Hormonal fluctuations are something many women experience from puberty to menopause that drives mood, emotions, and thought processes.
The body is a wonderful and majestic vessel that responds to its environment. Climate, diet, and activity profoundly affect the endocrine system and homeostasis.
Dr. Keema Shield joined us to share her knowledge on the significance of hormonal changes in women and simple tools that help restore the individual to a state of vitality and harmony.
Keema offered non-hormonal methods to realign with the body’s natural rhythms to assist women in perimenopause and menopause phases.
“I do a lot of metabolism and hormonal work to reset women’s cycles because my passion is fertility. I’m always working to restore balance to bring the body back into the right relationship with itself.” — Dr. Keema Shield.
Keep reading to learn about seed cycling, how to use the right diet and exercise to boost your energy, and yoga’s benefits on hormonal balance in women from puberty to menopause.
Table of contents:
Prioritize your sleep.
Perform seed and magnesium cycling.
Build energy through foods and activities that align with the seasons.
Lift weights and align exercise with the cycles (moon and menstrual).
Keema’s 4 Tools to Balance Hormones
1. Prioritize your sleep.
To reinstate balance and connect to our body’s vital energy source, we want to eat the foods that give us the most energy and do the activities that support our strength and growth.
These things vary from person to person and are also affected by the time of year.
Sleep is an essential component of our overall health. Lack of sleep is one of the most erosive factors to our wellbeing, second to stress. Getting a good night’s sleep and enough sleep
Tips for establishing a better sleep rhythm:
Start a routine of rising around the same time every day. At this time, the light that hits your eyes activates the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is the pacemaker of the cicada timing and regulates the cicada rhythms of the body. The body is more sensitive to light in the morning and so the light activates cortisol and inhibits melatonin production.
Use natural light and reduce exposure to blue light, especially in the evening. Blue light suppresses melatonin and will keep you from falling asleep and achieving a successful state of rest.
Eat at least three hours before bedtime to aid digestion.
2. Perform seed and magnesium cycling.
Women with postpartum, perimenopause, or menopausal issues will benefit from observing the moon cycle.
According to Keema, to better align with your hormones, you want to look at your diet, vitamins, exercise, and other factors based on the moon and your menstruation cycle.
The menstrual cycle is comprised of two parts. The first half is the follicular phase. In this phase, the uterine lining becomes thick with nutrients to support the embryo. If there is no embryo, the estrogen and progesterone levels decrease. This creates the capacity for the uterine lining to break down and shed, causing menstruation.
The second half is the luteal phase. This phase begins fourteen days into the cycle with ovulation and the expression of an egg. Following the release of the egg, progesterone is released to prepare the uterus. Estrogen is high in this phase of the cycle.
Disturbances cause irregular hormone cycles, which affect the mood and create imbalances in the body.
Seed cycling is the practice of rotating specific seeds throughout the two phases of the cycles, the follicular and luteal phases, to support the associated hormones.
During the follicular phase, seeds that support estrogen production are taken daily, such as flax or pumpkin.
The latter half, the luteal phase, involves taking seeds that support progesterone production, such as sunflower or sesame seeds. — Source.
Magnesium is important in regulating energy metabolism and plays a role in bone formation.
All women tend to be magnesium deficient, especially if you’re menstruating. Taking magnesium supplements has been shown to improve mood and blood pressure and manage blood sugar levels.
Magnesium cycling is the process of taking supplements during specific times of your cycle. Keema advises taking 400 milligrams at night on weeks two and three of your cycle.
The week before you get your period, you will take 600 milligrams of magnesium, as this week is when all the magnesium is being pushed into the uterus and getting ready to be bled out.
Magnesium is also great for treating menstrual cramps.
Taking 300 milligrams per day is a great starting point for adolescent girls. Sunflower seeds are another option as they have 350 to 400 mg of magnesium per 100 grams.
3. Eat food and do activities that enhance your energy.
When creating a foundation for wellness, we want to examine the basic principle of the five seasons and the energies created within each.
The endocrine system is affected by seasonal changes. Hormonal changes follow a cyclical pattern based on the time of day and year duration.
Scientists have proved that hormonal changes occur through the growth and shrinking of glands in self-regulating cycles.
