As a young girl, I dreaded being on my "ladies holiday." To be exact, it was a nuisance. It made me moody and irritable. My body was going through so many changes. There were the physical discomfort and the mood swings. At times it was just too much. Instead of feeling grown up, I was embarrassed and ashamed.
Later on, I got used to this monthly visitor. "My aunt is visiting," I would say. She was to blame for so much while I was a teenager. It was her fault I didn’t go to the beach or take swimming lessons. She was to blame for my bad moods, headaches, cravings and acne. I recall wondering, why me? Why only women? Why don’t men have to go through this? Even though I thought it was unfair, I eventually made my peace with it. I decided I wasn’t going to let this unwelcome visitor stop me from living my life. If I had pain, there was a pill for that. If I got acne, there was medication for that, too. If I was in a bad mood or irritable, well tough luck. Either put up with me or leave. How selfish, self-absorbed and naive I was!
When I first started practicing yoga, I was pregnant. I probably was never told or most likely chose to ignore not to practice during my cycle. I can’t remember! For years, I was working out and doing any activity I wanted while on my period, so why not yoga? I couldn’t understand and refused to accept that there was an activity I couldn't or shouldn't do because of it.
A few years after practicing Ashtanga, I would only omit inversions during my ladies' days, doing Bakasana instead. Now that I am committed to a six days a week practice, I look forward to those two or three days off a month. If I feel like practicing asana, I do, but it is usually a light practice, consisting mostly of resting in child pose or restorative postures. I also take time to practice slow, deep breathing. But mostly, I enjoy them and relax. Contrary to what it may seem, after a few days off I have more energy. Ha! Men don’t get days off in their practice.
I am not a doctor, nor an expert on the subject. But I do know that each woman’s body is different and has different needs. Some women experience no pain whatsoever. Others have severe symptoms, often compared to heart attacks. It’s also a fact that not all questions can be answered by medicine or have a scientific explanation. It is your body and you know it best. Asana practice works on the physical body and the subtle, energetic body too. Take the time to listen to what it has to say and do what feels right for your body.
Here is a video on why rest is recommended during our “ladies' holiday” by Kiki Flynn.
Practicing yoga won’t magically make your life perfect or even take your problems away. But this practice has made me more in tune with the changes and rhythms of my body. I have learnt to respect and honor it. It has also made me aware of my emotions, and how my behavior affects others. In the end, that’s all that matters.
Lots of love,