Women's Ayurvedic Wellness: Moon Cycles
Ayurveda emphasizes wisdom and practices to encourage women to discover their inner rhythms, and learn how to nourish and nurture themselves through connecting to the moon cycle. When we honor the moon, we honor our bodies. The ideas and tips presented here are for menstruating women and non-menstruating women alike. If you are still menstruating, these lessons and practices will help you move more smoothly through the month. If you are no longer menstruating, you still have a monthly rhythm and your biorhythm is connected to the moon. This is true for all women, and for all creatures.
The New Moon represents a time of darkness and reflection. If you are still menstruating, this is the ideal time to bleed. The new moon is a time for looking inward. It is a time for stillness and quietude. If you are menstruating at this time, your mental and physical energies will be lower than in other times of the month, and the wisdom of this lunar phase is to retreat. The new moon is a powerful time of deep insight. When you take the time to withdraw from the busy-ness of life and go inward, you will be richly rewarded with the ability to access your own inner wisdom.
In Ayurveda, the new moon and menstrual cycle is represented by the vata dosha (Air and ether). Your body is shedding and you don’t have extra stores of energy. So, it is naturally the time to rest and nourish yourself. Your body is naturally detoxing and over exertion physically and mentally can be very draining and can set you up for a cycle of depletion. Instead, when we take the time to retreat, we nourish ourselves on a deeper level. If you plan your month with a retreat for yourself in mind, you can really welcome your bleeding time and welcome the gifts that come with it.
Tips for the new moon phase:
- Slow down and take time and personal space. Retreat.
- Let go.
- Spend a half or whole day along or in silence. Take time to be alone in nature.
- Practice self-inquiry. Check in with yourself. Take time to review, reflect and engage in inner processing, journaling, and resting.
- Spend more time in meditation.
- Read a book that provokes inquiry
- Set intentions for the month ahead.
- Accept that this is a low energy week and avoid doing vigorous physical activity and scheduling too many social engagements and tasks.
- Don’t pressure yourself to engage in new challenges. Save that for next week.
- Rest, eat simple foods. Refrain from extensive projects.
- If you have kids, ask your partner or kids to take them so you can have some space
The Waxing moon is when the moon grows toward fullness. In Ayurveda, this is the kapha time of the cycle, with the energies of earth and water dominant. This is the time when energy builds. If your body released, detoxed and shed during the New Moon, your body is now ready for nourishment and activity. If you rested well during the new moon, you have the energy to take on new projects. At this phase of your cycle, you may feel you have a stronger appetite both for nourishment and for projects. The waxing moon has a Spring like energy filled with optimism, extroversion, assertiveness, self assurance, goal orientation. This is a good time for clarity, concentration, researching, structural thinking, physical stamina, independence, learning, and mental creativity. It’s a time for acting on new projects or goals, for acting on new ideas.
Chances are, during this phase, you have more self confidence. You can dive into your seedling ideas. Your mental capacity is strong during this phase, so this is a great time for brainstorming and building the structure for your evolution. This is a good time to research your ideas and get your projects going. You are moving out of the introversion time and into the extroversion. So, formulate your plan and get things rolling.
Tips for the waxing moon:
- Move out into the world.
- Confidently act on new ideas.
- Plan and execute your projects.
- Make appointments with allies and friends.
- Build connections.
- Be assertive.
- Use the energy and momentum of this phase to take on more challenging work.
- Challenge yourself physically.
- Enjoy your strength.
The full moon represents the culminated outward expression that builds from the seeds that were planted during new moon time. The full Moon is a time of physical strength, emotional connection, fullness and abundance. In Ayurveda it is represented by kapha dosha (earth and water) moving into pitta dosha (fire, summer). The body is strong and the digestive fires as well are strong. This is a time of celebration.
If we have spent the waxing moon nourishing our spirit and strengthening our Shakti energy, then we have lots of ojas, the Ayurveda term for energy stores, integrity and immunity and we can use this time to commune and celebrate. This is a time to feel vital, beautiful, whole. This is a fertile time. If you are cycling with the moon and with time, as you do these practices, you can align your menstrual cycle with the moon, then you will ovulate at this time. In nature, this is the time of ripeness, the summer season that ripens fruit. Typically women in traditional cultures and animals ovulate during this time and feel the most sensual and full of energy.
Regardless of your age, you can use the full moon time to be expressive and to celebrate abundance and to celebrate union. This is a heightened time for communication, empathy, creating relationships, uniting with your lover and/or uniting and enjoying the pleasure and company of others. Workwise, the full moon is a time of strengthened productivity, teamwork, and emotional creativity.
Tips for the full moon phase:
- Enjoy your strength and beauty.
- Give yourself an oil massage with added essential oils such as rose.
- Host a meal or party with friends and loved ones.
- Your digestive capacity is strong at this time. Enjoy celebratory foods.
- Spend time outside at night moon bathing.
- If it’s summer, host a fire pit. If it’s winter, bundle up and moon gaze.
- Take a full moon bath with essential oils, rose, lavender.
- Enjoy your sensuality and sexuality.
- Make time for romance and love.
After the peak of the full moon, the energy shifts into the waning cycle. This is the time to complete tasks, strengthen the breath and life force, detoxify and cleanse and bring the fruits of your labor to completion. Towards the end of this cycle, it is time to slow down and prepare for the menses.
According to Ayurveda, At the full moon, the energy moves from kapha, earth and water to pitta, summer, ripeness, heat. And then as the moon begins to wane, the pitta cycle gives way to the vata cycles of air and ether. This cycle has the dominant force of cleansing. We move again into the vata (air and ether) cycle and the body prepares to shed.
As we move closer to the new moon time, there is a change in the mood and energy in the body. You might even notice changes in your appetite, digestion and elimination. The invariability that vata is known for is at its peak. As you get closer to the new moon time, it is best during this time to start to reserve your energy and rest up.
Tips for the waning moon phase:
- Celebrate what you have achieved, created, succeeded in this cycle
- Let go of what you haven’t been able to finish or achieve.
- Don’t be hard on yourself.
- Don’t start any new projects, rather finish things off.
- Start to notice the things that aren’t working in your life in readiness to let them go with your blood.
- Return to your center. Start to move inward.
- Re-evaluate and reorganize.
- Clear and clear your physical space.
- Integrate what you have learned.
- Begin the movement back to darkness, intuition and the unknown (New Moon)
- Take time for being creative, imagining, doing out of the box thinking, problem identification, deep cleaning, tidying, clearing away of emotional and mental debris
- Start to prepare mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for your approaching blood time, adjust your plans around it.
- Get ready for your retreat time.
- Be aware that at this time, the physical and spiritual world gets thinner.
- Cook some food so that you can be less busy when you start to bleed.
- Slow down.
- Start to imagine how you want your next cycle to go.
- Start to make time for quiet/
This is the PMS time, and for some women, there may be strong and uncomfortable symptoms. If this is true for you, you want to especially heed the advice for this phase to take care of yourself.
As you get closer you get to the new moon, you may...
- Start to feel more self-oriented
- Become critical and less tolerant of others.
- Have strong passions, be more emotional, or cranky.
- Have a desire to let go, and clear out.
- Want to be alone and be introspective
To learn more about Ayurveda for women and Ayurvedic wellness counseling, check out my Women's Ayurvedic Wellness program here and my Wellness Coaching here.