This one’s for the ladies and any men who work with women, train women, teach women yoga, and care about women in general. In other words, although moon cycles are a “taboo” topic, discussing them and the impacts it has on training can benefit everyone. Besides, I’m all for demystifying and diving right on in to “taboo” topics to rock the boat and see what I can stir up in folks. Put on your life-jackets and let’s go for a swim…
Some of the frequent questions I receive from women regarding their moon cycles are:
- Can I train when I have my cycle?
- Can I train hard when I have my cycle?
- What does it mean when I’m training a lot and I miss a cycle?
- Is it ok to practice inversions when I have my period?
While it’s great to have plans and goals during and throughout your cycle, it’s important to keep in mind that your monthly visitor may or may not invite you to alter your training habits. Many years ago, women’s cycles were seen as a time to gather together, to create, and to rest. Nowadays, women’s cycles are seen more as something to hide, something to be ashamed of, something unnatural. And, this is shifting. Yes!
Can you train when you have your cycle and can you train hard when you have your cycle?
It depends. It depends entirely on you, your body, and the changes your body is experiencing during your monthly cycle. If you have a cycle with little to no challenges — your flow is fairly regular, you’re not gushing or passing large clots, you don’t suffer from severe cramps that leave you laid up in bed with a hot water bottle on your abdomen…basically, if your cycle days are pretty similar to your non-cycle days, then by all means train away.
If your cycle tends to resemble a scene out of a horror movie — super heavy, passing large clots, painful, irregular — then perhaps it’s time to slow down a little (or a lot) and honor your body. Allow yourself to take advantage of the invitation to explore a more restorative, rejuvenating, self-nurturing practice rather than beat yourself up in the gym. Your body will thank you in more ways than one.
What might this look like? You could go for a walk in the woods, practice gentle yoga or yin yoga, turn down the intensity and volume of your regular practice, allow yourself to create art. Maybe the most loving thing you can do for yourself during this time is take a warm, soothing bath with essential oils and epsom salts. Receive a foot massage. Let yourself be held and nurtured during this time.
What does it mean when you are training a lot and start missing cycles?
Unless we’re pregnant or going through menopause, irregular cycles and/or missed cycles are a sign that something is off in our bodies. We are out of balance. It’s often a sign that we’re experiencing stressors beyond our capability to handle them. I often see women in the bodybuilding world who lose their cycles when they cut, continue to train hard, and their body fat percentages drop below levels at which we’re able to sustain the life-giving force that is inherent within us as women.
In my opinion, this is a big sign to slow way down and reevaluate what you are doing, why you are doing it, and get really clear as to whether or not the stress is worth it. When your cycles stop due to over-training or low levels of body fat, it’s an invitation to take care of your health. To me, it’s a gigantic STOP sign with flashing lights and sirens blaring.
How to begin to bring the body back into balance — slow down, destress, reduce training volume and intensity. Eat pure, vibrant, high quality organically grown food, not processed crap and stop starving yourself. Eat healthy fats and incorporate hormonal supporting and balancing herbs and tonics into your meals.
Is it ok to practice inversions when you have your cycle?
Again, it depends. If you follow strict, dogmatic yogic principles, then no. However, I tend to shy away from anything dogmatic. Perhaps I’m being dogmatic in my distancing myself from and calling out practices or beliefs that are dogmatic. Hmm…
Anyway, it totally depends upon you and what works for your body. Chances are unless you are in Cirque du Soleil, you’re not spending hours upon hours upside down on your hands. So, if you feel up to it, there’s really nothing wrong with popping into a headstand, pincha mayurasana, or a handstand when Cousin Flow is in town. You may not want to if you feel particularly bloated or if the river is flowing more like Class V rapids than a quiet, meandering brook, but again, that’s completely individual and may change as quickly as the weather in the northeast.
The bottom line is to develop a relationship with your body and with your cycle. Your body will tell you what it needs, when it needs it, whether to train hard, to rest, to go upside down, or to take a relaxing stroll through the woods. The largest considerations are whether or not you hear your body when it speaks to you and whether or not you choose to listen to your body when it speaks to you.
You’re a male trainer/teacher. What can you do?
