Nurturing the Feminine
Both men and women are born with masculine and feminine energies, and this is reflected in several ancient cultural traditions. Ayurvedic medicine refers to these energies as ida and pingala, while in Chinese medicine they’re referred to as yin and yang. Feminine energy is found within and all around us, and Mother Nature is the most prominent source.
Feminine (or yin) energy is represented by all that is formless, expansive, and magnetic. The moon, water, and nighttime all encompass this energy. This energy relates to women in numerous ways. Soft lines and curves characterize women; their biological processes are cyclical; they’re significantly affected by the moon’s magnetism; and they’re highly attuned to the more subtle and formless aspects of human consciousness, such as intuition and emotions.
In today’s fast-paced western world, the dominant energy that drives society is predominantly masculine. From government to business to domestic spheres, masculine ideals such as assertiveness, competitiveness, and a preference for facts over feelings are praised and prioritized. While these characteristics are not negative and certainly have a place, our society’s preference for them allows them to take over and to drive us forward at an aggressive pace.
Many women spend a good part of their lives embodying their masculine energies, and find it difficult to shift into the feminine - leading with more of an intuitive, fluid, and gentle energy. Especially when there is a lot of past trauma, or an absence of a positive female role model or positive mirroring, women tend to go into warrior mode (very masculine energy) as a protection mechanism. This leaves little space for heart-opening and healing to take place. The inherent state of being in one’s feminine energy is healing not only to our internal state but to the collective consciousness.
As women lose touch with or suppress their feminine energies, illness and disease often develop as a result. Many common health complaints stem from disorders in the reproductive system that are due to a lack of nourishment for this vital energy. Unsupportive diets, emotional blockages, and imbalanced lifestyles and energies are key contributing factors. Common ailments include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, hormonal disorders, and chronic bacterial infections. The presence of female disorders can also manifest in less direct forms, such as anxiety or depression, blood sugar imbalances, acne, and weight gain.
Since modern life often requires women to more strongly embody and embrace their masculine energies - in order to lead confidently in the world and at home - it’s more imperative than ever that we also remember to nurture, nourish, heal, and restore the feminine. A balance between masculine and feminine energies is essential for our overall health and well-being.
When it comes to balancing these energies and nurturing the feminine, healing comes from all angles: mind, body, and spirit. Support can be found through proper diet, supplements and herbs, healing music, exercise, and the development of a strong circle of support.
If you’re dealing with a specific disorder or illness, it’s often helpful to seek the support of a holistic health care practitioner.
Nurturing the Feminine
Femininity is a special gift we have been bestowed as women. Femininity allows for a vulnerable, open, nurturing, and compassionate side that inspires and brings life into the world. Women are powerful, empathic, and truly magical beings who spend most of their time nurturing others, but it’s important we nurture ourselves as well. By recharging and reconnecting to ourselves, we’re better able to reach out and to help others in the process.
Yin energy is also characterized by inward moving energy - introspection, reflection, and meditation are all yin activities. It's helpful to engage in these activities regularly in order to maintain balance in mind, body, and spirit.
Women often assume the position of caregivers as it’s an innate call from within to care for and offer yin healing energy to others. Many times, however, this comes with sacrificing their own needs for the needs of their friends, spouses, children, or coworkers. While a noble and compassionate undertaking, it can easily throw a woman into a state of depletion, stress, and feeling disconnected from herself. It’s important for women to understand and practice the wisdom that one must deeply nourish themselves on all levels, as an act of self-love, to be able to effectively and meaningfully contribute to the lives of others.
Some tools for recharging and renewing your feminine energy
Opening to Intuition
As women, we are gifted with an incredibly powerful connection to our intuition. Our ability to tune into our intuition helps guide us to make decisions for our highest good. In every moment we have the opportunity to be mindful or mindless. It takes energy to be present, but the upside is that we can make constructive decisions that bring us back to our initial intentions.
