Rejuvenating the Wisdom of a Woman’s Body
We sat down with Heather Grzych, author of The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility and host of Wisdom of the Body podcast, to get her perspectives on the immense wisdom that a woman's body naturally has, and how it aids us in intuitively caring for ourselves and all those around us. Here's what she had to say.
Women’s reproductive health can seem so mysterious to us modern women, but it’s as beautiful and simple as nature. The classical Ayurvedic texts lay out four factors of fertility – the seed, season, field and water -- and by concentrating on these factors, we can develop an enlightened relationship with this often-overlooked part of ourselves, even if we aren’t sure we want to have kids. It turns out that taking care of our bodies is not that different than cultivating a garden.
Bodies change with the seasons
We know that each plant has its preferred season to grow in, and goes through different transitions as the seasons change. So do women’s bodies. A woman’s body goes through monthly and daily changes, and her body shifts with changes in climate and environment, as well as the life stage she is in. As a woman’s environment changes, her body also changes, and therefore we must also give her different care. In the cold season, we give her more warming spices. And the wet season, we add crunch and spice and lightness to her life. If she’s become overheated in the hot season, then we cool her with mint and roses. In the dry season, we give her more oil. Even a shift in our work schedule can create a type of season, since it creates a different rhythm and energy in our environment.
Planting seeds when the environment is right
Part of developing an Ayurvedic lifestyle is to learn how the body changes seasonally. One gift of gaining this wisdom of nature is to be able to tell when the environment is beneficial to cultivate a certain outcome. We have to learn to work with nature. Just as we must pay attention to the waves at the beach before we are in the right spot to catch the perfect one, we will learn how our body goes though natural and normal cycles that make life rich and interesting. Women may notice that we feel more receptive to sex and affection, for example, at certain times, and crave more alone time at others. Or we may notice that we don’t like to do certain activities when we are menstruating.
It can be difficult to swallow that we can’t simply do what we want when we want all the time, but if we align with nature’s rhythms, we’ll find that this way of living is actually way less tiring, frustrating and way more rejuvenating and efficient.
Caring for the soil
Just as we must care for the soil where we grow our foods and medicines, one of the most important jobs we have is to care for our bodies. Every moment of self-care allows for greater detoxification, and for cells and tissues of the body to regenerate. In the case of women’s reproductive health, the women’s uterus is considered the place where a person may make a pilgrimage to. That’s a pretty big deal. We all arrived here on Earth through one, and even if a woman isn’t sure if she wants to have a child yet, she still benefits by cultivating a healthy reproductive system. A woman’s overall body, the home she lives in, her community, relationship, and the way she takes care of herself will create a certain kind of soil. The love, food and energy that she gives to herself, and receives from others, is the watering of that soil. The products she puts on her skin are so important because they are also a kind of food that the body receives.
The body is a teacher
Through learning to observe our body in different seasons, we learn more about what it needs and how to dance with these seasons to shift our self-care -- whether that’s changing the diet, our skin products, or even what foods to eat during certain phases of our cycle.
Women’s reproductive health feels overlooked for many women today, but Ayurveda has a way of tapping us back into the intelligence of nature, and into the wisdom of our bodies. And while that may feel different than other types of intelligence, it’s a calling back into the depth of our bodies that we cannot deny.
Heather Grzych is the author of The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility and the host of the Wisdom of the Body podcast. A board-certified Ayurvedic practitioner, she bridges the worlds of conventional and alternative medicine to help women and men heal their physical and emotional lives. Heather is on the board of directors for the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and has consulted with doctors, governments, and insurance companies. She offers virtual consultation and trainings on body intelligence.