Body Sovereignty and the Power of Knowing

Understanding the Womb and our Sacred Cycle

She stands firm, her two bare feet, still, on a blue yoga mat. Slowly and elegantly, she begins to move in her flow, reaching her crane-like neck towards the starry, candlelit ceiling and stretching her arms as if they were feather-covered, beginning to take flight. She bows to herself, and in this safe feeling, she begins to let go- letting her body move itself. She notices how it feels to be moved by movement. Her naked belly swings in freedom. Her hands lovingly caress each limb. The left and right meet in the middle and do their own dance, entangling and breaking apart over and over, feeling the air as if it was a velvety fabric. Her hips sway in seduction of the mirror, of the moon, of herself. The room becomes a mirage of the deep purple sky, and the floor below is the cold, dark ground. She stands somewhere between Heaven and Earth- at the same time, in both places at once. She stands, calling back to her body, calling out to home. For once, her body is hers. No one watches. No hungry hands reach for grabbing. She is sexy and gross in movement, strong and delicate as she chooses to convey. She is the sole generator of the yin and yang within her- they twirl in sacred space. She rejoices and lifts the Earth with her, laughs with her whole being.

-the piece of love she gives back to herself after a long day.


I remember being so excited to get my first period when I was younger. And when I finally got it, I felt special (as I should). I was changing and so was my body. I felt like I was becoming a woman. I was finally experiencing my wonderful rite of passage.

Though I had my special moment, it slowly turned to humility. It rotted in my memory. I’d come to forget the magic of my first moments exploring my body- as it would soon turn into a weapon. And though I’d felt powerful and untamed in my skin, I would soon be told to cover up, to hide.

My public school education affirmed these beliefs. My 6th grade science teacher taught us how to hide our pads and tampons, so no one would know we were on our period. The world wasn’t supposed to know because bleeding was disgusting. And we should absolutely, never talk about what we were going through, unless it was in private. Over and over we would hear how we were bitches because we were on our period (“She must be on her period.”). We weren’t allowed to just feel things. We weren’t allowed to stand our ground or express how we felt. We weren’t allowed to be strong in our own right.

I sat with a textbook in my palms, written by a man, open to the page on the female reproductive system, and was taught that you bleed for one week of your cycle- and that’s that. Female body parts are for babies and male pleasure. I got no explanation of how my hormones orchestrated a symphony in my body throughout the month. No explanation as to why I was experiencing PMS- that was apparently normal. No explanation as to why I ended up developing debilitating period pain. They never even attempted to explain the parts of the vagina. The female orgasm was never talked about and thought of as unimportant. In fact, there was no complexity to the female body at all!

Who was I supposed to ask questions to when I felt too ashamed to speak up? When I didn’t have the right words to ask questions (though I’d think to myself, what does this do?)? Why is such important information kept from us? Objectified and sexualized, I was meant to be kept quiet and ignorant to my own body.

Knowledge is power, right? Learning about my body and body parts was a part of how I began reclaiming myself. I felt like something had been taken away from me, or at least hidden. It was belonging to someone else, and they had the control. Because of this, I struggled to connect to myself on what seems like such a simple level. What I knew was my mind, not my body.

Luckily, you can find almost anything on the internet. And in today’s climate, I see women everywhere reclaiming their power. I see female educators taking storm and teaching not just the youth, but all of us. I honestly didn’t learn the complete truth about my body and cycle until about a year (maybe more) ago. And I’m fortunate enough to have access to some awesome books and teachers who’ve educated me on the reproductive system, as well as the cycles it goes through.  

THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE

The female body not only operates on the circadian rhythm (lasting 24 hours), but also the infradian rhythm. The infradian rhythm is a biological clock that lasts about a month. There are two phases overall, which can be split again in two. These are the proliferative phase (1st day of menstruation to ovulation) and the luteal phase (ovulation to next period). These can then be split into; menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. Throughout this duration, your hormones shift, affecting your energy levels, cravings, moods, etc..