If you’re a male trainer, movement or yoga teacher, or male in general, there are some things you can do to help support your students when they have their cycles. Have some feminine products on hand just in case your student unexpectedly gets her cycle in the middle of a session or class with you. Organic…
Your menstruating or nearly menstruating students may be more in tune with their emotions during this time. Please don’t call them “emotional.” This is a natural part of the intuitive process of being a woman. Granted, if there are significant mood swings, it may be a sign of a hormonal imbalance, but that’s a post for another day.
Your student may feel fat, bloated, gross, worried about leakage, and/or in pain. Please be kind. If your student has made the decision to show up and be present on a day when she may be feeling less than stellar, support her. Likewise, if her cycles are spot on and she feels great, wants to crush it in the gym, let her.
If you notice your student chooses to not practice inversions around the same time each month, chances are mentioning it in front of class isn’t going to be the most supportive time to share a conversation. She’s likely already self-conscious about people noticing that she has chosen to not go arse over teakettle when she has her moon cycle.
The more comfortable you are regarding women’s cycles and discussing women’s cycles, the more likely your female students will be in opening up and discussing this natural part of life with you.
I love comments, questions, and feedback so please post below.
I wasn’t going to share this video, this poem, with all of you. I am not concerned or afraid about experiencing whatever thoughts, feelings, and opinions you may feel inclined to project my way. I actually really enjoy sharing my raw vulnerability with you!
Upon watching myself on video, I caught myself stepping into a trap of sorts that I have fallen into many times. I’ll share what the trap was in an upcoming video and how I made a conscious decision to very quickly change course and get out of it.
Sometimes I feel more than I can handle.
Sometimes I feel too raw, too real, too vulnerable.
Watch the video for the full poem.
I hope that my sharing my raw vulnerability with you inspires you to get in touch with yourself and to plant yourself in the soil of your belonging. You are not alone on this journey, fellow travelers. Although it may certainly not feel like it at times, it is a blessing to feel everything so deeply, so rawly, so at the heart and core of your beingness.
Do you find yourself taking yourself seriously all of the time? Do you shame yourself or beat yourself up for making mistakes? Have you considered that one way to take yourself seriously is to not take yourself seriously at all?
Perhaps one of our biggest gifts is that of being able to not take ourselves seriously. Would you be willing to embrace your inner child, your inner clown, your inner joker, and laugh at yourself — with compassion, amusement, and love? All too often, we collectively berate ourselves for making a mistake, for the bloopers. Yet, those mistakes, the bloopers, the times we trip over our own two feet and fall face first in the stinking mud (yes, I have done that), are beautiful opportunities to embrace a different part of ourselves. They are opportunities to learn how to love ourselves as we are — perfectly imperfect — without needing to be “perfect.” They are opportunities for tremendous growth. How often does a seed grow when it is not planted within a dark, nourishing environment? And, they are opportunities to love yourself a little bit, or a lot, more.
Why share my bloopers with all of you? A lot of times, we only show the ideal sides of ourselves, making it appear that we are perfect or have our shizzle together, when in actuality, we’re learning how to navigate upon this planet just as much as all of you are. Watching myself trip over myself and make “mistakes,” while being able to whole-heartedly laugh about it all, provided me with an opportunity to see an aspect of myself that I hadn’t seen as clearly before. Heck, I even fell in love with a part of myself when I watched this.
Next time you find yourself taking yourself seriously, explore your own blooper roll. Laugh with yourself and embrace the lila – the cosmic play – of life here on earth.
Why do we do anything that we do? Why do we move our bodies? Why take care of our health? Why work? Why experience financial abundance? Why enter relationships?
Oftentimes, it boils down to a few things — we want to feel connected, we want to know that we matter, we want to experience freedom, support, and love in all that we do.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being naked, hungry and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” ~Mother Teresa
I understand what it feels like…
…to have nothing. To choose to leave a relationship with no sense of security. To wonder where the next meal is going to come from.
…to feel so overwhelmed with emotional pain that you contemplate hurting yourself. Or, beg for physical pain so you can be distracted from feeling what is inside you.
…to numb yourself from feeling anything. To choose to bury the pain you are feeling so that you can go about your day and do what you must in order to survive.
