Yoga during Menstruation

Even though this YTT course has yet to end, I can state with utmost certainty that my greatest takeaway from this journey is regaining my health, both physically and mentally.

In terms of mental health, I have definitely come very far since the start of the YTT course. I have gain greater clarity to the issues which had been troubling me in the past. In addition, I have learnt to connect with myself, to listen to my breath and body, and to start loving myself again.

Physically, I have not seen much changes appearance wise. However, I have regained my women health, if you know what I mean. After dedicating myself to a regular yoga practice for just slightly over a month, my period has returned for the first time in a long time. I believe that it is the improved circulation of energy in my body as well as the reduced stress levels, as a result of doing yoga, which helped my body heal. In addition, my period cramps were very mild, which is nothing as compared to what I experienced in the past. For these, I am beyond grateful for finding yoga again.

As this is my first time having my menstruation while having a regular yoga practice, I was rather clueless as to how (or whether) I should upkeep my yoga practice, while honouring my body’s needs. As such, I was inspired to share with my personal experience on how to practise yoga during menstruation, which I hope will

First and foremost, listen to your body

I guess the first question is, should I continue practising yoga while on my period? I guess this differs from person to person. I was feeling very drained and light-headed on the few days leading up to the first day of my cycle, as well as on the first day. I listened to my body’s cues and cut down on the intensity and frequency of my physical practices.

Forward sitting postures and hip openers were a saviour to my period cramps

On the second day of my period, I felt a bit more energetic and decided to go for a class, even though I was starting to experience mild period cramps and discomfort. I was glad I did, because my cramps disappeared right after the practice! In addition, I came out of the practice feeling so much fresher. I attribute these to the forward bends (eg. paschimottanasana and janu sirsasana) and hip openers (baddha konasana, prasarita padattonasana) we did during the class. It appears that these postures helped to alleviate tightness in the pelvic muscles, providing relief to the back pain and cramping experienced during menstruation.

There are some poses we may need to avoid during menstruation

Of course, there are some postures which we may need to abstain from performing during our menstruation. In general, strenuous postures should be avoided – this also depends on one’s level of physical fitness.

However, it is best to avoid inverted poses. This is because being inverted goes against the normal flow of energy. When the uterus is pulled towards the head, the ligaments that support the pelvis are broadened and the veins carrying blood supply away from the uterus collapse partially, which may lead to increased bleeding. In addition, intense stretch, twisting and backbends should be avoided as these postures place additional stress on the pelvis and abdominal areas.

Incorporating pranayama may be useful in combatting PMS and menstrual discomforts

Alternate nostril breathing (nadi sodhana / anuloma viloma), which is a gentle form of pranayama, has many benefits and can be practised daily. If you are feeling emotional or anxious because of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), this pranayama is able to help to calm and relax the mind. However, kapalabhati and uddiyana bandha should be avoided during menstruation as they are too intensive.

We may feel unfortunate that as women, we have to experience on a monthly basis, the inconvenience and discomfort of menstruation (which potentially comes with the free gift of PMS). However, if we look at it from another perspective, we are lucky that as females, we have such a system in our body to help us shed blood and purge toxins from our bodies. When we experience PMS, the suppressed emotions from the past month are allowed to come to the surface. We can then acknowledge, confront, express and let go of these embedded emotions. It is almost like death (literally and figuratively) and rebirth. As such, when we look deeper at the spiritual meaning, menstruation is a beautiful gift given to women, which makes us more intuitive and sensitive.

The next time when you experience discomfort brought by menstruation, perhaps just breath and take a moment to be grateful for this special gift.

Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle to balance the vata dosha

Yoga and Ayurveda are separate branches in the Vedic knowledge, but are closely related and have many overlapping principles.

The word “Ayurveda” is made up of two Sanskrit words – “Ayuh” and “Veda”. “Ayuh” means life or longevity, and “Veda” means sacred knowledge or science.

I first came in touch with Ayurveda around two years ago. At that time, with the challenges of being a new mother, I was suffering from the effects of a poor lifestyle and diet. I was at my heaviest weight and biggest size in my life. In addition, I was constantly feeling tired and short-tempered.

Desperate to slim down, I began to try out various fad diets such a “low carb”, “keto” and “paleo”. However, none of them were sustainable and I ended up in an unhealthy cycle of restricting my diet, followed by eating everything I could see in sight. In addition, when I was following these fad diets, I constantly felt bloated even though I was eating mostly whole foods. I was constantly bloated and the poor digestion negatively affected my mood as well.

I continued to be in this “yo-yo” diet until I chanced upon an article on eating the Ayurvedic way. The article described the concept of eating for your “dosha”, in order to aid your digestion and to feel balanced internally. I was intrigued by this new concept and decided to find out more.

“Dosha”, which is a foundational concept of Ayurveda, refers to the energetic forces of nature. There are three types of “dosha” – vata, pitta and kapha – and each dosha influences our bodily functions in a specific manner, and is made up of predominantly two elements.

  • Vata: Air and ether (space)
  • Pitta: Fire and water
  • Kapha: Water and earth

All three doshas can be found in everyone, but in different proportions. I inferred that I was predominantly of a vata dosha, as I have a small frame and my skin tends to be dry. I am also anxious and quick tempered.

I finally understood why I was constantly feeling bloated and sluggish even though I was eating somewhat healthily. My diet consisted of a lot of cold food (eg. salads and cold fruits), was heavy on animal protein and limited in carbohydrates. All these were considered cold, dry and light foods, which aggravates the vata dosha. In addition, I was also eating a lot of leftover food due to the lack of time to cook. Ayurveda considers leftover food to be devoid of prana and are hard to digest.

A diet to keep vata in balance (i.e. a vata pacifying diet) should consist of foods with the following qualities:

  • Warm
  • Moist
  • Grounding

In addition, the vata diet favours foods that taste sweet, sour and salty, whereas pungent, bitter and astringent foods should be minimized.

A sample day of eating on a vata-pacifying diet, adapted to suit the food choices available in Singapore, may look something like the following:

Breakfast: Oatmeal cooked with milk and warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg / Kaya and butter toast with soft boiled eggs

Lunch: Chicken congee / Mung dal with chapati

Dinner: Yong tau foo soup with beehoon / Chicken stew

Once I started replacing the cold salads with warm and fresh meals, as well as drinking warm water throughout the day, my digestion worked way better (too much information, but I started having bowel movements almost on a daily basis instead of once every three or more days). I also started using ghee (clarified butter) in cooking, and even in my morning dose of matcha tea. I found that ghee has a lubricating effect on my digestive system, and I like the buttery taste and texture it lends to the dishes (especially eggs).

As I read up more about Ayurveda, I discovered that diet is not the only way to keep your dosha in balance. Daily lifestyle habits and routines are, too, crucial in balancing the dosha.

I learnt that having a routine makes vatas feel grounded. As such, I started to incorporate some routines into my daily life, some of which I still practise up until today.

  • I try to maintain consistency in my waking and sleeping time, as well as meal times. I try not to eat after 7pm and to sleep by 10pm. Initially I was really strict with this and bailed out on many intimate family meals or outings. Overtime, I have learnt that it is even more important to relax and just go with the flow of life, and to trust myself to be able to get back on track.
  • Get ample rest, physically and mentally! I started to reduce the intensity of my workouts, opting out from my daily circuit training when I feel my anxiety kicking in.
  • Having a basic morning routine, starting with tongue scrapping and oil pulling to help my body eliminate toxins.
  • Have a simple wind-down routine at night. I try to minimize screen time an hour before bed and do some light stretching to prompt my body that its time for bed.

Understanding my dosha through Ayurveda has helped me tremendously in coping with my digestion and stress in life. I’m positive that coupled with my more regular yoga practices these days, I am on my road to achieving a calmer disposition.

What is your dosha?

 

References:

https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/learning-ayurveda/glossary-of-ayurvedic-terms/

Engage your core

The wonders of a physical yoga practice is that there are always variations that fits all fitness levels, and progression is limitless. It brings you out of your comfort zone when trying a new pose i.e. inversion. Have a good laugh while falling all over safely and enjoy the process. Stretches can be deepened and strength to be built and that’s why yoga journey never ends.

Have you ever attended a yoga class that never mentioned “engage your core” or “suck in your belly”? I have never. Arm balances and inversions require a strong core to hold the poses. A strong core comes in all shapes and sizes other than beautifully defined abs. Half the time when I cant get into or hold certain poses, its due to the lack of core strength.

The benefits of a strong core is beyond achieving advanced poses. It is the fundamental strength we need for a healthy well being. It has the potential to strengthen your entire body with greater balance and stability. Our core is responsible for our bending, twisting and lifting, making it easier to reach for the top shelf or pick something up from the floor. Building core strength is an important part of maintaining your body at any age. As we age, and our bodies start to wear down, we will be thankful for a strong core that will delay or keep pain away.

Sharing an easy 5 min work out to add onto your work out routine:

The 5-Minute Core-Strengthening Workout
  • 1 minute upright plank
  • 1 minute side plank (30 seconds each side)
  • 1 minute static boat pose
  • 1 minute crunches (or crunch hold)
  • 1 minute dead bug

Having the intention is the very first step. Practicing it, is next.

