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Thank you for reading “The Cyclical Elements” in your Cycles Journal! I hope by finding this valuable resource, you feel empowered to tune in and find the most blissful balance in your body. Below is an expansion of the article you found in Cycles Journal along with a free guided meditation that you can download to experience and become more familiar with the Ayurvedic Elements within! 

Please keep in mind that these concepts are very generalized. Ayurveda recognizes that each person is a completely unique individual with their own personal balance of elements. Familiarizing yourself with your unique cycle and doshic imprint can be an incredible step in healing. To schedule your own doshic assessment and begin your Ayurvedic journey, click here.

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The Cyclical Elements

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The Phases

Nature’s cycles are some of the most familiar concepts to humans. We know there is a cycle of seasons with different distinct energies throughout the year. We see the cycles of death and rebirth in the plant and animal kingdom. When a seed falls from a dying tree, it gives life to a new plant. When an animal passes and their body is returned to the earth, it provides nourishment for the plants who feed the next generation of animals. Nature is constantly expanding and contracting, giving and receiving, beginning and ending. 

We too go through these sacred cycles. We come from the seed of conception, are born as tiny sprout, grow into tittle sapling, and grow taller and more full throughout our lives. Eventually we fall and return to the earth and our bodies and legacies feed the next generation.  Those who bleed, go through four distinct phases throughout the month. The menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulatory phase and luteal phase. For those who do not bleed, each phase corresponds with a phase of the moon and can be followed to experience a similar flow of expansion and contraction. 

The Menstrual Phase

The menstrual phase is the first phase of our cycle and is associated with the “New Moon” and our “Inner Winter.” This phases lasts for 3-7 days depending on the individual. Our hormones are at their lowest, the possibility to conceive is null and we may experience the desire to withdraw and “hibernate” during this time. This is a wonderful time to take long baths, anoint your body with yummy-smelling oils, get a massage, journal, meditate, take slow walks in nature and do any other self-care practices that feel grounding and nourishing to your body and spirit. The menstrual phase is also an auspicious time to let go of what is no longer in alignment and surrendering to what is. Towards the end of this phase, we may start dreaming of new intentions to set for the remainder of this cycle. 

Because the menstrual phase is associated with “Vata” dosha in Ayurveda, which tends towards ungrounded-ness, anxiety, spaciness and cold and dry sensations, a warm and grounding diet can feel very nourishing. Spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger, black pepper, cayenne, turmeric, cumin and curry are wonderful to add to your foods. Because of the loss of trace minerals, eating meat, bone broth, nuts, seeds, nettles, dark leafy greens and sea veggies is also indicated. Stay grounded with root veggies, oats, brown rice and complex carbohydrates. Hydrate with moist foods like soups and stews, herbal teas and juicy fruits.

The Follicular Phase

The follicular phase of our cycle correlates with the “First Quarter Moon” and our “Inner Spring.” It lasts for around 5-7 days. Our hormones begin to rise which means we become more energetic than we were during our menstrual phase and may want to start new projects and be more social. This is a time to set intentions and take the first steps toward goals we have for the month. We can be very creative and excited during this time. Paint, dance, explore new things and follow your pleasure. 

This phase is associated with Kapha dosha, the most stable, moist and substantial of the elemental compositions in Ayurveda. This may mean that we feel more strong and capable of making big steps toward our dreams. Kapha also creates the juicy, strong fluids in our bodies that make conception possible during our next phase, the Ovulatory phase. Alternately, if we have a Kapha imbalance, we may feel sluggish and foggy. If this is the case, focus on light, warm and energizing foods. Spices like ginger, peppermint, marjoram, basil, oregano, black pepper, bay leaf, cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg are great options. Favor bitter greens like dandelion, burdock, mustard, kale and collards. Good protein options include mung beans, eggs, chickpeas, turkey, shrimp and venison. Fruits like lemon, blueberries, apples, apricots and pomegranates are also supportive. 

The Ovulatory Phase

The ovulatory phase is associated with the Full Moon and our “Inner Summer.”  It lasts for around 4-5 days. The expansive energy during this time correlates with the culmination of projects, ideas coming to fruition and can be the most creatively overflowing time in our cycle. Because our hormones are at their highest, this is a great time for socializing, networking and doing the most “heavy lifting” we need to do throughout the month. It’s the best time for taking trips, catching up with friends, going on dates and living it up!
This phase is most often associated in Ayurveda with Pitta dosha due to its expansive, focused and outward-oriented energy. However, it is my sense that the ovulatory phase carries some Kapha energy as well. Kapha is associated with fertile ground ready to receive the seed which parallels our fluids being the juiciest and our ability to conceive at this time. You might think of this phase as being a Pitta-Kapha. It’s also helpful to feel into your own sense of how these energies play into your unique cycle, as with any phasic or doshic energy.
Because we tend to have the most energy during our ovulatory phase, we might be inspired to over- do it. This is the hard-working Pitta energy.  If you’re feeling overheated, hyper-focused or critical, stressed, burnt out or over-worked, this could be an indication to focus on Pitta balancing foods. Cooling, calming and hydrating foods are some of the best medicines for pitta. Mint, tulsi, rose, lavender, chamomile, cilantro, parsley, lime, coriander, cardamom and fennel are wonderfully supportive herbs. Red lentils, navy beans, white beans, chicken, high quality dairy, almonds and sunflower seeds are great protein sources. Fruits and veggies that cool and calm pitta include cucumber, spinach, lettuce, sprouts, zucchini, coconut, lime, melon, avocado, berries, figs and mangoes. 

The Luteal Phase

The luteal phase is associated with the Last Quarter Moon and our “Inner Autumn.” It lasts for about 11-14 days. During this phase our hormones begin to decline after ovulation and we may feel our energy begin to slow down again. This is a time to tie up any projects that may be lingering or come to a pausing point. Tidy up your space, reflect on what needs to be released and begin preparing to rest during the menstrual phase. Towards the end of this phase, spend more time alone in nature, oiling your body, getting massaged, taking long baths, doing yoni steams and doing more nourishing and uplifting activities, especially if there are PMS symptoms.

This phase is also associated with Pitta dosha in Ayurveda. However, it is also my sense here that this phase carries the energy of a second dosha, Vata. In the beginning of the luteal phase, we may be riding the high and still in the “go mode” of the ovulatory phase. Towards the end, we may start to feel depleted, anxiously awaiting the time to rest- especially if we have been working hard during the follicular and ovulatory phases. The above sections mention diets that pacify Pitta dosha and Vata dosha so depending on your unique rhythm, you may feel intuitively drawn to have foods from one or the other section, or maybe a bit of both. In general, during the luteal phase it is important to hydrate, nourish and prepare yourself for rest. Warm, grounding foods (like root veggies) will support a more calm state. Dark leafy greens, bone broths, red meat, nutrient-dense and magnesium-rich foods will prepare your body for the release of minerals during your bleed. Follow the energy and use your inner guidance to flow into what is best.
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