…to put yourself last. To give until there is nothing left to give. To feel so exhausted and drained and broken that you cry because you no longer have the strength or the energy to open that jar of pickles.
…to experience physical pain. To not be able to roll over. To not be able to do what you love. To be told time and time again that this is something you are going to have to live with.
…to feel incredibly alone. Worthless. Undesirable. Not good enough.
I understand how it feels because I’ve been there.
That woman who left a marriage with two young boys and no means of support, was me. That woman who wondered where the next meal was going to come from, was me.
The woman who contemplated physical harm was me. And, I was the same woman who buried her emotions, who sustained two devastating injuries, and who stands here before you now having made the conscious decision to change —
To live a life of freedom, of infinite support, of love.
A life by design, created and fueled by my passions.
It’s a bit of a secret, and I am going to share it with you.
Learning to love yourself as much as you want to be loved by others.
Stay tuned for the launch of the #fiercelove2016 campaign. I’m so excited to share this with you, and look forward to a select number of people joining me, as I walk beside you on your personal journey towards fierce love.
When we’re having a great day and really enjoying ourselves, it’s pretty easy to say that we’re having the best day ever. Have you noticed that?
What happens when less than ideal things happen to us? Maybe we were in a car accident, lost our wallet, dropped the cell phone in the loo…maybe we broke a bone, found out we’re experiencing an illness, or are mourning the loss of a loved one.
Perhaps you’ve realized that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and you sit there, on your bed, locked in your room, with a bottle of Tylenol next to you, wondering…
“Is this all there is to life?”
Or, perhaps the emotional pain you are feeling is too present, too intense to process and…
…you beg on hands and knees for some sort of physical pain so you don’t have to feel the pain within your heart.
You receive that pain only to spend three years learning how to get out of it, chasing your tail in circles. In that blind, circle-chasing process stumble over your own two feet to discover
in order to let go of the physical pain you’ve been feeling, you have to allow yourself to feel all of the emotional pain you’ve been numbing yourself from and hiding from.
What happens then? Do we say that it’s the best day ever? Probably not. Chances are, we’re more likely to sound like Alexander from “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
I get it. I’ve been there. Up there, that woman who sat on her bed, who numbed herself, who begged for physical pain, over 10 years ago, was me. I understand what it’s like to have hit some sort of rock bottom and to wonder if you’ll ever pull yourself out of the hole that you’re in.
Just as a rainbow can light up the darkest of skies, we can choose to light up our own sky. Regardless of what happens to us or what we’re experiencing, we have a choice. We have a choice to choose whether or not we’re going to have the best day ever — regardless of the circumstances that come our way.
You may be sitting there saying that that is absolute cockamamie bullshit. That’s OK. I invite you to hear me out.
I suspect one day, you might reach a point in your life when you’re tired of “having bad days.” Is any day really bad? What defines a bad day? The day itself doesn’t change. The sun rises and sets, the earth rotates on its axis and around the sun, the moon waxes and wanes, the tides rise and fall. So, what’s different other than our perspective about that particular day?
You see, we fall into the carefully designed trap of living a life of comparison. We consciously and subconsciously compare each moment of our day, each experience we have, to all of the other experiences we have experienced and decide — good or bad; the best day ever, or the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Why? Why choose to compare? Why live your present life in the past?
Each and every single moment of every single day we are free to consciously choose what kind of day we are experiencing.
Wouldn’t you like to experience the best day ever, each and every day? Now, I’m not saying that dark, negative, or challenging experiences won’t ever fall your way because they will. It’s inevitable. It’s part of this human experience. However, you can choose how you react to those dark, negative, or challenging experiences. You can choose to flip the coin. You can choose to open the door to a part of yourself that you may not have experienced.
You can choose to reclaim your power rather than victimize yourself by giving your power away to the situation.
Notice the next time you find yourself saying “I’m having a bad day,” or “this is the worst day ever.” Make a conscious decision to flip the coin. Make a conscious decision to open the door behind which a new experience of your Self lies in wait.
I invite you to choose to say “I am having the best day ever.” You may not believe yourself at first. I certainly didn’t. Once I said that a few times to myself though, I experienced the cathartic, cleansing release of tears.
