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Menstrual Cycle Wellness Online Course:
Become the Sovereign of Your Periods

With
Lisa De Jong
,
Wellbeing Coach
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About This Course

Your menstrual cycle shouldn’t be a burden. In fact, with the right knowledge, you can make it your superpower! Learn how with this video-based course from Lisa de Jong.

What You Will Learn

  1. The science behind the menstrual cycle and hormones
  2. Practical techniques for soothing your nervous system, period pain, and more
  3. Easy strategies to leverage your strengths at different cycle stages
  4. Tools to effectively track your menstrual cycle

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For everyone. Singles, couples, all genders and orientations.

Your Instructor

Lisa De Jong

Wellbeing Coach

Enhance your wellbeing with Lisa De Jong, a coach specializing in menstrual cycle wellness and nervous system regulation. Lisa's guidance helps you navigate energy, emotional wellbeing, and chronic pain, harmonizing your cycle and mental health.

More by This Instructor

Lessons and Classes

Total length:
more than 180 min
  1. 1. Welcome to This Course
  2. 2. Science of the Menstrual Cycle
  3. 3. Menstrual Cycle Seasons Overview
  4. 4. Menstruation 
  5. 5. Pre-Ovulation
  6. 6. Ovulation
  7. 7. Pre-Menstruation
  8. 8. How to Track Your Cycle
  9. 9. Understanding Your Nervous System
  10. 10. Soothing the Nervous System
  11. 11. Track & Support Your Nervous System
  12. 12. Period Pain & PMS
  13. 13. Creativity & Spirituality
  14. 14. The Inner Critic

