember who you really are.
Inner Spring: Pre-Ovulation
This is a time of rebirthing and cherishing yourself! After resting during menstruation, you arrive at your Inner Spring feeling cleansed, refreshed and ready to once again step into the world. The Inner Spring often falls in the second week of our menstrual cycle and typically lasts for about 7-10 days, depending on the length of your cycle.
Inner Spring is a dynamic phase where follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) and oestrogen levels begin to rise, contributing to an increase in our energy levels. Oestrogen stimulates the lining of the uterus to thicken and you’ll pick up on how your cervix and cervical mucus are changing to become more fertile as you move closer towards ovulation.
Our Inner Spring opens up the world to us again just like the spring season makes us feel refreshed, energised, and reborn. Playfulness and an increased sex drive are very common, so it is a good time to socialise, enjoy, and get flirty with your partner!
Women often experience greater clarity at this time of their cycle, so grab the opportunity to set time for meetings, focus on new projects, and start manifesting those ideas that were planted in the Inner Winter.
To make the most out of this energy, it’s the perfect time to be more physically active and engage in high-intensity exercises. You can even explore new types of exercises as your confidence is high. Work to reach your goals when it comes to the physical aspect of your body. Make sure you nourish yourself with whole foods to refuel your body after hibernation. If you experience heavy menstrual flows, focus on eating iron-rich foods to restore your nutritional reserve.
What’s important to remember in our Inner Spring is that we don’t splurge the energy as we still need it for our following season and for the rest of the month. Be gentle with yourself and practice tenderness and appreciation. Don’t forget that you are reborn and vulnerable at this time so grounding practices can be really helpful to keep you rooted.
Inner Summer: Ovulation
It’s time for self-celebration! We’ve moved past our Inner Spring with increased curiosity and a build-up of energy and now we reach our peak. This is our Inner Summer, the days around ovulation.
As you start connecting with each unique phase, you’ll slowly start to pick up on different emotions, habits, and energy patterns that change but recur with each cycle. Isn’t it pretty amazing being a woman and having this cyclic rhythm as a part of our nature?
I want you to really focus on celebrating yourself as we move closer towards OVULATION and our INNER SUMMER. This is the time when our hormones reach their peak – oestrogen is spiking, testosterone is also increasing, and you’ll feel more confident and physically strong. Your energy levels are at their highest and you’ll actually feel more attractive! It’s all a natural process of your body being fertile at this time and naturally wanting to attract another partner.
Physically, you’ll notice some more prominent changes in your cervical mucus as it becomes clear, slippery, and wet, with lots of elasticity. Your cervix will also be soft, deeper, and more open.
As this is your most fertile phase, embrace your sensuality and sexuality and connect with your partner. Be sure to use a barrier method though if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy!
If you’re not with your partner then this is the time in the cycle when you’re the most outgoing. Make it a point to join events and parties or dare to even step out of your comfort zone to meet new people – you've got the power NOW!
This is also a good time to engage in high-intensity exercises. Get your circulation moving, lift those heavy weights and work your inner core. Your Inner Summer is about expressing your power in the world, daring to be true to your own nature and, more than anything else, showing up as who you really are.
(NOTE: Some women might experience some discomfort or slight pain in their lower abdomen as they actually feel ovulation taking place. I suggest that you be a little more gentle with yourself over that day. Avoid strenuous core exercises and allow some time to just really honour your body being fertile and ovulating.)
Inner Autumn: Pre-menstruum
As you leave Inner Summer and move into Inner Autumn, you may feel a shift in your energy levels and priorities. Estrogen levels are reducing as progesterone levels increase so you’ll naturally feel a sense of calm. This calm is your body’s way of telling you to slow down and start preparing for hibernation in your upcoming Inner Winter.
However, this really is the time in our cycle when we possibly face the most challenges. We may have been enjoying living in the high during our Inner Summer, a quality that is very celebrated by our society. But we’ve arrived at a time when we need to listen to our body and slow down. This is the time when you must create space to hold yourself.
If we don’t listen to the messages the body is sending, it’s very possible that we’ll experience more premenstrual symptoms. Your inner critic has the tendency to show up and criticize you for the choices you make, so this may create conflict within. The more that you can hold yourself and nourish your body at this time, the more balanced, stable and grounded you’ll feel with the choices you make.
So how can you support yourself at this time in your cycle?
First, learn to set boundaries and work with your body, not against it. Prioritise the things that you really need to get done and leave the others (i.e. parties and other socials) for your upcoming Inner Spring.
Second, befriend your inner critic. As hard as it may seem, it’s best not to make any drastic decisions during this phase of your cycle. Rather, reflect on what your inner critic has to say and let your thoughts be with you through your Inner Winter. Postpone decision-making until after your Inner Winter when you’ll have more clarity.
When it comes to your diet, incorporate more bitter greens, cruciferous vegetables and liver-supporting herbs to help your body eliminate any excess oestrogen that otherwise can intensify the PMS symptoms. Also, continue to exercise through your Inner Autumn but adjust the intensity and maybe even do some shorter workouts at home in your own space. Nature walks, yoga, and some light weights are great options that keep you grounded.
Learning to understand your cycle and its different phases is a good way for you to understand your body, moods, emotions, and energy levels. It teaches you how to honour your body and yourself as a woman. Then if you need any assistance in regulating your cycle many natural medicines can support the rebalancing of the cycle such as Happy Hormones.
The practice of Menstrual Cycle Awareness truly enables women to take control of their cycle and use the power of their femininity.