Cycle Syncing: How to Tune Into Your Cycle


If you’re on a journey to better understand your cycle and tap into your body’s unique power, the best place to start is by tuning in — this means using your cycle as an inner map, a way to understand what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it, and how to care for yourself during each phase.

Woman holding rose with shadow

If you’re on a journey to better understand your cycle and tap into your body’s unique power, the best place to start is by tuning in — this means using your cycle as an inner map, a way to understand what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it, and how to care for yourself during each phase.

Indeed, understanding how our hormones fluctuate throughout our cycles helps us figure out what activities we’ll excel at during a given phase, what foods our bodies need, and our expected energy levels.

The Basics

Your menstrual cycle is made up of two phases with two main events: the follicular phase, marked by menstruation, and the luteal phase, marked by ovulation.

The average duration of the follicular phase is 16 days, and the average length of the luteal phase is 13 days. These two major phases take their names from the events that define them. The follicular phase is all about the maturation of an egg within a follicle, while the luteal phase involves the follicle’s transformation into the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is an endocrine structure that forms within the ovary once the ovarian follicle has released a mature egg. 

If you’re new to the practice of cycle syncing (i.e. tuning into your cycle), a helpful way to navigate this is by thinking of your phases as ‘inner seasons.” Just like seasons change, so do our bodies throughout these different phases.

Periods_Inner Seasons

Here are some tips on what to expect and how to tune in and connect with your body during each phase.

PHASE 1: The Follicular Phase 

a. Menstruation (Inner Winter)

What we call our “period” is actually only the first three to seven days of our cycle, also known as the menstrual phase. Day 1 of your period is also day 1 of your entire menstrual cycle. It is characterized by low levels of estrogen and progesterone, and you’ll shed the lining of your uterus (along with the unfertilized egg and mucus) during this phase. Menstruation on average lasts three to seven days. 

You might notice a dip in energy and a difficulty focusing on tasks.

Rest, slow down, and do as little as possible. If you can afford to do nothing, then do nothing. As your energy is the lowest in this phase, you are naturally drawn inwards. Embrace this and honor your body’s craving for some self-care. 

  • Get some time alone, even if it’s an hour. If you can squeeze in a massage, gift yourself a bubble bath or a nap.
  • Focusing on inner work, reflection, goal setting, and calming activities can help you stay grounded.
  • Avoid unhealthy fats and caffeine that can exacerbate your fatigue and cramps.
  • Try to eat warm and nourishing food rich in iron and vitamin B to support blood loss and low energy. Loading up on good fats can help stabilize mood, such as salmon, dark leafy greens, beets, brown rice, dark berries, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Take it easy with the workouts and movement. Aim for gentle and restorative movement, like yoga, pilates, and walking. Save the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for later in your cycle.

b. Pre-Ovulation (Inner Spring)

During your inner spring, your body is preparing for the release of an egg from the ovaries and re-building the lining of your uterus, which you’ve just shed during menstruation. These are the few days (about five to seven) after your bleed and leading up to ovulation. Estrogen levels are on the rise and your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) also increases to help your eggs mature in the ovary. This phase begins when one of about 20 competing follicles matures into an egg and ends with the ovulation of that egg. 

  • Your ability to brainstorm and be creative is high.
  • You’ll find yourself being more open to new experiences.
  • Your brain is sharp and you’re ready to problem solve.

After the rest and retreat of the inner winter, your energy is slowly surging again, so move tenderly. Open yourself to the powers of spring: playfulness, lightness, hope, focus. If possible, schedule work strategy meetings during this time.

  • As you come out of your inner winter, be conscious of slowly increasing the intensity of your lifestyle and workouts. Don’t go from 0 to 100 or you’ll find yourself getting depleted. 
  • Eat foods high in vitamin E like sweet potatoes and leafy greens to nourish the growing follicles. Other light and fresh proteins and vegetables are good during this phase. Add these ingredients to your supermarket list: Sauteed or steamed veggies, sweet potatoes, wild-caught fish, eggs, green lentils, oatmeal, citrus fruits, yogurt, kefir, avocado, cashes, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed.
  • You can begin working up more of a sweat, as your testosterone and estrogen are on the rise again. More intense exercise will start to feel good, inducing workouts like running, dancing, heavy lifting, pilates, and Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga. 


PHASE 2: Luteal Phase 

a. Ovulation (Inner Summer)

Ovulation is a 24-hour event that happens mid-cycle when the egg is released from the ovary. The hormonal changes in the few days preceding it and the few days after it have led some in the menstrual awareness space to treat this as a “phase”. During this time, estrogen levels reach their peak to thicken the uterine lining. Progesterone levels begin to rise to secure the uterine lining in place, along with testosterone, which will help drive your desire to be intimate. Meanwhile, an increase in FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH) will stimulate the release of the egg, which is now ready for fertilization.

  • Your energy is at its highest and you might notice an increased desire to have sex. Consider scheduling date nights during this time. 
  • You’ll find yourself to be most collaborative and comfortable in your communication with others. This is a good time to schedule important meetings, presentations, or public speaking.

Your energy is peaking, allow this renewed energy to move through you. Allow yourself to show up fully as you are (your true nature).

  • Eating plenty of antioxidant and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables will help your body process the surge in hormones and help flush out toxins. Meals or snacks that contain dark leafy greens, like broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and celery, quinoa, amaranth, red lentils, apples, apricot, berries, figs, coconut, sunflower and sesame seeds, dark chocolate are great.
  • This is the time for your more intense, high-impact workouts. You can take a little more pain, so it’s a great time to take advantage of high-intensity workouts.

Pre-Menstruation (Inner Autumn)

This phase starts after ovulation and ends before the start of the next menstruation. Its goal is to prepare the uterus and body to accept a fertilized egg, or to start the next cycle if a pregnancy doesn’t happen. If a sperm has fertilized the egg (known as conception), the fertilized egg will travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it will implant in the uterine lining. If the egg isn’t fertilized, progesterone and estrogen levels drop, and your uterus will shed its lining.

  • You might notice a slowdown in your energy as you near your menstruation or find yourself having moments of high energy followed by dips.
  • You’re essentially prepping your body for the hormonal dip that occurs during your period. Your attention is starting to turn inward and you might notice a desire to nest and spend time at home.

Your hormones are at their highest during this time, and you may find yourself being the most critical of yourself (and others) during this phase. Your internal “bullshit detector” is on. Use it to your advantage, turn inwards, and spend time with yourself. This is also a good time for taking care of administrative tasks like going through to-do lists. 

  • Opt for serotonin-boosting foods with plenty of Vitamin B that can help safeguard you against the dreaded mood swings as your hormones begin to deplete. 
  • Stable workouts that keep you strong, such as strength training or pilates, are the way to go. Aim for more restorative exercises like stretching and yoga right before your period begins. 

A final note

This might all feel overwhelming at first, like a daunting addition to your already extensive to-do list. However, it doesn't have to be a complete and overnight lifestyle overhaul. Instead, approach it as a gradual process of small, manageable changes. Take small steps towards finding the easiest, most simple ways that you can better live into each phase of your cycle — whether that’s a change in mindset, a change in workout or workload, or altering what you’re eating for a day or two. Trial these strategies, see what suits you best, and gradually integrate them into your routine. Think of your cycle not as another task but as a tool for enhancing your life and wellbeing.

Pope, Alexandra, and Sjanie Hugo. Wild power: Discover the magic of your menstrual cycle and awaken the feminine path to power. England: Hay House, 2017.

Vitti, Alisa. In the Flo: Unlock your hormonal advantage and revolutionize your life. New York, NY: HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2021.

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