Zahra Haji is the director and founder of Yoga Goddess and creator of the Moon Goddess meditation and yoga program for female fertility. She recently launched the #NotPsychoPeriod campaign to draw attention to women’s cyclical nature and deconstruct myths around PMS and “hormonal” moods.
What do you see as the #1 misconception women have about their hormone cycles?
I think the number 1 misconception is our hormones are our nemesis – or like a wild animal that needs to be tamed. Instead of realizing the power in our cyclical nature and the gifts the four phases of our cycle brings most women are fighting like mad to stay ‘on’ by over exercising or drinking more coffee and essentially forcing the body to skip over the natural rest and restore phase of our cycles. If a woman actually goes with the flow of her hormones she can be natural power house without burning herself out because she’s working with her hormones (and her cycle) not against it!
Women who are trying to get pregnant hear more these days about the importance of diet for boosting fertility, but you focus on other aspects of lifestyle that are perhaps lesser known. What advice might you give a woman who feels she’s eating all the right things and being healthy per recommendations, and yet still cannot conceive?
This is such an important question because eating all the right foods, taking all the right supplements and essentially trying to get it all ‘right’ is very much the masculine or yang way of problem-solving and working harder. What a woman trying to conceive needs more than anything is to shift out of doing more and trying harder into a place of softening, allowing and receiving – this is the feminine, yin energy that opens a woman’s energy to co-creating with life. There needs to be a balance between the energy of ‘doing’ and ‘being’. The good news is most women are already masters in the masculine but what they need is to surrender into the feminine which is where life is born from. Making this transition is in my experience how a woman who has been struggling with infertility can open to the miracle of pregnancy.
Once a woman knows how to use her cycle knowledge to prevent or achieve pregnancy, what else might she be interested in gaining from this new awareness?
So much! A woman’s cycle holds the key to ancient feminine wisdom that is her birthright. Without this information being a woman can feel confusing, painful and downright crazy-making. By working with your cycle you can excel at work, improve your relationships, heal your body and reconnect with the Divine Feminine. Literally your cycle is a guide map of success in practically every aspect of your life. For instance, when you realize that every month right after your period you have a surge of mental and physical energy you can use that time to catch up on work that requires focused attention or get ahead on a project that slowed down when you were in the rest and restore phase of your cycle (the luteal and menstrual phase). Because estrogen peaks during or right after menstruation if you’re working with your cycle you’ll know this is your most productive time to get things done. It’s also the worst time to tackle relationship issues because you’re most out of touch with your emotions and will likely come across as cold and uncaring. But if you wait until ovulation you’ll be much more in touch with your heart.
How can an additional awareness of nature and the moon cycles help women to enjoy their own hormone cycles and perhaps, better utilize Fertility Awareness?
The moon is my favourite symbol of fertility because just like a woman’s hormones the moon waxes and wanes from darkness to light. The full moon is a perfect symbol for how we feel during our ovulation phase. When we’re flowing with our hormones, ovulation is meant to be a time when we’re shining bright. Our sexuality and sensuality are at their peak making us more attractive (to ourselves and others!). We feel more social and outgoing and we enjoy connecting with friends, family and of course with our partners. Conversely, just like the dark moon when a woman’s hormones wane her energy begins to darken. It’s a temporary but natural slowing down, like the winter months that draw us inwards into a place of quiet reflection. It’s normal to feel less social and yearn alone time. In terms of fertility, when a woman gives herself permission to flow with her cycle energy ovulation can be a time of exciting experimentation (if trying to avoid pregnancy) or a time to really connect to the love she feels for her partner (if trying to conceive). And rather than feel like a failure or like an inconvenience, menstruation is the perfect time to let go of limiting beliefs and plant the seeds for what a woman wants to co-create with life. Like the Winter menstruation offers us the time and space to slow down, retreat and create anew.
Is there a part of yoga practice that directly connects with the female cyclical nature or is this connection your own creation?
Yes and yes! Kundalini yoga calls on the energy of Mata Shakti – the Great Mother Energy and awakens it in the practitioner. I have included both Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga in the practice plus guided visualizations for each phase of the menstrual cycle to connect women with their 4 ‘goddess energies’, moon cycle charting and more. When a woman follows the Moon Goddess Yoga & Meditation program she is creating a container where she can surrender to the feminine and return home to herself. Women tell me that’s the biggest gift they get from the Moon Goddess practice. They also get the fringe benefits of healing infertility, painful and missing periods, pms, fibroids, cysts, and a host of other hormonal issues.
In a recent blog post you discuss the real statistics of fertility and getting pregnant in your 30s. What is the most important takeaway from this post would you say? What’s should a woman in her late 30s do to ensure she can get pregnant if and when she wants?
The most important takeaway is know the truth about your fertility. It’s not so much your age that’s going to dictate your fertility it’s the state of your hormones. If you are caring for your hormonal health by working with your cycle, avoiding endocrine disrupting chemicals like the birth control pill, pesticides and preservatives in beauty care products etc. you can preserve your fertility well into your 40’s. But if you are burning yourself out by over exercising, not getting enough sleep, eating without proper nourishment, over exposing yourself to chemical products and being in a constant state of overdrive then you will burn out your fertility too. I just turned 40 and I have the hormne levels of a woman in her late 20’s. Proper rest for your mind and body are essential for your fertility. If you don’t know how to relax and let go then try a practice like Moon Goddess that will guide you inwards. The answers aren’t out there somewhere, they’re truly inside you. It sounds trite unless you know how to tune in and listen. That’s what I want every women to know how to do. Connect and listen to her body, her cycle and her hormones. They have so much nourishment to offer you if you only know how to work with them not against them.
Marketing Consultant and Blog Editor
When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, “Sweetening the Pill,” which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake. She is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative.