Women's Moon Wisdom Podcast Intro - Rebecca (00:01):
Stories teachings and guidance. Welcome to The Women's Moon Wisdom podcast, with your host, Rebecca Rankin.
Rebecca Rankin (00:16):
Welcome back to the Women's Moon Wisdom podcast. In today's episode, we're gonna dive back into cyclical living and how to apply it into how we exercise or in a way how we can use our hormonal advantage to simplify the way we exercise. And first, I wanna poke around a little to peak some curiosity around our mindset around exercise, and perhaps even how we can simplify that inner relationship to movement practices or, or exercise. And just a note here, you may notice that I kinda oscillate between using the word exercise and movement practices. I use these words interchangeably and with the term movement practice, I'm inviting a bit more intentionality into the mix. So I like to use the term movement practice kind of, regardless of the discipline, movement practice requires some conscious attention, right? To whatever we're doing. It kinda asks us to have mindful awareness of some aspect of what we're doing and how we're doing the movement.
Rebecca Rankin (01:22):
And then with that awareness just comes a better understanding of our own relationship to our body. We become just more body literate and even allows us just a better understanding of the relationship within our own emotions, our own mind, and spirit. And exercise, it's not just about getting healthy for health's sake. It's not about exercising because we think we should, or our doctor told us we should exercise. Like with that mindset, then it becomes just one more thing on your never ending to do list that you need to get done today. Right? You add it to your daily routine because you feel like you have to. Exercising daily, it doesn't necessarily have to be about meeting your goals or not. It's also about the experience while you're doing the physical activity. So I, I'm just a little curious about reframing that mindset. Think of your movement practice as this tool, right?
Rebecca Rankin (02:11):
This tool to tap into your power, to tap into your inner fire, your spirit, that which allows you a clearer connection to source the universe, God, creator, your higher self, whatever belief system that resonates with you. It's more about when you're feeling good. You have the energy to create the life you've been dreaming of. When your body is working better, you feel better, when you feel better, you're more open to opportunities. You get better at cultivating joy in your life. You can connect more with others. It's not about getting healthy because you think you should. It's the steps that allow you a deeper connection to your body, your mind, and your spirit. And it allows you a deeper connection to love with a capital L. It's not necessarily about attaining perfect health. That alone can just feel daunting and endless and well, just really overwhelming.
Rebecca Rankin (03:06):
When you tap into your version of greater physical, mental, energetic, emotional health, your healthy body becomes a resource for creating the life you wanna live, the life of your dreams. Okay? That might sound like a bit, a bit cheesy and epic. I know. Yet, think about it. If you're constantly dragging, right? If you constantly have low energy, you're constantly stressed. You can't think straight, your body has aches and pains. Well, where's the room for expansive thought and feeling connected to the divine. There's just not room for it in your experience. And yet when you use the tools to improve your physical wellbeing, then things start to open up. Maybe it's the physical action of having restored range of motion or greater range of motion or more freedom in your movement. And all of a sudden you notice that your body doesn't ache when you roll outta bed.
Rebecca Rankin (03:57):
And now you're not constantly telling yourself that your body is aging, that your body's failing you. That's no longer on your mind. And therefore you begin to retrain your patterns of thought. You no longer talk to your body negatively. Even if it's kind of at this subconscious level, you feel better. And then you're better able to notice the good around you and open to manifesting the things you wanna see more of in your life. And then you're better able to notice the good around you and appreciate it. Now, have you ever had that feeling like you're crushing your fitness exercises or only then to find like a few days later that you are struggling through it? Like one day you have all the energy to do like your HIIT boot camp class, and only to find yourself totally struggling to keep up and you feel sluggish, like your body is filled with lead.
Rebecca Rankin (04:47):
Yeah. You're not alone, right? That that's your hormones coming into play. So how can we simplify what we do for our exercise so that A - we're more likely to stay consistent and B - optimize our hormonal advantage so that we don't get burnt out. This is where those of us with female biochemistry can really lean into cyclical living or what has been coined by Alisa Vitti as Cycle Syncing. I, I wanna make this statement that even if you are no longer cycling, let's say you're on your post-menopausal or on hormonal birth control or any other reason, you may still find that cycling your movement practices can still be a beneficial way to diversify it, like how you move your body. It also allows you to have more play and fun and kind of less rigidity. And it can also create just a more sustainable approach to exercise that can honestly just minimize the burnout.
