yin yoga

5 Natural Remedies For a Painful Menstrual Cycle

 
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Yesterday I was on my moon cycle and was having one of those days where I needed to stay close to the Earth, lay in bed and really allow myself to feel what was happening in my body. 

There was a lot of discomfort, and I realized it was the kind of discomfort I haven't felt in a very long time.

It got me thinking about all the women in the world who experience this kind of pain and discomfort every single month, often for the whole duration of their cycle. 

I know many seek out painkillers and birth control pills just to get through the difficult emotions and physical sensations surrounding their menstrual cycle. 

While I am glad women have these options, I've also been learning more about adverse effects from regular use of over-the-counter painkillers and birth control pills, so I thought I would share some of my natural remedies and discoveries with you in honor of the new moon this week. 

1. Do your best to avoid sugar

I haven't read much research about how sugar relates to our menstrual cycle, but can certainly share from my personal experience on this. 

A few years ago I removed cane sugar from my diet entirely to clear my system of candida and clear my skin (this worked amazingly by the way). 

Then one month when I was on my moon cycle, I was out to dinner, had a beer and unknowingly ate sugar in my salad dressing. That night I woke up with some of the most painful cramps I had had in ages. 

It took me awhile to figure out what was going on, but after being off of sugar again and having another similar experience, I realized it was the sugar. 

This made me also become aware that sugar includes wine, beer, pasta and bread, which all turn into sugar in our system.

But what about when we're craving chocolate?  

Try opting for a dessert sweetened with dates, 100% cacao, or chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar made by my friend Jonas of Firefly Chocolate.

2. Take a warm bath (and bring your crystals)

A warm bath is such a powerful act of self-love for any time of the month, especially when you're on your moontime. I've always loved crystals but only recently discovered my sensitivity to their powerful healing abilities...

Yesterday I was guided to draw a warm bath, and bring my crystals with me. I used clear quartz crystals and placed them over my womb. While listening to my breath I felt a significant shift in the sensations as energy began to move.

3. Practice restorative and yin yoga

Part of what led me to become a restorative and yin yoga teacher was the powerful relief I experienced during my moon cycle after practicing these postures.

Here are a few specific poses that can help alleviate discomfort during the moon cycle:

  • Balasana ~ Child's pose with a bolster

  • Supta virasana ~ knees bent with heels on either side of the hips, thighs together, lay back over a bolster

  • Upavistha Konasana ~ Wide legged forward fold with a bolster in front of you

  • Bending over to one side and then the other while in the wide legged forward fold

While these poses can help get you started, it's always helpful to have a teacher show you the poses to make sure you are set up in them safely.

In honor of the new moon I'll be teaching a restorative moon cycle sequence this week at Westside yoga in Sebastopol with harmonium, singing, and sound bowls. Join me this Friday at 6:45 pm.

4. Use a hot water bottle

Do you remember using a hot water bottle in the nurse's office in elementary school for a stomach ache? 

That was the only time I ever used one until I went to nutrition school and they recommended we use one for all kind of reasons. 

Everything from when we are feeling sad and just want some comfort to providing relief for menstrual cramps. I find the heat is so soothing for my muscles and allows my body to relax more deeply. 

5. Listen to the messages of your womb

Now, if all the tools just aren't working, there is most likely a message your womb is trying to send to you that you haven't caught on to yet. 

Our body uses pain and discomfort as a way to get our attention, and deliver signals and messages that we may not be receiving from the outside world. 

Before I started having all these difficult sensations yesterday, I was actually starting to create a vision board and found myself moving full steam ahead on a particular plan and dream. 

The contractions of my womb were almost immediate.

When I was in the bath, I fully tuned into my womb and asked if there was anything she wanted to show me. 

The answer came: Slow down. Now's not the time for action or even dreaming. Now is the time to be grateful for everything you have. 

Like many of us, I too can get caught up in thinking about "what's next" rather than being in the present moment. The unknown can be uncomfortable, and my mind likes to have a plan.