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Transcripts

Hi, everybody, and welcome to this course on menstrual cycle wellness. My name is Lisa de Jong, and I will be your facilitator in this course. I am a women's health coach specializing in the menstrual cycle, so I teach a practice called menstrual cycle awareness, and I also work as a coach in general health. So, I help people understand their menstrual cycle and learn to live a little bit more in sync with their cycle. I help people with PMS, with chronic pain or energy management around the cycle, so as to prevent burnout. Before I came to this work, I actually have a background in the corporate world. I worked in Google, in a company called Shopify. I also worked in banking, so I am very aware of the stresses that impact people who work in the corporate world. And I also had my own experience of chronic pain when it comes to my menstrual cycle. So, a lot of my work and a lot of my teachings come from my own personal lived experience of pain. Since I left the corporate world, I embarked on a journey of healing and discovery, and I took many, many courses in this area. So, my primary training is with Red School in the UK. I studied under Alexandra Pope who specializes in menstrual cycle awareness. And I also have various trainings in different embodiment practices, such as myofascial release, Pilates, different meditations, trauma training. And so I bring a lot of my trainings together to support the nervous system, to support the body, and different coaching practices to support people on their own journey of menstrual cycle wellness. In this course, you are going to learn about menstrual cycle awareness, so the inner seasons of your menstrual cycle and the importance of the cycle as a whole, all of the different parts of the menstrual cycle, and what happens with the hormones. You'll learn how to track your menstrual cycle. You'll learn about the nervous system and how regulating and supporting the nervous system as much as you can in your everyday life can really, really support the body, and therefore support menstrual health. And we'll look a little bit at pain as well, and the different ways that we can support pain if you are someone who gets period pain. I really, really hope that you enjoy this course. And if you'd like more information about this work, you can find my website at www.yourcyclematters.com. See you in the course. - Hi, everybody, in this video, we're going to have a look at the science of the menstrual cycle and the endocrine system. So this is a very helpful, and important, and empowering thing to know about ourselves and our own body to understand what exactly happens in the menstrual cycle, to understand a little bit the endocrine system, the names of the hormones, the different roles that the hormones have. And it'll just help us to understand what's going on in our bodies. How to speak the language of hormones, how to speak the language of the menstrual cycle so that we can start to empower ourselves, start to investigate in terms of what we can support, what supports do we need, and what could potentially be harmful for our menstrual cycle? And if we're speaking to medical professionals like doctors and gynecologists, to help us to be able to speak their language so that we feel empowered, and know what kind of decisions we need to make, and feel like we have more agency in our bodies. So let's take a look at a slide of the menstrual cycle and you might have seen a slide like this before in books on hormones or even back from school, and we're going to have a look at the different phases and the different roles of the hormones of the menstrual cycle. So in this slide we see the menstrual cycle in a linear format and this is helpful because it helps us to understand the different phases on a hormonal level, what's going on. So here, this slide shows that the menstrual cycle is broken down into essentially three different phases. So the first phase before ovulation is called the follicular phase. Then we have ovulation and then we have the luteal phase which is the third phase of the menstrual cycle before menstruation. And menstruation is part of the follicular phase. So at the very top of the slide, we see what is happening to the follicles. The ripening of follicles which then results in ovulation and then the ripening of the corpus luteum. So ovulation happens at the midpoint of the menstrual cycle. But prior to that, there is a maturation period where the follicles turn into the egg that gets released at ovulation. And this actually happens to be more or less about 100 days, the race to ovulation of the follicles. In a similar way that sperm race to fertilization, the follicles will race to ovulation and then it's just usually one or two eggs that get released at ovulation. So just to keep that in mind that it's 100 days of maturation, the ripening of follicles. So when it comes to health, and self-care, and making changes, and balancing our hormones, to give ourselves lots of time to do that because the health of our menstrual cycle is determined by the health of ovulation and the health of the follicles which I'll be speaking about in a little bit more detail later on. But really just to take note that those hundred days are important and if you are making changes to your lifestyle, and your health, and your diet, just to keep that in mind. So let's start at the bottom of the graph there on the left-hand side where it says start of the cycle. This is essentially where menstruation is happening, where all of the hormones are at their absolute lowest which has resulted in menstruation. So when the hormones are at their lowest, the pituitary gland in our brain will release a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone which is that purple hormone there at the bottom, and that is kind of like a trigger hormone. So the follicle-stimulating hormone and the luteinizing hormone, they are both trigger hormones. They instruct the menstrual cycle to do something else with hormones. So FSH, follicle-stimulating hormone gets released and that triggers the release of estrogen from the follicles in the ovaries. So there you see on the left-hand side a surge in that orange line of estrogen in the first half of the menstrual cycle. This will then lead to ovulation. Estrogen increases every single day from the onset of menstruation. And then as a result of that, luteinizing hormone is then released into the system and then that then triggers ovulation to happen, And it triggers the release of an egg by the follicles from the ovaries. Ovulation in this graph is marked at day 14, but it can be any day really for any woman. It is usually a midpoint, but it depends on every menstrual cycle and it depends on every single woman. And there are different ways to indicate when ovulation is going to happen. So once the egg is released from the ovary, sometimes ovulation can happen from both ovaries, so there can be ovulation that happens twice and that would be one of the reasons why we have non-identical twins. But normally it's just one ovary and they rotate every month. So in this case it's just the one ovary. And when the egg is released from the ovary, the follicle then becomes the corpus luteum which is quite an important tissue in the body, and it's only then after ovulation that the corpus luteum then releases progesterone. And that's very important to note that progesterone can only be released into the body after an if ovulation happens. So then we come into the phase after ovulation which is the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. And there you see the increase in progesterone in the green line which goes up after ovulation and a little surge in estrogen again prior to menstruation. And this phase lasts more or less 10 to 16 days. It's also important to note that the luteal phase, so that the kind of the pre-menstrual phase of the menstrual cycle is more or less fixed. So 10 to 16 days, so give or take six days and the length of time of that is determined by ovulation. So if your period is either early or late, it's because is either ovulation is early or late for various reasons. There can be multiple reasons why ovulation is delayed. It's usually lifestyle, or stress-related, or diet-related. It's also important to note that if you're on hormonal contraception, your hormones and your endocrine system will look very different to this. It will be more or less a flat curve the whole way through except for when you take your break days. And it's also important to note that if you are on the pill, for example, the combination pill, most hormonal contraceptives suppress oscillation. So if you are on a hormonal contraceptive that suppresses ovulation, you won't be ovulating and therefore you won't be getting the same progesterone that people get when they're not on hormonal contraception. So if you're somebody who is on hormonal contraception and you're struggling with things like mood swings or anything like that, just to note that to have a conversation with your doctor because it could be a result of not having progesterone. And we're going to look at the roles, the different roles of the hormones now in a minute. So let's take a closer look at the role of the two main hormones of the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone, and understand what's going on, what purpose do they serve, and what could potentially happen if we don't have enough or if they are out of balance. I think it's also helpful to start to look at the endocrine system, and hormones, and the menstrual cycle as a kind of an orchestra or as language. In the same way that an orchestra, the music works together. There's harmony between the music and it's the relationship between the different instruments that creates the manifestation of the sound that you hear. Or in language if you look at syntax for example or just like a sentence, each word has a role whether it's a verb, or noun, or an adjective. And it's very much the relationship between the words that will then create the meaning for the listener and in communication. So in the same way with hormones, it's very much how they speak to each other, the harmony between them, the relationship between them that will determine how the menstrual cycle is manifesting and how our health, how our mental health is manifesting, and our stress levels, and how we feel in our body is showing up depending on what's going on between the hormones. So let's take a look at another slide with the roles of the hormones. So as we saw on the graph, estrogen is the predominant hormone in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. We saw it increase quite rapidly after menstruation up until ovulation, and then it takes a little incline again after ovulation. So one of the roles of estrogen is to, it's actually to build the lining of the uterus so it helps to thicken the lining and prepare for pregnancy. Another role is that it is an energy-building hormone. It's the kind of get-things-done hormone, the yang, masculine. Let's come-out-of-the-period-cave-now hormone, let's go back to the gym, let's do some cleaning. Let's get our things together and start to come back out into the world. It also helps to build cervical mucus. So after mensuration and prior to ovulation and around ovulation, you might notice a change in the consistency of cervical mucus which the role of cervical mucus is to support and fertilization. And it is coming as a result of an increase in estrogen. So estrogen is a great hormone. It's really, really good for our mental health. It supports also the production of serotonin and dopamine in the body. And these hormones are great for our mental health and for connection and having relationships with people. One problem that you might've heard of already in different hormonal health books is something called estrogen dominance. So estrogen dominance is, again if we're looking at the relationship between hormones, it is where estrogen is either too high in relation to progesterone or it can be where progesterone is too low in relation to estrogen. So it's very much the ratio between estrogen and progesterone is out of balance. So estrogen dominance can come from things like too much stress in the body. Also our lifestyle and our diet, not having enough nutrients in the body. Not having enough of the raw materials to build the hormones that we will talk about when we start to talk about diet as well. It can also come from toxins, so looking at our environment. If there's a lot of toxins in our environment or if we're ingesting toxins, so that can be through inhalation of even household products or women's cosmetics, things like that. They can cause estrogen dominance. So you might have seen products that say paraben-free and that is because cleaning products and cosmetics that have too many parabens, when they enter the body they put a lot of stress on the liver and they can cause something called xenestrogens to be created where the body will start to mimic estrogen and then will lead to estrogen dominance. So these chemicals in our cosmetics and in our household cleaning products have endocrine disruptors is another term for them and so that can also contribute to estrogen dominance. So it's a good idea to start to think about the different things in our environment that we can remove to prevent estrogen dominance from getting out of hand. Then let's look at the role of progesterone. So remember that progesterone was in the second half of the menstrual cycle after ovulation. It's the hormone in the pre-menstrual phase, the luteal phase. And again, it is only created, so the natural form of progesterone is only created after ovulation and if ovulation is actually happening. So if you're on the contraceptive pill or another form of contraception, you'll have to just check that with your doctor. Most of the time ovulation will be suppressed. If you're not on the contraceptive pill and you're still worried that you might not be ovulating because you might have irregular periods or you might not have any periods and might have something called amenorrhea, you can definitely look into the health of ovulation and different ways to support and encourage ovulation to happen. There's lots of ways to do this and I'll recommend a book in a minute. But one example would be to make sure there's enough starch in the diet, to make sure there's enough fat in the diet, and looking at things like other stressors in the system. So one really important role of progesterone is that it soothes the nervous system. It calms and soothes the nervous system, so it's a very important hormone for our mental health. It's that kind of everything-will-be-all-right hormone. And if we look at it linguistically, progesterone actually means progestin. So it it's a pro-gestation, so it supports pregnancy. It's a hormone that will encourage pregnancy. And again, if there's not enough progesterone in the body, it can also be one of the reasons why there could be miscarriage happening too. But again, that would be something you would have to speak to your doctor about. Another role of progesterone is to thin the lining of the womb. So estrogen was to thick in the lining of the womb and progesterone was to thin the lining of the womb. If you have teenage girls, or you know teenage girls, or if you remember yourself as a teenager having very, very heavy periods, the reason for that is because when we start to menstruate we can start menstruating without having ovulation. We can have something called an anovulatory cycle which means that we have a longer follicular phase and therefore we have more estrogen very naturally then progesterone. And it can take a while for the hormones and the endocrine system to kind of find its rhythm and to find its way for adolescents. So it's very common and very normal for teenage girls to have heavy on and irregular periods for that reason because they have more estrogen and a lower amount of progesterone, and therefore they don't have that thinning of the lining of the womb which they will have ideally when they start to reach their late teens and early 20s. One of the problems with having low progesterone because of all those roles that we've just looked at is that it can definitely have an impact on our nervous system and our mental health. It can also contribute to again that estrogen dominance which is often a contributing factor to things like PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, and painful periods. So it's very important to start to think about ways that we can support ovulation, ways that we can support progesterone, ways that we can continue to support the nervous system like we've already done with the polyvagal theory and to not have too many toxins as well in our diet and in our lifestyle so that we're supporting hormonal balance and the harmony between our hormones. Something else that I've been thinking about a little bit too is because estrogen is the yang hormone and progesterone is the yin hormone, and we see in society today and especially in Western society a lot of estrogen dominance and a lot of menstrual health difficulties as a result of estrogen dominance. My opinion is that because estrogen dominance can come as a result of stress, one of the reasons this has happened is if you think about it from an evolutionary biology point of view, women have had to really almost be estrogen dominant in order to cope and our bodies have had to produce extra estrogen in order to keep up with the fast pace of life, and keeping up a job, and taking care of her family and our homes. There has been and is still a lot of stress and pressure on women. And so if we're looking at estrogen dominance, it's important to also think about it from that systemic point of view and to not be hard on ourselves either if we do happen to have it. The body is always coping, it is always adapting to our environment. When we looked at the polyvagal theory, we understood that, that we're always trying to be safe and survive in our environment. So estrogen dominance is definitely not something that you are doing wrong or that you've made a mistake with. It is very much an adaptive response in the body. But now after understanding it and starting to understand the relationship between our nervous system and our endocrine system and our external environment, we can start to be more empowered and more informed and then start to make choices and changes from there. So I'd love to recommend this book. This book is called "Period Repair Manual" by Lara Briden. If you're gonna read one book, I really, really would recommend this especially if you do have a condition or you struggle with your menstrual cycle in some way. Lara Briden, she just writes so well about the different hormones and the science. It's very easy to understand, it's accessible, and you don't have to understand everything in the book either. It's very well indexed so you can go and look at your particular need and look up different supplements you can take. She goes into a lot of detail about estrogen, progesterone. She also explains the pros and cons of the various options for contraception and she gives recommendations in terms of supplements for hormonal imbalance, even histamine intolerance and why there could be very painful periods or conditions like PMS and PMDD. So let me know what you think. If you have any questions at all about the signs of the menstrual cycle and the roles of hormones, do come into the channel and we can start a conversation in there. - Hi everybody, in this video, we're going to do a very brief overview of the inner seasons of the menstrual cycle and menstrual cycle awareness. So what is menstrual cycle awareness? My description of menstrual cycle awareness is in the same way as mindfulness or meditation. So mindfulness is a nonjudgmental awareness of how we feel in our body or our thoughts, at any given moment in time when we tune in. The same thing with the menstrual cycle, so menstrual cycle awareness is a nonjudgmental awareness and conscious awareness of what day we are on in our menstrual cycle and how we feel on various levels so physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, et cetera. In a nonjudgmental way so it's really about bringing curiosity and awareness to ourselves as full beings and building a relationship with the menstrual cycle from that perspective. So menstrual cycle awareness is a practice that was, I suppose, coined and first talked about by my teacher, Alexandra Pope, who is one of the founders of Red School, and she uses the seasons of the year as archetypes to explain what's happening in the female body on an energetic level cyclically, and what's happening on that energetic level as a result of what we saw in the previous video on hormones. So let's take a look at the inner seasons of the menstrual cycle here in this graph. So very briefly, the winter is the archetype for menstruation, so we have to start to think about it in that way as the dark inward-facing cold's time of the menstrual cycle so on an energetic level, it is very normal to feel tired, it is normal to feel lower energy and during menstruation and even a few days before menstruation. So winter can actually be, can start a few days before the period actually starts to flow so there could be a couple of days in your menstrual cycle where you might start to feel very low energy before menstruation, because some people actually get a little bit energized by menstruation, and so it's important for you to determine where winter actually starts for you. So for me it starts maybe two days before I get my period. So it is a sort of a dark inward-facing time, it's like the inner lights start to come on and our psychological awareness is much more inward-focused during this time so again, we're thinking about the relationship between what's happening physically and in ourselves, psychologically and how we relate to the world from that place. So if we are in an environment where we need to be very external-facing, how can we tend to ourselves inwardly and be present with menstruation while also tending to the outside world, and that's what we're exploring in this course. So as we move around and we come then to spring, which