Understanding our body’s seven-year cycles
Understanding our body’s seven-year cycles
By Dr Amanda Waaldyk, Angea Acupuncture & Yoga
According to Chinese medicine tradition, our lives go through predictable periodical cycles, each one bringing about great change in our bodies and lives. For women, this cycle comes around in periods of seven years.
These cyclical patterns are explored in detail in the most important ancient text in Chinese medicine, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine.
At seven years old: ‘the kidney energy becomes most prosperous at seven years of age’. It is important to have a strong focus on nutrient-rich foods at this time and preparing the body for growth. Just like preparing the soil for a flower to grow.
At 14 years old: ‘menstruation appears as the Ren (sea of yin) channel flows and the Chong (sea of blood) channel becomes prosperous’.
This is the time to be encouraging physical movement to help assist with the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. It is important for young women to become properly educated about their menstrual cycle at this time and how to have a healthy relationship with all the phases of their cycle.
At 21 years old: ‘kidney qi reaches a balanced state, and her teeth are completely developed’.
Now that the kidney energy is stable, now is the ideal time to begin cultivating spiritual practices such as meditation, qi gong and yoga. This helps to lay down the foundations of a fulfilled, balanced and harmonious life.
At 28 years old: ‘her vital energy and blood are substantial, her four limbs are strong and the body is at optimal condition’.
Around this time the energy starts pivoting to what is most important in life and true passions and callings can emerge. Indulge in this by doing what you love and get creative.
At 35 years old: ‘her peak condition declines gradually. The yang ming channel is depleted, her face withers and her hair begins to thin’.
This is a perfect time to be incorporating healthful practices such as daily bone broth as a way to enrich the body’s vital substances of qi (energy) and blood.
At 42 years old: ‘her three yang channels, tai yang, yang ming and shao yang, begin to decline. Her complexion wanes and her hair turns white’.
From life experiences gathered over the years this a wonderful time to share what you have learnt and be seen as a teacher and leader in your community. It is important to develop a movement routine to keep the body strong and flexible.
At 49 years old: ‘the Ren and Chong channels are both declining, her menstruation ends, her physique turns old and feeble and she can no longer conceive’.
A woman’s reproductive phase can begin to decline at this phase and her energy is directed elsewhere. This can be a wonderful time to immerse more deeply into spiritual cultivation and the cycles of nature. As throughout the whole life, nutrition is very important during this phase to help fuel the body to keep it humming along optimally.
Some of these descriptions sound harsh (especially that withered face bit)! At the time when these words were written (2,000-odd years ago), we can assume that these were observations being made about the women the practitioners were treating and in contact with. It is by no means a definitive list that is accurate for every woman, but more of a guide. It is interesting to note that at this time they had observed that most girls were getting their periods at the age of 14. In clinic we see that the vast majority of women got their first period around the age or 12, or much younger.
These cycles can vary depending on how we live our lives, how we handle stress, how we choose to nourish our bodies and how we act and react to our environment.
The quality of our lives can always be changed and improved upon. Our bodies are constantly scanning and interpreting our environment and this then sends messages to our brain that impact on our hormone production and levels. We have the choice to determine what it is our bodies are exposed to, whether it is environmental pollutants, our food quality, our water quality, our body care, and the people we surround ourselves with to name a few. All these factors reflect in our state of health and whatever ailments are being expressed at that present moment.
When the menstrual cycle stops, it is a strong-held belief in Daoism that this is the time a woman enters her peak spiritual development – a second spring! It is commonplace in today’s society that women feel afraid or resist ageing. Women need not be afraid of ageing, as each year that passes brings forth new wisdom, understanding and self-acceptance to her life: mind, body and soul. In traditional cultures all over the world the elders are always held in the highest esteem, as they are the ones with the most knowledge and insight to share.
Understanding each seven-year cycle and what it signifies allows us to make the most of our lives and appreciate the variety that life has to offer us. Each phase is a special time that needs to be welcomed, celebrated and cherished.
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