A few years ago, I walked into Brooklyn Acupuncture Project, a community wellness clinic in New York City, in a last-ditch attempt to solve some pressing #ladyproblems—specifically, that my cycle had been extremely irregular for, oh, five years. My ob-gyn had suggested acupuncture as an option if gaining weight and cutting down on exercise didn’t work to normalize things. (They didn’t.) And though I had been interested in trying acupuncture for years, I couldn’t help but feel simultaneously fascinated and extremely skeptical that this would be a legit solution to this very real issue. “You’re in good hands,” my practitioner assured me, before explaining that she had actually first gotten into acupuncture when suffering from similar problems of her own—and that she was going to use the same regimen that worked for her to cure me.
So I found my dubiousness ebbing away, even as she rattled off a rather interesting treatment plan: Our aim, she said, was to match my cycle with the lunar cycle—both are 28 days long, and the moon has been associated with feminine energy in Eastern medicine for centuries. After my session, I walked away with the most bizarre prescription ever: In addition to returning for weekly acupuncture, I had to supplement my diet with flax oil while the moon was waxing and evening primrose oil when the moon was waning. I’d also have to take a certain strain of Chinese herbs—not so coincidentally called Moon Pearls ($45)—twice a day. “You’ll get your period on the new moon,” she told me on my way out the door, as I started downloading a moon calendar app. And since we’ve bypassed the TMI stage at this point of the story, let me just tell you: I did.
This experience rattled my part-time belief in all things spiritual and alternative into a full-fledged fascination. What else could the moon do for me?
A lot, as it turns out. Those who subscribe to this alternative approach to wellness feel strongly about the impact of nature’s energies on our bodies and minds, and the moon is a big force of nature—not to mention that it’s perpetually in transition, altering our states of being as it moves from full to new and back again. “While this relationship includes our physical, psychological, physiological, and spiritual states, it is our mental state of mind that is the most influenced,” says Pratima Raichur, Ayurvedic guru and founder of an eponymous holistic spa in New York City. “Ayurveda offers so much wisdom on how to live in accordance with the moon—from breathing techniques to meditation, lifestyle, and nutritional guidance—so we can maintain stability during these fluctuating phases and achieve true balance and wellness.”
“Often there is a lot of dread or cynicism around lunar activity, especially a powerful moon,” adds Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of alternative wellness destination Moon Juice (for example, feeling out of whack during the full moon). “I choose not to experience lunations in that way, but instead to relax into it and ride the wave, knowing it’s all divinely ordained energy working on us.”
With this in mind, we asked the experts to explain how they tweak their wellness routines in order to be better attuned to the lunar cycle. Keep reading to see their diet and mindfulness tips for approaching the new moon, full moon, and every stage in between.
Mind: Those who are into astrology might recognize that this is the time to embrace new beginnings. “If you want to start something new in your life, be it new business ventures, relationships, or new personal projects, it’s good practice to start them on Amavasya, or the ‘no moon’ day, and see them through Purnima, the full moon day,” advises Raichur.
While this means getting ready to hustle, it actually tends to be a time of fatigue. “Amavasya causes a dip in energy, sometimes resulting in lethargy or even depression,” she says. Taking certain steps can help alleviate this funk, whether it’s making a point to fill up your social calendar or focusing on the positive aspects of this transition. “I’ve been writing new moon intentions for over six years,” says Bacon. “It’s amazing to see that I’ve gotten everything I intended and more.” Write down your goals in a designated notebook and see where it takes you.
Body: Taking this potential dip in mood and energy under advisement, it’s wise to embrace a diet that could help reverse these effects. Raichur recommends sweet, alkaline foods, with a focus on fats and proteins: Nuts, nut milks, and dates are all great snacks. Bacon likes to supplement her diet during all lunar transitions with Moon Juice’s Dusts, as these herbal supplements help bolster the body and mind during this critical time. (Power Dust, $38, might be a wise choice while setting intentions for the rest of the cycle.) And don’t neglect exercise, one of the most obvious mood-boosters readily available.
Meanwhile, according to traditional Chinese medicine, the new moon is the ideal time for menstruation, and harmonizing your cycle with the lunar cycle is believed to alleviate many of the (literal) aches and pains that come with that time of the month. The regimen I followed is a pretty standard template for syncing things up—and it should be known that evening primrose oil is a great supplement for tackling hormonal issues in general.
Mind: According to ancient Hindu beliefs, this stage of the moon cycle is critical for the brain, as the moon widens its capacity for maximum focus and concentration. Bacon names it as her favorite day of the lunar transition for this reason.
Body: It’s traditionally a fast day (which is thought to keep the mind sharp), but Bacon says that she reaps the same cleansing benefits by avoiding animal products and grains, sticking to veggies and fruits instead. “This gives respite to the digestive system and organs,” she explains.
Mind: “Purnima, with its very high level of energy, can be very motivating,” says Raichur. (The high-frequency vibes associated with the full moon could be the reason we tend to feel a little loopy around this time.) But as with the importance of counteracting the fatigue of the new moon with high-energy activities, you should ideally find balance during the full moon with grounding actions like yoga, meditation, and plenty of sleep. Bacon recommends taking this opportunity to reflect on the intentions you set at the beginning of the cycle—ideally while soaking up the moonlight, the direct source of its energy. (This is called moon bathing.)
Body: That high energy extends to the body as well. “Even our digestion is stronger and can support spicier, more robust foods in our diet,” says Raichur. That being said, if you are feeling a little over-buzzed, she has an interesting tip: Reconsider the fabric you’re wearing. “Cotton clothing has a calming vibration,” she explains.