Seasonal changes affect the hormones released by the thyroid, liver, adrenal cortex, and gonads, with the pituitary gland being the main driver. The study supports that growth in children occurs faster in springtime and mood fluctuations peak in winter.
This research supports how the cycles govern and control our overall mood and relationship to how we care for ourselves. Working with the energy of each season allows us to take better care of our bodies and minds by choosing the foods and activities that support our cycle.
We do this by focusing on the organ and element of each season. The element helps us see what is happening energetically, and the organ tells us where to feel and focus within our bodies.
4. Lift weights and build strength.
Weight lifting is especially helpful for women the week before the ovulation phase of the cycle. If you count the days, it’s days 7-14.
You want to drive up your testosterone levels during this phase to balance the excessive amount of estrogen produced in the body.
Strength training is essential for testosterone production. Resistance training and heavy weight lifting boost testosterone levels in women to boost their mood.
Lifting weights or using resistance bands to boost testosterone release is shown to elevate sex drive and help women in perimenopause and menopause phases stimulate arousal.
Energies Associated with the Five Seasons
In the spring and summer, we nourish yang. In autumn and winter, we nourish yin. The fifth season, long summer, is nourished through earth-like properties.
There is more natural light in the spring and summer yang phases. Yang is associated with movement, growth, and warmth. The direction of energy moves outwards and upwards. Plants grow faster, activities shift indoors to outdoors, food sources are abundant, and we feel a sense of uplifting enlivening in our bodies.
In contrast, there is less light in the autumn and winter yin phases. Plants slow or stop producing. Activity moves inwards and slows down.
The call is toward the darkness where restful activities and sleep encourage self-inquiry and reflection. Yin is associated with cold, passivity, and softness. The direction of energy moves inwards and down.
Allowing our bodies to follow the impulse and respond to each of the seasons creates an environment where we respond and replenish healthily in accordance with the world around us.
We experience birth, growth, maturation, and decline within the cycle of a year. There is a fullness in our experience that each season offers us.
Our energy ebbs and flows through the seasons of the earth. It is affected by the temperature and foods that flourish during each phase.
Aligning with the seasons to benefit our health follows the natural and progressive cycles of the earth’s movement.
In TCM, each season is associated with specific factors corresponding to how the energy moves during each phase.
The factors include an organ, tissues, emotion, element, flavor, color, sound, direction, time of day, and other factors that correspond to how the energy moves as a whole during the cycles.
A Deeper Examination of Each Season
There are five seasons in a year, according to TCM. Each season is related to an element that provides the energy to work within each phase.
1. Long Summer – Earth
Earth is the element for long summer. We want to protect our earth energy as this is where we feel grounded, safe, secure, stable, rooted, connected to self and others, and nourished.
Earth energy is the anchor that feeds and sustains.
This season is ruled by the spleen and stomach and takes place in late summer when it is lighter and damp. The emotional activity during this period is overthinking and the predominant sound is singing.
Foods for long summer: eat cooked food, avoid starches, and eat orange and yellow veggies.
Activities for long summer: breathwork, meditation, conscious rest, such as Yoga Nidra.
Do the yoga that supports the season’s activity on Practice with Clara: take a class from the Subtle Body Collection.
2. Autumn – Metal
Metal is the element for autumn. Metal is associated with vitality, radiance, and unification. In this phase, we harvest what was planted in the spring/summer. Organization, wisdom, and setting boundaries are the energy of metal.
The lung and large intestine rule this season which aligns with setting boundaries. The large intestine’s main job is to absorb the food’s nutrients and eliminate the waste. The lungs must expel toxins to take in rich oxygen. In each inhale and exhale, there is a relationship between giving and letting go. The emotional activity during this phase is grief, with crying as the predominant sound.
Foods for autumn: warm food, root veggies, pears, apples, and cruciferous vegetables.
Activities for autumn: avoid excessive preparation.
Do the yoga that supports the season’s activity on Practice with Clara: take a class from the Flow and Restore Collection.
