Shiva Shakti

The first time I heard about working with my periods was when my earlier yoga teacher told us how to be mindful of the various phases of the cycle. While fairly regular and consistent with my cycles, I’ve experienced the ebb and flow of energy through the month. The physical discomforts of PMS are kept in check with a regular inversion practice and I find lightness with twists. The supine asanas calm me during my days and while I don’t find an expansive breath, it is a time when I am instinctively intuitive. Sometimes there is a sense of lightness at others a heaviness during those days and I see it as a play of the gunas, constantly changing.
I did not visit the temple last night for Maha Shivratri celebrations and did not use my japa mala. I was told that the rudraksha should not be worn or used during menstruation. As a product of ‘modern times’, I used to dismiss rituals and traditions saying that they had no place in today’s world. But as I grow older and search inside, I have had to change my ways in the face of my own experiences. There is so much out there that I do not know. Perhaps this ignorance is necessary to live without being overwhelmed. As and when the heart and mind are open and conditioned to receive new knowledge, there is a trickle of new information to process and make my own.
There is a lot I could talk about the physical aspects of menstruation. The greater draw however has been the variability of emotions and thoughts through the entire cycle. There was a brief period where I logged my miles, food and repetitive thoughts. At the end of a few months I could almost predict how each day of my cycle would make me feel physically and mentally. After reading a few of the posts from a couple of bloggers (links below), I plan to keep a note for a while with the cycles of the Moon and see what that throws up.
So far the only bit of literature I had access to was a lecture by Geetaji on how to practise through the month. I had not come across anything on the wider cultural and religious context of everything related to this uniquely feminine aspect of my existence. It fascinates me and I feel there is a powerful energy that is untapped and accessible only if I can live in sync. In all my frantic Google searching, I never came across anything that I considered relevant until now. And in the last 24 hours, I found enough to chew over for a while. While asanas were my introduction to Yog philosophy, the background was perhaps being created in all the years that passed by before the spark found me. This time around the entry into the texts of Yoga and Indian philosophy was easier and somehow more intimate. I don’t claim any deep scholarly understanding just an intuitive one, mostly that which I cannot really explain although I feel it at times as a physical sensation.

Three Days of Impurity: Menstruation and (In)Auspiciousness –

The Sabarimala Story: Can visiting temples affect menstruating women? –

Image: page from Siva by Ramesh Menon

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