Use your intuition as a guide to move through the day. If something doesn’t feel right, tune in and make another choice that feels good. Listen to your body - do what feels good for you. Challenge yourself to transform, but never override your inner knowing. You know what's best for YOU. ALWAYS. Begin to get in touch with yourself on a moment-to-moment basis & listen to the signs and signals that you receive.
Ways to connect to your intuition: Free-form writing or journaling, dream analysis, nature walks, meditation and quiet reflection, and following your gut instincts - listening to the “signs” you notice throughout the day. Give yourself time to just “be”, instead of always being in “do” mode.
Feel Your Feelings
Emotions are meant to be felt. Any effort to suppress them is always only temporary. Life has a way of bringing up the same lessons over and over again until you fully learn them and truly allow yourself to feel into what they mean for you. All feelings are beautiful gifts from your deepest self. They’re reliable indicators of what needs to be focused on in your life. In seeing them as such, the emotional charge around them is released, and one can learn to feel their emotions without wallowing in them or feeling that their emotions define them. Feel your emotions fully - not labeling anything as good or bad. Allowance is key. Allow everything to flow through you like waves in the ocean.
Healing the Heart
Although we are often told in passing to “follow our hearts”, our minds sometimes lead us astray and tell us to follow our heads instead and to obey the laws of reason and logic, as is encouraged in most aspects of life in a masculine energy dominant society. This hesitancy to truly honor the heart means that many of us end up with hearts that are suppressed and blocked.
When we are heartbroken by love or life experiences, we have a tendency to protect our hearts, to build walls around them so that life cannot hurt us again. In this act of self-protection, we unintentionally end up becoming bitter and hardened to everything around us. It’s in the softening of the heart that healing and growth can begin to occur. When we let down our guard and open our hearts more, we are able to connect more deeply with others. Human connection is the true purpose of life and offers an incredible amount of fulfillment for both ourselves and others. We can only achieve this through the conscious healing and opening of the heart.
To experience love, compassion, and a sense of connectivity to life and other people, our hearts must be open. We must listen to the calls of the heart and not push them aside. If you find yourself being withdrawn, overly critical or demanding of yourself and others, often feeling victimized, or without proper boundaries, your heart may be in need of some serious healing.
Heart healing can be found through relieving chronic stress, relieving tense muscles through massage and movement such as yoga, letting go of limiting beliefs and attitudes, focusing only on relationships that are mutually loving and supportive, forgiving those who you feel have wronged you, practising the art of freely giving love, and spending plenty of time in nature.
Honor Your Body
The health and strength of your body is the foundation of everything else in your life. Learn to respond to what your body is telling you. Reconnect to yourself and listen to your body’s cues for what feels good and what doesn’t. Understand that when you feel depleted, stressed, fatigued, foggy, unhappy, or depressed, these are all signals from your body telling you that you need to pause, reflect on what is not serving you well, and take some time for self-care.
Healing and honoring the body is an act that speaks deeply to our feminine energy. It’s important to listen to and honor the call for self-care. Move your body daily with whatever movements feel good, feed yourself wholesome and nourishing foods, and allow yourself to love every inch of yourself - even the parts you feel are less than perfect. Honor your body as a sacred temple - after all, it’s your only home.
Take On Only What You Can Handle
Over-burdening task flows will deplete your energy, and quickly! There’s only so much that can be done in a day. It’s OK to say “no” or to ask for help when needed. When we take on more than we can handle, we end up operating from a mechanical place - a place that’s void of presence and love. If we continue to operate from this state, we’ll quickly begin to dislike whatever we’re doing.
A classic yin trait is a lack of boundaries - think water. Water is formless and yields to hard external objects. Women embody this characteristic in the sense that they’re more flexible with the boundaries that separate them from other people. While this creates a tendency to be more open-minded, empathetic, and flexible, it can also cause us to more easily yield to pressures exerted by other people and to compromise our boundaries to make others happy.