THE FOUR PHASES:

1. Menstrual Phase (Day 1-5)

Your uterine lining is being shed and pushed out of the body because there was no conception, thus no implantation. There’s a drop in progesterone. This phase is characterized by low hormones levels and a low basal body temperature (BBT), which will be reflected as less than 37 degrees celsius (<37).
This is the time to rest and reflect. Be honest with yourself, as you can see things clearly. Reevaluate aspects of your life. Notice how that makes you feel. Trust your intuition, and do what feels right to you. Engage in light activities like yoga or walking, and know it’s okay to feel vulnerable. I personally don’t feel very social when I’m menstruating, so it’s a good time to self-care and do things for me. I like to think of it as time to get to know myself (me-time).
Your body is losing key nutrients like iron and zinc. I remember my mom always telling me that I needed to eat food with protein during my menses. Mineral-rich veggies, like kale/seaweed/mushrooms, are a good choice to help replenish nutrients. Consume bone broths, which contain a lot of wonderful nutrients to nourish your body during this time.
Some kitchen herbs that I find are helpful for this time are black pepper, fenugreek, and cinnamon (warming herbs that promote circulation/movement of blood), as well as nettles (mineral-rich) and chamomile (stress-relieving and calming). I also swear by raspberry leaf tea for painful menses. You can pick it up at your supermarket.

2. Follicular Phase (Day 6-11)

Your ovary is beginning to prepare the egg. The uterine lining begins to build, and cervical fluid increases. Estrogen is rising, so your body can ovulate. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is released by the pituitary gland and tells the ovaries to mature the follicles. Your hormones are still at their lowest, and your basal body temperature is lower (<37 degrees celsius).
This is the best time in your cycle to brainstorm and get creative. It’s also the perfect phase for planning. Set intentions, write your to-do list, and fill up your calendar for the month ahead.
Because this is the “start fresh” phase (a new moon), eating light foods that can help match that nourish your body best. Think leafy greens, nuts, and avocados (bonus: fermented foods, which are great to incorporate into your regular diet as well!).

3. Ovulatory Phase (Day 14-17)

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) kicks in and tells the ovary to release the egg. Estrogen peaks in order for the uterine line to thicken in preparation of a fertilized egg. LH, FSH, and estrogen are all at their peaks. A day before your ovulate, BBT peaks, then drops (> or = 37 degrees celsius). It will build up consistently afterwards. (Fun Fact: the ovary you ovulate from often switches sides by month. If you feel where your ovaries are, you may be able to tell which one you’re ovulating from.)
Time to be social! You may find yourself having your highest energy levels at this time. Connect and collaborate. This is my favorite time to do cardio or exercises that require a lot out of me. Bask in the extrovert within!
To support your cycle, eat lightly steamed veggies, and have a nice raw juice. Ovulation can be a constipating time, so make sure you get enough fiber in your meals. You could make a warm oatmeal with blueberries, figs, and flax seeds to top! Maca can be a nice herb to incorporate in your meals to help support endurance, and dandelion as well to help your liver metabolize hormones.

4. Luteal Phase (Day 17-28/30)

This is the longest phase in the cycle. Progesterone levels are at their highest, and BBT is over 37 degrees celsius (>37) until it drops before menstruation. Estrogen declines, and FSH and LH level out. The uterine lining is still building.
Get things done! Check off your to-do list! In the first half of the luteal phase, it can be a breeze to complete tasks and projects. The second half is a time for nurturing and preparing for your moon.
The more I started eating root vegetables during this phase, the more I began to crave them. Sweet potato with eggs, sprinkled with black pepper, salt, and cayenne, for breakfast is an excellent choice. And instead of eating sugary snacks, curb your cravings with sweet fresh or dried fruit like dates! In the second half of the luteal phase, try to incorporate warming herbs, like ginger and cinnamon. Bone broths can be nice to warm the body up before bleeding. Stray away from cold and raw foods at this time. Have a hot cup of fennel tea to encourage optimal digestion. ❤

There’s a disconnect between many people and their bodies. I think the fact that we’re given a very impartial (and kinda false) story about them is a huge cause of this. How do we become closer to ourselves when we’re constantly being fed falsities and stereotypes? How can we work with our bodies and tend to our needs, if we don’t know how to? How can we listen? And frankly, how can we enjoy our cycles, when we’re in pain and taught that that’s NORMAL?

