Sunday, October 28, 2012

Going Yin For Women's Health

Warning: I will be talking about period issues. To the men who read my blog, you have been warned. On second thought, please continue reading. I suggest you do. Really.

Girls, when you were like 11 or 12 and your classmates had their periods did you ever wish that you prayed that you'd finally get yours already? And then years after getting your first flow ever, you curse that you were ever made a woman and wish that you never got it at all? Well, what did you know, I did too. I got my period late in my life.  As some girls my age had their menarche at 10 or 11, I had it at 12 years old.         Summer of 1995 while vacationing in San Francisco with my family and I had it for like 3 weeks, I cursed the world and my own wishes for getting my period ever and cursed genetics for giving me an extra X chromosome instead of a Y.

Eighteen years later, I've had my share of bad days and so-so days. I've experienced every cursed symptom a woman experiences -the bloating, the mood swings, the tenderness, the cramps, and the horrible rage issues and cravings before that. Unfortunately, our culture sometimes has others dismissing our PMS or cramps as "kaartehan lang" or "wala yan, OA lang!". Sure, medicines and pain killers can work to a certain extent but if there was a natural way to make these symptoms lesser, then why not?

When I attended the Yin Yoga workshop for bloggers, our teacher, Dona, mentioned how yoga changed her monthly cycle to make it just like any ordinary day. I got interested into getting into that stage in life. Turns out, that the cramping, the mood swings, pains, and tenderness aren't supposed to be there. Those are actually signs of imbalances in the body, and with yoga and a few lifestyle changes, we can have a regular period day. Thankfully, my good friend, Tiger brother, and doctor Kit invited me to attend a Yin Yoga workshop for women's health (meaning reproductive health issues ) to be conducted by Dona. I love Dona's classes since I first stepped into that Yin Yoga workshop for bloggers. It was really stressful last week due to work so I thought that I could use one Sunday morning just for me and my health. I do want to give a hug to Kit next time I see him because it was just an awesome morning.

The workshop was held at Templa Wellness. I find yoga studios so amazing as although some are located in the busiest buildings of a business district, they exude a certain peace and calmness. We all gathered in a circle first before coming into the practice and for one minute, each participant shared their period experiences.

In this conversation, each girl had a chance to share her own experiences. Some were lucky to have very normal experiences, some had horrible experiences, like practically being paralysed due to excruciating pain. Interestingly, there were those as well who hid it from their families for about a year or so, for the fear of shame or what not, probably something attached to our culture already. I was reminded of an article I read a few years back, of a group who would isolate girls with their periods in a room since they were considered "unclean".

My own experience was quite lucky. My periods were regular ever since. I had the pain and tenderness and all that jazz. It was the pre-period PMS, cravings, and horrible rage issues that I had to curb. And of course, if I could still make the state of my body better and why not? Since I practiced a healthier lifestyle, eliminated meat, and did more sports, I've noticed the slight improvement already with less pains and bloating but the horrible stuff.

After that sharing, Dona shared with us a sequence especially designed to normalize the system during that time of the month. Some of the poses such as the butterfly, dragonfly, swan, and twisted root, I've already done in previous yoga classes but it was just as enlightening that aside from loosening up the body in places where it's tight, it targets also certain meridians in the body. I found out that these salty (potato chips, fries, cheese, etc) or sweet (chocolates, candies, milk tea) cravings are a result of imbalance of the spleen and kidney and certain poses are made to create and achieve a balance, as well as changing the way we eat or look at life.

This butterfly variation is super relaxing. It opens up tight hips and I could actually fall asleep in it.

The dragonfly is a pose I'm familiar with. It helps with my straddle splits and my period.

We also learned variations of the swan and other poses. The whole practice lasts for about 1.5 - 2 hours depending on the length of staying into the poses. The whole practice left me feeling relaxed and less tight, with that usual zen feeling after a yoga session.

It was an enlightening morning to know that our monthly visitor is actually a blessing, a natural detoxifying process of the body. The cramps actually and all the uncomfortable rage, mood swings, bloating, sensitivity, and all that can actually be diminished and our period days can actually be as ordinary as our good days. It was also liberating to know that I am not alone in experiencing its horrors too, and I'm glad to have met women who could relate to the same experience and not judge you for taking sick leaves at work or spending an entire day crying out your cramps.

Thank you very much Dona (she's the lovely girl in black beside me) for sharing your knowledge with us, Ivy (the girl in the orange tank beside me) for organizing this and my beloved brother in my pole family, doctor, and friend, Kit (the sole male in the group, who also assisted Dona in this session) for telling me to attend the workshop.

For those who are interested, I would be glad to share this poster, which means there shall be a part 2 of this workshop! Slots are limited so please sign up fast!

Take care girls, and have a great week ahead!

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