June 4, 2009

On Yoga, Chocolate & Periods.

To Yoga or not to Yoga during one’s Period?

via Kathryn Budig

For years now, an epic battle on whether to practice yoga during a feminine cycle has been raging.

Some yoga teachers simply promote no inversion practice during a period. Pattabhi Jois, head of the Asthanga tradition, encourages a woman to take her entire “ladies’ holiday” off from practice.

Personally, I’m an avid fan of “no flow on my flow,” because anything more strenuous than reaching for my Trader Joe’s organic dark chocolate truffle bar is a…stretch. This is, of course, in the non-forward fold sense of the term. Not to mention, bulky pads won’t look so cute in your skin-tight Lululemon pants and if you’re thinking tampons will save the day, can i just say: queef? If you don’t know what I mean, just pray you don’t make any interesting noises as you come out of your headstand. Yes, we can’t help it, it’s natural. Yes, you will get weird looks. Spare yourself the pain and embarrassment because you won’t be the only one who knows you didn’t “drop a rose.”

I officially mark myself as senseless during the preceding days as the first few of the actual holiday. When you can normally find me working flips in a handstand till I can’t see straight, this time of the month it’s more common to find me propped up on the couch, my handy Jane Austen novel du jour next to me, and an artillery of spoons ready to attack a fresh mint and chocolate chip gelato.

The idea of lifting my frontal hip points to engage more core makes my poor little ovaries scream in surrender—and I’d like to point out that surrender is a wonderfully common yogic theme, and one I like to teach. I admire the yoginis who have a daily asana (posture) practice, but even the most astute practitioner can use a rest. The whole theory behind taking a break from yoga during a period, in my mind, is a form of respect. Some teachers will say you shouldn’t invert on your period because the blood will get stuck. Okay, honestly, that sounds like a poorly conceived old wives tale to me, but logistically speaking if something is trying to get out, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to turn it upside down. Or twist it. Or strain it. Or do anything more than supine postures, snuggling a bolster, light walks and all those bites of chocolate.

But seriously, (and I am serious about my chocolate) the period should be treated with great respect. It is our bodies’ time to cleanse and begin a new cycle, much like the full cycles of asana that we go through each time we take a class. I constantly teach my students to stop before they begin and observe. Notice what is happening in your body and mind before you race past it to where you think you should be.

Same goes for ladies’ holiday. Don’t ignore it by trying to keep life the way it is everyday. Stop, acknowledge, observe, respect and rest.

Honestly ladies, we’ve earned it.  Period.

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