While being flexible and open-minded are positive traits, it’s imperative that women establish firm boundaries with regards to what feels good and what doesn’t, and that they learn not to compromise those boundaries even when provoked. Saying “no” can be a very empowering behavior. However, make sure that these declarations are always uttered as a commitment to personal core values, rather than an excuse to avoid responsibilities or as a way of hiding to avoid personal growth.
Only take on what you can handle. Don't let others pressure or guilt you into feeling that you need to do more. YOU know what you’re capable of. YOU set the standard for how people will treat you. And YOU can change that standard at any time!
Sacred movement is a must for feeling your best. Feminine energy is always flowing, moving, ever-changing, and shifting. You can activate this beautiful energy through regular movement. Float or swim with the movement of the ocean. Dance to songs that invigorate your spirit. Stroll through nature. Take a yoga or exercise class. No matter what your choice of movement is, get the energy flowing and moving within you.
It’s essential to allocate time each day to move the body. It’s important to listen to your body and see what it needs, too. This often changes throughout the month with our hormones and energy levels. Tune in to what your body is capable of, increasing or decreasing intensity as feels best. Often gentle practices such as yoga, brisk walking, hiking, biking, and swimming are the most beneficial throughout the entire month.
Resistance training is a great way to raise your heart rate, build muscle, increase metabolism, and build bone strength, however, this type of exercise increases inflammation throughout the body and produces the hormone testosterone. If you’re already dealing with an inflammatory disorder or find it difficult to follow a strenuous exercise routine, yoga may be more supportive.
Specific asanas (poses) that are used in hatha yoga have healing effects on the feminine energies. The bow pose is an essential daily movement to heal the hips and reproductive organs by soothing and stretching them. Other beneficial poses include cobra pose to stretch the stomach and lower abdomen and to open up the lower back, and butterfly pose (also known as bound angle pose) to relax and open up the hips.
The left side of the body is referred to as the feminine side in many ancient cultures. Equilibrium can be created by performing balancing breathing exercises, such as alternate nostril breathing. Breathe out of one nostril while holding the other closed and repeat this process for a few minutes, while alternating nostrils between each breath. Balancing poses such as tree pose, which requires you to balance on one foot at a time, are another great way to heal imbalances and to find a healthy equilibrium between the masculine and feminine energies within you.
Exercise is one of the best ways to move energy and breath through your body and mind, and consequently can have highly positive effects on your life. Engage in an as much physical movement as possible, while honoring your body’s signals throughout the process.
Taking the time to notice, enjoy, and appreciate beauty in all its forms is a wonderful way to honor your feminine energies. Beauty is all around us: in nature, in the faces of the people we love (and even in the faces of strangers we pass by on the street), in art, in music, in the reflections of water, and in the smile of a child. Noticing this requires slowing down and really opening our eyes, and getting out of our own heads and into the world.
Create beauty everywhere you go. Make your home a sanctuary: a calm place for relaxation where you’re able to embrace and honor yourself and your family. Set up an altar of all the things that bring joy to your life. Every night, take time to give thanks to all the things that bring you happiness. Appreciate and honor your own unique beauty, too. Smile at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you are beautiful, inside and out.
All women are wise.
All women are healers.
Some of us may need this side to be woken up, but this innate capacity is alive in all of us.
Enjoy Nature Therapy
Spending time in nature is the perfect way to re-center ourselves and to tune into the subtle energies of both the masculine and the feminine. Enjoy the sunshine on your face, the breezy sensation of the wind on your skin, the sound of the ocean rumbling in your ears, and the feeling of breathing fresh air into your lungs. Bask in the earthly sensations that only time spent in nature can bring. Walk barefoot in the grass or dirt, meditate seated on the ground, or simply stroll through your local park with no destination in mind. Practicing full moon and new moon rituals, or celebrating the solstice and equinox, are other healing ways to reconnect with nature and to honor its rhythmic cycles.
