Thursday, December 27, 2007

Day 146

I taught a noon class today, so it felt like the same old routine again: serving an early morning meal at the soup kitchen, skating for an hour, coming home to do my yoga practice, getting cleaned up, then off to teach. Except now I'm at home and feeling lazy. Good thing I don't have to go anywhere for the rest of the day. Or tomorrow either. I don't teach again until Saturday morning.

Yesterday, I felt wildly energized. But today I felt exhuasted. I had to really focus and encourage myself in order not to dawdle through my practice this morning. Once again, Ujjayi breathing saved me: I connected with my breath and rode it like a magic carpet through the primary series. I ended up having an very ordinary, but lovely practice.

Over the past year, I've been exploring how my fluctuating energy levels are part of my monthly cycle. This is somewhat new to me. I never really thought very much about this until I read Inga Muscio's book a few years ago.

**TMI Alert: This is your chance to bail out if this is Too Much Information: Take me to the kittens **

For a few years, I was on a birth control pill to control hormonal levels in hopes of mitigating a medical condition. It didn't work and I've since pursued another type of treatment (which seems to have worked). Because there was no longer any reason to be on the pill, I went off of it in 2006. It was a very rocky transition for me - weight gain, irritability, depression and my cycle was completely messed up. But once I got through the rough bits, I found my body falling into a very familiar and steady rhythm.

I'm very aware of subtle changes in my body. I believe that my yoga and meditation keeps me in tune with a my body to a greater degree than I was before I started this practice. This is particularly true in the past few years, as I've maintained a near-daily practice. I really notice regular mood shifts and variations in my energy level throughout the month.

When my energy level started to peak yesterday, I knew exactly what was going on. I even predicted it: 'Tomorrow, I'm going to feel lethargic and low energy.' Sure enough, today I was feeling unusually tired. This, along with other physical symptoms (see this page for more information), is a sure sign that I'm ovulating. I've been tracking these mood shifts and symptoms over the course of the year and I'm now able to predict with almost perfect accuracy the day of ovulation and the day of my period.

Besides the obvious advantage of being better prepared for my menstrual cycle when it comes, this knowledge has empowered me in other ways. I'm more aware now of how my body chemistry affects my brain chemistry and my moods. I'm more aware of 'PMS' than every before, but I've stopped feeling like a victim of my premenstual symptoms. Now, when I'm struck with moodiness, I'm more likely to remind myself: 'Those're just premenstrual hormones' and instead of reacting, connect with my deeper Self.

And here's where I'm going to get all esoteric and spiritual on you: Hindu and Buddhists teachings often focus on the illusion of identity. We identify ourselves with our cars, our jobs, even our emotions. But at our core, we're none of these things. Beyond moods and emotion and the machinations of our brains, we're pure spirit - each of us carrying the spark of the Divine.

Put simply, I'm not my PMS. At my very core, my true Self: joy and love and peace. When I view my PMS 'moods' in this light, it's easier to move past them, to connect with my higher Self and act instead of reacting.

Years ago, I might have skipped my yoga practice because I was 'grumpy' or 'too tired.' When I was feeling low-energy today, I gently urged myself to the mat instead. Now (no surprise) I'm feeling much better than I would have otherwise.

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