And remember, don’t give up if you fail to keep up the routine. Try again another day.

 

 

 

 

Yoga in life

I feel that every school needs to teach yoga.  Through the past 5 days I have learnt that yoga is so much more than just the asanas(physial practice).

It’s about life-how to live,  the human body, mind, spirituality, philosophy.
I’m so eager to learn more, and at the same time slightly nervous because I have to remember everything by the end of 20 days. Nevertheless I can feel my inner-knowing(or higher self) telling me I just have to trust the process, relax, and do my best. The mind absorbs more when it is relaxed.
I had been practising yoga asanas about 5 years with youtube videos prior to this YTT and felt like it was time to start.

Currently, I do not think our education system does enough to teach us about life, and the important aspects of life.
Growing up in a pressure-cooker society , I was like a sheep, following everyone else having basic ideas of “success”- being super smart, good-looking, financially stable , having  a nice home/ partner etc.
Few years ago around 2012-2014 I had an awakening, I asked myself a lot deep questions and was anxious and depressed.

Yoga has allowed me to relinquish my anxieties and stresses in life. Through doing asanas, and meditation, I feel better about life, and in life,  and now through these yoga teacher training lessons I understand more.  I love the philosophical part of yoga.
If I were to give an analogy about how yoga  helps me live , I would say ;

Life is a constantly meandering river that takes me to places I never expected nor knew existed , and yoga is my boat, keeping me afloat through the turbulences of the river of life. 

 

How did I come into Yoga

Hi

I am Madeline and I came into contact with yoga many years ago, but there was no connect.

In October/November 2018, I started using Classpass and went to a lot of HIIT and cardio classes. It was nice to get back into fitness again. Yoga has always been the least priority because I seen it only at the surface level. I saw it as a waste of 60 minutes because I wanted a class that made me sweat and Yoga simply was not one of them.

However, I was advised by my friend to try Yin Yoga… and that was how I fell into Yoga and connected with it. As I held to the simple poses and felt how tough a simple posture held over time could affect my body, my mind was changed.

Soon after, I was exploring more Yoga studios through Classpass and started to really enjoy the various styles of Yoga. I personally enjoy flow classes a lot as it helps me to destress after a long work day.

Where is the East?

So I ask myself.. is part of our yoga journey learning what physically we can and cannot do or are we supposed to believe that if we continue with our yoga practice that we will one day be able to accomplish those asanas that we think we are incapable of? There are certainly limitations to my body in its current form. After years of sitting at a desk my shoulders and upper back muscles are incredibly tight and my lower back and core are weaker than I would like. This probably started when I was young closing myself off from others by rounding my shoulders. I also think it can have something to do with growing up in cold climate where to keep warm we are constantly hugging our arms close together. In the last 3 weeks there has been a physical change in my body. Slowly my collarbone is more pronounced, my shoulders are moving backward and I am standing taller than before. I’m a long way off but I hope with regular practice and heart opening poses I will turn around this constant pain that I suffer each day. What I am learning is that though there are potentially limitations to what I will be able to achieve physically in the long run because of my physical form, this does not mean I will not be a great yoga practitioner. By understanding the limitations of my body, it helps me to understand others. I understand that it may not be so easy for everyone to sit cross legged on a mat with their back straight. This actually was something that it took me years to achieve and I still have to work hard at it now. How taking 5 long breaths in downward dog is actually not for a beginner if it is practiced properly… and guess what… touching the floor in a forward bend is not actually a measure of being good at yoga! So often when I have been to a yoga class in the past I have looked at the ‘bendy’ people and wished that was me. Hoping that one day I will be able to do a headstand or a handstand effortlessly. Teachers told me it was just fear that was stopping me but actually my physical form had something to do with it too! If we just think that those that can do all the asanas are good at yoga, where does that leave the rest of us? Where does that leave the beginner? Or the person that doesn’t have the time to practice regularly because they have a busy work schedule or a family to tend to. Does it leave them looking enviously at Instagram at the so called beautiful people in bikinis posing on cliff top in a luxury destination? All that this can bring is self doubt and lack of confidence and wishing away the wonderful lives that we have been given. This in itself is against yoga philosophy. We are told we must practice ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truthfulness) and this means to ourselves as well as others. We do not know how long we will have in this life and to practice yoga is to practice gratitude for all that we have been given in good times and in bad. It is about the journey we are on in this life and how we choose to live it. We were asked the question in our YTT – where does the sun rise? The east we answered. No, we were told, the sun does not rise in the east, where the sun rises IS the east. When I told my husband this he said to me… that is because the east is not a place, the east is a direction. I know yoga is showing me my direction and it seems I am heading on my way without a map but I am starting to trust that my internal compass will lead me where I am supposed to go.