is the pre-ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle; that's where estrogen starts to pick up and rise; this is a transition period between the anchors of menstruation and ovulation, so menstruation and ovulation are two release points of the menstrual cycle, whereas the spring and the autumn, so the pre-ovulation and the pre-menstruation, they're kind of transition phases of the menstrual cycle. So this is quite a delicate time, it's a time of energy building, but it can also be difficult both physically and mentally because we can overdo it here, so we just have to go gently here. And then we come to ovulation, which is the summer of the menstrual cycle; this is the height of estrogen; this is the superwoman time of the menstrual cycle, generally speaking, and more or less, we have a lot of energy here. But again, it really depends on every single woman, every person will have a different experience of the different seasons of the menstrual cycle. And there is no right or wrong, these are just archetypes, so it's important to understand the archetypes and what can happen, and then start to understand what our actual experiences and how we can look after ourselves from there. And then after ovulation, we come into pre-menstruation, which is the autumn phase of the menstrual cycle. So during the spring and the summer, our inner lights were kind of starting to come out into the world and we start to become more curious and engaged and connected whereas the autumn and the winter, the inner light starts to turn on, and the outer lights start to kind of turn down and we start to lose interest in the outer world, and we start to prepare the nest, so progesterone is rising, estrogen has dropped after ovulation, but progesterone starts to pick up. And this, usually in the past this has been spoken about in kind of a little bit derogatory terms, the pre-menstrual phase, the autumn phase, about women being hormonal or angry or moody or cranky or whatever, but there's a lot of wisdom, there's a lot of magic, there's a lot of power in the autumn phase of the menstrual cycle, so when we take a deeper dive into the inner autumn, we can start to understand it better, we can start to build a relationship with it and get clear on its potential for us and how we can look after ourselves in the inner autumn phase of the menstrual cycle. But this is again, the phase where we do maybe have a lot of energy, but it starts to, again, like the spring, it starts to transition, it's changing energy; it's moving back into menstruation so there's a transition from high energy to low energy and it's important to start to understand that so we can navigate that. So that is an overview, very, very quick overview of the inner seasons; the winter, the spring, the summer, the autumn. It's important to think about it in that way, to start to think about it as an ebb and flow, every month changing. If you're not menstruating or if you have an irregular cycle, or if you're on the contraceptive pill, you can absolutely still think about your menstrual cycle in this way. You can track the moon if you prefer as well, a lot of women like to track the moon, especially women who are perimenopausal or menopausal. I would encourage you to just be aware of where you are in your menstrual cycle and start to track and be really careful about "shoulds" and should fit, like, that whole idea of needing to fit into a box or your seasons should look in a particular way. So just really coming back to you, coming back to your nervous system, coming back to your hormones, coming back to your own psychology; your own experience of your physicality and your emotional and spiritual makeup, and really attuning to that and stay close to your experience. Build intimacy with your experience and over time even if you are on hormonal contraception, you might just start to see an ebb and flow in a cyclical nature. So, and we can absolutely work with that in this course, there's no right or wrong, there's no perfect menstrual cycle so it really is about building intimacy with your own experience of your menstrual cycle. So I hope that was helpful. If you have any questions at all, just come on into the channel and we can discuss it in there. - Hi everybody. Let's take a deeper dive into the inner seasons of the menstrual cycle. And in this video, we're going to begin with the inner winter menstruation. So the inner winter is mensuration, it is the menstrual phase of the whole menstrual cycle. And inner winter usually starts a few days before blood flow. It's really up to you when your inner winter starts for you. Day one of menstruation, however, is the first day of full blood flow. It's not the first few days of spotting. It's usually the first few days where you have either a light to medium flow and you feel like you're on your period. So that is day one of your period when you're tracking. However, on an energetic level, the inner winter is usually marked a day or a couple of days before you start to bleed. And the reason for that is because on that energetic level, when progesterone is completely dropping and just before menstruation on an energetic level, physically, mentally, and emotionally, the body starts to go into a very restful, inward focused place. So it's important to think about the archetypes as energetics, and you decide where they are for you when you start to track your cycle. So looking at this slide again, we can see that a few days before menstruation or even a few hours before menstruation, there is a time period called the void. The void is a period of time during the menstrual cycle prior to menstruation where the body goes into a very, very inward focused place, psychologically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. The void is a very tender, delicate, vulnerable time, but it is also a time of great insight, of heightened intuition and heightened sensitivity. And every woman will experience this in a completely different way. So for me, for example, during my void, I will experience a little bit more brain fog than normal, if I'm working, I will write a lot of typos. I might find it difficult to communicate and make my point clear, or I'll forget my words or sometimes I can feel emotionally or psychologically, like I'm kind of floating and I'm not really fully present in my body. It is a very sensitive time for me and noises and lights signs will become much more irritable for me than is normal. It is a kind of a liminal space for a lot of women where we can feel like the veils between the worlds are very thin or the veils between our mental health and the inner world in ourselves and the outer world are very thin, leaving us more exposed, more vulnerable, more permeable to stressful situations, or even just energy on the outside world. And what I mean by energy is just being in busy places or needing to meet other people's demands or showing up at work. Very normal things can become very difficult prior to menstruation. It's really, really important to note that this isn't a weakness of any sort. This is actually just a phenomenon that happens to many, many women, many, many females. And really it's about understanding what your void phase looks like for you, how it manifests for you, what your sensitivities are and how you can best look after yourself during this time, what your needs are during this time and to what extent you can meet those needs. So during the void, it is wise to consider yourself already in the inner winter, even if you're not on your period, because this will allow you to give yourself more permission for self-care, to down tools, to slow down and act as if you are in your inner winter on your period. I like to use the analogy of a train that comes into a train station. So a train will never stop immediately in the train station. It will slow down kilometers before it even approaches the train station. If a train is traveling at full speed and then comes to a halt at a stop, then there will be a train wreck. And it's the same with the energies, the ebb and flow of the menstrual cycle. We can start to think about it as an ever moving energy, always ebbing or flowing, waxing and waning. And so when we start to approach menstruation, it's important to think of it in that way too. And it doesn't mean that we have to do less and down all our tools, it really, really is about the way that we speak to ourselves, the way that we relate to ourselves, how much gentleness can we bring into ourselves? How much self-compassion can we bring in? And to start to move at the pace of our most vulnerable parts during this time of the cycle. So the inner winter is the, it's the darkest time of the cycle. If we think about the seasons of the year, our inner lights are fully on and there's almost like a call to surrender in the body, which is one of the sacred tasks of the inner seasons of the winter is to surrender, to let go, to down tools, to rest. Because the body is in this low energy place, it is also an opportunity for us to lean into rest and to lean into restoration. It is a time for on a physical level and on a mental level, on emotional and spiritual level to really replenish the whole being and receive as much as we can on that level. It is a time of renewal, it is a time of healing, it is a time of soothing. We think about the science again, the hormones are at their absolute lowest and prostaglandins, the hormones that cause the uterus to contract are working and they're shedding the lining of the womb. So in a way it's like a mini death of sorts. It's a letting go, it's a release, it's a surrender in the same way that winter is, all of nature is now in the dark earth, it is replenishing, it is renewing, it has gone underground in order to allow for new life to come in the springtime. So resting as much as you can during your inner winter is really, really vital for your whole wellbeing on all those different levels. And as much as you can surrender and down tools during menstruation that really, really sets the tone for the next menstrual cycle that is to come. Resting during menstruation is such an antidote to depression, anxiety on all of the ways that we can struggle in our inner spring, the season after menstruation. It is also a great antidote to PMS in the following cycle. So if you do struggle with mental health difficulties in the inner spring or a burnout in your inner summer or PMS or PMDD in the inner autumn, see if you can just even a tiny little bit more rest or down tools, give yourself lots of pleasure, give yourself as much support as you can, reach out for support, get help during your menstruation, because this really, really will set you up well for the next cycle. Also, if you're somebody who experiences procrastination like many of us do, I believe that procrastination, there is always a need, a reason underneath it. It's never something that we're doing wrong. So if you do find yourself procrastinating with projects or creative tasks or anything that you're wanting to get done, just take note of where you are in your cycle and be curious about how you feel on an energetic level. Be curious about your menstrual cycle, be curious about what's going on in your nervous system. Usually one of the reasons we procrastinate is because we haven't given ourselves enough rest and downtime. So you might actually need much more space for thought, for contemplation, for reflection, for feeling into things, for making decisions. And if we give ourselves that time during mensuration, we can often then compensate for the time that we've rested at other points in the cycle, which really, really helps us not only physically, mentally and emotionally, but also with our creativity and our relationships. The inner winter menstruation, there's also a great opportunity here to really deepen into our emotional selves. If you have been through some difficult time in the last few years, such as job changes, moving house, breakups, any kind of bereavement at all, or any kind of difficulty, chronic illness or anything like that, if there's grief in the system, mensuration, the inner winter is a great, great opportunity to allow yourself space for feeling your feelings and emotions. Because when we're in that low hormonal place and that low energy place where our physiological makeup is more vulnerable, it is actually an opportunity for us to make the most of our vulnerability and to lean in a little bit into our emotional selves. So that can look very practical, so we can take some time to consciously feel our feelings, take some time to consciously let ourselves have a good cry. So you might lay out a yoga mat, light a candle, and do some journaling, feel into your feelings a little bit more because again, it's this kind of opportunity to have like a monthly cleanse emotionally and find stillness and inner peace and connection to ourselves when we're in that physically more vulnerable place. But when we do it consciously and when we choose to step into ourselves a little bit more, it's a safer way to do it than being caught off guard by the outer world. So in a way, the inner winter is actually quite a sacred place. It is a place that is because of its vulnerability, it is a place in the cycle that deserves boundaries, that deserves protection, it deserves space, it deserves to be honored in whatever way that is for you. So you might take a day off work, or you might just wear your favorite dress that's really, really comfortable to wear or a piece of jewelry that marks it for you. Or you might light a candle or set a little intention for yourself on marking it and bringing some intention to how you move through menstruation can really do wonders. Then when it comes to creativity, when we allow ourselves to surrender, we kind of separate a little bit from the world. We come into a place of renewal and restoration, and then often what can happen is we can receive a lot of creative insight, inspiration, or even guidance. And so my encouragement for you during this time is if you do start to receive more energy during the menstrual phase, just to be mindful of that and to be careful with that, because that energy is not necessarily to rush out into the world and manifest things immediately. There's still quite a tenderness to that energy, there's a vulnerability to it, almost like a new baby. It's the very, very start of a cycle. We're still underground here, we're still in the inner winter. So there's new energy, new ideas, new creative thoughts coming through. My teacher, Alexandra Pope, one of my favorite expressions from her is to take dictation from the divine. So just to write it down and bring it through into your next cycle, because you might not do anything with it, you might just write it down and it might then be something that you need to forget about when you come to inner autumn. So when it comes to decision-making, creativity, creative cycles, really to bring the menstrual cycle awareness practice into that as well and allow yourself as much space as you need. Another phrase I like to use use is bleed on it. So when you're making decisions, bringing those decisions into your menstrual cycle and allowing yourself to bleed on decisions so that you're not making decisions from the place of the void, because the void place prior to menstruation on a mental and emotional level can feel like a lot of urgency in the body. And we can make rushed decisions when they're not really necessary. So often as we journey through mensuration and bring our emotional selves and our psychological selves through the experience of menstruation on a conscious level, we receive much more clarity and guidance coming through menstruation. And we can find ourselves in a place of feeling like we've landed and feeling more grounded after menstruation. And lastly, if you're really struggling to take space, and if you're starting to notice yourself feeling restless or guilty for taking space during mensuration, just allow yourself to experience that because there's something happening for you in that too. And also question and reason with those feelings of restlessness and guilt. Is the guilt serving you in any way? Is it helping you? And if not, is it coming from a voice from the past or a socio-cultural belief that's no longer serving you anymore and see if you can place the guilt aside for just a moment and even giving yourself tiny, tiny micro amounts of rest and space during menstruation can make such a difference to your experience as you journey each cycle by cycle. So that is the inner winter. It is a very tender and vulnerable time for a lot of people. For some people it isn't, some people are energized by that time. But it's very, very important to take as much space as you can and to surrender and prepare for menstruation, especially if you are someone who struggles with pain. So come on into the Classroom and ask any questions and share any tips or any experiences that you'd like to share. - Hi, so let's talk about the inner spring of the menstrual cycle, the pre-ovulation time. So, having a look at the slide again, as we saw before the inner spring, the pre-ovulation phase is the phase between menstruation ovulation. And if we think about it, mensuration and ovulation are two release points in the cycle, they are two anchors, to polar opposites. So, at menstruation, there's a release of the lining of the womb and at ovulation there is a release of the egg whereas the pre-ovulation phase and the inner autumn phase are both transition phases. So, from a hormonal perspective, there's a little bit more change that happens here in a very subtle way. So, in the inner spring, it's that rise of estrogen that we see. On an energetic level, the inner spring can be marked by a rise in energy for you, a rise in curiosity, a feeling of more energy and wanting to come out into the world, coming out of your period cave, needing to move more, a lot less pain, feeling light in yourself but there can still very much be bleeding. So, it is not about the full end of your period, it's more an energetic place for you and it is up to you where that is in your menstrual cycle. For me, it's usually about day four or five when I might still have a little bit of spotting coming out of my period but on an energetic and physical level, I definitely feel like I'm coming out of my period cave. So, on a physical level, we might start to feel more energy, we might start to feel more sexual energy, more curiosity, more interest in social relationships and connecting with people, wanting to move more and generally more engagement with the outside world. The inner lights of the being are starting to turn down where they were on menstruation and the outer lights of ourselves are starting to come on and we start to be more outward focused. So we have more capacity for people and for helping other people and meeting other people's needs. The inner spring really is a negotiation of energy because if we come out of our period cave too quickly, we can leave ourselves quite vulnerable. The inner spring, like the azure seasons of the seasons is a very vulnerable time. If you think about the azure seasons, we have fresh new seeds that are sprouting, just coming up out of the earth, we have the spring lambs, there's a delicacy to the energy. There's still a tenderness and a vulnerability. So, these are also the powers of the inner spring of the cycle. There's the power of play, the power of innocence and the power of curiosity. If we didn't get enough rest during menstruation or if we feel overwhelmed, or if we rush out into the world too quickly, the inner spring can then become quite a difficult time for a lot of people and that can show up as, "I am feeling self-conscious, feeling a lack of motivation, a lot of procrastination, I'm feeling exhausted, feeling depleted, feeling tired, feeling kind of dry and running on empty." So, it's really important to really pace yourself here and if you didn't get enough time or space to rest during menstruation for whatever reason, you can definitely take your inner period cave retrospectively in your inner spring. An important word for the inner spring is containment. So, as estrogen is rising during this time, we're kind of negotiating our engagement with the outside world and our capacity, how much capacity we have to give. So, as estrogen is rising, our physical energy starts to rise and therefore our mental and relational, psychological energy is more collected, but we still need to pace ourselves. If we think about the banks of a river, there's a containment happening. So, we kind of need to contain ourselves a little bit on that energetic level and every day negotiate ourselves in a very subtle way. This idea of containment can really help you if you do struggle mentally, emotionally, spiritually during the inner spring. If we're new to the practice of menstrual cycle awareness, we might notice that our inner critic can be quite strong during the inner spring especially if we have rested during menstruation and there's then this pressure to need to finish all our tasks on come back into the world immediately after menstruation. So, just be careful with that, that the inner critic doesn't come in too strong and wreak havoc on that very delicate, vulnerable energy that the inner spring has to offer. So, sometimes you might need to be quite firm with your inner critic, ask your inner critic to leave and another really important word during the inner spring and what I would suggest as the sacred task of the inner spring is to really cherish yourself here similar to a newborn child or a new creative project or a new idea. Again, that word vulnerability, tenderness, delicacy, it's a time and energy that needs to be really cherished. So, you can do that in whatever way that works for you. I quite like to think about pampering, self-care, taking a bath on a weekend afternoon, watching a movie and just doing small things that really feel like you're cherishing yourself. It can also be nice to do a little spring. Cleaning your house after menstruation if you have down tools and you feel the need to change your sheets, hoover your house or your apartment or restock your fridge again. It's a really good time to use that energy to do those things. Also, because of the gift