Yoga for WomenDr. Dana Lerman
“Disease can only take hold in the female body when her Shakti energy is impaired and runs counter to the rhythms of Mother moon” Maya Tiwari
We all come to yoga for different reasons. We seek increased strength in our muscles, openness in our tissues, spiritual understanding and healing. As women in western cultures, we have been sold the belief that we can do it all, raise a family and run a household, work, be lover, friend, sister, and daughter. We work to maintain our responsibilities and the health of our families, easily neglecting and often struggling with, our own well-being. As we practice Yoga, we soon realize we have stumbled upon a path that offers tools to find balance, promoting deeper understanding of ourselves, our relationships to everyone and everything around us. As a complete system, Yoga promotes health and through us, the health of our families and the earth herself.
Information on the benefits of asana (postures) and meditation on women’s health is abundant. The increase in circulation that occurs with asana and meditation increases blood flow to all tissues, cells and channels of the body. Increased circulation removes metabolites and residue from tissues, bringing oxygen, vitamins, and minerals, providing, fuel, and cleansing, healing and improved function. Regular yoga practice and deep relaxed breathing maintains the smooth flow of prana through the Nadis or energy channels which flow in and around the muscles, organs and tissues. The Nadis hold prana as it circulates in our bodies. The smooth flow of prana, oxygen and nutrients are essential to the healthy function of our body and mind.
Throughout Eastern philosophy, we find images of the divine feminine. She represents images of creativity, nourishment, and protection. Sometimes fierce, always loving, the goddesses of the Eastern pantheon provide a more complete picture of the divine’s essence. A more complete picture of our essence as women, and the divine spark as it resides within us.
In Yoga and Ayurveda we look to Shakti, the primordial feminine as a focus in women’s health and self-care. In her book Women’s Power to Heal, Maya Tiwari maintains “Shakti contains the rhythm and memory of the Mother Consciousness. Shakti is carried in its active state in the womb of every female species in the universe. Through the powerful essence of Shakti, women are appointed the direct emissaries of the Divine Mother.” Asana and various sadhana or practices found in Ayurveda and Tantra Yoga, help foster awareness, integration and healing through work with Shakti energy.
Women of all ancient cultures look to the rhythms of the moon, to guide and inform their daily rhythms. Our most obvious connection, but one to which so many of us are disconnected, is found within our menstrual flow. In its most balanced state a women’s moon time follows a predictable rhythm, reflecting the movement of the moon, occurring with gentleness and ease. We ovulate with the full moon, a time of luminescence, juiciness and energy, and bleed when the moon is dark, its energy at its opposite peak, a time for rest, simplicity, to draw within.
The Moon Salutation, or Chandra Namaskar, is the sister vinyasa to the Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskar. Moon salutation is cooling, calming, restorative and grounding. It can be used as ritual or sadhana, a gentle remembering of our connection. When practiced from ovulation to menstruation, the moon salutation gently facilitates the smooth flow of prana and air in the channels and tissues, alleviating menstrual cramps and symptoms of PMS. When practiced slowly, gently, and rhythmically, it cools the flushes of menopause and soothes and calms the nervous system.
In my practice as a Naturopathic Doctor and yoga instructor, I work with women of all ages, living with discomfort and illness. As a woman and human, I have been caught in cycles of imbalance, pulled between life’s seemingly endless hectic demands and desires, wanting to somehow find balance and health. Drawing on the wisdom of Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga, I have guided others in and experienced the magic myself of how simple adherence to the rhythms of the earth, the moon, and practices including yoga, herbs and proper nutrition, have transformed our collective and individual experiences of being a women .