Our cycle is part of our vitality. It is beautiful and amazing, and it is even more so knowing all that our bodies are capable of- all the work they do. We are incredibly strong, yet vulnerable at the same time and own it so well. We’re divine, and I hope that you can see the divinity in yourself and continue to explore your body. It has been an immense gift for me to grow into myself. The more I learn, the more I understand, the better I feel, and the better I help myself…

With Love,

LA


Sources:

  • Alisa Vitti’s In the Flo
  • My notes 😉

Things to Check Out:

Keep a Lookout for Future Posts about Reproductive Health and Women’s Wellness, including Birth Control and Fertility Awareness!

The Divine Feminine

art by Sage Shakti

Lessons from Me, My Mama, and Other Wise Women in My Life


“Self care allows me to tap into my divine feminine energy. This energy is the force that connects mother nature and all souls. It is an interwoven essence that speaks to authentic power. Keyword; authentic power. As a woman, I am connected to Mother Nature. She is me and I am her. It’s the energy that is deep within me; surging. Becoming.

What does self care look like to me?

Speaking my truth. As a woman, we are told…don’t be so loud, don’t feel your feelings. Think without heart. My heart, my pain, is my power. I tap into the energy of all by allowing myself to be. To be. Repeat that, to be. Whatever that might be, I’m unapologetically myself. “

Sage Shakti


For so long, I felt uncomfortable in my body. Not exactly self-image wise, but I felt like being a girl, a woman, was a burden and that I should be something/someone else. I felt like I should hide or be ashamed for being this way. I was never taught what it meant to be a woman, or anything deeper than physically why our bodies were different from men. I was never explicitly taught how to take care of myself. I felt embarrassed to ask questions, to discuss anything out loud, and to talk about my body.

I always wondered why no one talked about anything. Why my friend group growing up never really discussed what we were going through until we were older. And why as women we are so hard on ourselves and despite belonging to that collective, we are hard on each other too. Was there a safe place I could go?

As I got more mature and more serious about myself and my body, I began searching more. Thank god for the internet because whenever I didn’t feel comfortable saying something out loud, I usually looked there in private. Beyond that, I was just learning through observation. Then I got past caring about what anyone thought and started to ask questions- talking openly with my mother and my friends about everything. I started to realize how incredibly awesome it is to be a woman and to share a space with other women. I also realized how much they had to share and how learning from them was the best way to do it. They understand because they are.

This is an ode to the village that raised me. There are parts of me that have wandered off (and still do), out of curiosity and thirst for knowledge and intellect. But there have been many who touched my soul so deeply, it’s impossible to deny. Each print on my spiritual body expanded my mind and thought process. I would not be the woman I am today without their gentle voices, their soft eyes who have lost, been disheartened, and silenced, but have chosen to share their stories and wisdom with me. It’s an ode to the knowledge I’ve picked up along my way. To all the women that taught me what taking care of myself meant beyond physical terms- I want to share their unfiltered voices with you. So all I ask is that you bask in that, open your mind to receiving the energy of these magical women.


photo by Brea Carlstrom

What is The Divine Feminine ?

Lessons from my mama;

The Divine Feminine (and feminine energy) are the heart’s love and all it encompasses; purity, nurturing, creation, allowance, compassion, caring, etc. They are the awareness and understanding that all life is sacred. And paired with The Divine Masculine, there is a powerful union and balance.

Therefore, self-care is not about cancelling out The Divine Masculine. It is not one or the other. It is both. Self-care is just accessing that feminine part of yourself and bringing it out. There may be masculinity in excess-due to the state of society or what you’re being told. The Divine Masculine is that of action and reason, but when we overdo that, we become overwhelmed because we’ve spent so much time suppressing our true nature. We neglect the part of ourselves that needs to relax and feel. Maybe because sometimes we’re told that being soft and vulnerable are bad traits. When in reality, that’s not true.