of playfulness during this time and the contrast that we have in our azure world, where our azure world can very often be very achievement and results oriented, it can be a difficult thing to kind of allow ourselves to play or to have activities that have no intention or goal in mind. So, just to practice that consciously, give yourself lots of time to play, to explore, go on a walk with no destination in mind and give yourself lots of time to spend with friends just chatting over coffee with no particular goal or destination or just letting yourself potter for the day and just letting yourself drift and drift and float, letting your mind and your thoughts drift and float, maybe being careful with not spending too much time on social media as well and giving yourself a lots of space and time to drift, to reflect, to think and just letting creative energy move through you. Another archetype for the inner spring is the inner maiden, which was the time of our adolescent periods when we were younger. So, it's a good time if you do struggle with the inner spring or even if you struggle with the inner autumn whether it's with anxiety, PMS, or PMDD and those transition phases of the menstrual cycle can very often mirror each other. So, if you have difficulties in the inner autumn, it's a good idea to have a look at what's going on in your inner spring and if there are difficulties either in inner spring or inner autumn, it can be a good idea to reflect on what it was like for you as a maiden. What your experience of your first period was like, what was going on for you around you, what was happening in the context of your life and doing a very gentle reflection on that period of your life and perhaps bringing a little bit more compassion to yourself with regards to that story. Again, if there is a lot of tenderness and vulnerability during the inner spring of the cycle, giving yourself lots of space, lots of time and maybe marking that place for yourself and the same as the inner winter, giving it a sacred place in your cycle and marking it. Maybe lighting a candle or doing a little ritual can really, really help bring some healing to that time. So, let me know what you think about the inner spring, let me know your experiences or what you like to do during this time or what you find difficult and come on and share in the classroom. - Hi everybody. In this video, we're going to speak a little bit about the inner summer of the menstrual cycle. So the inner summer is the ovulation time of the menstrual cycle. And as we see here in the graph again, it is the polar opposite side to mensuration. As we talked about already, the two transition seasons in the menstrual cycle are the inner spring and the inner autumn, while the inner summer and menstruation, the inner winter are kind of like two anchor points of the cycle because they're like places where we can really land. The inner summer, there's a release of an egg and in menstruation, there's also release of the lining of the womb. So in that sense, the inner summer and the inner winter are those two grounding anchor polar opposite points of the menstrual cycle. So ovulation and the inner summer is the time when estrogen is at its highest and all things going well, we ovulate during this time. So, this means that typically in the archetype of the inner seasons of the menstrual cycle, it's a very, very high energy time. Another archetype for the inner summer is the superwoman or the the inner kind of mother archetype. So with this boost of estrogen, this high energy, it means that we are a lot more resilient or we can be a lot more resilient emotionally. With the mother archetype, we can be all nurturing to all people, we're much more tuned to other people's needs than our own. And so the inner lights of ourselves are really focused outwards now, we're much more focused outwards in the world. We desire connection here, social connections, and we can feel a lot more confident and highly energetic during this time. Because the energy can be so high here, it can be a really, really fun time. And it's a very optimistic time where our sexuality and our sensuality can really be very heightened. And this is a really, really good time to really enjoy life, to really say yes to the world, to meet with friends, to spend time with loved ones, to meet the needs of the people that we love and to go out and dance and party. It's a good time to take risks and to really show yourself and declare yourself to the world and to really take up space. So little things that you can do are, this is a good time to pluck up the courage to ask for a raise, try out a new outfit, wear a new lipstick, go on a date. It can be a really, really fun time here and if there are difficult things going on in your life, because our hormones are at their highest here, it gives rise to this lovely natural resilience in the being and in the physiological experience of ourselves. So if there are difficult things happening, it's a good time to really let ourselves feel our own resilience and kind of let go of the difficulty and trust in our confidence and trust in the flow that is in the inner summer. It's a time for manifesting things as well if you like to practice the art of manifesting things in your life. It's also a time to really delve into creative projects and just let yourself really, really be in the flow of creativity. The kind of shadow side to the inner summer is that that high energy can be quite seductive and we can lose ourselves a little bit with that energy. So it's really important to remind ourselves that this too shall pass, even this good time too shall pass. And to be just be careful with things like your diary, your social schedule because what can happen is when we're in that lovely high energy, hyper summertime, it can feel like we're like that forever. And then if we allow the inner summer goddess to take charge of our schedule, then we might regret that in a couple of weeks time when we're coming into menstruation or when we're in our inner autumn. So just be mindful with the diary, be mindful with saying yes to things. It is a time for saying yes, it is a time to really declare yourself to the world, but it might not necessarily to be a good time to plan everything. So perhaps to leave planning for the inner winter, the inner spring, and then when you're in your inner summer to really enjoy and reap the rewards of all that planning that you did in your inner winter and inner spring. For some women, the inner summer can present with quite a strong manic energy, and it can often induce some anxiety or even burnout. So if you relate to this, I would encourage you to, easy does it here, to take it gently. And then the next time, when you come around to your inner winter to just give yourself a little bit more of rest and relaxation and surrender during the inner winter, because what can often happen is when we push ourselves through inner winter and push ourselves through inner spring as well, which is a very delicate, vulnerable time by the time we land in inner summer, then that can show up as a vulnerability, a sense of burnout, feeling flat and socially anxious. And it can be difficult to contain the rise of chi and the rise of energy that's happening in the body. So it is really about looking at the cycle as a whole and tracking the energy. And then by the time we come into inner summer, once we've contained that inner spring, it can be a nice landing point to come into inner summer. But if you are experiencing any kind of manic energy, feeling like you're kind of bleeding out of yourself or there's social anxiety there, that's all okay and that's your experience, just stay with that and to take a gently and then over time, you will learn how to navigate your energy and more appropriately with your own nervous system and your own menstrual cycle. And with this rise of energy, it doesn't necessarily mean that the summer has to be fast and that we have to do all things and be all things to all people. And there is a charge to the energy, but just to remind yourself, it doesn't have to be fast. It can still be slow if you want to pace yourself. And for some women who prefer their darker side of the menstrual cycle, for example, me, I really liked the inner autumn and the inner winter from a psychological point of view. That sacred task of saying yes to the world and declaring yourself and owning your own confidence and taking up space can be difficult and it can present an edge. So just be mindful of that, that when it comes to this practice of menstrual cycle awareness, and we do encounter vulnerabilities and difficulties in areas that we challenge with and where we have a little bit of an edge, there's often something in that for us, there's often like a hidden gift. Whether it's physical pain or emotional vulnerability or if we lose ourselves in some way at any point in the menstrual cycle, it can often be, there can often be a strong desire underneath that. So for example, if you are someone who struggles with public speaking and taking up space and really being confident at the dinner table when you're in a conversation or giving a presentation at work and you're in your inner summer and it's still presenting you with anxiety, just to be mindful of that and explore that cycle after cycle. Because with that fear and with the discomfort, there often is a very, very strong desire and almost like a hidden talent that can be harnessed over time. So easy does it with that, perhaps journal on that little bit and just take it 1% steps towards figuring out what the hidden talents are underneath your vulnerabilities. And lastly, if you're someone who really struggles with the inner winter, and you've got a lot of cramps in your menstrual cycle, then I would really encourage you to really, really let yourself really marinade in the optimism and the joy and the pleasure of the inner summer. Because when we allow ourselves to really settle into the inner resilience and that lovely inner summer energy, if you do experience that resilience, and if you do experience joy and high energy, really let yourself feel it and let it be like this medicine that you're receiving every single month to kind of counteract the harmful effects of what pain can do with the opposite side of the menstrual cycle. And I would really encourage you to get yourself out of the house, go and socialize, go dancing, go on a date and buy a lovely new outfit for yourself. Try a new form of lipstick or nail varnish or new earrings and just really let yourself enjoy the inner summer, because if you are struggling with your periods, you really, really deserve to enjoy your inner summer and to give that time to yourself. And especially if we're spending time with our loved ones or if we're out in nature and really connecting with people and other humans, it allows the body to really receive the medicine of hormones like oxytocin, the love hormone, serotonin, the pleasure hormone, and those hormones are really important for preventing PMS once you cross over into the inner autumn. So with that said, enjoy your inner summer, keep tracking the menstrual cycle, keeping being curious about your experience of it in your body and your mind and your spirit, and take good care to look after yourself. And then come and share in the classroom with how of the inner summer is for you. - Hi, everybody. Let's talk about the inner autumn or the pre-menstrual phase of the menstrual cycle. So as you can see here again, in this slide, the inner autumn, like we talked about before, is the opposite to the inner spring. It is a transition phase between the two anchor points of ovulation and menstruation. So with that said, there's a lot of change in energy that happens here in the inner autumn. This is a very, very important season and one that can cause a lot of difficulty for many, many people. And because of that transition nature of the season, it means that it can be very difficult to find landing in ourselves or to ground ourselves in the inner autumn. It can be therefore difficult for us to get to know what our inner autumn is, and to build a relationship with it. It's a very important season of the menstrual cycle because it precedes menstruation where a lot of women will also have difficulty. So when it comes to self-care and looking after ourselves and trying to improve our relationship with our cycle or our cycle experience, the inner autumn is a really important area to focus when it comes to self-care. So again, from a hormonal level, what happens is we ovulate, and then it's the corpus luteum after ovulation that secretes progesterone into the system. If there is no ovulation, there can therefore be no progesterone, and also if there is an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, there might be not enough progesterone, which can give rise then to various difficulties. 'Cause if we remember, one of the roles of progesterone is to soothe the nervous system. And if there's not enough progesterone for whatever reason, then that can cause emotional difficulty, mental health challenges, and even then physical difficulty around our periods, and our periods can be very heavy as well. So first things first, if you do suspect that you might need a little bit more support with your menstrual cycle around the inner autumn, I would first look at things like diet, and making sure that you're getting enough nutrients in your body, and you're doing the best that you can to support progesterone in your system. And then also taking a look at toxins, and removing any unnecessary household products or cosmetics that are in your daily routine that will help just bring down the level of estrogen dominance. In our module on diet in the following week, we'll talk a little bit more in detail about diet. But for now, if you do want to look into it, I can, again, highly recommend Lara Briden's book "Period Repair Manual" on different ways to boost progesterone. One way would be to make sure you're getting enough magnesium through eating green leafy vegetables, or taking magnesium supplements, or taking Epsom salt baths. It's also really important to look at stress levels in the body as well, 'cause that can cause, or at least can contribute to estrogen dominance in the body, and a lot of tension in the body, especially in the premenstrual time. So when we look at the inner autumn from a menstrual cycle awareness point of view, this is the transition season after ovulation after the inner summer, and it's the time where the inner lights of the being start to turn on, and we start to have less interest or capacity for the outer world, and our focus starts to kind of come inwards as we head towards menstruation. And so it can be an interesting thing to think about and to notice and to observe how you transition from your inner summer into your inner autumn, and what happens, what that looks like for you, what it feels like in the body, and also how it looks relationally with the outer world. So to give you an example from my own personal journey, I used to experience a lot of difficulty with my inner autumn, but over tracking my cycle, cycle after cycle, and understanding self-care, and also relationships around my inner autumn, I started to notice and be able to pinpoint the kind of the crossover days from my inner summer to my inner autumn. And it would look something, it would look very much like this. So in my inner summer, I have a lot more emotional resilience, a lot more capacity for just things that go on in life, and just a lot more capacity for difficulty, or as I like to put it, nonsense in the outside world, things that can normally be difficult in the inner autumn, in my inner summer, I can brush them off, I have much more buffer and things just don't really get to me. Whereas in my inner autumn, it's a whole other story. And so usually, I can pinpoint the day, if something happens. So for example, a while ago, I noticed myself in my inner autumn after getting irritated with somebody in the supermarket for no reason. So one day I was fine, and then the next day I was in the supermarket and the person who was working in the supermarket, just doing their job, got in my way, and I noticed myself feeling irritated, and kind of feeling a little bit entitled around that they should know better and not be in my way because I was a customer. So kind of things like that, like things that are just out of my control would start to irritate me kind of unreasonably. And that would be how the crossover would look for me from my inner summer, to my inner autumn. And so really, it's about noticing those moments and not necessarily doing anything about them, but just noticing them and bringing some compassion to the self, bringing just a moment of clarity, a moment of thought, a moment of breath, and just noticing, "Oh, okay, I might've landed in my inner autumn, and that's okay." The problem is, is that the inner autumn, the pre-menstrual time of the cycle has very much been looked at, and spoken about from quite a derogatory place in society with, you know, it would be very common to fob women or people who menstruate off as being irrational, or moody, or cranky, or pre-menstrual, or hysterical. Those are the kinds of words that we might've heard in the past. But actually when it comes to the inner autumn, there's a lot of truth underneath those emotions, and there's a lot of truth underneath those feelings and sensations, and they're not something to be fobbed off or dismissed. From practicing menstrual cycle awareness and understanding how the body works, very often what's happening is it's a buildup of difficulty over time and the body not being in the right way supported to be able to contain those feelings and difficulties and be able to deal with them. So really it's really, really important to start to think about it in that way, to not dismiss any of your emotions or difficulties that come up, but to look at them like they're messengers, they're wanting to tell you something and there's definitely unmet needs that are happening there, and things that need to be looked at from a communications and a relationships point of view with the outside world. So really, the inner autumn really, really is about that psychosomatic process where we start to come back into ourselves, it's a transition season, and really it's a negotiation of our inner landscape needing more care, needing more attention, and how we then relate to the outside world, and there is a kind of a negotiation happening there between our inner landscape and the outside world. So to start to think about it in that sense. If you are someone who experiences a lot of PMS or a condition called PMDD, which stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is essentially a very heightened form of PMS, and from what I understand, a mental health condition, the inner autumn is definitely a very important time for you to bring lots of TLC into your self-care practice, and to start to explore this from a very gentle and tender point of view with regards to menstrual cycle awareness. What I've seen in my work is that certain people who do suffer with PMDD, there can be a lot of stuff underneath that, underneath the physical, mental, and emotional experience of how that shows up for you in your everyday life. There can be trauma there, there can be trauma from the past, obviously there needs to be support within the body on the physical level, but very much on the emotional, mental, and spiritual level, there just needs to be a little bit more TLC. So I would recommend to just give yourself as much compassion and kindness as you can here during this time, to start to think about other hormones like oxytocin and serotonin. So serotonin and oxytocin are the feel good hormones, they're the love and connection hormones, so to make sure you're not isolating yourself to make sure that you are thinking about your nervous system and co-regulation, reaching out for support not isolating, connecting with people, spending time in nature, spending time with animals, spending time with children, and getting your nervous system into a place of regulation as much as you can. So the inner autumn, it's really, really important, especially as you start to approach the void place prior to menstruation, to really, really prioritize regulating and soothing your nervous system, as much as you can, and also bringing in as much self-care into your diet as you can. I think it's important to think about diet in a realistic way, and it's nice to have treats, but if you are someone who experiences a lot of pain, or a lot of bloating, or PMS, this is a great place in your cycle to eat lots of green, green vegetables, eat the rainbow, lots of water. And what you want to do is really support your gut health as much as you can, support your bowel, support your digestion, because if we enter the menstrual phase with constipation or diarrhea, that can really wreak havoc and cause even more physical pain. So if you're gonna eat treats during your menstrual cycle, I would recommend try and keep them to the inner spring or the inner summer, or even the inner winter, but try to keep your inner autumn as clean as you can. If you are someone who experiences a lot of darkness during this time, depression and anxiety, I would encourage you, as much as you can, in whatever way this means to you to explore your spirituality. This is a time where the inner lights start to come on more, and in a way, it is a kind of a more shamanic time of the menstrual cycle, if you will. And what I mean by that is is that because of what our hormones are doing, it means that we have, it's like the veils between ourself and the world are becoming thinner and thinner, and we are left more exposed, and therefore we also have an ability to access our being more and our soul more, our sense of our soul, our sense of ourselves, and we can be a lot more sensitive. So therefore we can be more sensitive to things that irritate us, but we can also be more sensitive to things that feed us. So I would encourage you to think about that, and to think about what are the things that can really feed your soul and nourish your whole spiritual self here. So it could be things like the arts, reading poetry, listening to