In case you missed it, cycle syncing is a thing! By recognising the four distinct phases of our menstrual cycles, and tailoring how we move, eat and interact at those times of the month, we can work with our bodies and our hormones, instead of fighting against them.
Hormonal fluctuations affect everything from our energy, mood, appetite and even sleep. The benefits of cycle syncing can include balancing mood swings, feeling more energized, more effective workouts, and a reduction in the symptoms of PMS (win!)
Here’s a quick recap on the four distinct phases of the menstrual cycle, along with our tips for adjusting your sauna practice to work in harmony with your body's natural rhythm.
1. The menstrual phase (aka bleeding)
Lasting from 2 - 8 days (everyone’s different!) this phase sees low levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone and can unfortunately be accompanied by headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Women understandably don’t always feel up to intense workouts at this time, so a gentle walk, yoga or stretching, followed by a relaxing 20 minute sauna while listening to music can be an excellent way to get those endorphins flowing to help manage any pain or discomfort.
2. The follicular phase
Lasting around 9 days, estrogen and progesterone levels begin to rise as a follicle develops in the ovary. Many women experience increasing energy levels and mood, and some studies even demonstrate improved memory and cognition during this phase. Now is the time to incorporate more strength training into your routine. Remember to use your sauna post-workout to support muscle recovery. It’s also a great time to do some visualization or work on manifesting your goals - this may well be your most productive and efficient time of the month so make the most of it!
3. The ovulatory phase
This phase is when estrogen and progesterone peak and an egg is released. For these 3 days, we’re likely to have the highest energy levels and may be feeling super sexy! Ride this powerful wave by stacking your practices to get the most out of them - we suggest an adrenalin-pumping cardio workout followed by a 40 minute sauna combined with guided breathwork to build lung capacity, unleash creativity, and expand your consciousness.
4. The luteal phase
For around 10 days before our next period arrives, estrogen and progesterone levels dive (assuming pregnancy has not occurred). Some women notice anxiety, brain fog and lack of focus. Metabolism speeds up and with it our appetite increases (hello carbs and chocolate!). Listen to your body now and prioritize self-care - try lighting your favorite candle, rolling out your sauna blanket somewhere soft and popping on a gentle meditation to improve focus. A post-sauna lymphatic drainage massage can help relieve any fluid retention. If you experience trouble sleeping during this phase, move your sauna session to around 90 minutes before bedtime - the rise (and then fall) in your core body temperature naturally signals sleep.
Above all, it’s important to remember that everyone's bodies and experiences during their cycle are different. By tracking your own cycle (there are plenty of apps to help) and being conscious of your symptoms, energy and emotions during the four phases, you can tailor your sauna practice to what feels right for you.