Women's health and cycle awareness
Written by Iselin Amanda Stoylen - 2 February, 2023
This week we share the wisdom on women's health and cycle awareness of Iselin Amanda Støylen in stories of our sisterhood. Iselin is a women’s health counsellor, fertility awareness educator and herbalist. With her work, she is devoted to supporting women in reconnecting to their body's innate wisdom, and the natural state of health and well-being that resides within.
OUR MENSTURAL CYCLE - WORDS BY ISELIN
The menstrual cycle is a well of wisdom; a multidimensional experience that has the potential to transform our lives and our relationship to ourselves. It has been my homecoming. For women who are in their fertile years, the menstrual cycle often provides the foundation for the work we do together. She is the ultimate teacher.
Cultivating a relationship to my own cycle has been, and continues to be, one of my most valuable teachers in life. This relationship has taught me so much about myself, and allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of what rest, respect and self nurturance truly means. It has also been a profound tool for self awareness, presence and listening, assisting me in living a life of harmony, peace and service.
Just as each woman is unique in her individuality, so are each woman’s cycle and her own relationship with her cycles. This is partly why I find my work with women particularly as interesting and rewarding as it is. There are no moulds to fit into, nor any pre-constructed paths to blindly follow. It is a reconnection to the Wild Woman, the Natural Woman, and she must forage her own paths upon this journey.
When beginning to develop and understand our cycles, there are many tools and wisdom that often proves itself useful. Learning from each other's insights and experiences is of course an important piece, particularly from women who have walked these paths before us. There is also much wisdom to find in traditional forms of medicine, where cultivation and preservation are important aspects.
HONOURING OUR BLEED
According to Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the time of menstruation is a period of detoxification and purification: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Menstruation is a process that supports health, wellbeing and longevity, and modern researchers have even asked the question if the process of menstruation is a contributing factor to why women live longer than men. We don’t know whether this is true yet, but it is possible.
Menstruation is governed by a force that in Ayurveda is known as ‘Apana Vaju’. This is a downward moving force, bringing us down towards the Earth and
calling us in towards ourselves. During menstruation, we wish to support the flow of this energy, through the foods we eat, the ways we spend our time, and through our practices, thoughts and our awareness.
BLEEDING AS CEREMONY
Women naturally have the ability to connect to the rhythms and cycles of Nature, as we are ourselves Cyclical. Our wombs hold the sacred energy of ‘Shakti Prana,’ the energy that gives life to all of Creation. Shakti Prana is a Divine energy of insight, power, wisdom, and the carrier of life itself. The window of menstruation is a sacred time of insight, sight, intuition, and clarity, and ideally, should be treated as such. When a woman bleeds, her Shakti Prana is in itself revitalised and cleansed. It is as much a physical detox and purification as it is emotional and mental. This process can be supported and enhanced, as much as it can be slowed down and prevented.
Ideally, the time of our monthly bleed is a time for introspection, to pause, and to invite a deeper sense of connection into our lives. It is a time of remembering and of understanding the body’s inherent knowledge: She understands change, rhythm, and transformation.
A few simple, basic steps that women generally find supportive, includes:
- Rest. Allow the time of menstruation to be a time of sacred rest and pause. If you are able to plan this into your monthly schedule, it is often easier to spend a few days resting, nesting and tending to yourself.
For some, this might mean a few days of complete stillness. For others, including those who are mothers, this might mean scheduling in one hour each day during your bleed of rest and stillness.
- Eat light, warm, nourishing meals when you are bleeding. Focus on foods that are well cooked, easy on the digestive system, and have a warming, grounding quality.
- Sip warm teas, broths and soups, and avoid anything cold or refrigerated. Warmth supports our digestive fire, whilst cold slows it down and dampens it.
- Include a little sweet in your diet, such as dates, dried figs, raw honey and sweet vegetables, as these build Ojas in the body.
- Stay away from things that are overly heating and aggravating, such as caffeine, alcohol, red meat and chilies.
- Opt for gentle movement and meditation, rather than strenuous exercise. Exercise and movement brings our energy «up and out», which is the opposite direction of where we want energy to flow during menstruation.
- Add supportive digestive spices to your meals; cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, coriander, cumin and fennel.
- Try to stay away from too much screen time, a lot of focused thinking, socialising and outside stimulation. Instead, try drawing, painting, creating something with your hands, meditation, calming breathing exercises and plenty of rest.
Learn more about Iselin's work
Connect with Iselin if you love to learn more about women’s health and fertility awareness, or you’re looking for support in deepening your connection to your own cycle.
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