5 min read
by Karina Primelles | 11/03/2022
As menstruating people, we already spend more than enough time finding ways to make sure our periods don’t affect our daily lives. What if we took a bit of that mental energy that we use to hide our periods and devoted it to giving space to our cycles? By setting aside just a few minutes during our bleeding days for mindful practices, we can reconnect with our cycle and find a more positive perspective.
These period self-care rituals will focus on nourishing the body, strengthening the mind-body connection, and allowing for new perspectives in your space. Try incorporating these menstruation rituals into your daily routines on menstrual flow days — whether it’s every bleeding day or just on your heaviest ones.
When it comes to crafting a personalized ritual for your cycle, plant life and herbal medicine are accessible places to start. Besides a traditional menstrual product such as a menstrual cup, some people say herbs can help people who menstruate. Cultures around the world and throughout millennia have called on herbs and plants as sources of healing — and this is a knowledge we need to honor and share. Although talking about periods can sometimes be considered taboo, female elders in these cultures have passed this knowledge on to young women starting their periods during puberty.
Incorporating herbs into your period ritual is easy to customize, in large part because herbs can be used and consumed in a variety of ways: eaten fresh or dried, made into tea, smoked in herbal roll-ups, consumed in tinctures, and even applied topically as balms or in bath bombs.
It’s all about experimenting and finding the right way to consume for your specific body and flow. Here are a few herbs you can look for at your local apothecary or community garden:
Passionflower has antispasmodic properties to help relax muscles, thus easing uterine spasms.
Mugwort promotes menstruation which eases cramping in the womb. As an herb associated with lucid dreaming, it also supports insight during meditation and sleep.
Black Cohosh Root is commonly considered a “women’s herb” in traditional medicine and is one of the top remedies that can feel like magic for painful menstruation due to its antispasmodic properties.
Ginger Root is known for its warming properties, which helps to relieve tension in the muscles and encourage healthy, balanced menstruation.
Lemon Verbena is traditionally used to treat abdominal pains and cramping.
Motherwort balances and tones hormones to promote regular and less painful menses.
Burdock Root supports liver function in cleaning the blood and balancing hormone levels — an amazing detox herb for times when hormones are shifting during your cycle.
It’s not uncommon for our bodies to feel like alien lifeforms during those first days of releasing period blood. Of course, that’s not to say that menstruating is unnatural, shameful, or dirty — but the rapid changes our body goes through, from shifting hormones to bloating, period poos, and cramps, can have us feeling, quite frankly, not like our normal selves. While herbs nourish the body, it’s also important to consider adding a practice that rejuvenates your mind-body connection.
Sometimes movement can be risky business when dealing with a body in pain or a heavy flow. With a type of movement analysis, you can take even the simplest gestures and find new depths of meaning within them. For this ritual, we’re adapting a practice you can do for yourself from Laban Movement analysis, which is based on four principal categories: Body, Effort, Space, and Shape (BESS for short).
Find your movement: Choose a body part to focus on moving. Concentrate on this part while staying aware of how it connects to other parts of your body. (For example, a simple ankle movement might be felt in your abdomen.)
Explore your movement through the categories of effort, space, and shape. Consider the effort and energy you’re using to move, whether it’s light, explosive, mechanical, etc. Next, consider the space your movement occupies and how the rest of your body shifts in tandem throughout space. Finally, give attention to the shape of your movement and why you chose it — is the shape following a natural and comfortable movement? Is it a stretch that your body is calling for?
Repeat 10x or for 10 minutes, whichever suits you best. The key is to stay slow, simple, and mindful in your evaluations, even if your chosen movement involves nimble or rigorous elements.
Your monthly flow is your body literally getting rid of something it doesn’t need anymore. It spent time and energy constructing that soft and welcoming lining, but your cycle knows when it’s time to switch things up. In short: Out with the old and in with the new. In the spirit of our womb’s wisdom, dedicate yourself to turning your personal space into something fresh and new. As someone who menstruates, your mental health can improve by changing your space.
You don’t need a new apartment or a fresh coat of paint — and we’re not saying to go full Marie Kondo on your closet, either. Keep it simple, mindful, and intentional. Think: moving one piece of furniture, a lamp, or even the placement of a single succulent. Another idea? Changing the orientation of your bed. We know — the last thing you probably want to do on your heaviest day is move heavy furniture, but even just a small change can create some fresh alignment (to go along with your new fresh lining) and help you feel secure and strong in your period ritual. And remember, you can always change everything back tomorrow.
Self-care takes many forms, and incorporating menstruation rituals into your monthly period routine can promote a healthier cycle and a more comfortable experience. Keeping in touch with your menstrual cycle can help you nourish yourself, strengthen your mind-body awareness, and gain new perspectives.
Karina Primelles is the CEO and co-founder of Xula Herbs. Her research focuses on the clinical and historical uses of medicinal herbs and cannabis, with a particular focus on how they can influence and support the female reproductive system.
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Xula Herbs, "Herbal Index." https://www.xula.us/pages/herbal-index
by Karina Primelles