You support The Divine Feminine by being grateful (giving thanks) and expressing that- staying true to your heart. It is such an important part of us stepping into our power as women because it lives so strongly within our bodies. Love (feminine energy) reaches out its arms, embraces you, and shows you- you were born worthy. No one can confirm or give you that because it was yours all along. And that love is unlike any other. My mom compares it to that of the love from a mother to her child- that unconditional pure love. And that’s how it should be with yourself. You treat yourself with the same kind of care and gentleness that you would your own child.

“I find that regardless of what happened or what is happening at this moment, love’s purity, wisdom, protection, and power, are the simplest, easiest courses of action. Real love wants what is best for you and all that you deserve.” Love delivers peace of mind. You heal in that light. It keeps you youthful, joyous, and present. And remaining and channeling that is what can and will guide you. Self-care is inviting that kind of love in and letting it wipe away anything negative. When you’re living in the light of love, it’s hard to have anything penetrate that and knock it down. And it becomes much easier to quiet your mind’s chatter and really listen.

I have yet to come across anything stronger than the power of Divine Femininity. It’s the life force that exists the womb and surges through our veins. It’s what keeps us from breaking (even if we may feel like we are), while carrying generations and generations of weight. It’s what keeps us going when we are tired, why we continue to fight. It’s the quality of being resilient. It’s the flowers that sprout from our palms- a peace offering. It’s the healing vibration of laugher and touch. It’s the effortless beauty in every woman. It’s the reminder and knowing of the vast aptitude of our existence.

What is Self-Care ?

It’s more than just face masks and painting your nails. Although that can be where it starts- physically. I like to think that self-caring means nourishing and nurturing yourself through different means, in all aspects of your health. That being; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. At the end of the day, it boils down to the journey of self-loving and being happy- meaning you don’t have to look outwards and nothing can change it. Self-caring is learning about yourself and practicing that.

Beth Killip: I love that question! I love it because self care is such a beautiful energy that equates to not only self love, but self knowing. And that to me, is the most important piece of self care right now. I care best for myself by knowing myself. Self care is knowing some days I remember, and some days I forget, but I ALWAYS have access to listen to her, my truest self.

I know myself more and more by taking time each day to question everything; to critically think, sift through the bombardment of information, and then the most important part…feel gratitude for my life, all of it 😉. To sit quietly and listen to my soul, my expanded self- that part of me that is connected forever to the big ole’ Universe.

It is not always easy to look at and release thoughts and beliefs I’ve been programmed with my entire life; the stories I’ve created in my mind based on these programs, the agenda driven, manipulated, and infiltrated information I hear in the world- the overly positive messages swirling around. But as I do, I get quiet and let in the part of me that holds wisdom and truth and love beyond this world. It is the most self caring thing I can do.

I get guidance, I hear messages, I feel love. I remember who I am and then I can live with more lightness, more purpose, more appreciation for this fantastically beautiful Earth (and my place in it), and a boatload more joy.

So my self care advice? Listen…to…yourself…the You that is connected to All. You got this! And also I’d like to mention getting massages and belly laughing with friends- those are ranked way high up on the self care list as well.

Sonal Madhok: Self care looks different for everyone and every day it could be different. There are days where my self care is a healthy meal or a workout or a long walk. I think the common denominator is that self care is rest. It’s a rest of the mind, body, and soul. And it’s necessary so that we can become even stronger and honor ourselves.

I usually shut everything off and listen to music. Journaling is always a go-to for me. It feels good to write down what I’m feeling and what triggered it because otherwise, I’ll feel tension. And overtime, I’ll forget how it came about, and I might release it onto others or myself. By addressing it, when I feel it and accept it, I make it easier for the emotion to pass. The more I spend trying to push it away instead of accepting it, the harder it comes back to remind me that I’m hurt. So journaling helps me alleviate that.

