Embrace the Time of the Month, Ladies!
A majority of women can relate to the time of the month right before their menstrual period, where irritability, anxiety, depression, and cravings for sweet and salty foods are extremely heightened. There is an awareness of water retention in the body, perhaps bloating, acne, and fatigue. Yes–PMS!
I have been battling old Aunt Betty every month with Flip Chocolate Pretzels and lots of naps and there just comes a point where the mind and body are tired of fighting the natural the rhythms of the feminine cycle. If you search “PMS,” you will find tons of studies of which foods to eat and not to eat, exercises, traditions, etc., which may absolutely be helpful and life changing, and I encourage you to explore those. But I want to share with you a discovery as someone who has been experiencing PMS every month for the past 18 years.
During this time, there is a battle going on with my mind and body. I am sharp with my tongue and become easily irritated, then go through this vicious cycle of feeling guilty because of the feelings I am having…ladies, you know the cycle. My husband can simply look at me and I immediately jump into defense mode. What is that?
I decided to ask God to help me understand my body in the way He created it, to give me wisdom and insight to the root of my PMS. Besides my estrogen and progesterone levels changing during that time, creating a significant flux, deep down there are issues in my tissues. I researched the Bible about women’s cycles and discovered that in Leviticus 15:19 it says, “Women were set apart for seven days.” I thought to myself, “I want to be set apart from life for seven days to rest, cleanse, replenish, and then enter back into everyday life.” Of course, I shared this with my husband; he was not so keen on the idea, however! In our culture, we just don’t take the time for ourselves to replenish.
I contemplated being “set apart” and realized “set apart” means to be holy or sacred. I have been teaching Holy Yoga for years, connecting my faith with my practice, but did not connect this aspect of myself with God until now. WOW–the time of the month is holy? Yes–it is a time for purification and we need to celebrate and relish in RESTING.
Meditating on the idea of my cycle actually being holy and sacred, I remembered reading this interesting passage from “The Psoas Book” by Liz Koch: “A young girl begins her cycle of bleeding between 9 and 16. Insecurity, shame and embarrassment are often associated with menstruating. The feeling of one’s body being out control can feel scary. Our culture has no ritual for assimilating or celebrating the profound changes in a young girl’s life when her body begins to bleed. Tradition, religious and sexual taboos add what is already an extraordinary experience.”
I started to reflect back to the reactions and feelings of my cycle beginning and sadly, remember the shame and insecurity that so often takes root in heart, mind, and body. There are certain places in the body that hold this tension. When our emotional tensions begin to manifest in our physical bodies, it leaves certain places tight and tense, which can cause monthly cramps in the low back or abdomen. Liz Koch also states that, “fear is always sensed through the psoas muscle and so it is through sensing the psoas that we can release old fears.”
Are you wondering what the relationship between the psoas and fear is? She expands, “rather than the cramps occurring from within the uterus it is often a contracted psoas muscle that presses on the reproductive organs; constricting blood circulation and impeding, possibly irritating the nerves that enervate both the muscle and specific organs.” When we let go of old fears surrounding our sexuality and embrace this time instead of resisting, our muscles, specifically our psoas which attaches from T12 vertebra and wraps to the front of the femur bone allowing hip flexion, relax and let go. The relationship between mind and body reveals itself during our monthly cycle because we are super sensitive and aware.
This month I decided to experiment by releasing my psoas muscle in pigeon pose during my PMS week, to see if the letting go of this muscle reduced my severe cramping. Ever since I had my children, I have suffered severe cramping, been hospitalized twice, and was prescribed 800mg of ibuprofen every four hours for the first two days of my cycle. I am thrilled to share that this month, I had one day of moderate cramping with one dose of Alieve and was not laid up in bed for two days! I resumed my everyday activities pain-FREE! So, my physical body totally benefited from releasing my psoas. My inner body experienced a release from fears of not feeling worthy or accepted. As my head and upper body melted prostrate before God in pigeon pose, my breath labored through the discomfort of my hips; as my muscles relaxed, my breath softened and my heart surrendered to the Truth in Psalm 139:12-17.
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
How do we embrace this time of month ladies?
Instructor at Holy Yoga
- Accept this time of rest.
- Take time to set yourself apart.
- Explore and surrender your fears.
- Meditate on Truth.
- Practice Restorative and Deep Yoga stretching.
- Write in a sacred journal.
- Connect with other women and God, because when—SHAME AND FEAR ARE DIMINISHED and BROUGHT INTO THE LIGHT, healing happens from in the inside out.