Rebecca Rankin (05:38):
We can simplify the way we exercise by syncing to each phase of our cycle. And once again, for those who do not cycle, you can sync with the moon phases and I'll tell you what each biochemistry phase correlates to which moon phase. Also in the show notes, I'll be sure to link to where you can figure out what the current lunar phase is. And if you're on the pill, you can just use your withdrawal bleed as if it was your menstrual phase, right. And move forward accordingly. All right, so let's break down each of the four phases of our cycle. If you wanna deeper dive into them, you can listen to the episodes that I have created on each one. Alright, so let's start with our Follicular Phase or our Inner Waxing Moon phase. This phase begins the, the first day after our period ends. So behind the scenes, in this phase, your hypothalamus signals, your pituitary gland to send follicle, stimulating hormone, F S H still hard for me to say, um, to your ovaries that signals your ovaries to get ready, to release an egg.
Rebecca Rankin (06:40):
Then several follicles start to swell in preparation, right? They're all getting ready. Estrogen then increases and thickens your uterine lining so that it can host an egg. So experientially, you may start to feel like you have more energy and even a bit, you can even feel a bit restless. This hormonal shift can increase your kind of feel good vibes, and even allow you to feel like a bit more inspired, to be more active. You even may have this inclination to try something new. It may feel a lot easier to put yourself in a newer environment or newer situation, maybe like a newer exercise program or newer class during this phase, as opposed to other parts of your cycle. Like your brain chemistry is such that your brain can form new neural connections and the brain a little bit more easily, in your Follicular Phase or Inner Waxing Moon phase.
Rebecca Rankin (07:31):
So, which I think is, is pretty fascinating. Like it's, it's good for your body and it's good for your neuroplasticity and new activities are more likely to stick when you start them now, more so than other parts of your cycle. And it's pretty great. So try that the hip hop class, that, that you've always wanted to check out, try it out. This might also be a great time to start like a fitness program, or even like a challenge. Set yourself with a solid fitness routine now, while you have the energy and have that in place so that when you shift towards the end of your cycle, you've established the self care habits necessary to kind of feel good all month long. This is also the time like enjoying like higher intensity workouts, even trying a new class that you've been wanting to take. It can feel really good at this time.
Rebecca Rankin (08:18):
The same also carries over into our Ovulatory Phase or Inner Full Moon Phase. And as we shift into the next phase, so our Ovulatory Phase or our Inner Full Moon Phase, this is the time in your cycle where it can feel nourishing to let your light shine and be more social. This is the more social and adventurous part of your cycle. And it's a great time to opt for more social forms of exercise, like meeting up with a friend for a run or taking a group class together. And you may notice, this part of your cycle, both a follicular phase and the ovulatory phase. You just have more energy. So stepping up and doing like those higher intensity workouts here, you actually have a lower likelihood of injury. And let's just touch in a little bit with what is happening on the inside. During our a ovulatory phase, there's an increase in follicle stimulating hormone, followed by an increase in luteinizing hormone, which is also formed in the pituitary gland.
Rebecca Rankin (09:14):
So this stimulates like one follicle to enlarge and then burst and release an egg into the fallopian tubes. The egg then travels down to the uterus. Estrogen also continues to increase. And estrogen, it is a hormone that is just really good at growing things. And so it's helping the uterine lining grow and thicken. Now in the ovulatory phase, or actually like right before the ovulatory phase, it actually does a quick surge, right. And it kind of gets you in the mood. So when you're deciding what feels good for your movement practice during your ovulatory phase, think challenging, higher intensity. And once again, kind of group settings too, like with your energy levels at their highest you're primed to take on strenuous stuff like, like running sprints, super intense, like weight lifting, HIIT, or honestly, for my, my yogis out there think like your power yoga classes, your hot flows, your challenging vinyasas, or like a really good challenging ladder flow.
Rebecca Rankin (10:14):
Like think you wanna break a sweat and honestly invite your friends to join you. It'll nourish that part of you. That just wants to be social. Okay. So our first half of our cycle, or even the first half the lunar cycle, if that's what you're following, it's about expansion, more energy, like being visible, pushing our edges of growth. Well, everything has to come to balance. So for as much output we put into our first half of our cycle, we wanna reign it back in for the second half of our cycle so that we aren't overdoing it and exhausting ourselves, and then only creating more stress and overwhelm. So let's shift, right? Let's shift from our Ovulatory, our Full Moon Phase to now, to our Luteal Phase or our Inner Waning Moon Phase. Here's the scoop on what's happening with our female biochemistry, the follicle from which the egg was released called the Corpus Luteum begins to grow on the surface of the ovaries, which triggers the production of progesterone.
