Sunday, April 16, 2006

A 25-day cycle?

Something I have been mulling for a long while, basically every since I started my daily Ashtanga practice, is what of this notion of women taking off from practice during the first three days of their periods, and where does my situation fit in with this? First, I was never a big believer in letting my period stand in the way of my doing anything. Second, once I discovered yoga, I never understood why anyone else would do so either. I listened to the "reasons" behind it, but I have never really been able to get past the idea that this keeping of women out of the shala while they are bleeding is misogynistic. At worst, it seems like a punishment for women being women. At best, it seems overprotective of a woman's body based on a fundamental lack of understanding that blood does not equal trauma or a weakened state. So, even if the reasons are good, the message is so bad that I could never much even hear the reasons.

Nowadays, it isn't exactly relevant to me as a student. Ever since going through chemo, I haven't bled. And just to seal the deal such that I would never again experience the hormonal highs that fed my cancer in the first place, and at the same time, in order to dispense with a pair of organs that weren't doing anything anymore anyway other than putting me at risk for an even scarier cancer, I had bilateral oophorectomy. So, despite that I am a relatively young woman (if 40 is the new 30, I mean), I don't have "three days off" from the shala like the other young women out there.

Going on the notion that the three days off is either pointless or directly tied to the "apana-istic" flow of blood downward and outward (which goes against the prana-ic flow that the Ashtanga practice fosters), then it would seem that the three days off is something that neither I nor anyone in my shala needs me to do. Yet I wonder...

Today is definitely a "down day" for me. I woke up feeling "off". My belly feels bloated. My head feels heavy. My eyes are tired. I have a cramp in one shoulder. I want to want to practice, but I don't want to practice. Remembering that it was not long ago that I felt this way, I grew curious as to when it was that I had my last down day. And what do you know? It was March 22. 25 days ago. Nearly one moon cycle ago.

So I am wondering, is my body somehow, without the aid of hormones, without the blood and other physical changes brought about my a menstrual cycle, cycling of its own volition? Or perhaps is my body reacting to the cycles of those around me? Or is it just that I tweaked my shoulder and ate poorly in the past few days? Or perhaps it is that I am simply tired and spent from working with a new pose in the past 10 or so days? Or pehaps it is that I am ready for some sort of break-through in my practice, which I am told often feels like a set-back in the practice?

I'm just thinking aloud. None of this really matters. I suppose at some point today, I will stand on my mat and at least salute the sun, at least sit in padmasana. I know that Sir says that we need to practice even when injured. So I am sure that I will.

Which reminds psyched am I that I have a teacher? SO very. In the yoga world, you always hear teachers talking about THEIR teachers. If you have never had a "teacher" of your own, it can sound borderline pompous to hear someone quoting "my teacher". At my Om teacher training, some of us would whisperingly scoff at these references to "my teacher". How did one come to have a "teacher", I wondered, particularly in light of the fact that no one at Om particularly appealed to me, and no one's teachings there particularly resonated with me?

I remember when a colleague of mine at a studio neither of us work for any longer came to the studio one day, flushed with excitement because she had "found her teacher". This seemed odd to me. How does someone one day "find their teacher" any more tha someone one day meets their "future husband"? How can someone know something like that in one day? Revelations never come to me in flashes like that. Instead, they marinate over time.

And over time, I have come into an awareness that I finally do have a teacher. Even if I practice by myself, even if I take a led class with someone else, I still have my teacher's voice in my head. I feel anchored.

Even if I feel crappy today.


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Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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