July 19, 2011

Ladies, It’s Time We Took a Holiday: Part One.

This piece is dedicated in part to Paul Dallaghan, based in Koh Samui, Thailand, who when he teaches pranayama tells students on their ladies’ holiday to avoid certain exercises, and to Jessica Blanchard, a brilliant Astanga practitioner based in New Orleans, who is also an Ayurvedic counselor and the woman who illuminated for me the point of this article, a point I feel compelled to share with every woman I meet.

Amidst the many pearls of wisdom that drop on my head through regular Yoga practice, one has proven more valuable than most. It’s related to female hormones. So gents, while I recommend you keep reading if you want to be in the know with some pretty critical biology, you’d do best to adjust expectations just a bit, and put on your imagination caps.

Photo: Beatrice Murch

I know few ladies who would say to me that they love their period. In fact, a lot of women I’ve known take pills, get shots and use hormone rings to push it out of the picture and into a place in their lives that’s far more convenient. But this — and regularly putting anything synthetic into a mind-blowingly complex, naturally-regulating human ecosystem — always freaked me out a bit. Still, for years, I was wondering how I would reach peace with the hormone rollercoaster. With the hold-on-tight emotional and physical implications it dealt a woman.

A huge door on this topic was unlocked when I read the book Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom, by Christiane Northrup. Her writings were my key to understanding the link between hormones and a changing experience of life and relationships throughout the month. She basically talks about the month as carved up in sections. Day one being the day you bust out the products and day 14, plus or minus two days, being the time when the egg of the month makes its debut.

There’s a huge world of difference between these days. The former being a time when a woman feels introverted, measured in her thinking, more inclined to rest and the later being a time when she is most physiologically like a man — with all of the potential energy of her body at her fingertips instead of drawn into her pelvis.

In the day-14 zone, energy is freed as much as her water weight and the rosiness to her cheeks and lips. She perceives her body as much improved vs. what she thought of it on day one. Her hormonally-driven confidence is supported by pheromones released in a way that attracts a mate to her and that fertile egg of hers.

Photo: womanabout.com

This isn’t bunk — it attracts a lot of research. A recent NYT article actually highlighted research that married or committed men are turned off by women in the day-14 zone because they can threaten their stable relationships with the physiological and biological pull of hormones and peek attractiveness.

It makes sense. And there isn’t a month that goes by since I read that book (dare I date myself) 18 years ago that I don’t think about this. It helps me forgive myself and forgive my partner for not thinking of me as “hot” on day one as he does on day 14, because he won’t. He’ll love me, he’ll tell me I’m beautiful (as I run around with a clay, tomato mask on and eat more fruit salad and chocolate than usual), but he won’t be as eager to rock-and-roll. It’s just that simple. Phew, one less thing to take personally!

One of the morning shows, I remember, back in 2009 highlighted this — women on the pill may not have as much sex appeal. I was standing there eating my oatmeal and said out loud, “well, duuh.”

Sorry, to be so frank or offend anyone, but really it was no surprise and still isn’t. It’s true that the pill does change the mating game.

That information was a pretty good start, yet I finally reached a summit of sorts when I was taking an Ayurveda course last summer. I never expected to gain a bit of insight that would make being a lady so much more fun – that insight being that I have permission to be a lady! But first I had to give it to myself…

Find Part Two Here


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