I’m learning to love being a woman. I mean while on one hand the reality of being in a female body can be quite the challenge, there are some supreme perks that I get out of the deal. Physically being in a woman’s body is an adventure. The process of going through puberty, having children and preparing for life after menopause is well…..I’m not going to lie it is a lot. There are so many changes in our bodies that it makes it hard to be happy sometimes.
All the changes we experience don’t necessarily feel very good. Changes meaning physical changes our body goes through as we develop and age. Couple that with hormonal changes and you have yourself one very complicated woman.
There were so many things I hated about being in a female body that I realized I wasn’t in a good place to raise healthy young women. Looking at my daughters it was clear that I needed to get into a better place about being a woman, enjoy the experiences and share them so that I wouldn’t negatively influence their own experiences in their female bodies. But the more I teach yoga the more I am getting to know how to use yoga to help my female body remain healthy and functional.
Author Dolce Zamora touches upon “Women’s Top 5 Health Concerns”; heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer, depression and autoimmune disease in her Web MD article.
So I followed up my reading by reflecting on 2 biggies of how yoga helps address these top 5 health concerns for women.
A body in Motion
Many of the health concerns above are also related to a sedentary life. Sometimes our careers and employment restrict us to a life with limited movement. The practice of limited movement over a period of time can create muscular imbalances as well as contribute to weight gain. A yoga practice gets your body moving and blood pumping. Adding an intentional physical practice can be good for the body and the soul. With so many styles of yoga there is surely one that meets you where you are. A healthy heart lifestyle that includes a yoga practice can reduce the risk of heart disease or prevent it all together.
Yoga and meditation allow for you to build a connection between yourself and your body. By spending time with yourself you begin to make observations and build practice listening to your bodies needs. The yogic principles that I myself and others ascribe to also ground us in treating ourselves with care and compassion. The 8 limbs of yoga are kind of a guide to ethical living as a yogi. Yama is Sanskrit for how you treat yourself. One of the Yama’s is ahimsa (non-violence) or as I like to think of it to do no self harm. We often harm ourselves by not following through with our medical needs. So a sustained yoga practice can give you touchstones of accountability to care for yourself with gratitude and love. Taking care of yourself means you have to know yourself and know what resources are available for you to be a well-woman.
I don’t want to shove yoga down anyones throat LOL….but I probably could connect the practice to any and everything. I get that not everyone will do yoga. I also get that people get their physical and spiritual practices in other ways. If yoga isn’t your thing let yourself be encouraged to still take good care of your beautiful self inside and out.
Yoga gives you a chance to explore balance and boundaries. Knowing when enough is enough or understanding how you may have to let things go to gain something new are lessons that you get from the physical practice that live in your daily life. Sometimes it’s hard to give up destructive habits and habits that don’t serve us. Sometimes those habits lead to illness which spirals into decreased quality of life and premature death in some cases. We hear often about moderation and this attempt at balance goes for things that clearly hurt us as well as things that we perceive to help us. For example a healthy diet and a low mobility lifestyle can still create an unhealthy heart. Balancing our efforts for whole body health is constant. It sometimes is seasonal, and our needs definitely change monthly and through our lives.
But the more I teach yoga the more I am getting to know how to use yoga to help my female body remain healthy and functional.
I wish I had this practice earlier in my life as an athlete, as an expecting mother, as a nursing mother. I wish I had this practice sooner to have not suffered through the back pain of carrying three children or from the horrible migraines I suffered from. I wish I had this practice sooner dealing with my emotions and challenging relationships. For me it has given me tools to live a higher quality life, to be more honest about who I am and the decisions I have made that got me here. Life doesn’t just happen to me anymore. I don’t want to be sicker than I need to be and as unhappy as I can tolerate. I want full happiness and health on purpose. My practice works for me but isn’t for everyone as I enjoy it.
Feel free to take what you need from yoga without a full commitment to becoming a “yogi”. If it is a stretch here or a breath there be empowered to have a practice that fills your heart and soul. If you want a quality of life lift and want to add yoga and meditation for your heart, or your bones or your libido please by all means do so. It is better to meet your needs and feel better than to let your ego convince you that you need to get a mat and drink kale juice to get all the benefits of yoga and meditation.