By Holly Walck Kostura, devoted Iyengar yoga student and teacher
"[Yoga teaches us what resources] we have inside us so that we are able to expose ourselves to ourselves and find out what we really are."
Geeta Iyengar's lecture, aptly titled "The Practice of Women During the Whole Month," shines a light on the path of Yoga sadhana for all female practitioners.
I first read this article three years ago and have been working with Geeta's words of wisdom to profound effect. My practice has become more sensitive, methodical, and individualized to my own body and its ever-changing needs. I used to say that I felt a love for practice. Since working with the advice offered by Geetaji, I now say that I love caring for my feminine form using asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques).
"We have to respect our womanhood, we have to respect our bodies which have got this very important function to perform."
As a devoted and intense practitioner, I used to view my monthly cycle as an obstacle to sadhana ["a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal," in the words of B.S. Iyengar]. The few days prior to the start of my cycle left me feeling forlorn, as I didn't have the physical strength to practice advanced asanas. During the ensuing three to five days of bleeding, I felt confined to practicing the restorative menstrual sequence of asanas. By the end of that time I would be desperate to "get my practice back" and would then abruptly resume my regular schedule.
Ignoring my divine womanhood led to a few months of intensely painful periods, including lower back and pelvic floor muscle spasms. This painful episode caused me to stop and look at myself--as a woman who practices yoga--more deeply.
It was during this time that I found Geeta's lecture and understood that my way of practicing during the whole month was, in fact, creating suffering. I also learned from Geeta that there was a way out of that suffering: a way of practice that would address my unique, beautiful female form.
"Everyone's needs differ, therefore, every woman should have discrimination."
Infused with this new awareness, I met myself on the mat each day with expanded receptivity and added respect. My self-observation skills became more finely tuned and, over time, blossomed into a sadhana of increased skillfulness, compassion, and love for the instrument I have been blessed to use on this sacred path.
Every woman should read Geetaji's and heed guidance in her lecture and let the divine Shakti shine forth from within, illuminating her worlds, inner and outer, into one glowing whole.
Holly Walck Kostura uses the healing practices of Ayurveda and Iyengar Yoga to secure her to the core of her being. Her bachelor's degree in nursing combined with her certification in Iyengar Yoga give her the ability to approach her students from a place of wholeness and infuse her yoga classes with a unique flavor. Find her online at yogawithholly.com.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com