music, going to a play, or watching a play, enjoying a really nice artistic movie, sensuality, things like candles, or ritual, or essential oils, you know, spending time in nature, anything that's creative and that feels like you're soothing your sense of self, your sense of your soul self, and your sense of your purpose is a really, really nice and nourishing thing to do during this time. What can also be quite challenging during this time are relationships, and how we communicate with our loved ones. So this is something that we can talk about again, in the Slack channel and in the Zoom calls, and I will be doing a little bit more teaching around this, but for now, just to pay attention to that in yourself, to pay attention how your relationships show up for you. What are the dynamics that are at play? What are the common trends that are happening? What are the patterns? And to know that there is a way to support you in this. When it comes to cycle awareness and relational dynamics, they can be there for a very, very long period of time, so it can take some time to understand them and then unravel them a bit. And really, this is about getting to know who we are and what our needs are in the inner autumn of the menstrual cycle. The inner autumn is a time of- the need for our boundaries to be stronger is really, really important here. And the powers of the inner autumn are discernment, insight, clarity, it's the no bullshit time of the cycle. We got really, really clear on things. It's a place for our inner critic as well. So our inner critic, even though that can be a little bit of a disturbance at different times of the menstrual cycle, the inner autumn is actually the home of the inner critic. And I'll be talking about the inner critic again in a separate video. But for now, just know that if you do have a very, very strong inner critic, don't let the inner critic into your void place or into any other physical or emotional vulnerable place of your menstrual cycle. Some people who start the practice of menstrual cycle awareness make an agreement with themselves to be firm with their inner critic and ask their inner critic to leave for months on end. But ultimately, the inner critic belongs in the inner autumn and we can start to integrate it because the inner critic has a role to play and it's there to help us. But if your inner critic is very, very strong, take full permission to banish your inner critic and to welcome in your inner champion and have your inner champion just take over the landscape of your inner autumn for awhile while you start to negotiate and to get to know who you are in your inner autumn. So the inner autumn can be quite a complex time because it's transition in nature, and because it precedes menstruation, there can be a lot of vulnerabilities there, but also a lot of strengths. And what I'd like for you to think about is to start to get to know your inner autumn, to start to think about who you are during your inner autumn, what your needs are, what your expectations are, how you relate to yourself, and how you relate to the outside world, and what you need help with during this time. After practicing cycle awareness and implementing a little bit more self-care, just 1% at a time, the inner autumn can become a really, really nice place to be in the menstrual cycle. I am aware that it's a very difficult place for a lot of people, but cycle after cycle, what you're doing is you're working with edges and you're working with buffering, so you're creating buffers for yourself, you're cultivating a place where you can feel safe in your inner autumn, and where you can feel comfortable in your inner autumn. And cycle after cycle, you will start to take the edge off the difficulty and the harshness of the inner autumn, and it gets a lot easier over time. So let me know what you think. Come on into the channel and do share any questions, experiences, insights, tips of your inner autumn. - Hi. So let's have a look at charting the menstrual cycle and different ways to chart and track and how we do that. So first let's look at some of the options for tracking and charting the menstrual cycle. I really like to use an app on my phone. I highly recommend the app Clue. You probably already have this and if you don't, I highly recommend checking it out. They are a German based company, based in Berlin. And it's just a great way to track your menstrual cycle and remember where you are in your cycle. They give a lot of options in terms of the different symptoms, physical, mental, emotional symptoms that you can put into your app as well to keep track of what's going on in the body or in your cycle. But I quite like to use it just as a memory to where I am in my cycle. So even just putting in day one of your period, which is the first day of blood flow. And then for the rest of the cycle, the app will remember what day of your cycle you're on so if you ever want to just quickly check where you are in your cycle or where you're going to be in your cycle, if you're planning your week or something, you can just click on the app and it'll tell you. Another great app is called Natural Cycles. So Natural Cycles is actually a fertility awareness method app, specifically for both contraception and planning a pregnancy. So if you're looking into those areas, I do recommend this app. The previous app Clue is not a contraceptive app. So just be mindful of that. Whereas Natural Cycles is. Natural Cycles, you do have to subscribe to and pay for. But if you are looking for something like that, I do recommend it as well and it therefore gives you a lot of accurate information in terms of your ovulation and your predicted menstrual day as well. Then if you're like me and you use Google calendar, I also suggest that you pop into your calendar every not necessarily every day of your period but if maybe day one or day two of your period and then the predicted season. So you just have an idea of what weeks are going to be your menstrual week, your ovulation week or your pre-menstrual week and so on so that you have an idea of where you're going to be in your cycle as you're planning and scheduling your life. That is a really, really good way to start to get to know your cycle and start to get used to scheduling a little bit more around your cycle. Then for charting your menstrual cycle and getting to know the inner seasons of your cycle with the practice of menstrual cycle awareness, that is kind of different to keeping track of what day you're on. That is also important. But menstrual cycle awareness is a deeper practice where we get to know who we are on different levels depending on the day. So I really highly recommend doing this. You can do this in something like Microsoft Excel or in a Word document or if you find an app that is good, where you can input information, I do recommend that. But I would also suggest just doing pen and paper and keeping it old school and getting yourself a diary that is especially for your menstrual cycle awareness practice. So in your diary, all you have to do is just at the top, write the date of the year. Maybe the day and what day of your cycle you're on. So for example, 1st of January, Monday and day one of your period. And then I recommend journaling under a few different headings. So the headings that I recommend are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. They are the four key headings that I suggest to journal and track under. So example of physical would be maybe your appetite or skin or your hair or energy levels or if you have any kind of pain anywhere in the body or your libido or if you're very tired or not. Those would be kind of physical aspects of yourself that change around the menstrual cycle. Then mental would be your thoughts, your inner critic, your relationship with yourself. Any kind of thoughts that are happening during the day or any recurring thoughts that are going on or if it feels like a lot of tension in your thinking world or if you feel quite calm and peaceful in terms of your thinking and your thoughts. Just to take note of that too. Then emotional would be all the different emotions that can occur. And of course we can experience a whole range of emotions in one day. Therefore I recommend writing down one or two key emotions that were the main tone of the day for you. And then spiritual really is up to you. That can be anything for anyone. It can be your sense of connection to yourself, your sense of connection to your higher power or whatever spirituality means to you. It can be your connection to nature, your connection to other people or your creativity, even. So really whatever it feels like for you. It could be your spiritual practice, your meditation practice or your yoga practice. What was that like for you today? How did you feel in yourself from a spiritual point of view? And then again, charting your cycle also depends on what it is that you're looking to get help with or achieve. So if you're struggling with a lot of pain and you're curious about changing your diet, I would recommend charting what you're eating and how that impacts your digestion for example or does it have an impact on your skin or even your PMS or your menstrual pain? If you're making changes to your diet, I would include that as well, if you can. And then of course you can add whatever you want into your charting journey. Sometimes I have charted dreams down because my dreams can be quite vivid and intense in my premenstrual time. Or relationships or my communication skills or my creativity or anything like that that feels like there might be a cyclical element to it. Feel free to take whatever you want and pop it into your journal and chart on it whenever it feels right. Now, when you start to chart your menstrual cycle and start to journal a little bit more in depth, over time, the whole purpose of it is so that over time we start to identify trends and patterns and we begin to know our vulnerabilities and our needs and our strengths around the cycle. And because I'm quite a convenient and practical person, over time, if you have six to 12 months of cycle charting and notes and you take some time to reflect and look back at patterns, that can be quite a messy task to do and it can be a little bit difficult to do it if you're just relying on a journal, where one page is day one and the next page is day two. So therefore I recommend this method. So just take your journal. This is a smaller journal. I recommend an A4 size journal, a large journal with lots of space to write. And you take a double page and then you section it off into sections. So I have 12 sections here, which represents 12 months. So here in this box, in the top, this for me is the top left hand corner. This would be day one of, for example, January. And I write all of the information here. Day one, January, all of my notes, under physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I also make sure to include day one here at the top. So this is all going to be day one and maybe just the date as well, right here. Then tomorrow, for example, if it's day two of my menstrual cycle, I do the same thing again. And I come onto the next page and imagine that's the same with the sections and day two would be here. And then again for day three, the next page. So that's the way of charting the menstrual cycle that I recommend for ease, just for yourself, for ease of finding trends and patterns over time. And then the next month, when you come back to day one of, for example, February, you pop that in here. So this would be January, February, March, April, May, June, and then all the way to December or 12 cycles, if you will. And then again, day two would be, all of my day twos would be together. And the reason for that is is that when you have all your day ones together and all your day twos together and so on, it's so much easier to identify trends and patterns over time. And some of you might already be aware, I do have a menstrual cycle tracking journal available in my online shop. So you're more than welcome to get one for yourself. If you haven't already or you can just use your own journal. It's really no bother. But this is just a journal I've designed that allows for that exact layout. So feel free to ask me about that if you want. So that is it on tracking and charting the menstrual cycle. Let me know which method works for you. You might want to trial a few different ways. If you come across any other apps that I haven't mentioned that you like, pop them into the Slack channel or if you have any other advice or tips, do share. I look forward to hearing how you get on. - Hi everybody, and welcome to week one, lesson one. In this lesson, we're going to learn a little bit from neuroscience to understand what our body is doing on a nervous system level and why that is relevant for self-care. So when it comes to self-care and in the world that we live in nowadays, it's very easy to read lots of books and blogs and listen to podcasts and set new intentions for ourselves. And there's a big difference between intellectualizing all that information and embodying it. And so before we look at menstrual cycle awareness and the hormones and things like period pain and PMS and diet, one of the most important things to me as a menstrual cycle awareness coach is to understand the nature of our nervous system so that we can then pave the way for cycle self-care. And what I mean by that is, is that what's the difference between intellectualizing things and actually making those changes sustainable, and how can we make that happen? So to give you a little bit of background on my own personal journey of recovery from period pain, I was once that person who had a big, long list of self-care things to do in order to combat my period pain. And when I didn't do some of the items on my to-do list, I felt guilty and bad about it. And then I blamed myself for getting period pain. When in reality, that self-care list was far too long and there was my inner critic was kind of interwoven in that process. So really, it's not so much about the things that are or aren't on our self-care list. It's actually a lot more about our relationship with self-care, our relationship with our cycle, our relationship with ourselves and understanding who we are on a nervous system level. And what I mean by that is, is that the way that we interact with ourselves and the way that we interact with the world does come down to things about the nervous system and how we react, how we respond. It's more than just psychology. There's a huge somatic piece involved. So what we're going to look at today in this lesson is a theory called the polyvagal theory, which explains the different branches of the nervous system, and will help you to understand your needs of your nervous system. It will help you to understand what can trigger your nervous system, what can support your nervous system, and from that place then, we can start to build much more sustainable self-care that is easier and more comfortable to do for you. And so for everyone, it will look very, very different, but it really comes down to understanding your body and your needs based on your nervous system. So the polyvagal theory is, it's a theory that is starting to be used in a lot of psychological teachings and embodiment practices. And it was discovered and explained and devised by a neuroscientist called Dr. Stephen Porges. And I've done a little bit of training with one of his colleagues called Deb Dana, who's a psychotherapist. So a lot of my work is informed by polyvagal theory. So I'm going to explain it to you here now today. So if you're already interested in yoga, mindfulness, meditation, self-care, that kind of thing, you probably already have come across a lot of this already where we talk about the nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight or flight, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the rest and digest place of the nervous system. So that's kind of simply put what it is, but there's a bit more to it than that, which is what we're gonna look at together in this video and as a group. So the nervous system is broken down into two main branches. So the parasympathetic nervous system, and then the sympathetic nervous system. So the parasympathetic nervous system is the place of, the freeze place of the nervous system, but it's also the place of rest and digest. So there are the two options in the parasympathetic nervous system. And then we have the sympathetic nervous system, that's the fight or flight part of the nervous system. So here I have a slide which explains the polyvagal theory, and this will help us to understand what it feels like to be in these different states within the nervous system on any given day and on any given moment. So let's have a look at the very, very bottom. Over there on the left, you see the dorsal vagal part of the nervous system, and this is the place of freeze in the nervous system. This is the most ancient part of our nervous systems as human beings that comes from, if you look at evolutionary biology, this is the part of the system where we see similarities between ourselves as humans and the likes of reptiles or ancient sea creatures. So when something threatening happens to those animals, the protective safety response is freeze. We have this also in our nervous systems. And when it comes to humans, there can be different reasons why we go into a freeze state. So it can be a very heightened, dangerous, traumatic event like a car crash or an abusive situation, or even bullying or bullying in the workplace or any kind of harmful situation, whether it's physically harmful, psychologically or emotionally harmful. So that would be kind of an extreme reason for the body to enter into the freeze state of the nervous system. But in reality, actually, we can go into freeze from, quote unquote, minor things. So it could even be our own thoughts in the morning, having an argument with someone where we just kinda go into a freeze place, or if we're in a place or with a person that we associate with something from the past that was harmful or dangerous, it can also send the body into a freeze kind of a place, even in a very subtle way. So just to give you a very subtle example, some people might check their social media first thing in the morning while they're in bed, and there can be then a tendency to compare oneselves to people on social media. And then what then happens is our thought process gets even more negative and negative and we go down a little bit of a negative spiral, and that then means that we can go into a bit of a freeze in the dorsal vagal. So what the freeze looks like in the body is very much, it could be like a low temperature in the body, it can cause digestion problems, over a long period of time, it can contribute to things like IBS or even fibromyalgia or chronic inflammation in the body. So if we're in the freeze place for a very, very long period of time, psychologically, it can look like a lot of negative thinking, feeling isolated, feeling very lonely. And then when we're in that isolated and lonely place, it will require a huge amount of energy to actually connect and engage and to kind of pull ourselves out of that freeze place in the nervous system. So it's not the best place to be over a long period of time, even though there is always a reason why we go into the freeze of the nervous system. So the freeze is always, always about physical, emotional, or psychological safety, but over a long period of time, it is not healthy. And the reason for that is, is because when we're in that freeze place, what happens on a somatic physiological level are blood flow to the organs below the diaphragm, so below the ribs reduces drastically in order to keep the vital organs alive. So the vital organs being like the heart and the lung and the brain, whereas the reproductive system, for example, or our digestion, that is not something that is urgent. We can survive without it. So when we go into the dorsal freeze place of the nervous system, very often blood flow to these parts of the body gets limited and restricted. And if that happens over a long period of time, that then can contribute to digestion problems and reproductive problems, both in men and women. The good news about the freeze place is there are ways to get out of it. So if you are someone who feels like you experience the freeze quite regularly on a day-to-day basis, there are different ways of getting out of it. And that's what we're here to do together. That's what we're here to look at together in this group and in this course. So when we come to the next level on the ladder of the nervous system, we're looking at the sympathetic nervous system there with the red or orange button beside it. So the sympathetic nervous system is the fight or flight place of the nervous system. And this ladder is in chronological order. So we can only get to, we can only go up step by step. We can only get to rest and digest from the sympathetic nervous system, okay? So we're taking a step from the bottom, from the dorsal freeze place to the sympathetic. In the sympathetic nervous system, that's where we're in action mode. That's where we're doing things. We're getting things done. We're ticking things off the to-do list. It can be a very healthy place because it is in that place where we take action, where we feel the pressure of a deadline looming and we need to take action on it, or where, in terms of safety, we have to take action. If we're driving the car, we're trying to avoid an accident, or in primal ancient times, that would have been, if a lion was chasing us, we would have a lot of adrenaline secreted in the body and cortisol, and our legs would then fire to run as fast as we can away from the predator. So the fight or flight place, the sympathetic place of the nervous system, is a very good place to be because it helps us to survive, it helps us to take action, it helps us with healthy aggression or, so fighting or flighting from a threatening situation. But if we're there for a long period of time, it is a huge amount of adrenaline and cortisol to be in the system. So over a long period of time, this also isn't really sustainable if you're wanting to cultivate a healthier mind-body