When it comes to the human body you can never stop learning. So why do so many women not even understand their own monthly cycle? I was privileged to attend Dr. Sherrill Sellman’s seminar where women from all walks of life of all ages got to share their stories, which further increased my knowledge and understanding of the feminine being.
To create a greater awareness of ones cycle, lets start with the physiology of the female body.
At birth the ovaries contain all of the immature eggs, also known as follicles that will mature and be released during a women’s fertile life. Follicles hold the immature egg in protective fluid, as the egg follicles grow they manufacture and release estrogen (estradiol) into the blood. After ten to twelve days one of the developing egg cells moves to the outer surface of the ovary. The follicle then ejects the egg into the abdominal cavity where it finds it’s way into the fallopian tube for slow transportation to the uterus.
A normal menstrual cycle of 26-28 days depends on a complex network of hormonal communications between the ovaries, hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. The development of the immature egg is initiated by the brain controlled hypothalamus through a sex gland stimulating hormone called GrRH. GrGH then stimulates the pituitary to release two follicle stimulating hormones, FSH and LH into the blood stream.
Prompted by FSH, estrogen triggers an egg to begin ripening, stimulates the build up of tissue and blood in the uterus and controls the first part of the cycle. Estrogen production gradually builds to a peak just before ovulation then levels off for the remainder of the cycle, dropping again to low amounts at menstruation. From the beginning of menstruation until the onset of ovulation is called the follicular phase. Prompted by LH, the ovaries dramatically increase their output of progesterone at the time of ovulation about 12 to 13 days into the cycle. Progesterone production during this phase of the cycle, called the luteal phase, leads to a refinement and ripening of tissues and blood in the uterus.
WHAT HAS THS GOT TO DO WITH YOGA?
Some say it is no coincidence that the rhythms of the moons phases resonate with women’s menstrual cycles. If the Moon’s magnetic field is capable of affecting the tides, the tectonic plates and the weather then why should mankind escape her pull?
It has long been recognized by many that the Moon affects us all on both on a physical and psychological level, although the majority of us remain blissfully unaware of the lunar influence on our lives. Our female ancestors were acutely aware of the Moon’s cycle and as a result often found their menstrual cycle in synch with the Moon’s phases. Some women today ovulate at the full Moon and menstruate at the dark Moon, as this cycle is linked with the desire to procreate. Other women may experience the opposite cycle where they ovulate at the dark Moon and menstruate at the Full Moon, often referred to as the ‘Wise woman’s cycle’. This occurs most often when perhaps the need to mother children has diminished and a woman’s desires turn to creative pursuits and self- expression. As a western society we have lost touch with the Moon and her phases and as a result more and more women are experiencing irregular periods or conception difficulties.
Don’t battle with your body, instead regain responsibility and return to a greater connection to your natural cycles. Make the most of your follicular phase, this is when you will feel outgoing, and slow down and honor the more introspective energy during your luteal phase. Becoming in tune with your cycle will leave you renewed and cleansed, physically emotionally and spiritually.
Both full and new moon days are observed as yoga holidays in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition. This is because human beings are about 70% water; and yogis believe we are affected by the phases of the moon. The phases of the moon are determined by the moon’s relative position to the sun. Full moons occur when they are in opposition and new moons when they are in conjunction. Both sun and moon exert a gravitational pull on the earth. Their relative positions create different energetic experiences that can be compared to the breath cycle.
To attain inner peace and happiness it is essential to be committed to living in balance with oneself. Illness, emotional pain unhappiness and confusion are merely symptoms of disharmony; they are messages telling us that we are out of sync with our self in some way.
Life is about recurring cycles and is expressed in the changing rhythmus of the moon and seasons.