Nutrition and movement to complement each phase of the menstrual cycle, from Holistic Functional Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher Raj Barker.
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Seasonally: at least four times a year; monthly: with the phases of the moon; and daily: with the rising and setting of the sun. Plus, the nuance of all these moving parts intertwining in between. So much is being taken care of without any of our effort.
When we talk about our cycles, there is a tendency to hone in on females with a monthly bleed. Let’s pivot here and practice identifying with our own cycle - regardless of sex, pronouns, gender, age - but as human beings aligned with nature and the guiding force it provides us each and every moment of our precious lives.
Learn how to synergise with the phases of the moon to identify your own cycle. Over the centuries poets, philosophers, and scholars have drawn parallels between the two, suggesting that they might be connected. The potential synergy between the lunar cycles and menses (or lack thereof) provides structure as well as comfort for many of us craving a more distinct rhythm to align with.
There are four phases of the menstrual cycle, and during each, we can nourish our bodies with particular foods and movement to complement our needs, energy levels, and emotions. Please know that if you bleed or if you don’t, for whatever reason, this information can still apply to you.
This phase falls the week or so after menses. It correlates with the season of spring and brings with it themes of fresh energy, rebirth and new beginnings. If you are not experiencing a bleed, you can apply the rituals below in sync with the waning moon.
+ Lightly cooked vegetables
+ Raw foods
+ Sprouted foods
+ Fermented vegetables
As you revel in newfound energy, it is supportive to schedule this time to incorporate higher intensity practices like cardio, HIT training and flow yoga.
Ovulation occurs mid-cycle. It aligns with the season of summer and brings with it high energy, a sense of blooming and vibrant energy. If you are not experiencing a bleed, you can apply the rituals below in sync with the full moon.
+ Fresh and raw food
+ Vegetable and fruit smoothies
+ Cruciferous vegetables to support the liver
+ Fibre from whole foods to help flush excess toxins out of the body
Your energy is high and deems you capable and motivated to increase intensity. Opt for high intensity interval training and more bodyweight-focused movements.
The Luteal Phase occurs in the second half of your 28(ish) day cycle. Consider Autumn to be the season that best represents this phase of your cycle. Incorporate a sense of nesting into your routine, slowing down and gathering as you prepare for winter. If you are not experiencing a bleed, you can apply the rituals below in sync with the waning moon.
+ Root vegetables
+ Leafy greens
+ Complex carbs
+ Consume more calories daily to maintain stable blood sugar, which helps balance insulin
+ Emphasise cruciferous vegetables
+ Add in more unrefined carbohydrates to increase nutrient density
As your energy slows, so should your workouts to match your energy levels and align you with your natural rhythms. Opt for slower flow yoga classes with a focus on longer holds, and outdoor walks
Menstruation phase is the last quarter of your cycle. Seasonally, it represents winter. A time of hibernation, contemplation and quiet. If you are not experiencing a bleed, you can apply the rituals below with the new moon.
+ Warming, cooked foods
+ Roasted root vegetables
+ Healthy fats
+ Adequate calories to counteract low levels of energy
+ Plenty of good quality protein and healthy fats which will help with energy production
+ Seafood or mineral-rich seaweed to replenish mineral levels in your body
Keep your movement practice relaxed, even if you don’t feel depleted, this is truly the time to take it easy and rest. Reduce your output and focus on restorative stretching and breath awareness practices. Practices like journaling and meditation are also potent tools to implement throughout this phase