Nature serves as a healing, soothing tonic that effectively counteracts the busy-ness and the other overly-masculine energies we’re confronted with on a day-to-day basis. Look to Mother Nature as a way to reconnect with your inner self and your feminine energies.
Choose a Nourishing, Supportive Diet
The best dietary guideline to follow when healing the feminine is to stop trying to “diet”. Include full-fat foods in your diet that help balance your blood sugar levels and provide essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are required for the production of hormones. EFAs are also essential to metabolize vitamins and minerals, and to reduce inflammation in the body. Nourishing foods to include are organic free-range eggs (including the yolk!), wild-caught fatty fish, avocados, healthy oils such as olive and avocado oils, and nuts + seeds (raw walnuts, pumpkin, and flax seeds are great options). Consume only grass-fed, organic meats to avoid exposure to chemicals, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics. Try cooking with coconut oil or ghee as alternatives to vegetable oils or margarine.
Include a rainbow of colored vegetables, healthy fats and oils, and properly sourced meats, eggs, and alternative protein sources such as lentils, chickpeas, and nuts & seeds.
Although consuming more full, healthy fats will have a beneficial impact on blood sugar levels, it’s also important to avoid processed and refined sugars, and to consume other sugars in moderation, including the “healthy” sugars like honey, maple syrup, dates, and coconut sugar.
Avoid Xenoestrogens and Monitor Your Intake of Phytoestrogens
Xenoestrogens have chemical properties that mimic hormonal functions in the body. They tend to be 1000x stronger and to cause great disruptions internally. Xenoestrogens can be found in plastics, hair and beauty products, cleaning products, and even processed foods. Eat whole, organic foods to avoid potentially consuming these harmful chemicals and ensure your beauty and health care regimen is as holistic and natural as possible.
Phytoestrogens, on the other hand, are found in foods like tempeh, and flax seeds. Although they also impact the hormones in the body, they are 10x weaker than our natural hormones and can be beneficial to healing the feminine as they help to balance out our estrogen levels, increasing or decreasing our levels as needed. These foods should also be consumed in moderation and in their unprocessed forms (for example, tempeh or miso - both fermented forms of soy ).
Incorporate Healing Herbs
Herbs are one of the best ways to heal the feminine and are relatively easy to use. Chaste tree, also known as vitex, is a great natural remedy to balance hormones and to prevent estrogen-dominant disorders. Ginger tea helps to support digestion and move energy in the body. Red raspberry can be taken in tea or infusion form and is especially helpful around the menses to tone the uterus and alleviate PMS symptoms. Nettle is helpful for mineralizing the body, building the blood, and supporting beauty inside & out. Other beneficial herbs include burdock, dandelion, and milk thistle, all of which are known for their ability to detox excess estrogens from the liver, helping to bring the body into balance.
Rituals support health, beauty, and longevity. They’re often viewed as a sacred practice, as they’re an essential component of self-care - itself a sacred act.
Rituals are a great way to establish healthy boundaries in your life. They create healthy patterns and habits that are long-lasting. Making small improvements every day can significantly shift the health of your body, mind, and spirit over time. Try to establish rituals that nourish all of those three aspects of yourself. Your daily practices may include meditation, journaling, listening to your favorite music, dancing, leaning into creativity (however that looks for you), or engaging in whatever form of movement resonates with you.
Morning rituals are especially healing and beneficial, as starting your day off on the right foot sets you up for success. A great way to start each morning is with a gentle cleanse to improve the body’s natural elimination system and to balance your pH levels. To do this, you can simply add lemon to your morning water or create an apple cider vinegar (ACV) tonic to combat bacterial candida overgrowth and to support digestion. Mix one or two tablespoons of ACV in a glass of water and consume first thing in the morning.
Form a Women’s Circle
Heal the feminine by building a circle of support. Support provides a safe space to express your feelings and share your life. We are social beings that thrive in social settings. This can be as easy as collecting a group of your girlfriends for regular get-togethers. Human connection and support is such an important part of our mental and physical health.