In that moment, I realized that the only thing holding me back from having the best day ever was me — my mindset, my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, and my attitude. You too can choose to shift your perspective.
When you stop comparing this day, this one moment which you have never experienced before, with any other day or any other moment, when you choose to live life like there is no past and no future, and all that exists is right here, right now…you will shift.
If all that exists is this one precious moment, regardless of the experience and the visitor that has landed on the doorstep of your Home, what will you choose?
A fair number of people are coming to yoga and acro yoga from non-movement related jobs – ie: desk jobs – where there tends to be little movement in general and mainly repetitive wrist movements. Then, they come to the mat, and the first few poses tend to be downward facing dog, chatarunga, and cobra pose or upward facing dog — all poses that place an immediate demand upon the wrists without any prior warm up.
In acro yoga, it’s a similar scene except many are going from their jobs to an acro practice where they are interacting with another person (basing or flying), exploring movements that put a fair amount of stress upon the wrists also often with little to no warm up.
What are some potential effects of not warming up?
- sore wrists
- carpal tunnel like syndrome
If we look to the majority of circus art classes, any hand balancing class or workshop that’s worth its salt, and/or the careers of people who perform professionally and wish to be able to have some sort of career longevity, a wrist warm up is one of the first things they do. Why is that? Well, chances are a fair number of them have experienced wrist pain and/or injury and would like to do all they can to avoid a repeat occurrence if at all possible. And, quite frankly, having “been there, done that,” your teacher likely wants you to stay healthy, pain and injury-free.
I know I would and do. What can be done about it?
The answer is pretty simple. Warm-up. Take care of your wrists. Stretch and strengthen them. (It’s a bit more complex with people who already have injuries and/or pain). How?
Rather than re-invent the wheel, I highly recommend checking out the series of videos below put together by my teacher, Yuri Marmerstein.
This video is by far the most comprehensible hand and wrist sequence I have seen to date. In my opinion, it’s worth its weight in gold. It’s also the wrist warm-up I use prior to each practice session (though I have had a couple of times where I did hop directly into an acro practice without warming up only to have sore wrists for a couple of days afterwards. Doh. Lesson learned.).
If you have any questions or are wondering how to integrate hand and wrist care into your practice, comment below and let me know.
For more about Yuri Marmerstein, follow him at Yuri Marmerstein.
After sharing conversations with friends, clients, a dear soul sister, and recently stepping into a different level of raw vulnerability myself, I have noticed a few things.
It’s uncomfortable being vulnerable. It can be really uncomfortable and somewhat unsettling opening yourself up, baring your heart and soul to another, acting courageously in the face of fear and shame, and letting go of any control we may have over the outcome of sharing our vulnerable selves.
I have realized that in a society where it is considered taboo to be physically naked and vulnerable, how uncomfortable people are and can be when they are physically naked, despite being able to put on clothes and cover themselves up, that I found myself wondering how then, can we allow ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable? And, what would it take to step into the waters of emotional vulnerability where you will be seen and there is no place to hide?
How can we, when as a society we cover our physicality up with fear and shame, invite ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable? To allow ourselves to bare our vulnerably authentic hearts when, once we do, there are no clothes to put on, there is nothing to hide behind? Once we open up and share what parts of us believe to be the most vulnerable aspects of self, we are there, present, open, incredibly beautiful in this state of raw vulnerability.
With each step I take along this path and with each shared story, shared vulnerability, I’m realizing more and more the depth of heart, the courage, the compassion, the willingness to connect, the willingness to realize within ourselves that we are enough as we are, and we are alive, is nothing short of mind-blowingly awe-inspiring.
I’m incredibly grateful for each and every moment of being witness to others’ vulnerabilities and beautiful openings. And, I’m incredibly grateful for each uncomfortable moment I step into and share my vulnerabilities (there are many). Life is a wild and crazy ride, why not join the party and get naked with your soul.
I highly recommend checking out this TedTalk by Brene Brown on the Power of Vulnerability.
It’s coming…can you feel it? The stress of the holidays, the to-do lists, the go-go-go’s.
