In Chinese Medicine, the womb is called the Sea of Blood. While the heart is considered the mover of the blood, and the bones are known to be where new blood cells are made, the womb IS the blood. The womb and the blood are one and the same.
As we know, blood plays and important role in immunity, and as we explore the holistic understandings of the blood and womb that Chinese medicine and other ancient wisdom traditions have to offer us, it becomes very clear how central womb wellness is to our overall health and well being.
When a Chinese Medicine doctor works with a female patient, some of the first diagnostic questions asked are about the menstrual cycle. And the questions don't stop at "When was your last period?" Further inquiry often delves into the color of the blood, any pain or other unpleasant symptoms, digestive distress, headaches, and/or emotional imbalance that might be happening during the menstrual cycle. All of these symptoms paint a picture to a skilled practitioner about how the energies and fluids are flowing through the woman's body, mind, and spirit.
One of the most common imbalances women discover when looking closely at their menstrual symptoms in this way is Uterine Fatigue. Most women are not surprised to learn that their menstrual symptoms are resulting from exhaustion. It is very clear that we are living in a world that does not honor or nourish the immense work of generating new life that our wombs are constantly engaged in. Even though our wombs have a built in rhythm of rest and renewal, we have all been taught to ignore this inner cyclical guidance and adhere to a linear schedule of constantly increasing productivity.
This approach to life is unsustainable for everyone, especially women. In order to keep up with this ever increasing pace of life, we get addicted to adrenaline, stimulants, and fast acting but nutrient lacking energy boosting foods and activities. This way of life is terrible for the immune system. And our wombs are often the first messengers of this immunity diminishing state of affairs. Our cycles become shortened as our bodies lack the energy and resources it takes to fully nourish the complex hormonal and physiological processes happening in the womb each month.
These processes not only prepare a menstruating woman to conceive, gestate, and birth a child, but also generate her creative drive and inspiration to offer all of her gifts to the world, so these energies can become diminished as well. As deeper fatigue sets in, the womb can start to leak blood as it looses its ability to hold the amount of blood that it is supposed to while developing the endometrial lining. Women end up bleeding too much and too often, which depletes us even more. The emotional and spiritual aspects of this are easily imagined as we consider the symbolism of life generating blood leaking out of us because we are too exhausted to hold it inside. How often have we allowed others to take more from us simply because we were too exhausted to assert a boundary and face the objections that would inevitably ensue to a woman taking care of her own needs before those of someone else?
Exhaustion is a well known threat to our immunity. And our wombs are telling us, often even before we recognize it ourselves, that we need rest. And now with the immunity challenges that we are facing in the world, it is ever more important that we start listening to this womb wisdom.
Another imbalance that our wombs often let us know we are suffering from that jeopardizes our immunity and overall well being is blood stagnation. Our sedentary lifestyles, shame and hiding of menstruation, toxicity overload on the liver, and lifestyle tendencies that do not support the liver's blood filtering functions all result in our blood getting stagnant. Our Sea of Blood needs to be fed with fresh rivers of blood and have a clear pathway to release old blood to be refreshed by new blood each month. When these flows are suppressed on any level, we feel the effects. Our wombs are working extra hard to clear out the old blood, creating cramps. Our lymph system is stagnant creating breast soreness and acne. The build up of toxins causes inflammation resulting in headaches and joint pain. And our hormones are not being processed completely out of our blood by our liver, so the whole system gets confused and we get quite irritable.
This backup of fluids is the perfect environment for viruses and bacteria that cause diseases to take up residence in our bodies and get a strong foothold. We so overloaded with processing external toxins and internal substances out of our blood and lymph systems and cannot muster up an adequate immune response to evict any more unhealthy guests. And the waiting pools of lymph and blood that are not being refreshed and renewed as quickly as necessary become the perfect medium for these organisms to flourish.
There are several more symptom patterns that Chinese medicine and other holistic health practitioners look for in our menstrual cycles to determine the best ways to nourish us back into balance and optimum immunity so we can more easily respond to any viruses and other disease producing substances that we might be exposed to through life. I share more about these more in my Herbal Womb Wellness Webinar series linked below. But what can we start to do about this to improve our immunity?