But as soon as I got the message and allowed myself the physical and mental space to slow down, the physical pain and discomfort immediately dissipated. 

When I find myself in this place of moving forward on a plan before my body and spirit are fully on board, I get pretty clear signals to slow down.

So what could your body be telling you? 

Have you been honoring your relationship to your inner feminine? Is there anywhere you've been pushing or forcing yourself to move too fast? 

Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments below. I'd love to hear. 

With love, 
Meredith

 

30 ways to heal a broken heart

 
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In the last few weeks, I have been meeting more and more people going through a break-up.

Many of my yoga students and close friends of mine have been letting go of their relationships.  With the recent autumn equinox, I've seen it is a cosmic time of letting go.

An astrologer once told me a break-up happens when you are no longer able to fulfill your purpose while in the relationship.  If somehow the relationship has been preventing you from living as your most true and authentic self, the planets align to end it.

A break-up creates the space for you to fulfill your sacred contract with life.  {tweet it}

There is something comforting to know that as difficult as it is to go through it, that there is something so much greater on the other side:  Living as your highest self.

I've been thinking back to my own break-ups, and what has gotten me through those difficult times.  I remember those were the hardest times for me to take care of myself, but that was actually what helped me through it the most.

So, whether or not you are letting go of something or someone in your life, I created this list of 30 ways to take care of yourself as a reminder to come back to basics, and the small daily actions to remember the love you can have for and with yourself.

30 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Now

  • Use essential oils, I have a diffuser in my house and it changes my whole state when the room smells like wild orange or lavender
  • Make your bed luxurious and comfortable – buy nice sheets, pillows, plants, and a nice mattress
  • Meditate for the love of it, not because you have to, but because you want to.  This means doing what is enjoyable to you - try pranayama, writing, saying affirmations, or drinking warm tea while you sit down in silence.
  • Keep crystals around your house to surround yourself with beauty
  • Do a tarot reading
  • Do yoga – this is an obvious one, but so many of us avoid yoga because we don't want to feel the difficult emotions we are going through.  However, feeling them is the way we can move through them.  Try a few yoga poses at home to ease back into it.
  • Turn off technology by 8 pm.  Create space to ease into sleep.
  • Make a vision board
  • Ask a girlfriend to hang out.  Take initiative with your friends.  Tell them what you're going through.
  • Invest in yourself.  Take that new yoga class, or get the massage you've been putting off.
  • Buy a box of raspberries.  Raspberries for me, feel like the most luxurious purchase.  It is expensive compared to other fruit at 5 or 6 dollars a box, but ultimately 6 dollars for a luxurious afternoon eating raspberries is worth it.
  • Buy flowers for yourself, for no reason.
  • Drink your favorite tea.
  • Use a hot water bottle.  This is a great comfort item, to have something warm with you in bed, and is also good for cramps.
  • Journal.  Try "morning pages" from The Artist’s Way.  Write three pages each morning on anything - just let it all out on the paper.
  • Give yourself a pedicure.  Wash your feet in the sink.  Put on nice lotion and paint your nails.
  • Take an Epsom salt bath.  This relaxes and soothes the muscles while removing toxins from the skin.
  • Be generous.  Take a girlfriend out for tea or make dinner for someone.  Giving takes the mind away from ourselves to come into a space of giving back.
  • Be creative.  Make a card, a collage, or a drawing.
  • Rub body butter over your body while reading the affirmations.  Try the affirmation, "I am healing my past easily and naturally now."
  • Buy something fun and new, and this doesn’t have to be expensive.  I was in Mexico last year and I bought a couple $1 woven bracelets.  They were bright and beautiful and brought me so much joy.  When I went home, I gave them to 6 friends.
  • Declutter your life.  Let go of the things you don't need.  Sell and give away things you don’t use.
  • Keep your home tidy and clean.
  • Surround yourself with plants.
  • Learn something new.  (Try picking up a new instrument and taking lessons!)
  • Write a list of your strengths.  Then ask other people what they think your strengths are.
  • Write a list of things your grateful for.
  • SING.
  • DANCE.
  • Create a new vision for yourself – write it down and read it every day.

