Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ladies Holiday

If you practice Ashtanga Yoga you have heard the phrase, 'ladies holiday.' Well what is it? It is the time each month that us ladies have our menstrual cycle. It has come to be known as 'ladies holiday' because Guruji has always taught women to take the first three days of your menstrual cycle as days of rest from your Ashtanga Yoga practice. Hence, a 'holiday' for ladies from Ashtanga Yoga practice.

WHY 'should' we take rest "Ladies Holiday"?

Depending on your own cycle, you should be mindful to take rest from asana practice at least one and up to three days. Length of time off from practice should vary from woman to woman because each woman's cycle is different - if your cycle is very heavy, if you feel intense fluctuations in mood/emotions, if cramping is intense - then three days is advisable to allow the body to do its work without interference. If your cycle is rather mild with little flow, and little cramping, you may opt to take a day or two off as opposed to three.

This is also a good time to rest because your body is undergoing a great amount of work that requires a great deal of your energy. To honor this time and take rest from physical asana practice allows your energy to be directed to the work of menstruation.

It is also advisable to refrain from practice during this time because of the directional flow of energy - through yoga we start to understand that all we do on and off our mat is intended to increase the upward flow of energy, or prana. When we menstruate we are creating or rather experiencing a downward flow of energy, or apana. By doing asana practice during menstruation we are confusing the flow of energy - working to create an upward flow of energy during an unavoidable downward flow. So from an energetic standpoint, it is a time to allow the body to do what it must in expanding the apana, and wait til the body has finished its work to begin again to increase prana via asana practice.

When I do get back on my mat during 'ladies holiday' are there any modifications I should adhere to?

- When you come back to your mat after taking a day of rest or three days of rest it is advisable to refrain from doing any inversions until your cycle comes to an end.

- If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or crampy, refrain from extreme backbending, and leave out any postures that intensify your discomfort until your cycle comes to an end.

- Make a conscious effort not to engage your bandhas during the days of your cycle (although for many of us bandhas become an unconscious part of our practice over time - it is important to work hard to let the pelvic floor and navel area be a soft and supple as possible during this downward flow of energy).

- Alot of deeply dedicated female practitioners find that taking that time off is difficult. Do not ignore your cycle and attempt to practice the full Ashtanga sequence straight through it! Doing so can alter your cycle completely.

- Please remember that every woman is different - so what you may need to do for your body during your menstrual cycle will be different from the next woman. LISTEN to your body and she will tell you what to do and what not to do.

*** As you continue to practice Ashtanga yoga consistently, for a long period of time you will really start to understand your body and what you need to do for your body. Ladies holiday will become a time for you to continue to explore your physical and emotional self from a different perspective; and alot of what happens to the female body will begin to make more sense. This amazing practice provides insights into self that will amaze you! As you practice more, you become more aware; as you become more aware you become more respectful of yourself and the world around you.

At The Yoga Shala, I encourage my own students to listen to their body. There is no one solution for EVERY woman - be mindful of how you feel during your monthly cycle and honor your body.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I've been missing in action on the blog scene for a few weeks now :) Kwang and I closed on our house on April 1st and I've been extremely busy trying to unpack boxes and make our new home homey for Kaiden's arrival! It has been rather exhausting but great fun! And boy did it feel good to get his room unpacked and set up. There is now a place for Kaiden to come home to, and that brings me such joy! I've not taken any pictures of the house yet but when I do I'll post some up for you to see :)

It's also been a busy few weeks at The Yoga Shala - Sati's Ashtanga Immersion workshops went really well the last few weekends, and The Karma Krew April project for Camp Kesem was a bit hit too!

Today was my last day teaching for a wee while - I guess I'm officially starting maternity leave now (sounds odd for me to say that :) Kaiden is due in 2 1/2 weeks but I have my cerclage removed tomorrow and then I'm to wait (off my feet) for Kaiden to let me know when he's ready to join us! I have spent the better part of the last two weeks trying to make sure the shala is full of supplies, product, and the like...I had a new order of Yoga Shala tees made and they look awesome - you gotta come check em out :) Also getting a fresh shipment of coconut water in this week for all my thirsty students.

I wish everyone a wonderful week ahead! Try to get on your mat as much as you can. Even when you are tired or distracted, it is of great benefit to set the intention and do your yoga!

om shanti