First of all, rest. Mother Earth has arranged for this beautifully for many of us lately as our governments are shutting down unnecessary businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. We have the choice to take this time for much needed rest and rejuvenation. We may still need to get creative with working out how to get our needs met during these uncertain times, but it would behoove all of us to heed the warnings of our wombs and take a pause and evaluate our lifestyle choices. Many of the activities we are accustomed to doing for recreation actually deplete our energies more. How replenished do you truly feel after a night out on the town? Or after a whirlwind transcontinental vacation? Or extreme sports? Even after an afternoon shopping at the mall? All of these activities are on my list of things to avoid when experiencing uterine fatigue symptoms. And certainly during a world wide pandemic. Let us give thanks for the wisdom of how things are unfolding that we are being asked to reassess these choices. And to explore more nourishing and replenishing approaches to recreation.
One of my lifelong allies with this is yoga. I have had uterine fatigue and stagnation since I started menstruating at age 11. Nobody taught me how to care for myself and by the time I was graduating from college at age 23 I was suffering from some debilitating health challenges that were insisting I attend to them. Yoga was one of my main medicines. Deep breathing is a well known way to shift the nervous system out of fight and flight mode and into rest and renew. It is also one of the main ways we can easily and deeply nourish our bodies and our blood. Our lungs are designed specifically to nourish our blood with the substances we inhale. And yoga asana practices are designed to deliver that nourishment throughout the body by getting the blood moving to all the spots that might be stagnant.
Some yoga practices are better at replenishing us than others. Many yoga practitioners today focus on the more athletic approaches to yoga which I feel have become just another intense accomplishment we must tick off of our long lists of things to do to be strong enough to stay somewhere towards the top of the heap and not end up at the bottom suffering. This constant striving towards achievement is one of the main sources of fatigue in our world and this approach is not exempt from being so. The 3-5 minutes of sivasana rest at the end of athletic yoga practices do not provide sufficient space and time for the rejuvenation we are all craving.
This is why I have been drawn to more restorative, therapeutic approaches to yoga that focus on deep breathing, slowing the pace of movement, massaging and supporting the body to relax more deeply, and resting in stillness. Yoga Nidra, a practice of deep rest, is becoming more and more popular as more of us are listening to this deep need for rest. Womb Centered Yoga is also becoming more available as more women learn and remember the ancient roots of yoga that were all about connecting and harmonizing with the rhythms of life. Men were looking at what women naturally did guided by their womb wisdom to generate new life in themselves and their communities and began developing practices to produce the same types of experiences women naturally can have simply by honoring their cycles.
Combined with gentle movement, breath, and vocal sounding practices that help move stagnant physical and emotional energies, these deep rest practices can make up a powerful practice anyone learn to do, regardless of physical condition. (See the link at the bottom of this article to sign up for my online classes.)
In addition to Yoga, there are quite a number of foods and herbs that are well known for their abilities to nourish and replenish a tired womb. Chinese Medicine practitioners call them Chi Tonics and have recipes to replenish our Uterine Chi, Kidney Chi, Liver Chi, and Spleen Chi. As you might be aware, all of these organs are important in the physiological realm for circulating, filtering, and delivering our vital fluids to all the parts of our bodies. If any one of these organs is low on energy, our whole system is compromised. So herbal formulas and nutritional foods have been used for thousands of years to revitalize us. Some of my favorites are nettles, seaweed, lady's mantle, astragalus, goji berries, and jujubes.
There are also many herbs and foods that help with stagnation by supporting the liver to filter the blood and aid in digestion more efficiently and by increasing circulation. As discussed, the more we keep things moving, the less likely an unfriendly virus or bacteria will be to infest our systems. Some of my favorites for this are Dandelion, Milk Thistle, and Yellow Dock Root for the liver, as well as Cinnamon, Ginger, and Clarysage for supporting good circulation and digestion.
If you would like to learn more about Herbal Womb Wellness, you are welcome to join me for a free 3 part Herbal Womb Wellness webinar series happening in March and April of 2020 through the link below. You can also subscribe to the Womb Centered Healing Temple Newsletter to receive updates on upcoming webinars and courses on these topics.
Sama is the founder of the Womb Centered Healing Temple and delights is supporting people of all genders to reclaim their connection to the womb, activating their womb wisdom, and nourishing their womb wellness holistically, attending to the needs of the body, the emotions, and the spirit.
Sign up for Womb Trauma Recovery Yoga here: https://www.samamorningstar.com/womb-trauma-recovery-yoga-sign-up-p
Sign up for the Herbal Womb Wellness Webinar series here: https://mailchi.mp/73b9818ce3db/herbalwombwellnesswebinar
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