connection to yourself and healthier menstrual cycles. So then let's look at the top of the ladder there on the left with the green button. So this is the ventral vagal place of the nervous system. This also belongs under the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest place. This is where our digestion is relaxed. We feel comfortable in ourselves. We feel connected to the world. We feel a sense of ease and a sense of flow. What is happening here is our cognitive abilities open up in our brain to allow for more places of connection. And that allows for more creativity and allows for more experiences of spirituality. So that could be feeling connected to nature, feeling connected to your higher power, feeling connected to your friends and family, feeling connected to yourself and your sense of who you are and your purpose in the world. So this is the place of social connection, where we feel safe in relationships and safe with ourselves and safe in the world in our bodies. A really important part of the ventral vagal and to stay in the ventral vagal and to stay connected there and to move into it is something called co-regulation. So co-regulation is where we, it's the reality of human relationships, human safe, nourishing, healthy relationships, whether it's with one person or in a group. So that is where you feel really nourished by your friend's company, or you feel really, really safe with your therapist or your coach, or you feel, if you're at a talk where the speaker is really grounded in themselves, you sense their feelings of calm in their body. And you receive that energy into your nervous system. And co-regulation is a really, really important part of our health. And it's really something to think about when we're working on our health, working on our menstrual cycle, working on our mental health, just the importance of, if we are feeling we're in the dorsal place or in the fight or flight place, that we can lean into relationships and that we can lean into connection and we can lean into groups and supports that we have so as to feed ourselves with nourishing people around us. That is a really, really important part of recovery and healing and wellness. So, as I said before, we have to transition from the bottom to the top. We can't go from dorsal freeze up to ventral. We have to move chronologically through sympathetic up into ventral, okay? And another thing I want to say about this theory is that people tend to have a home response. So you can have a home response in the dorsal vagal, or you can have a home response, like a stress response in the sympathetic, the fight or flight place. For me personally, I tend to go into the freeze place, and then I can stay then in the sympathetic. So I know what it is that I need to do to get out of the freeze and move up into ventral. So let me give you a few examples. If you're someone who can get a little bit stuck in the freeze place, you might find it really difficult to be motivated, or you might find it really difficult to implement self-care change over a long, long period of time, or it takes a huge amount of energy for you to actually get through tasks or work through creative projects. And there can be a lot of fear there. So your task is to figure out how to get out of your freeze dorsal place and move into sympathetic. And then from there, you can then figure out how to get from sympathetic. So let's talk about the jump from dorsal to sympathetic. So because sympathetic is an action-oriented place in the nervous system, that's what we need to do. So one of the really helpful things to help you move from freeze into fight or flight is movement. So just turning on some music, doing it a little bit of dancing, a little bit of very gentle yoga. It doesn't have to be a huge yoga routine. Can be if you want, of course, but it doesn't have to be perfect. A little bit of movement, even as you're boiling the kettle, just going up and down in your ankles and feeling into your ankles or feeling into your wrists, or just turning your shoulders or giving figure eights of your hips can be so, so powerful in just getting movement, somatic movement energy flowing through the body. Other things that help with coming out of dorsal are cleaning, taking action on things, ticking something off your to-do list. You can make a list of things that could work for you. It could be going for a walk in nature. Could be doing the shopping, taking the bins out. It could be painting your nails. It could be giving yourself a facial. It could be calling a friend. So something has to shift in your system. And sometimes it does take a little bit of a boost in order to do that. So what you need to then do is to figure out what would take the least amount of effort for you to get out of dorsal into sympathetic. So for me, that's often movement with music and/or a little bit of cleaning, or just putting the pots and pans back in the cupboards after doing the washing up. And then hopefully, when you take an action like that, you get a little bit of a feel-good, cortisol, adrenaline energy coming into your system. And you can start to feel yourself feeling motivated and feeling inspired again. And these are very, very subtle things that can happen. So really, the exercise is to start to begin to track your nervous system and to be curious about the different states, what moves you in and out of different states with some curiosity. Then when we are in the sympathetic nervous system and when we're doing action, what we want is to be in a nice kind of balance between action and the ventral vagal. A not very healthy in terms of a longer period of time, if we stay in the sympathetic nervous system for a long period of time, we're in that go, go, go, do, do, do, adrenaline, get things done, everything feels like pressure, that, over a long period of time, isn't healthy either. So you want is a little bit of relaxation feeling in your day where you have to get work done. So the way to move then into ventral, all the same things that I just said, it can be music, it can be meditation, it can be prayer, it can be journaling, but one of the most important things I think is the co-regulation piece. So sending a message to a friend just to let them know how you feel, even if it's just a little outreach message or a very, very brief call with someone who can support you, or writing a message in the support group in this group, or going for a coffee with someone, or organizing a social event a few days from now and to have that to look forward to, or organizing a trip away or organizing a holiday, spending time with animals, spending time in nature, going for a walk near some water, all of those things can be really, really helpful to move into the ventral vagal part of the nervous system. So this really is about you exploring, you getting to know your nervous system, getting really curious what it feels like in your body, the different kinds of thoughts you're having at the different places. And just tracking that, tracking that. Notice what is difficult and notice what is easy when you're in these different places. So for example, when I'm in my dorsal freeze place, I can find it very difficult to reach out and ask for support. So very often, because it's almost like I want to stay in that isolated place 'cause that feels safer. So what I need to do is to get out with some movement, with some tasks, with some achievement feeling, and then I move up into a more socially connected place. So that is the polyvagal theory. If you've any questions at all, come on over into the channel and we can have a chat about it. We'll be talking about it again in our live calls. But for now, I'd like you to just get really curious about it and feel free to ask any questions at all. - Hi everybody. In this video, we're going to have a look at a couple of soothing exercises for the nervous system. So these are exercises that I like to use with myself or for clients, to just help bring the nervous system down a little bit and to soothe the body so that we can support ourselves, especially if we're dealing with anxiety, depression, nervous energy. If we're worrying a lot or if we're spending a lot of time thinking about something or ruminating. These exercises can be very, very helpful if we are in pain or when we have anxiety around getting period pain because that's one of the things that can happen as well is if we've experienced period pain for many years, we can start to develop anxiety about the period pain. So this can be a great way to soothe yourself through the inner Oldham and through the void time of the menstrual cycle. And these come from a few different kinds of things that I like to bring together. So, the power of touch. So using your own hands to touch your body in a very gentle way that feels comfortable for you. The power of words. So, rather than speaking to the mind, we're really speaking to the body. We're speaking to the nervous system and trusting the wisdom of the body to receive what it needs to receive. Also the theory of the polyvagal theory and understanding the nervous system and then also, it's coming from Loving Kindness meditations. So practices, different types of meditations and one in particular, which is called Loving Kindness. Okay, so the first one, I'll just demonstrate it to you first. I'm going to explain what it is that I'm going to do. So using the palm of my hand, I'm going to bring it to touch my forehead. And then I will bring my left hand to touch my chest area. And then I'm going to ladder down and my right hand that was on my forehead is going to come to my tummy, my solar plexus. And then my left hand on my chest is going to come down to my womb space. And so I'm going to combine that with some Loving Kindness sentences or sentences from Metta meditation. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be free. Okay, so do you like to join with me? So just get comfortable in your seat. And maybe just explore with the hand movements first so just noticing what it feels like to place your hand on your forehead. And then placing your hand on your chest. Noticing that. And then place your hand on your tummy. And then laddering down to your womb. And then take a breath. Okay, let's add the sentences. And just keep your awareness inside and you can just follow along after me. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be free. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be free. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be free. And just take a breath. And just notice your body. So you can do that anywhere, anytime. And you don't necessarily need to ladder down either. It's just a good, they're good nervous system points to work with. You can also work with your limbs, your arms, your hands and you can be creative with your statements, with your Loving Kindness statements. May I be creative. May I be inspired today. May I be supported. May I feel ease with my menstrual cycle today. And just holding yourself quite literally in positive regard and being very gentle with your touch and very intentional with your words. So they are the Metta meditation words that you can use in combination with touch. And then if you really want to get a little bit more support with period pain as well, another thing that I like to do is really speak safety to the nervous system and reassure the system that it is safe because for many years, we may not have felt safe. And because of the stigma around menstruation and the lack of support we may have been... That we may have experienced with our difficulties around the menstrual cycle can result in feeling not safe in the body, feeling not safe as a woman, feeling not safe to menstruate. So it really is about, on the very deep, nervous system level, reassuring your body on a very cellular, molecular level, that you are safe to be a woman. You are safe to have a menstrual cycle and you are safe and entitled to have a healthy relationship with your menstrual cycle. Let's think about that for a moment and you can, of course, this is very much, you can play with creativity in terms of your own sense of how you bring safety into your own body for yourself but one of the ways I like to do it is very much similar to what we just did. Using touch and statements. So I'm going to do the chakras again and I'm going to use these statements. It is safe to be a woman. It is safe to menstruate. It is safe to release. It is safe to let go. So you can do that after me. It is safe to be a woman. It is safe to menstruate. It is safe to release. It is safe to let go. I am safe to be a woman. I am safe to menstruate. I am safe to release. I am safe to let go. So if you ever do find yourself in a lot of anxiety about pain or if you find yourself in a lot of pain, doing these kinds of exercises, even when you're sitting on the toilet or in the morning before you get out of bed, just take a moment to touch your body, speak safety to your system, trust that your body understands that deep wisdom, that deep language. And that that reassurance can be hugely healing and very, very powerful in building that sense of safety in the container of your skin over time. So give that a try. Let me know what you think. And see you soon. - Hi folks. Now that we have looked at the nervous system and the polyvagal theory, let's do an exercise together to understand the nature of our nervous system and to think of the different ways that we can support ourselves. So in this exercise, you are going to need a piece of paper and pen and some colored pens, even just a few different colored pens like blue, black, red is okay but if you have coloring pencils or markers, that's perfect too. So in the first exercise, I'd like for you to draw a ladder on your page that looks a little bit like this. With three sections. In the bottom, you have the dorsal freeze. In the middle, you have the sympathetic fight or flight. And at the top of the ladder, you have the ventral, the connected part of the nervous system. So when you draw on your ladder, I'd like for you to take a moment just to get comfortable in your chair. Take a few breaths. And we're going to start exploring the dorsal freeze in our bodies. So just take a moment to feel into the possibility of inviting a little bit of dorsal freeze into your system, if you're not there already. And just take a few breaths there and with full consent and with safety, allowing yourself a little bit of dorsal freeze into your system. And thinking about what you learned in the previous video about the nervous system. And then maybe take your pen and write a few words there that come to mind that you associate with the dorsal freeze. So words can be adjectives, such as disconnected. Isolated. Lonely. Or even bodily sensations like cold or numb. Tired. And just give yourself a moment to just let yourself explore the experience of the dorsal freeze in your body and expressing it through language. And you can write it in and around the ladder. And then maybe taking a colored pen. Choosing a color that for you represents the dorsal freeze. So it can be any color at all. For me, the color is gray. For some people, it's blue. Or others, it's black. There's no right or wrong with this exercise. Just taking a few breaths there. And then let's move together up the ladder. So we can always only move from dorsal to ventral through the sympathetic, so we always have to visit sympathetic. So let's visit the sympathetic fight or flight part of our ladder. And the same again, just take a moment to just allow a little bit of that adrenaline energy into your system. A little bit of fight or flight into your system. Welcome that with consent and with safety. And the same thing. Just take a moment to explore that with language. What words come to mind as you experience this in yourself? So it could be feeling rushed. Feeling pressure. Activated. Motivated. Fearful. Stressed. Overwhelmed. And just let language come to you as you express yourself here through words. And the same again, take a color that's available to you, that can represent this for you. And again, no right or wrong. Just take a color. For me, the color is orange or red. There's an urgency to this, to this part of the nervous system. And then let's move up the ladder together. Take a moment to look at the ventral section of your ladder, allowing ventral energy to come into your system with consent and with safety. A little bit of relaxation, a little bit of groundedness. A little bit of comfort. Just allow that to come into your system as we move up the ladder. And again, take your pen and write a few words here that express this experience for yourself. So it could be feeling connected. Feeling social. Feeling creative. Feeling inspired. Feeling spiritual. Feeling motivated. Feeling ease and freedom. And again, take a color. So for me, it's green. It can be any color. And then just pop that color down as well to mark that for yourself. So that will leave you with a ladder of words and experiences and color for you to reference. That represents for you your own nervous system and this is a great tool for you to have on your fridge, for you to keep coming back to. In the second part of this exercise, we're going to create a menu. So similar to a food menu but this is a nervous system menu. So take a look at your ladder and recall the different experiences that you have and the different parts of your nervous system. And this menu is going to comprise of different practical activities or things that we can engage in to help us move from freeze through sympathetic, up into ventral so that we feel we have a resource list or a toolkit that we can always come to when we need it, to support us to move us through the different stages of the nervous system. And the reason why it's really important to have this written down or to have a reference for this is because if we do spend a lot of time in freeze and in the dorsal part of our nervous system, our prefrontal cortex in our brain isn't fully functioning and it's very, very difficult to think of self-care and to not be in survival mode and in order for us to move up the ladder. So having a toolkit that is readily available for us, that we can rely on, means that we can lean into that when we do feel stuck or isolated. And if we're alone with that, especially. So taking your colored pens, I encourage you to be as creative as you want. So you can take the page of your ladder and flip it over and we're going to create a list of menu items. As you see here, I have written menu at the top and all of the different things that I can rely on in all different colors but you can draw pictures. You can create this in any way that you want. And the idea is to think of different things that will support you in coming back up the ladder. So things that you can do by yourself. Things that you can do inside. Things you can do outside. Things that you can do with people. So take a few moments for yourself to make a list of things that are enjoyable for you to do. So a few examples that I have here on my list that I rely on regularly are, doing the dishes, doing the dishes first thing in the morning really helps me to move out of a little bit of a dorsal freeze up into sympathetic. Music and dance. Tidying things. Calling a friend. Going for walk in nature. Prayer. Painting my nails. Reading a novel. Drinking water. Having a cup of tea. Taking a moment to eat some fruit in the afternoon. Doing some yoga. Taking a nap. Making a gratitude list. Doing some skincare or having a foot massage. Doing exercise, even taking a shower. So these very practical things, you don't have to do them all every day. They're there on your menu. You can pop them up with a magnet on your fridge or on your wall somewhere where you can see them easily. And this is a very powerful, very, very useful resource kit for you that you have visually available with a bit of color, with a bit of joy, for you to look at every day and to inspire yourself to take that tiny step towards moving up your nervous system ladder and regulating your nervous system. So have a lot of fun with that. Take as much time as you need. And I encourage you to really enjoy that exercise. - Hi everybody, in this video, we are going to have a look at PMS, premenstrual syndrome and period pain, what they are, and some things that you can do to help support PMS and period pain. So let's start with PMS. PMS is an experience that people who menstruate have prior to their period, and it really varies from person to person. So it can be bloating, mood swings, irritability, aches and pains in the body, headaches, cravings for certain foods, skin issues, either rashes or spots or even sinus problems. It usually occurs in the body prior to mensuration so in the inner autumn season of the menstrual cycle, and it's usually a reaction for various reasons, there can be a lot of inflammation in the body. There can be a lot of stress in the nervous system, and also the changes of the hormones going up and down can cause symptoms of PMS to occur. So it's really about tracking, getting to know your symptoms, what is normal for you to experience before your period and what parts of your PMS would you like to work on? Is it perhaps something that's interfering in your life? And we're gonna have a look at a few different ways that we can bring down the symptoms of PMS. So one of my favorite remedies for PMS also has the acronym PMS, which is please make space. It is my experience and also by belief coming from a lot of women who I've worked with over the years, that the nervous system and the body via PMS is telling us to slow down. So coming up to our periods, psychosomatically, there is a need for space, there is a need to slow down. There's a need for rest and to bring the nervous system down and down as much as we can and to soothe ourselves. So have a look at your diary, see where you can make space, see what doesn't need to be done. Can you postpone one or two things until after you menstruate and just take a little bit more space in your day, just to rest, to be quiet, maybe do some gentle meditation or some really gentle movement, or a little bit more exercise for yourself and just make space for yourself because that's really important, especially for people