They don't teach this stuff

Periods. They’re kind of embarrassing to talk about, right? Especially when you’re 12 or 13 in school. What were you taught at school about periods, blood, menstruation? The main messages I took home at that age were: you bleed once a month (and are now in constant danger of getting pregnant), periods are painful, you get PMS (which makes you hard to be around), probably acne too (the pill can help with that, as well as the pregnancy thing) and it’s messy (best to block up your flow with a tampon). 

But, what about what you didn’t get taught, that you picked up just by living in society? Well, for me, there’s the bit about periods being a ‘curse’ alongside the mysterious references to hormones, to ‘that time of the month’, which seemed to explain away women’s very normal need for time out alone and plenty of rest as something a little bit crazy, out of the ordinary, socially unacceptable. I’ve no doubt you’ve your own stories too – Were periods celebrated? Something to be ashamed of? No big deal? A positive sign of your transition into womanhood?

I think that’s it, isn’t it. You kind of just picked up stuff at school and from what was being talked about around you and perhaps, like me and many other young women, were never given the whole picture. I patched together a whole lot of other things about menstruation along the way, too. Primarily through lived experience. The pill gave me headaches, shooting pains, acne and severe mood swings. So, I came off it quite quickly and never touched again after the age of 19. In my early career as a journalist in my 20s, I noticed that it was painful to put myself up for features and jobs just before my period. But, give me a couple of days of bleeding, and my energy shifted and changed and I could be out there and ready for anything. When I lived with other women, our periods usually arrived at the same time, at least for those who weren’t on the pill.

It wasn’t until my 30s, when I came across the work of Alexandra Pope and the Red School, that I realised that menstruation was actually a powerful – and fun – part of the woman’s life cycle. That each month, the physical and emotional changes that a woman experiences can be harnessed to improve not only your quality of life, but also your creativity, work and relationships. This is the stuff they don’t teach in school. And, this is the stuff, the magic, that I find really exciting – that listening and observing the menstrual cycle can give you all kinds of insights and opportunities to create more flow in your life. That disruption to your menstrual cycle and common symptoms of imbalance, are asking you to pause and listen to your body, to slow down, re-evaluate and reconnect to that flow. 

Menstrual Health is the next in the Women’s Wisdom Series of 3hr workshops at Trika Yoga, Bristol. In this workshop, we’ll explore ways in which you can become more aware of the natural fluctuations in energy and emotions during the menstrual cycle, how to find what self-care practices support you, and how to adapt your yoga practice through the month so that you stay in sync that flow. There’ll be yoga asana, movement, relaxation, and an opportunity to explore your experiences of menstruation with other women in an open, friendly and safe space. I very much look forward to welcoming you.