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Our Internal Rhythms

Cultivating space for Time Shifting begins with attention to inner and outer cycles. The body works best in cycles and the closer you can match YOUR cycles to the natural cycles of the universe, the easier it becomes to flow in your life. This is rhythm, my friends.

Why does it matter that we sync up with cycles? The less resistance, in any given situation, the greater amount of energy that is available. So, beyond our calendar and fulfilling our desires, the rhythms of our body keep us happy, healthy and alive! One could argue that dis-ease and discomfort in the body is directly correlated to defying the natural rhythms of the body.

 

Here are some typical signs of rhythmic imbalance:

  • digestive disturbances
  • depression
  • headaches
  • fatigue & lethargy
  • dehydration
  • missed periods
  • weight gain or loss

Ways in which we Defy our Natural Rhythms: 

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  • Time Zone Hopping: Depending on which way you are traveling through the time zones, you may be inhibiting your body’s ability to release melatonin because of the confusion to your circadian cycle. Try sungazing upon your arrival to your new destination, this can help your body naturally reset this rhythm.
  • Screen Gazing: If asked your nightly routine, would it involved browsing the web, watching television or playing on your phone? If you answered yes to any of these, then you may be impeding your body’s ability to have a restful, rejuvenating sleep. The pineal gland, which releases melatonin, reacts to light and dark. This gland cannot differentiate between natural and synthetic lighting.
  • Working at night: Our bodies are designed to sleep when it is dark (thus melatonin’s production when light is no longer present) so when we work at night and sleep during the day, we are working against the Circadian sleep/wake cycle
  • Birth Control: Changes the timing of our menstrual cycles by shifting hormone production through the administration of synthetic ones.
  • Eating Patterns & Habits: If we are eating late at night or first thing in the morning, we may not be working optimally with our cycles. Eating late would require digestion during time the body should be assimilating. Additionally, the foods we choose may contribute or impede to the cycles of our body.
  • Stress: Affects our ability to digest, procreate and increases production of Cortisol, creating an imbalance in the wake/sleep cycle.

So how do we work with the rhythms of the body and what are the cycles of the body I am referring to? 

Let’s start with the what…

Some of the cycles I am referring to are; circadian rhythms, puberty, menstrual cycles, hormonal response and a variety of physiological processes like body temperatere and blood pressure.  These inner cycles are influenced & synchronized with internal rhythms (endogenous), body temperature is regulated by circadian rhythms. Other influences may be external (exogenous), like the effect of harmful plastics on your hormone production. Other examples of external influences include; exposure to light, chemical use and stress.

Menstrual cycles are an example of Infradian cycles, which occur about every 28–30 days. This cycle is endogenously affected by hormone production and the fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone. There are also outside influences that can cause disruption within this cycle.

Respecting the cycle of life and death allows us to flow with these cycles rather than resist or butt up against. In yoga, each class ends with Savasana, Corpse Pose, to remind us to die every day. Die everyday? Yes. With death there is life. So, what can you die to today so that new life can occur? I die to ideas, habits and emotions that are no longer serving me. I call in new growth and expansion.

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The cycle I want to focus on primarily, is the Circadian Rhythm. 

This cycle in the body can be broken down into three 8-hour cycles. The sleep-wake cycle is the most commonly acknowledged circadian rhythm process. During this process, a variety of physiological processes are governed. For instance, our Cortisol & Melatonin production are directly influenced by this cycle. With the decrease of sunlight, Cortisol production decreases and melatonin increases to induce sleep.

Circadian rhythms also influence digestion and detoxification of the body. The three 8-hour cycles represented are:

  • Elimination 4am-12pm – removal of waste by-products from the body. Indication of out-of-balance cycle may result in waking up with headaches, bloating, coated tongues and general lethargy. To work more closely with this 8 hour cycle, choose foods that are easily digested so that the focus can remain on elimination. Also, drinking lemon water first thing in the morning will support your body’s natural detoxification ability, allowing the body to be in a more alkaline state. Additionally, our practices BEFORE we go to bed heavily influence this cycle of our day. Mindful practices and avoiding late night snacking may be helpful too!
  • Appropriation (eating and digestion)12pm-8pm  – this 8 hour cycle is optimal time for eating larger meals and digestion. Food combining is imperative to working rhythmically with this cycle. Eat small frequent meals or try eating larger meals and see how your digestion responds. We are so unique that no two ways of eating will be exactly the same.
  • Assimilation 8pm-4am – optimal time for utilizing the food consumed during the day. If we think about it, during this time your body wants to wind down and eventually go to sleep.

Chinese Medicine Body Clock: Natural Flow of Energy (Chi) 

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How to Use these Cycles to Our Advantage:

Drawing from this diagram, we can schedule exercise, meal types, detoxification and supplementation regiments based off the highest functioning of our organs, at specific times.

Practice mindfulness technique when you wake up to set the tone and intention of your day, or in the evening to promote a deeper sense of relaxation and release of unwanted energies. Examples of mindful attention may include deep breathing, movement, contemplative exercises and sound therapy.

If you suspect disturbances in your natural cycles, get involved! Use alarms for sleep, waking up, supplementation and for eating times to create SHIFT within your natural rhythms. Journaling may be helpful to track patterns so that you are more conscious of where the shift needs to occur. Seek guidance. Get nutrient, hormone and neurotransmitter levels tested to find out where the specific physiological imbalances lie.

Sleeping patterns out of whack? Try removing all devices with screens at least 2 hours before going to bed. This allows the pineal gland to properly produce Melatonin so that your body can repair while sleeping.  Eating late may be a culprit so try to limit eating to after 8pm. If this is not enough, melatonin, 5-HTP and Tryptophan have proven effective for sleeping supplementation.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we will explore the natural cycles of our environment and how we can become more in sync to promote well-being and vitality!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015