Why not learn some tools that will help you get through it all a little less frazzled and will help you jump start the New Year?
If you’ve been on the fence and curious about what it is we do here at On A Limb, now’s your chance to stop on by, learn what sets us apart from any other holistic movement and wellness studio in the area, and check us out free of charge!
Join us for a FREE info session THIS Thursday (11/6) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. All ages welcome.
- Learn what holistic movement and wellness is
- Participate in a free 1/2 hour movement class
- Learn what it’s like to listen to your body and move it mindfully without counting sets and reps
- Movement therapeutics demonstration
- Learn about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and what it can do to help you
- Learn how to alleviate stress related illnesses such as anxiety and depression
- Learn how to live in the present moment, have better attention, awareness, and focus
- Improve your relationships
- Participate in a free mindful living class
We look forward to seeing you there!
Amanda & Sally
I’d show up to each and every class with this desire to connect. I wanted to experience what the teachers were talking about – that physical asana is a means to connect to ones higher Self. But, I never felt it. I’d push and push and push to feel this connection, or I’d fervently pray, but all I felt inside was an empty shell of nothingness. That’s right. NOTHING.
You want to talk about a void? Well, there it was and I was trying to fill it with these false notions of connecting to something greater than myself through yoga. I was trying to fill the void with the deep, dark shadow emotions I was feeling. And, I was trying to fill it with a community that largely doesn’t see you, doesn’t reach out to you unless you are there in class. You see, I realized that a part of me would feel like I would not exist if I didn’t do yoga. So, I filled that void by making sure I would exist by showing up all the time.
I injured myself. Granted, yes, it was a physical injury, but that has been nothing compared to the immense inner wounding that I did to myself during the “healthy” practice of yoga. I kept practicing for a while anyway. I kept showing up. I still tried to fill the broken vase of my inner world with pain or with the intention that “all you need to do is send that part of yourself love and compassion.”
Bull crap. Sometimes, oftentimes, we need to allow ourselves to feel the pain inside of us, and
express it. Sometimes we need to experience hating parts of our self so that we may in turn learn to accept our self, or accept the parts of our self which we cannot accept, so we may learn how to love ourselves. Sometimes, we need to step away from the picture and take a look at just how much of our practice is unconsciously filled with sugar coated shit and namaste’s that have become so overused that it now has the equivalent weight of “hello.”
There were so many times after this injury where I would try to continue practicing, but the pain I felt become too intense. Yes, there was a physical pain, but the emotional pain could no longer be held by the broken container within which I stuffed it, so it began to overflow. I stopped practicing yoga a few years ago and began my journey to healing myself. At first, all I wanted to do was yoga. If I wasn’t doing yoga, I wasn’t happy. If I was doing yoga, I wasn’t happy…isn’t that interesting. The last spontaneous class I took, a year ago, to test myself, revealed much.
I learned that the yoga asana I have experienced doesn’t support me, doesn’t support my body, doesn’t support who I AM. I learned that I could no longer listen to themes of a physical practice connecting us to Source. I stopped drinking the Kool-Aid, the alcohol of yoga, the cocaine of yoga. Parts of me experienced anger when asked when I would return to class. I don’t have an answer to that question. At this point in time, returning to a yoga asana practice or class would be akin to a recovering alcoholic having a drink, a recovering cocaine addict a hit.
Why share this with all of you? Perhaps my story will inspire you to look closely at your practice. Perhaps my story will plant the seed of awakening to the parts of yourself who may be in denial about the possibility of addiction through yoga. And, part of me is allowing myself to heal, to more fully accept myself, to more fully love myself, by sharing my story with you.
May I share something else with you? Each and every one of us is already infinitely connected. You don’t need to go out and buy fancy Lululemon pants. You don’t need to drop “namaste” like it’s the hottest thing since sliced bread. You don’t need to stop eating meat because you believe not eating it will increase your vibration and make you more enlightened. I invite you to be. Just be and allow yourself to experience your Self as you are. Here and now.
If none of this has a ring of truth to you, I would invite you to consider watching and experience this funny, not-so-funny, funny video “How to be Ultra-Spiritual” by friend and mentor JP Sears.