I practiced yoga for nearly seven years before I was introduced to the idea of modifying my asana (posture) practice during my menstruation. In Bikram yoga, a style of yoga in which the room is heated to 98 degrees with 60% humidity, no teacher had ever mentioned to me or discussed during class that it might be beneficial to practice differently during my moon cycle. To be sure, even if a teacher had mentioned it to me, I likely would have blown the idea off entirely, as I wanted my practice to be very athletic and at the time viewed my period as something that was already an interruption in my life off my mat—why would I want to change my practice for it, too?
Like many women who have deepened and shifted their relationship to their menstrual cycle, it took a scary diagnosis (severe cervical dysplasia) from my gynecologist to make me take another look at how I was thinking about and treating my womb. Suddenly, I began to wonder if my own beliefs and attitude about my blood, about my uterus, about my womb, had in some way contributed to abnormal cell growth on my cervix, cell growth that might turn into cancer.
Over the next few months, I threw away my tampons and traded them out for pads. I began sitting and visualizing my uterus, my cervix, my blood; rather than thinking of my blood as ugly, I pictured my womb and the blood that came each month as something lovely, perhaps even beautiful. I went to a Chinese herbalist, I added more live food and probiotics to my diet, and I waited (and prayed) for six months to find out if it was possible for my cervix to heal without being cut into.
In addition, I shifted the way that I practiced when it was my blood time. Somewhat reluctantly, I added restorative poses into my practice for the first few days of my cycle; and much to my surprise, I really enjoyed that. It felt as if, suddenly, I had permission to rest, permission to really be quiet and still with me and my womb. I know I’m not alone when I recognize that it isn’t easy for me to take time for myself, to offer support and care to me. And yet, we all so need and deserve that.
Six months later, to the utter shock of my doctor, there were no more signs of abnormal cell growth on my cervix. He became extremely interested in what I had done, as he’d never before seen such severe cervical dysplasia return to normal in such a relatively short time.
I believe that our relationship to our womb, to our blood, to our body—it is vital to our wellbeing, and often overlooked. While I uphold and support all of the ways in which women choose to engage with their moon time, I offer you this sweet sequence of restorative postures as a tool that I hope will serve you as much as it has served me. I encourage you to offer this to yourself as you would offer it to one of your dearest friends, and through it, may you come to rest in your Self as Divine.
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