Oxygen from 1 Teaspoon Haritaki = 2 Hours Pranayama?

In Ayurvedic Medicine Haritaki is called “The King of Medicines”

 

Haritaki has many names like a lot of herbs out of India, so here are some of the other names it is known as: Abhaya, Kadukkai, Chebulic Myrobalan, Black Myrobalan, Hardh, Ink Tree, Hardad, Harar, Karakkaya, and Marathi.

 

 

Haritaki fruit has been used for thousands of years with great success in India. This wonderful fruit grows in Asia and is common in Ayurvedic Medicine. Haritaki is a great for cleansing our GI tract and building good probiotics and thus improving our immune system.

 

It is also important as a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal agent, and anti-inflammatory agent. Haritaki also helps to protect and cleanse the liver as well as to improve digestive issues such as constipation and indigestion. In Ayurveda, haritaki is said to support the “Vata” dosha.

 

In addition, Haritaki has a bunch of active compounds including healthy acids and metabolites: tannic acid, gallic acid, chebulinic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, terchebin, chebulin, behenic acid, oleic acid, sennoside, anthraquinone, mucilage, arachidic acid, and linoleic acid.

 

Uses of Haritaki
In Ayurveda, Haritaki powder is used to treat blood and digestive disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and has been proven to be a wonderful all-natural alternative remedy for the following health conditions:

Conjunctivitis
Gout
Anemia
Dysuria
Urinary Stones
Gastrointestinal Disorders
May help lower blood sugar (Caution is advised in patients with blood disorders or hypoglycemia)
May reduce cholesterol

 

Haritaki Benefits:
Antiviral – extracts of the fruit inhibit HIV
It has laxative, purgative, astringent and restorative properties
Boosts energy
Promotes longevity
Improves memory
Improves metabolism and aids digestion
Anti-inflammatory
Enhances the five senses
Protects from oxidative stress
Aphrodisiac
Antioxidant
Mouthwash preparation using this herb’s extracts can help prevent cavities

 

Dorisq Tan

www.FB.com/YogicBodies

YogicBodies@gmail.com

+65 9889 5654

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Authentic Yoga

My Yogic Journey started all because of Haritakki Powder.

 

I was so frustrated with “not feeling anything” from most of the metaphysical courses that I have attended in the past 14 years.

 

Then a friend suggested that perhaps I should unblock my third eye. So, I started looking for ways to activate my third eye. I came across a video of a lady talking about the “King of Herbs – Haritakki Powder”.

 

According to her, she says her Guru says that Haritakki Powder increases the supply of oxygen to the brain by 300%.  I was curious.  I searched for the name of her Guru, “Nithyananada” and came across this video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezLivJ6rdv0 . I was deeply caught by the information presented in the video. I never knew Yoga from such perspectives….the Twelve Components of Yoga…..that was when i got interested and started to learn yoga last year….

 

 

Dorisq Tan

www.FB.com/YogicBodies

YogicBodies@gmail.com

+65 9889 5654

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus

Like many others, my biggest challenge in practicing yoga is to focus my mind at the present / practice. When I used to attend yoga classes after work, my mind had rarely stopped thinking about work or things I would do after the class. After a while, I realized that my lack of focus was not only appearing during yoga practice, and I had difficulty in concertation during other occasions too.

It is common to get distracted in today’s world “thanks to” the convenience of internet and mobile phones. I seldomly do things for a long period without checking my phones. Sometimes it helps since I am able to do multiple tasks with several devices for work. However, I also suffer from stress and high tension due to demands from multiple sources.

What yoga has taught me is to focus on the present and let go the rest. Business will still go on without me replying a message. I believe the ability to focus on the present is a precious asset in the modern world and Yoga can help us on building the ability.

Better yourself

When I was in kindergarten, we were encouraged to choose some hobby to study before entering the long student life. Two of my good friends chose dance which I thought was really a fancy hobby. However, I was told I was not flexible enough so my Mom helped me pick painting. By the end of Art school semester, I saw my friends dancing on the stage and my painting was put up somewhere in the school building for exhibition. As a child, I really wished that I could be on the stage one day yet I felt I was marked as “not a dancer material”.

Growing up to be a teenager, I was introduced to Yoga for the first time and my first impression is that this sport is for everyone and not based on individual’s physical strength. That’s where I gained my confidence in practicing a physical exercise which helps to build a nice figure, a healthy mind and body.

Since then, I have been a yoga fan and attended classes once a while. To be honest, I have not made Yoga a routine due to my work commitment. Even though, I practiced the mindset of Yoga at work and in life. The biggest lesson Yoga has taught me: Don’t compare yourself to others, and just get better each day.”