In my Foundations class this weekend, we were discussing herbs for women’s reproductive health and ended up in a heated discussion about the word “balance.”

A few members of the class were angry that they had tried herbs that are typically called balancers… but they had not ended up feeling balanced at all.

How does an herb create balance? And what are fair expectations when you are out of balance?

I was thinking about this today while experimenting with the yoga pose called Tree.

I am not particularly balanced when standing on one foot. Okay, let’s be honest:  I’m not particularly balanced when I’m standing on two feet.

So when I do tree at home, I put my raised knee against the wall. In this position I can stretch comfortably between Earth and Sky, feeling stable and balanced.

If instead, I stand near the wall, hoping it will catch me when I get out-of-kilter, I often end up bruised.

Herbal balancers are the same way. They work best when you acknowledge that you are a bit wobbly and use them to set yourself right before you crash in a hormonal heap.

After you’ve crashed, you no longer need balancing, you need a deeper restructuring.

Beyond that, herbs are not one size fits all. Which type of balance do you need? Going back to the idea of being in Tree pose, when I put my knee against the wall, my body is straight and correctly aligned. I have friends who instead put a hand against the wall; for me, using my hand, pushes my posture out of the alignment that I am seeking.

Knee-to-the-wall and hand-to-the-wall both create balance, but they are very different types of balance.

It’s the same with our plant allies; you need to choose the one best suited to the way that you get out of balance.

Here’s my checklist:

Vitex for small tweaks, for women who feel just a bit off, are out of kilter, or are coming off birth control.

Lady’s Mantle for women who need to feel protected, who feel vulnerable or assaulted (in a physical or metaphysical way).

Raspberry Leaf for toning the uterus and deeply nourishing the body.

Shatavari when you feel dried up physically and sexually.

Black Cohosh when your hormones make you feel gloomy.

Chinese Peony when your hormones hurt your head.

There is no quick fix. With a minor imbalance, it takes a couple of cycles to set yourself right. The further you are from your true alignment, the longer it takes to come back to center.

And what exactly is center?

I suspect that as women we have been sold a false bill of sale when it comes to our reproductive health:

We have come to believe that some mythical woman out there bleeds every 28th day like clockwork, goes for her usual run while menstruating, shoulders up to the men at work, and would never, ever deign to have a cramp or craving.

Who is this woman? I’ve never met her. Have you?

Our hormones go through huge changes over the course of our 28 day cycle. If you are a woman who feels your body, who is conscious of yourself in a deep and connected way, you are going to notice these changes.

Can you find a way to be balanced within the change? Can you pull into your consciousness the rhythms of your body so that you can ride them instead of resisting them?

Tell me your story: share below how you ride the hormonal wave.