Last week, my best friend got married, and I was her maid of honor. In the previous weeks, when preparations were in full swing, and I offered to help in the realization of the inescapable tableau de marriage, the panel illustrating the tables and guests placement in the dining room. So far so good. I was so happy to serve and everyday I grew more and more excited for this special event in my friend’s life. Until one night, at about 10 p.m., when my boyfriend entered the room where I’d been locked in for hours to give vent to my creativity and found me… hysterical! Yes, yoginis also get hysterical. It was not a simple worry because the glue doesn’t hold or the weather forecasts say it will rain or the ink will run, etc. No, it was really hysteria. During one of those short moments Rob managed to calm me down, I realized: “I have my period, that’s what’s happening!”
Now I wonder: which hormone makes us live every menstruation as it was the first one, preventing us from recognizing that our fluctuating mood is not due to the forthcoming end of the world but to our natural monthly period?
In the case of a yogini and a Kundalini Yoga teacher this sounds even worse: all the work we do aims to deeply connect us to our Self, to Mother Nature’s rhythms, to deep listening. But this doesn’t automatically turn us into perfect beings, and accepting this is the first step…
According to yogic tradition, we chose to live on a planet ruled by polarities in order to have an experience and learn a new lesson. It is perfectly normal to feel emotions we usually define as “negative”, it’s part of the game and there’s no use in rejecting them or feeling ashamed. Emotions -just like sensations- are not good or bad in themselves, but they tell us something about the way we face difficulties and we relate to the outer world. It is important to bear this in mind when we go through storms, because it allows us to keep the helm and not to lose the course. But even more important is to know how to get out of the storm, and how to turn the negative into a positive experience.
As yoga teaches us, all the instruments we need are inside of us, and we can set up our mind to tune into the frequency we desire. We are free and we are powerful, much more than they make us believe.
“Just remember, it’s a simple habit to live in balance. Whenever you make a move, find out where the balance is and act accordingly”. ~Yogi Bhajan
The first condition to live with a healthy and balanced menstrual cycle is to learn how to relax. According to Kundalini Yoga, women accumulate stress and tensions in their ovaries, to the point that when stress becomes chronic it can turn into a variety of dis-eases, including late periods, too much or too little bleeding, painful and -in some cases- missing periods.
Yogic lifestyle ,with its exercises, breathing techniques and food guidelines, helps us in balancing stress periods with deep relaxation and coming into contact with the ancestral nature of the female cycle, so full of meaning.
We are used to conceiving of menstruation as a periodic hassle which makes it difficult to keep up with our busy daily schedule, but it hasn’t always been like that. In the nature of things, our periods have plenty of physical, psychological and spiritual meanings; they marks the transition to the adult age, to motherhood and beyond, to the wiser part of life. It is for this reason that in many ancient cultures the coming of the first menstruation was celebrated with rituals where women danced, sang and shared stories supporting young girls in their transition into womanhood. In our culture it is quite the opposite: embarrassment, secrecy and a negative view of the body often surround this event, turning it into a taboo. And thus we continue to separate from our true nature and from its miracles…
“A Woman’s Book of Yoga” thoroughly illustrates the many meanings of the lunar cycle and offers a number of tools to deal with it in a more conscious way, from food to yoga and meditation for both PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and menstruation.
My favorite meditation for this time of the month is Kirtan Kriya, considered the highest meditation for women. It uses a mantra, which represents the wheel of life and balances the brain and the different qualities of our personality. It also works perfectly to break an habit and to go through a change or transition.
The classical version of this meditation is in easy pose (or sitting on a chair) but here is the version for balancing the moon centers that govern female nature: lie on your stomach, chin on the ground and arms along the body, hands in gyan mudra, palms facing the sky. Meditate on the mantra Saa Taa Naa Maa (Panj Shabad), the four primal sounds of the mantra Sat Nam, that we use in Kundalini Yoga to remind us of our true identity. Each of these sounds represent a quality of the universal energy and, with their vibrations, stimulate a particular mental state:
Saa – infinity, cosmos, beginning, birth
Taa – life
Naa – end, death, transition
Maa – rebirth, new beginning
With every word of the mantra, press the tip of each finger on the tip of the thumb starting from the index finger, connecting and integrating each of the qualities of the Infinity. Continue from 3 to 31 minute. [Editor’s Note: There is a particular pattern of chanting as well…chanting out loud, then whispering, then silently repeating the mantra, then whispering and then chanting out loud again. For proper and easy timing, consider chanting along with a musical version of Kirtan Kriya and follow along.]
And after meditating, restore your whole being with a cup of Shoti Maa “I Am” tea; a blend of Sage, Ginger, Elderflower Tea and Lemon Peel, to connect with the Mother Earth and its infinite and ever regenerating flow of energy. “I am” reminds a woman of her true identity, of her inner grace and her incredible power. “I am the light of my soul” and so it is for each one of us.