Rebecca Rankin (11:15):
Now the rise in progesterone signals the body, 'Hey, don't release the uterine lining just yet. We might have a fertilized egg. We need to hold it in place. We gotta wait and see'. So the progesterone also signals the pituitary gland to stop sending FSH. So Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone. So the only one egg is released and estrogen will still kind of continue to rise a little bit in the first part of the Luteal phase. Then if the egg isn't fertilized, the Corpus Luteum that's been hanging out, growing on the ovaries is then reabsorbed into the body, which halts progesterone production, estrogen starts to decrease. And that triggers the shedding of the uterine lining. So what does that mean as far as moving your body? So the first part of your Luteal Phase or your Inner Waning Moon phase, you honestly, probably still notice that you've got energy, right?
Rebecca Rankin (12:05):
You still can probably do the more intense exercises, a little bit more strenuous, challenging activities. Then you'll start to probably feel how your energy starts to wane. You might not feel like so social when working out, you'll probably notice that you just don't have this stamina for more strenuous, let's say like HIIT classes. Listen to your body. There's nothing wrong with you. Listen to your body. It's your hormones. During this phase, inflammation actually increases, and recovering from muscle damage happens more slowly during this phase. You're more sensitive. And then it affects your pain tolerance. So scale back, your workouts. Opt for activities like, like a long walk or, or nature hikes, or maybe you think, think more like Pilates and light strength training here. We're not setting any PR's here. Something that's just lower resistance and just a little bit less.
Rebecca Rankin (13:02):
And for my fellow yoga practitioners think like maybe like a Vin Yin practice or a slow flow, or even just like a Hatha practice, think less Chaturangas and more Supta Bata Konasanas or recline butterfly. And how we continue kind of this inward trend. We turn inward to now our Menstrual Phase or Inner New Moon Phase. This is when progesterone drops, signaling the shedding of the uterine lining and your bleed begins. So the drop in estrogen signals to your hypothalamus to start the whole process over again. And this is the phase that we probably feel the most inconvenienced by, but, but hear me out, it's honestly a beautiful time because it's your inner guidance. It's your, your nature's way of telling you - slow down, listen, see what you need to shift in your life. As you move forward into the next cycle, see what you can release now.
Rebecca Rankin (14:00):
So you don't have to take it with you on this next cycle. And what does that mean? As far as like your movement practice, rest and recovery. Think like gentle, like gentle yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga practices, or even just like going for walks, maybe just like a nature walk. While rest is important, some movement can still be really, really beneficial because it just helps boost your circulation and can honestly even minimize your period discomfort. And then you'll notice towards the end of your period, you'll start to feel the energy pickup again. And with that you'll start to add in the more active practices. So let's break that down again, simplifying how you exercise throughout your cycle, or even if you aren't cycling, cycle your movement to offer you diversity of movement, keep it fresh and allow for rest and recovery. So the Follicular Phase or your Inner Waxing Moon Phase, try new things, maybe start a new fitness program, think cardio high intensity workouts, shifting them into your Ovulatory Phase, right?
Rebecca Rankin (15:02):
Or your Inner Full Moon Phase, break a sweat. Still carrying the theme of, of challenging, strenuous, like sweating it out, adding in the social aspect too, might feel really fun and playful, right? Do the classes, do the group classes team up with a friend. Then shifting to the half of our cycle, that's more inward focused. The Luteal Phase or Inner Waning Moon Phase, reign it in. The first part you may still have the energy for more. Then start to pair it down. Think more strength training, maybe long walks and hikes, slower yoga practices. And then we shift into our Menstrual Phase or our period, our Inner New Moon Phase, think restorative, yoga, yin yoga, gentle stretching, walks, rest, and recovery being the theme there. I hope you found this useful to, to simplify the way you exercise and use it as a way to become more body literate, work with your body's biochemistry, to get more out of your movement practices.
Rebecca Rankin (16:01):
Also for those who enjoy yoga, meditation, and breathwork as forms of self care, be sure to check out my Women's Moon Wisdom self care course. I'll link to it in the show notes. It's a whole cycle's worth of self care practices to do daily, that sync each phase of your cycle. Or if you aren't cycling, to sync with the lunar cycle. It gives you the opportunity to really lean into your cyclical nature in a way that can be woven into your day to day life through selfcare. That's all I have for now. Thank you so much for tuning in. I love our time together and I'll talk to you in the next episode.