who do experience emotional irritability and it's interfering with their relationships to create space for yourself will be a great remedy for that symptom of PMS. Then to think about other ways to soothe your nervous system and that will really be very different for everyone. For some people it's mindfulness meditation. For others, it's movement or practicing something creative, like dance or art, or reading a book, eating nourishing foods, talking to people you love, spending time with the people you'd like to spend time with. Whatever it is for you that really feels like you're soothing the nervous system, you're bringing down your nerves, you're nourishing yourself on that very deep level will really help you with PMS. Then on an emotional level, it's also very important to consider what is happening for you there. So it's very common to experience quite heightened emotions when we have PMS and the trick is to not ignore them, but actually if you have some time in your day to tune into them and to very gently lean into your emotions. Is there sadness there? Is there anger there? Is there grief there, is there fear or anxiety, and I would recommend taking some time maybe with a journal or sitting down with a candle on your yoga mat and going into a very relaxed meditation and just allowing yourself to feel your feelings for just a short period of time and to have a very honest conversation with yourself in terms of what is needed, what is underneath those symptoms of PMS because very often there's a truth that is being suppressed or hidden or doesn't have space to come out. The pre-menstrual time is also a time where many women can get a lot of benefit from tuning into their spirituality. So through yoga, journaling, meditation, prayer, and whatever spirituality means for you, spending time in nature, or just sitting quietly in silence, giving yourself that space every day and the week before your period to just nourish that spiritual part of you can really, really do wonders for PMS. Then on a physical level, keeping up your cardio exercise is very important because it keeps the blood flow going, it keeps the lymph system going, especially if there's bloating or aches and pains in the body, making sure you're getting plenty of fresh air, drinking lots of water and eating lots of foods that have fiber. So fruits and vegetables to make sure that your digestion is intact and you're eliminating what you need to eliminate from your body prior to your period, then keeping your alcohol intake low, keeping sugar and caffeine low as much as you can. And just eating food that isn't processed, fresh fruits and vegetables, warm soups, salads, stews, lots of grains and pulses can be great for keeping those physical symptoms of PMS at bay. I also recommend if you don't already maybe considering taking a magnesium supplement, you can get that in your local pharmacy or in your local health food store. And that helps to bring the nervous system down and help soothe and calm the nervous system. And also if you get a lot of pain, turmeric supplements can also really help with bringing down inflammation. Then let's talk about period pain. So all of the things I've just mentioned can really help actually prevent period pain. So resting before your period, moving with the cycle of your periods. So tracking your cycle and tuning into your inner autumn and what your needs are in the inner autumn and pacing yourself slowly coming up to your period can really prevent a bit of a train wreck when it comes to mensuration. So all of those things and focusing on bringing PMS down will really benefit you if you are someone who experiences period pain. Then there are two types of period pain. There is primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. So secondary dysmenorrhea is a experience of period pain that is caused by a physical condition in the body, such as endometriosis or fibroids or something else that will need the attention of your doctor or your gynecologist. So if you do experience period pain, that is very painful, that is getting in the way of your day or you're fainting or throwing up, or you just can't get on with your day, then I would recommend going to your doctor or going to your gynecologist, maybe seeing the nutritionist as well and getting some extra support with that because it could be coming from something like endometriosis or fibroids or a condition that you can get help with in the medical world. But the most common cause of period pain is actually primary dysmenorrhea, which is the medical term for period pain, kind of normal regular period pain that many women experience and some women experience it to a very extreme level. And they might not necessarily have endometriosis, but they still experience very heavy crumping, perhaps they experienced lightheadedness, fainting, and sometimes even diarrhea or vomiting. And these can all be also as a result of primary dysmenorrhea. So the main reason why we experienced period pain is as a result of a hormone called prostoglandins. And these are hormones that are released into the system to allow the uterus to contract, to allow menstruation to actually happen. They're the same hormone that are also present for labor during birth, but for menstruation, some women have too many of these and it causes a lot of pain, causes the uterus to contract, but unnecessarily. And these hormones can also cause the digestive tract to contract as well unnecessarily so which can result in diarrhea with the onset of menstruation. So if you suspect that you have this type of period pain, there's a couple of things you can do to help bring those levels of prostoglandins then. So firstly, I do suggest if you can, if you don't have an allergy and if you're happy with what your doctor says to take a anti-inflammatory medication that you can just get in the pharmacy like ibuprofen, but the trick is to not wait until your pain is completely out of hand. Lots of people think that they'll wait until the pain is at its worst to take the ibuprofen, but if you are someone who experiences period pain every single month, and you're working on reducing it through taking changes with your diet and your lifestyle, I would suggest to give yourself full permission to continue taking ibuprofen, but to take it in a smart way. So the smart way would be to take it maybe a couple of days before your two year period, or you can also take it with the onset of menstruation just when you get your period and what the ibuprofen does is it brings the levels of prostoglandins down in the system before they get out of hand. So you're kind of like nipping it in the bud and preventing your period pain from getting really, really bad. And this will actually then prevent the need for further medication during your period whereas if you take your painkiller when the pain already has gotten really bad, you might need to take a lot more painkillers in the next few days. So that's a smart way to take ibuprofen and in the meantime, you can work on your diet and your lifestyle to prevent period pain from being there in the first place. I also like to use castor oil packs. You can Google these, there's lots of blogs about castor oil packs, but essentially what it is is you take a face cloth and you pour castor oil on the cloth and you then put it on your belly and then put some cling film over and then a towel and then a hot water bottle. And you lie back for half an hour, maybe listen to a meditation. The castor oil will help and it seeps into your liver and your digestive tract onto your womb and helps to detox that area. So do that maybe once or twice a week when you're not menstruating. So don't do this when you're menstruating because it can cause heavy bleeding, but maybe a couple of weeks before your period once or twice a week. And it's also a nice way to just relax and soothe the nervous system. You can also look into something called vaginal steaming, which is a complimentary therapy, which is sitting on the toilet with a warm bowl of water in the toilet that has hot water in it and herbs. So I advise that you Google vaginal steaming and see if you can find somewhere local to where you live who sells the herbs. The herbs are usually things like lavender and chamomile and very gently to steam the vaginal area, but do you make sure that you do correctly and I advise that you find a practitioner in your area or someone in your country who can send you this in the post and with very clear instructions on how to do it and it's a really nice cleanse for the vaginal tract and it helps to relax the muscles of that area too. Then abdominal massage is wonderful as well. There are some people who practice something called Maya Massage therapy. So I recommend that you see if you can find someone who you can learn from how to do this, it's a practice you can do at home. And there are many practitioners all over the world who can teach this to you. And if there's no one near where you live, you can just massage your abdominal area regularly, get a really nice massage oil, maybe with some lavender oil and a carrier oil and start to massage your abdominal, massage your womb space, and even massage your lower back regularly maybe before you go to sleep to just bring some relaxation to this part of the body before your period is due. And it can really help with digestion as well. And lastly, because the womb is such a deep, emotional place for a lot of women and we are so connected to our emotions via our room as well as our creativity and we are connected to our maternal lineage via our womb, it's a good idea to start to build an emotional relationship with your womb. So maybe taking a journal, writing a letter to your womb, maybe thinking about when you got your first period, what was going on in the context of your life when you got your first period and maybe journaling on that, maybe working with a therapist or coach, maybe thinking about when your period pain first started in your life and thinking about what was happening around you in your life when your period pain first started, because there's a huge emotional connection to pain and bringing some healing to our stories, bringing some healing to our emotions can really do wonders for the body. This just takes some time so go gently with it, but it's a really, really nice thing to do and a lot of women benefit hugely from this. So those are my tips on PMS and period pain. I really hope they help you and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any more questions. - Hi everyone, in this video, I would like to speak a little bit about the idea of menstrual cycle awareness being a practice for our creativity and also for our spirituality. So in this image, we have here a pyramid which shows at the bottom, we have the self-care layer to menstrual cycle awareness, and then we have creativity. And then we have with the top of the pyramid spirituality. So the majority of this course we've been talking about that very, very important foundation layer, the self-care layer, and there's a reason why it takes up more space in this image. It is because it is so important to first have that down and understand our menstrual cycle, understand our needs and understand how we can take care of ourselves in order to feel connected on a very somatic body-based level to our menstrual cycle. And it's only from this place of having a relationship with our cycle, even if it's good or bad, every day will be different. It's really about having some kind of connection with the menstrual cycle so that we can then access the next two layers of the pyramid so the creativity and the self-care. And when it comes to creativity, after a while when we're practicing menstrual cycle awareness and we start to learn to develop this lovely relationship with the cycle, we start to then be able to integrate that into our creative lives. So for example, you might start to notice trends and patterns coming through in your menstrual cycle awareness and tracking experience where you feel more inspired. For example, you might feel more inspired in your inner winter. Lots of women have reported receiving a lot of inspiration in their inner winter. And so I suppose the practice there, if you are someone who receives a lot of ideas and lovely creative thoughts during your inner winter is to take dictation from the divine. So to allow that lovely inspirational energy and creative thoughts to come through, but just to be mindful of where you are in terms of your menstrual cycle, so that you can always keep coming back to that self-care layer. So if you are receiving great ideas, you might receive a business idea or an idea for a creative project, or maybe an idea for a novel, it's a lot to take on, and it's a lot to do and to initiate in your inner winter when you're on a physiological level quite vulnerable. So the sacred task here for this integration piece around creativity is to take dictation from the divine and to allow yourself to sit with the idea and let the idea kind of work through the cycle. So you might receive an idea or you might receive, if you're a writer, you might receive lots of creative thoughts. It's good to write them down and get them all on paper or if you're an artist of some sort, let yourself be messy and just put the paint on paper and then work it through the cycle so then in the spring time, and maybe come back, take more action and let yourself play, let that lovely quality of innocence come through with your creative idea. And then in the summer, you might start to take things more seriously and look at what needs to be done. There might be more confidence and focus. And then in the inner autumn, you might feel a sense of discernment coming through your body that allows you to then discern what needs to be let go of, what needs to be edited, what needs to be abandoned. And then in the inner winter, you might then get a sense of what needs to die, what is no longer serving this particular creative project and art is kind of create space for new ideas to come through. So very similar to our practice of menstrual cycle awareness, where we learn to surrender in the winter, we learned to cherish ourself in spring, we learned to say yes to the world and show up in the inner summer and we learn to discern and to say no and to slow down in the inner autumn, you can very much apply this framework to your creative projects, and it doesn't necessarily have to sync with where you are in your cycle, but it's so helpful to know what's going on in your body and your mind and your emotions when it comes to approaching your creative lives. Because this approach really acknowledges the true life-death life cycle nature of all things that we as women hold in our bodies through our menstrual cycle. But it's also something that is important to acknowledge in our creative projects and all forms of creation that we bring out into the world. And what I mean by that is that this framework and menstrual cycle awareness teach us from a very embodied level, the importance of honoring the life-death life cycle of all things and so we start to learn to have respect for the need to let go of things and the need for things to be shared or abandoned and the importance of death, if you will. So, when we allow things to die in their natural sort of calling in the way that the menstrual cycle, every month we have this life-death life cycle, it creates space and that opportunity for new life to come in and the more we start to live in that way, and the more we start to trust our menstrual cycle from that self-care point of view and start to learn to surrender, it gives us this amazing skill to be able to show up in the world and do it in our creative lives as well and to not be afraid to say no to things and to not be afraid to say yes to things and to not be afraid to kind of work with this ebb and flow of the ying and the yang, and to let things build up and then let things come back down. And so with that pyramid, with the self-care, the creativity and the spirituality at the top, it's this beautiful integration of those three qualities together where we're working out a very conscious level with our self-care in our body that allows for our creativity to be, I suppose, held within that container. And then that opens up this lovely realm for spirituality, which essentially is trusting, trusting the process, trusting your body, trusting your intuition, feeling a connection to yourself, feeling a connection to something other greater than you, feeling a connection to the life-death life cycle of all life, really, and feeling a connection to, I suppose, the life force that is running in the world and that keeps all of life and creation living and dying and living and dying. And so when we come to the top of the pyramids, the spirituality section, which is, I suppose, it's really very different what your spiritual practice is for you, what spirituality means for you, whether it's religion, whether it's spirituality, whether it's anything, it really is up to you to decide what that means for you. But when it comes to menstrual cycle awareness, it really is about establishing that bottom layer, the self-care layer, allowing yourself to work your menstrual cycle through your creativity, and even through your relationships in life. And then coming to that beautiful place of feeling like even though our menstrual cycle might not be doing exactly what we want and even though we might have days where we're physically and emotionally suffering, ultimately we come to learn to really trust the cycle. And it's like the cycle can really... It's like a container that becomes a support in our lives, and there's no longer this thing that is a burden or a non event or something that's causing us harm every month or something that we're afraid of. Rather, we're really learning to establish a relationship so that we can flip it on its head and come to trust it. And almost like we're now at this point where we can allow the menstrual cycle into our lives as though it's kind of been knocking on our door all along, waiting for us to wake up and welcome it in ultimately because it's connected in a very holistic way to all parts of our lives. So our nervous system and our endocrine system, and we talked about the polyvagal theory, it really, really is this beautiful lens through which we can understand ourselves and understand our life and it's almost like it can become this compass and a place where we can drop insight for inner guidance even during the days where we really don't like our menstrual cycle and I suppose that's ultimately what the reality of what relationships are. They're not all perfect. They're not all agreeing. They're composed of all different colors and elements and it's really about holding the true nature of it as something that's not black and white. It's a great mixture of all different colors and shapes and sizes and experiences and every single day of our menstrual cycle will be so different. And even as we track our cycle, we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of having our expectations too high of our cycle, rather just every single day, if we can find a place where we can meet our cycle with what's showing up and doing our best in terms of self-care, and then not using menstrual cycle awareness and the practice of menstrual cycle awareness to put ourselves into boxes or to think, oh, I should be this way, or to have unrealistic expectations or to use cycle awareness to criticize ourselves rather. How can we allow menstrual cycle awareness, our self-care practice, our creativity be something that allows us to feel held and supported and connected to ourselves, to nature and to other women as well? So I just like to speak a little bit also to rituals and practices that you can do to help you feel more aligned and connected to yourself, or that can support you through the practice of menstrual cycle awareness. So it's really very, very personal for what you wish to do. Everyone here has a different background, a different history, a different story, and some of us might already have religious and spiritual practices in our daily lives. And so this really is about exploring what really works for you and what would feel right for you. I'm just gonna give you a few examples to think about, but I would really encourage you to sort of take some time to drop in and over the next few days after you've listened to this video and explore in your heart and in your gut and in your mind, what would feel right for you in terms of the spirituality part of this work? So some women have been known to take a little bit of their menstrual blood, which is very handy if you're using something like a Mooncup and every month, or when they feel called to, they might bring it to the forest and put it on the earth as a way to, I suppose, ritualize their menstrual cycle and the life-death life cycle and a lot of women see that as giving back to nature and giving back to the earth because ultimately our menstrual blood has been shamed for so long and has been kind of labeled as something that was disgusting, but actually menstrual blood is very nutritious, it's what supports our pregnancy and the most vulnerable life on earth before it sees any light of day so there's a lot of nutrients in it. And some women like to give it to plants as well, or their vegetables or flowers. S So that's something to think about. I also have heard of some women who used their menstrual blood to paint, so you can be quite creative with it. I personally don't do that, but you can do what works for you. And it's also probably because I'm not really an artist, but I've seen some really interesting artwork on social media where women do that and it's really, really very powerful thing to do. I think tracking the menstrual cycle and just having a journal is definitely like a spiritual practice that you can use. Even just keeping an eye every day of how you feel and not just writing down, like how you feel and for the intention of trying to like fix your menstrual cycle or like force a relationship, but just like giving yourself a little bit of space to kind of really be with yourself and to... If you are feeling sad or vulnerable in any way or depleted to just take a moment to just like