PS.  Tonight I am back to teaching Yin Yoga at the dhyana Center in Sebastopol at 7:45 pm.  Tonight's theme is "Release Fear, Cultivate Wisdom."  If you would like to join us, click here for details.  

 

It takes courage...

 
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From the moment I left my stressed out life in New York City over four years ago to get on a plane and start a new life in San Francisco, I realized how much courage it really takes to follow your heart.

Anytime I have slowed down enough to listen, I have had to consciously learn to release self-doubt and trust in the process.  When I went to India by myself on a one-way ticket with a 6-month VISA, it was the same.  When I started my business with no clients and only a few months of rent in my bank account, it was the same.  When I sang in front of my boyfriend (who is a professional musician) for the first time, it was the same.  And in the times I have felt overwhelmed with so much to do, but have consciously stopped to honor my body, stretch, breathe and make a healthy meal to take care of myself, it was the same.

It takes courage to step back from life and do something that nurtures and honors yourself.  tweet it

And today, I want to tell you:  Self-doubt is a natural part of the process.  When you are following your heart, even if it is to simply take care of yourself, self-doubt will be there.

I recently read an amazing blog post from KC Baker about birthing her baby boy.  As she was in the moment of labor saying to herself, "I just can't do this!"  Her midwife turned to her and said, "KC, you ARE doing this."

DOUBT IS PART OF BIRTHING, WHETHER IT BE A BABY OR A DREAM.  ~KC Baker

Tonight, I invite you to explore your dreams and desires and find the courage within yourself to slow down, let go of the to-dos, and listen to those dreams.

This evening marks the Autumn Equinox, and the first class in my 6-week series, Yin Yoga & Harmonium in Sebastopol.  We will be singing, releasing self-doubt and cultivating courage to follow our heart.  There will be live music for the entire class by Michael Zeligs.   I hope to see you there.

And for those of you who would love to be there, but live elsewhere, join my email list below and stay tuned for a surprise I will be sending to you next week...

Love, Meredith

 

Your body's natural equilibrium

 
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Our body can reach its own equilibrium when we choose not to put new information in.  When we feel exhaustion or discomfort, our first reaction is to choose a new input to change our body's state - it could be food, painkillers, caffeine or new thoughts of the future or the past.  However, if we take the time to sit with our sensations and come back to the breath, our body naturally finds balance.

The body has an innate intelligence to find its own equilibrium.  When we go to sleep at night we recalibrate and feel refreshed the next day.  Restorative and yin yoga act in a similar way.  We sit with ourselves and our breath in restful postures for the mind to settle and to give the body its own space to recalibrate.

I realized this last week after taking a long flight and experiencing jetlag.  The next day I was running on very little sleep and let it affect my day.  Instead of drinking caffeine or eating sweets to lift my energy, I decided to do a restorative yoga practice.

When I closed my eyes to sit still, all the exhaustion and frenetic energy moving inside my body became apparent.  After about fifteen minutes, I began to find the stillness underneath the exhaustion and my thoughts, and over the course of an hour and a half, my energy restored itself.

Some yogis say savasana is both one the most difficult and beneficial postures.  Our more active asanas bring the mind into a single pointed focus on movement and action, but when we come down into savasana, or any restorative pose, we have to maintain that stillness and presence, without anywhere else to put our mind's focus.  In an age of cell phones and technology, it is a powerful practice to tune out the rest of the world and just be with yourself for an hour and a half.

In my own practice, I've been working with an idea from Pema Chodron:  if you are willing to be with an unpleasant sensation for more than 90 seconds without judging it, it will go away.  This has actually worked for me with menstrual cramps and headaches.  Instead of pushing away the sensation I now give the sensations my attention and allow myself to feel the pain or discomfort fully. 

When I am there for myself for even just a few minutes without judgment, the uncomfortable sensations begin to dissolve with the breath.

May we all give our body this full attention, space and presence to reach equilibrium through our own natural intelligence.