So here is a little yoga-ish tale that I have been sitting on since the fall. Yoga-ish because it is mostly about listening and trust and self-respect, which I suppose is always the case and maybe doesn't need mentioning.
I took a break last year from all travel for yoga study. For a bunch of reasons. In part because I was tired and each time that I had recently travelled to study I had wished I were home. Also, our finances demanded I stay put and work more. And it was great. It was totally the right choice for me and there was enough interest for me locally that I felt mostly content. So when the opportunity came up for me to study locally for a week with my friends Scott Lamps and Ida Jo, I was thrilled. It meant not having to leave all of my classes for a stretch of time and it also meant just moderate rearranging of my kids logistics. (As an aside, besides the cash saved by not getting as many classes subbed, not paying to travel etc... staying home while trying to immerse and study is really not so easy. I should have known better. When you are around, even a small amount, you still appear to be available and therefor in demand which is entirely counterproductive to the whole endeavor. Can you please make me a sandwich and by the way we have no food in the house and can you please get that kid to a swim meet and then oh yeah the other one has a soccer game and and and.... you get the idea.)
Other than the (now) obvious obstacles, the week was lining up great. I felt in very good condition and ready to practice deeply and so so so very ready to sit in the seat of the student. The first 2 days of the intensive went well. I came up a little bit against a more recent on-going dialogue that I have been having with myself about how much time I want to spend at one stretch in the yoga room. 3 hours is fine. 4, not so much. 8 in one day, well, that is a lot. Especially when you might need to shuttle a kid or 2 around once you are done- refer above.
On the morning of day 3, I got my period. I stayed home and lounged around. Ate, rested, went on a walk. I came in for the afternoon session and spent the first 45 minutes of practice thinking to myself what a completely bad idea it was to be there and that I really should be taking it easy. And then all of the sudden a switch flipped. Suddenly I was going deeper into postures than I had in well over a year and with relative ease and grace. But deep. DEEP. We practiced this way for about 3 hours and then sat for about 45 minutes of pranayama practice at which point I was pretty much a giant nerve ending and was possibly accessing some seriously transcendent telepathy. I was HIGH. Freakin blitzed.
After this level of output, my period stopped. On day 1. In its tracks. I went home, rested, got up the next morning thinking that it would help to go back and just take it easy and work through it. Yeah, right. Even the simplest shapes and movements made me feel like my back and my knees were going to blow. At the end of the day I limped to my car, drove home, and then didn't get out of bed for 3 days. I tried in vein to coax my period back. It took me about a month all told to recover. And another several cycles to feel like my period was back on track. Let me be clear. At no time during that deep practice did I hurt myself. No tweaks, pulls, strains or anything of the like. It was simply way too much energetically. My body simply could not process the intensity of the effort or the stretch.
Two things are of note here. The first is that I teach an entire workshop called Yoga in the Red Tent all about how to respectfully practice during your cycle and how best to support your wellness and sense of connection as you bleed. I know what to do to care for myself. And I disregarded that wisdom. Yes, it is a bummer that I got my period during the singular week of practice intensive that I had on deck for an entire year. But my period doesn't give a shit about my plans or my agenda. Second, my period has been asking me to tend to it more mindfully for the last few years as my hormone levels shift and change. I feel very much that it needs my attention and care in order for it to keep sticking around in a vibrant and meaningful way. And let me tell you, I am not ready for my menses to go. I would love to spend at least another decade with her and if she needs my help then I am going to heed the call.
So, was I humbled by this experience? Um, yeah. I felt very ashamed that I committed to 8 days of practice and only made it to 3.5. I felt like I had let down my friends and I came strongly up against the part of myself that is way too concerned with what other people think of me. I also disregarded myself and what I clearly knew I needed. There is guilt and shame in there for me as well. But in both, especially now that so much time has passed, there is a whole lot of forgiveness for myself within the experience. It is so hard to surrender to nature. So much of the culture that we live in is about over-riding nature and we are conditioned to believe that that is best- we praise each other for the ways in which we triumph over the natural obstacles presented by the animal of our bodies and the pulse of our environments.
I am ok with what happened. How things played out. I can see now, that so much of the work that I have done over the last half year and the direction that my attention has turned was in many ways born out of this experience. My relationship to practice has been evolving. My relationship to my body and my movement and my chemistry has been changing and healing. I hope to share about that and more soon. Thanks for reading.