I apologize in advance to my male readers for discussing a topic that is so decidedly female, so entirely estrogen-focused. Yes, I’m referring to periods. Stop. End of sentence. If you’re male or post-menopausal this blog post won’t apply to you. But, if you have a uterus that is letting go once a month, you may want to read on. PMS and all its associated problems comes up with a lot of my female clients. In honoring the body’s wisdom, there is no escaping the issue of cycles.
What, you may be wondering, do menses have to do with Emotional Yoga? Everything. For those of us who suffer symptoms before, during, or after, our periods, the question becomes can Emotional Yoga help? And the answer is yes.
Yoga and EY offer therapeutic physical benefits for hormonal issues which I won’t delve too deeply into because I want to primarily address the emotional implications of menstruation and how Emotional Yoga and yoga can help.
In her 2012 article “Women’s Emotions, Part 3: The Menstrual Cycle & Mood,” Dr. Christina Hibbert writes: “The menstrual cycle is direct communication between your brain and your body, and that communication happens through hormones… We feel, think, and even behave differently in accordance with the dialogue of our menstrual cycles… Sure, our menstrual cycles can make our moods feel a little complicated. But if we learn about our body and listen to its wisdom, we will not only have the power to take charge of our emotional well-being, but we will appreciate the incredible power our beautiful female bodies possess.” http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/womens-emotions-part-3-the-menstrual-cycle-mood/
I want to point out that I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I have no medical qualifications that enable me to scientifically discuss hormones and their impact on the female body. Still, I’m a woman and have experienced my own hormone-induced emotional shifts, I was raised by a woman, I have a sister, I have numerous female friends and have listened to their monthly woes, and I have a primarily female clientele who report their physical and emotional ups and downs to me. Many of my female clients have suffered from emotional imbalances that coincide with a drop in estrogen and increase in progesterone.
As a practitioner, I can’t ignore this fact and can’t pretend that unregulated hormone levels will self-regulate without intervention (or, at least, information). Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that you supplement your estrogen levels or engage in any self-inspired clinical trials. I am however advocating that you enlist the help of your qualified medical providers in diagnosing and monitoring hormone levels (this can be done through blood or saliva tests) and that you may want to consider taking measures to regulate your hormones through nutritional and/or supplemental interventions. My own negative experiences with taking both synthetic and bio identical hormones make me personally weary of such drastic measures. But, again, I’m no doctor and you know best what (if anything) your body needs. Trust your female intuition. Before choosing to take hormones, I do encourage you to read about them and their impact on the body and to seek a second (and maybe even a third) opinion. Here are some links you might find useful as you research hormonal health:
As for how Emotional Yoga can help you to balance your hormones, I have two extremely powerful (and time-tested) suggestions. The first is to use EFT to tap out your first traumatic memory of your period (Note: this may be the first time you got your period or it might be a time you leaked through a pair of pants in public or a day you had bad cramps and had to miss a social event). If you remember multiple traumatic menstrual memories, make a list of each experience that you remember and perform the entire EFT tapping sequence on each specific instance. If you forget how to do EFT, click here for instructions on how to tap.
The second suggestion is to use yoga to help the body regulate its hormones. The following yoga poses, while not a comprehensive list by any means, can be extremely helpful with hormone regulation: Reclined Cobbler’s Pose, Shoulder Stand, Corpse Pose, Headstand, Legs-Up-the-Wall pose, and Child’s Pose.
For yoga-specific recommendations regarding improving your hormonal health and, specifically, combating PMS, see Linda Sparrowe’s wonderfully informative article “Menstrual Essentials” on the Yoga Journal Website www.yogajournal.com/health/130.
Beyond the physical, measurable hormone levels, I want to go a layer deeper and look to our bodies as the wise and wonderful beings that they are. This brings me to the issue that I keep coming back to: Do our periods create emotional problems or do they make us more receptive to already-existing, underlying emotional issues? The answer may lie somewhere in the middle. Don’t ignore the feelings that arise for you during “that time of the month.” Your periods may simply be alerting you to feelings that you may be suppressing that need to be dealt with and moved through. I highly suggest writing down your feelings during your menses. Keeping a journal of reactions, feelings, and behaviors may illuminate some possibilities for further exploration with Emotional Yoga.
For example, my kindhearted, incredibly giving client Marie never seemed to get angry except during “that time of the month” when she would yell at her kids and her husband. She reported feeling completely out of control immediately before and during menstruation.
“I don’t know where all the rage is coming from,” she told me. “I never get mad except when I’m on the rag.”
At first reluctant to explore her angry outbursts, Child’s Pose revealed that Marie resented her family for not meeting her needs. She felt like a nonentity much of the time. Together, we did EY to help her release her fury. Marie began to tell her family what she needed from them – help around the house, respect for her belongings, and adherence to a reasonable chore schedule. The more she spoke up and asserted her needs, the more infrequent her hormonally-induced outbursts became.
Invite your periods to tell you more about how you’re feeling even as you ask medical and holistic healthcare providers to monitor and diagnose your body’s hormonal patterns. Regulate anything that is biochemically “off” as you simultaneously tune in to any underlying emotional issues. Sometimes, hormones offer an emotional magnifying glass, allowing us to clearly see that which we need to examine more closely.