really allow yourself to really feel those feelings and almost like as though the feelings themselves can be held tenderly in your hands. And so that you're giving yourself lots of TLC no matter what's going on. So even if you feel angry with your menstrual cycle or you're feeling self-hatred, or you've had a difficult day in terms of work or there's relationship problems going on in your life, is there somewhere within you where you can create a sense of spaciousness where you don't have to necessarily fix the feelings or change them, or do anything with them, but rather just really tend to them and really hold them close to your heart as though you're giving them a kind of a soothing balm. And then from that place, then asking what is it that I really need? What would be so kind for me to do right now? And it could be something as small as watching something on Netflix, lighting a candle and having a cup of tea and just giving yourself a lovely cozy night in, or maybe if you're in your inner summer, it would be to reach out to a friend and to speak through with a friend cause remember what the polyvagal theory, it's very important to have co-regulation or to speak to your listening partner, or maybe cook a nice meal and turn on some music. So it's really about understanding what's going on for you physically, emotionally, mentally, and then keeping in mind where you are in your cycle, and then using that information to help you to figure out what would be really helpful during this time to shift your energy so that you can feel more connected and more aligned and supported, and that you can come back to that place of trust and holding. Some women also like to use their menstrual cycle for intention setting. So they might write down an intention just before menstruation or in their inner autumn and have a little ritual. You can light a candle, burn some sage, or pull out your angel cards or whatever, and journal your intention or journal of what it is you want to manifest in the next month and then journal what it is you want to let go of. And you can write a list of things that you want to let go of and maybe burn the list, or even just intentionally letting yourself if there's a lot of things that you'd like to let go of, or ways of thinking or emotions that you want to let go of, allowing yourself to like psychosomatically work that through your body, so that when you're menstruating, giving yourself some time to really let yourself process that through the body and when grief or uncomfortable emotions come up, rather than running away from them or trying to fight them or fix them, you're really meeting them and you're practicing self-care so that you can hold your difficult emotions, but letting yourself feel them because then it's through that sort of surrender to our feelings that we can really allow things to be let go and it's almost like as the blood is coming out of the womb every month, it's like psychosomatically you can let go even more and more and more. And it's a really, really helpful way to work through grief and transition and change and fear and anxiety and all the emotions that come up in everyone's lives, uncertainty and dropping into that void place and dropping into the unknown when we're menstruating and letting ourselves be held by the sort of the sacred power of what is the menstrual cycle. There's something very sacred to the menstrual cycle ultimately because at the end of the day, it is what allows us to all be here. It's what allows for life to be... It has allowed for life to be created. So it is a very sacred thing. And if you look back on generations prior to the patriarchal society, women on the menstrual cycle were really honored and respected, and there was a reverence to it. And if you're not really into rituals or you don't have time for them, or you're just not really feeling it, I would just encourage you to just give yourself as much practice of inner kindness every day or every week and just coming back to yourself and just bringing the spotlight of awareness back to yourself. One of the most difficult things I think can be relating to people in the outer world and relating to the world itself when it comes to menstrual cycle awareness, or even just life in general. I think a lot of our challenges come from struggling to relate with the outer world or with people in our lives. And it can bring up a lot of emotions and uncertainty. So any time when you're practicing menstrual cycle awareness and to bring a practice of and bringing the focus back on you and bringing a sense of kindness back on yourself can be so healing and so helpful because it brings the focus back on ourselves where we're less kind of obsessing over the outer world. We're less hypervigilant over the outside world, but rather we're coming back to a gentleness and a kindness and a calmness within ourselves. And while that might sound a little bit idealistic and over time, it is actually a skill that you can really, really learn and harness over time, it's a practice, it can be really difficult to do that especially if you are someone who was raised in a family where there wasn't a lot of healthy soothing, or you were raised, I'll speak for myself, my mother had postnatal depression when I was younger so learning to really care for myself and practice self-care and to be kind to myself didn't come naturally even though my experience of postnatal depression was definitely not something I remembered. Because it was such an early foundational life experience on an emotional level, it's something that I definitely carried through into my life. And while these things happen and it's not at all anyone to blame about that, it's just something that happened, it was my responsibility to learn how can I really practice self-care? How can I really... When I really struggled and I want to explode, how can I actually just practice the art of holding the tension in the spring, holding the tension in the inner autumn and come back to me. And what I found is rituals and everything really helps. For me, I like to journal. I like to keep things really, really simple because it's very easy to fall into the trap of oh, I'm not doing X, Y, and Z, therefore I'm not doing it correctly and so I've learned that the hard way. So I keep things really simple and rather just on a very energetic level in myself every day, practice my menstrual cycle awareness, my self-care, my creativity, my spirituality in a way that I don't need extra things in my life. Yes, I need relationships. That's really important and I always need a pen and paper cause I love to write. And I do like the odd candle, but I don't make lists of intentions and lists of things unless I'm going through a really, really difficult time or unless I really want to manifest something big in my life. But ultimately what has been so helpful for me is to just help to tell myself that I'm doing the best I can and practice menstrual cycle awareness and really, really learn to trust in the body and trust in the interconnectedness of nature and of life itself and coming back to that place of trust and connection and doing from a self-care point of view, doing what I can in my day to help me feel connected and aligned because it's only from that place of feeling connected and aligned that I feel the connection to my own spiritual process. So I hope that makes sense. It's a difficult thing to share on spirituality, but it's one of my favorite parts of this work. I'm a big, big... I just have a lot of passion for it, but I'm also a big believer in the importance of self-care, the importance of relationship building, the importance of things, not needing to be perfect, the importance of keeping things simple and for you to find what is the right practice for you cause we're all so different and we all have different personalities and backgrounds and that makes it so wonderful. So do come and share in the Slack classroom what you think about the creative cycle, what you think about the spirituality element to menstrual cycle awareness and what are the things that help you feel connected and help you feel aligned so that you can feel more creative and more connected to yourself and more access to joy and ease in your life. And that's what this practice is about. It's really about learning to understand our cycles so that we can figure out the tools that we need and that work for us. So do come and share, have a lovely day. - So as you build your relationship with your menstrual cycle, as you track and get curious about who you are around your menstrual cycle with the different seasons and how you feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually around your cycle, you'll start to notice themes in yourself and perhaps you'll start to notice days where your inner critic is coming up stronger and days where it's not as loud for you. So I'm here to teach you what I have learned from my teachers who teach this work at Red School is that the home of the inner critic is the inner autumn of the menstrual cycle. And the reason for that is because the inner autumn is the time of the menstrual cycle, generally speaking, where we are more psychosomatically more clear, we have stronger and more capacity for assertiveness and for communication skills. And when I say the inner autumn, what I really mean is that time after ovulation, where you feel like you've really landed in the season of autumn, where progesterone is coming into the system. One of the roles of progesterone is to soothe the nervous system. And we do still have a little bit of estrogen, at least it rises a little bit. So there's kind of a nice balancing out of hormones here during this time. There is not such a high energy as there was in the summer. The energy is kind of steadying, it's coming down. And a lot of us, we very much have the ability to really see the truth of things and to see things as they really, really are. Some women even have almost psychic-like abilities during this time. So it's really about finding that place in your inner autumn, where you feel you have a good capacity to reason, but to be assertive and affirm yourself with your own inner critic, where you can have a very reasoned and rational and honest conversation with your critic. Because the inner critic will actually come up quite strong in the inner autumn, but we are kind of almost soul selves, can be quite strong during this time. And it's really about finding a place in your inner autumn where you can very comfortably and honestly really meet your critic and have those conversations with your critic. For some people however, the inner autumn can be quite difficult. So it's really up to you to find the days in your autumn where your inner critic, where you can feel comfortable and safe enough to have that conversation, to let your inner critic in a little bit and have those conversations with it. This is not a few days before menstruation or the day before menstruation. 'Cause remember, that's usually like the void place where we can be very vulnerable and highly sensitive where our hormones are actually plummeting quite quickly there. So that's not the place of the inner critic. And also to be careful with just around, just maybe the day of or a couple of days after ovulation, because that's when estrogen drops quite drastically as well before progesterone comes in. So it's really that time where you may feel a sense to start cleaning the house, to start organizing things, to start to start sorting, to start ticking things off your to-do list. And that almost is a way of the inner critic coming in and saying, "Oh, the the place isn't good enough, it needs to be cleaned, it needs to be organized" so that you can rest properly when menstruation arrives. So when it comes to the rest of the menstrual cycle, I also really want to talk about the different seasons and how if the inner critic comes in quite strongly in the other seasons, how that can impact us. So let's start with the inner winter. The inner winter, the time of menstruation is where hormones are at their absolute lowest. And it can be the most vulnerable time, the void or the inner winter can be the most vulnerable time for many people. So it's very important to keep that in mind. Our hormones and our physicality are our container for our psychological experience and our emotional selves. So if you think about it, there's not enough buffer there during that time to contain a strong inner critic. So if you notice yourself as you track cycle after cycle, having a very strong inner critic in your inner winter, it's very important to really consider that. And I'm here to tell you that your inner critic is not allowed into that space. It's very important then to have a very firm and assertive conversation with your inner critic. And cycle after cycle, you will start to build that skill of creating a boundary with your inner critic and asking your inner critic to leave, once you agree with it, that it can come your way again in your inner autumn. And this might show up just as like criticizing thoughts of yourself or feeling guilty for not doing enough or feeling guilty for resting, or I dunno, maybe comparing yourself to others on social media as a way to "rest" during your period. And that can then feed quite negative thinking during your period, when you are at your psychological and physiological most vulnerable time. And when I say vulnerable, I don't necessarily mean weak, but just more sensitive, very highly sensitive. And there are skills and abilities to those sensitivities that usually want space and time. It's a good time to process emotion and to really be very, very still. It can be quite a spiritual time actually. So, to really give yourself that and to not let the critic come in here, just be really careful of that. I would really want to stress that, especially for the inner winter, that if the inner critic does come in quite strongly there, do something about it. Talk to me, talk to a friend, get some support with that, if that's happening time and time again and again. Because it's coming from somewhere, it's wanting to express something to you, but it's really not going to help you in any way whatsoever in the inner winter. So do what you can, as best as you can to give yourself full permission to just banish the inner critic from your inner winter. Then similarly in the inner spring, I'm afraid this is a no-go zone for the inner critic. I really, honestly mean that because the inner spring, again, it is a very delicate, tender time hormonally and therefore psychosomatically, and also physiologically. In the world that we live in, where there can be a lot of pressure on us to do a lot of things and achieve a lot of things in a short space of time, when we come out of menstruation, it's tempting to really push our energy forward and catch up on things, which many of us do, and I often still do that. But what can happen is then we, as I said, in the previous teachings, our energy starts to dip, our mood starts to dip. It can be a very vulnerable time emotionally, and the inner critic can actually kind of seep in here as a result of not being there during menstruation. So again, be really careful with that inner springtime. That is a very delicate time for mental health, for emotions, for our spirits. And similar to the archetype of the inner maiden that I spoke about before, there is an innocence there, there's a vulnerability there and it needs a lot of space and time. So again, the sacred task of the inner spring is to cherish yourself as much as possible. So if your inner critic is coming in very strong in your inner spring, do what you can to just, again, same as inner winter banish, boundary, have a firm conversation with it, get support with it. Do whatever you can to just remove the inner critic from that space. It doesn't belong in the inner spring. Then if you're noticing your inner critic quite strong in your inner summer, it is most likely due to burn out of some sort. Not resting enough at menstruation or pushing out of menstruation through your inner spring. So just pay attention to how you pace yourself through your seasons and see if you can just slow down a little bit. The tiniest bit can make the biggest difference. We're really working with small, small, 1% changes cycle after cycle here. Again, not such a big deal if the inner critic comes in quite strong when you're in the inner summer, but just be mindful of it if it does. And if it does, again, ask it to leave. This is a time for play, for fun, for saying yes to the world, for taking risks, for working on your confidence. And yeah, do what you can to remove the inner critic. But generally speaking, it's most likely due to not supporting the body enough on a physical level, when the inner critic comes up in the inner summer. Also the inner critic can kind of show up in a little bit of a reverse way in the inner summer in that if you do have a lot of physical, emotional, and mental energy and a lot of chi in your system, a lot of estrogen during the inner summer, and you have a lot of desire for connection, for example, and it's not being channeled into anything. So you might not be exercising or you might not be socializing enough, or, you know, you might be avoiding putting your energy into a creative project or a work project of some sort. The inner critic can show up in that way as well, because in a way, that energy wants to be channeled. It's a very outward focused time, the spring and the summer. So just be sure that you're giving yourself enough opportunities to get your energy out into the world. And you're meeting people, you're connecting, you're exercising, you're moving yourself, you're moving your body in terms of mental health, movement: dance, cardio exercise, weightlifting, all of those things are brilliant for mental health, especially in the inner spring and the inner summer of the menstrual cycle. So if you feel that you have a sense that your inner critic is coming up quite strong, maybe it's been there for years, or maybe it's coming up quite strong in a particular season of your menstrual cycle. This is really an opportunity for you to start to get to know the inner critic a little bit more. And so the really important word here for you would be curiosity. So really taking a very objective observing mind that we spoke about at the very start of this course. It's like you have a lens of awareness right here, and just taking a really curious point of view for your inner critic. So that you can get to know your inner critic, you can be curious about your inner critic, you can glean where the inner critic is coming from exactly. And the inner critic will often show up in different forms that I'm going to talk about in the next video. But for now, begin to start to think about, what does the inner critic feel like on a physical level? What does it feel like on a mental and emotional level, maybe even on a spiritual level? How does it feel in me? How do I feel in my inner summer when it's not there? Or, how do I feel in my inner winter when it's not there? Or if it's showing up in inner spring, what is it doing? What's it saying? Get really curious and start to just observe your inner critic as much as you can. And if it becomes too much, just take a big step back. So this is really about really small gentle changes, a small gentle approach to getting to know something that can be quite harsh, and that can be there for quite a long time. It can be even intergenerational stuff. And so there are different ways the inner critic can show up. It can very much be ourselves, things that we do in our head or beliefs that we have that we don't know that we have, they can be unconscious beliefs. They, the inner critic can be a part of our upbringing. So maybe asking yourself, noticing the inner critic, and then asking yourself who does this voice remind me of? If I'm criticizing a very particular thing about myself, is that something was criticized in my family or did my mother's mother criticize her for those things? And get kind of curious about what the situation was like at home and also in previous generations as well. Because sometimes parents will overcompensate to replace something that was not there when they were younger. And the inner critic can be quite obvious in terms of unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. And it can also be very much informed by our socio-cultural environment. So the type of economy that we live in, the political systems that we have, the political ideologies, religions. Educational upbringing, so what kind of schools we were in. Where was the focus in school? For example, was there a huge focus on grades or on sports, or was it more relaxed? Things like that, even like our relationship with social media, I think all the things like that or even relationship with the health and wellness world and the information that we're reading regularly, the information that we're used to reading. And so really being kind of objective, being very curious and starting to get to know your inner critic from that place. If you can detach a little bit from the emotions that it's triggering within you. And as I said before, be very careful with this. This is very gentle work. It's very powerful work, but it's very important to be as gentle as you can. And the more gentleness you can bring in for yourself and the more cherishing that you can do for yourself, the better you'll get to know your critic. So really this is about, even starting with that, starting with cherishing yourself as much as you can. Building up that skill of defaulting to inner kindness, inner compassion, that can take a while to do. So I would really encourage you to start with that as you do this work. And this is not something that you will get to know in the short time of this workshop. This is very much a practice that you can start to develop over time, and it will be there for you for years to to think about and to rely on. But I would also really encourage you to build up your inner cherishing skills, your inner compassion, your inner kindness, your curiosity, your objectivity, as much as you can. Because that will really allow you to meet your critic as much as you can.

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