I also like to keep affirmations around me- whether that be in reminders on my phone or on notes around my room. Sometimes, I self-care by remembering the things and/or people I’m grateful for. Recently, when I feel like I’ve been in my head too much, I remember a loved one, and I write them a letter about how I appreciate them. Then I send it to them in the mail. This has been such a powerful way for me to rejuvenate, remember that I am loved, and ground myself. It feels good to make others feel good and especially, when they are words that you say in your head and are conveying them on a random day- not only on their birthday or a ‘special’ day.

It really is such a beautiful process. So I think keeping a gratitude journal, and/or writing letters to those you’re grateful for, does wonders for your own mental health.

Julia Forsyth and her mama, Marcie Forsyth: When you’re talking about mental health, it is so okay to be selfish. You have to do the best thing for yourself in that moment. I like to take the time to figure out what I need, and sometimes all that is, is water. I struggle with keeping things in now and again, so it’s very therapeutic to communicate and talk about how I feel. Overtime I’ve learned what I need. Thankfully, I have the emotional support to lean onto, which I couldn’t survive without. Sometimes all you need is a little push. And it’s okay to ask for it.

Along with that- having a schedule, eating good, and doing things you love every day has helped me tremendously. I would tell someone who has not found inner peace yet, to never stop because you are the only thing that can give yourself happiness. It’s worth the journey. (Julia)

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Keeping everything in perspective is so important. Since I teach kids everyday, I’m always thinking about the impact I have on other people. Listening to them, giving them confidence, and making them feel good about themselves is my #1 priority. Having a schedule helps me do any day-to-day tasks, such as waking up at a consistent time, taking a shower, getting dressed, and getting ready for work. Getting outside is also very important to me. I always feel so much better after I walk. (Marcie)

CJ Howley: Self care, for me, can seem to take on various forms; from certain actions to eating exceptional foods. Practices like yoga, which in Sanskrit means “union”, have helped me throughout the years in countless ways- rehabilitating my mind, body, and spirit. Meditation taught me that I’m able to find the stillness, the acceptance, the love, that is always present among the thoughts.

Buying, growing, preparing, and eating beautiful foods, free of chemicals and poisons, has been a commitment of mine now for two decades. I feel better- my body feels lighter, more healthy, ever stronger, and I’d like to think that my impact on the Earth is a positive one.

All of this is great and has contributed to my overall wellness, but still, each of these can be singulated to be put into categories for health, but for me- there’s a bigger picture. In my humble opinion, it all boils down to one practice- one monumental thing – the ultimate self care. For me, self care is self love.

Learning to hear, then to listen, trust and follow the knowing of your heart (spirit, soul) is perhaps our greatest quest on this Earth. I know it’s mine. The desire to want to feel good is not necessarily shelving the things that you may think feel bad- but rather it’s identifying what about it that brings misery and suffering and getting curious about that.

Perhaps if we look at the things- (feelings, people, places, actions) that “scare” us, “challenge” us, “dominate” us, etc..- if we face them, get curious about them, start to understand what is going on inside of us when we are feeling scared, lonely, rejected, abandoned- maybe then we can learn to feel the discomfort, recognize it, acknowledge it, and learn from it.

Maybe the more we do this, the louder the whisper of our heart, our spirit, our soul becomes. Maybe we start to differentiate our heart’s wisdom from the voices in our heads, the opinions of societal and cultural “norms” and we begin to navigate our life on our own terms regardless of what the outside world is saying. And maybe even demanding of us.

Yes, this takes practice.
Yes, this takes fastidiousness.
And yes, we may falter along the path at times.
But this, we can do it!

And the beauty about it is; the more we listen, the more courageous we grow. The more courageous we grow, the more we may open up to greater compassion, more softness. The more softness can be found for ourselves and then authentically, we can forward it towards others.

From this place we learn to love, to truly love, the voice of our heart- the wisdom of our soul. Self Care, therefore, is an inevitable byproduct of Self Love. And thus, Self Love is Self Care.


To the people in my life who continue to raise me up, keep me in check, and show me love- the women I’ve found home in, where I can be myself, where I don’t have to apologize for being me, but instead am celebrated. Thank you.

With Love,

Us.