3. Winter – Water
Water is the element for winter to express the depths below the surface. Water is an essential substance to preserve life and stores our reserves of energy. Winter is the harshest season and, therefore, especially important for us to rest, rejuvenate, and restore. Overwork and lack of sleep deplete the water in the kidneys and degrades the movement of Qi (energy) through the body. Water is associated with intuition to provide deeper insight into how we feel when moving through our day-to-day.
The kidneys and bladder rule this season. The emotional activity is fear, with deep sighing as the predominant sound. Slowing down is essential in the winter to protect the physical body and connect to the intuitive and sensorial properties. Yin energy is how to move in winter with slower-paced activities and more time for introspection and reflection.
Foods for winter: eat warmer foods, cook with ginger, and add a bit more protein.
Activities for winter: yin/restorative yoga and slower-paced activities.
4. Spring – Wood
Wood is the element for spring. Wood symbolizes expansion and change. Strength and flexibility are associated with this element. There is a sense of growth as the natural world comes back to life from its dormant state in winter. In spring, abundance is reborn and moves with the integrity and wisdom we gathered inside in the winter and brings it outward to meet the resurgence of springtime.
The liver and gallbladder are the organs of spring. The emotional activity is anger, and the sound is a call to move outwards.
As spring represents a period to refresh the mind and body, the liver is the most important in regulating the flow of Qi (vitality) and removing toxins. The gallbladder’s role is to aid the liver in releasing the bile it produces.
This phase is marked by yang energy, moving upwards and out as we see through the liver and gallbladder. It is the shifting phase between the poles of winter (yin) and summer (yang).
Foods for spring: eat more leafy greens.
Activities for spring: strength-building exercises.
Do the yoga that supports the season’s activity on Practice with Clara: enjoy the Sweet + Spicy Playlist with 10-days of vigorous classes.l
5. Summer – Fire
Fire is the element for summer. Fire brings us closer to compassion, intimacy, enthusiasm, creativity, and passion. Summer is associated with yang energy. Yang is hot, active, driving, and expressive. This season is marked by abundance and celebrating the light within and in the environment.
The heart, pericardium, and small intestines are the organs of summer. The emotional activity is joy, with laughter as the predominant sound. When in balance, heart energy can manifest its deepest desires.
When out of balance, heart energy is restless to the point of manic. The pericardium is the protective membrane that wraps the heart. The small intestine’s role is to digest the nutrients broken down by the stomach.
Foods for summer: eat more cooling, raw foods.
Activities for summer: water-themed activities, short and intense actions, core-centric.
Do the yoga that supports the season’s activity on Practice with Clara: explore the Summer Solstice Collection.
Benefits of Yoga on Hormonal Changes in Women
There’s a lot of scientific evidence that shows the benefits of yoga therapies as a non-hormonal treatment so support hormonal changes in women.
Yoga poses, breathwork, and meditation boost confidence, the production of feel-good hormones, and the overall sense of physical and psychological well being.
- Yoga Nidra is scientifically proven as a successful therapy to work with menstrual irregularities. — Source.
- A scientific study shows yoga as a therapy to assist with symptoms associated with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which includes stress, anxiety, and depression. The same study shows that yoga, pranayama, and meditation during menopausal phases help balance hormones, keep weight under control and maintain a healthy digestive system. — Source.
- Breathwork and yoga practices are shown to positively affect menopausal symptoms as a non-hormonal treatment to improve the quality of life. — Source.
- Combining yoga, breathwork, and meditation significantly strengthens healthy aging by supporting the endocrine system and releasing growth hormone (GH) into the bloodstream. — Source.
- Yoga in schools is shown to improve mood in adolescents to boost confidence and sense of well-being. — Source.
- In another study, yoga assists children and teens in developing a healthy body image, discipline, creativity, focus, and self-regulation. — Source.
About Keema Shield
Keema is currently in her 20th year of practice in Vancouver and continues her education in many ways, including being in her 6th year of a graduate mentorship program in diagnostics and herbology with Sharon Weizenbaum, as well as studying hormones from a western perspective and being certified in the Estima method for balancing female hormones and metabolic health.
Keema likes to combine tools from the East and West in her work and teaches a comprehensive program called The East meets West Hormone Reset for women seeking lasting change and measurable results with their hormones and metabolism.
Learn more about Keema on her website.
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