My journey with yoga started in my late teens, in a cosy attic room of a small leisure centre in the outskirts of Florence, Italy. I remember the new sense of connection I experienced straight away between my body and my breath, and something bigger that I could not describe…
Throughout my 20s, as a busy university student and traveller, I explored many different yoga style, from Iyengar to Kundalini, from Hatha to Vinyasa Flow to Ashtanga and so on. But it was not until my early 30s that I found my 'yoga home’: first in Womb Yoga with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and a few years later in Five Elements Yoga with Sofia Araujo. The work with these two incredible teachers and women has shaped profoundly my own practice, as well as the way I share yoga as a teacher.
For me yoga is like a universal language, is the language with which the body and the mind can express themselves fully and find balance and purpose. They can become one with the Divine. This language has many dialects (all the different yoga styles) and all of these are equally perfect and beautiful, you only need to find the one that suits you, by listening deeply to your body innate's wisdom and knowing.
As women we are never the same. Every day we dance to the rhythm of our hormones and flow through the magical wheel of our menstrual cycle. During a period of an average of 28 days (but most often 25-35) we go through our inner spring, inner summer, inner autumn and inner winter and this can affect a lot our energy levels, our physical strengths and stamina, our emotions and so on. And it is crucial to learn how to listen to all the signals and how to honour the natural ebbs and flows of being a cyclical creature.
My personal practice is never the same, it really changes with the hormonal and energetic shifts I experience during my monthly menstrual cycle. It's more dynamic and playful during my inner spring (pre-ovulation); it can get stronger and more structured during my inner summer (ovulation); then, during my inner autumn (pre-menstrum), I start finding myself sitting longer in meditation and doing lots more grounding practices (especially on all fours and seated) and increasing my daily dose of yoga nidra (more on nidra here) to keep me centred whilst my energy levels wane. And, when I enter my inner winter (menstruation), especially on day 1 and 2, all I want to do is to lie down and breathe or listen to a super long yoga nidra!
This is me. Not every month is the same, but this is my general monthly yoga wheel. And as I honour my inner seasons, I also honour the outer seasons, so that I can feel a greater sense of connection and embodiment in tune with the natural rhythms of life.
My menstrual cycle is my inner yoga, and I love how Alexandra Pope, in the foreword to the first edition of the book Yoni Shakti, put this into words:
"...When approached with appropriate consciousness and time, the menstrual cycle can be an inner yoga that initiates a woman into a deep sense of intimacy with herself and the Divine. What is important about this female way is that it practices us. That is, we don't have to 'do' anything, rather through a deeply felt engagement with the changing rhythms of our cycle, we can potentially enter a spiritual consciousness. Simple though this may sound, it is an inner discipline of a higher order..."
I hope that reading this inspires you to find your own inner yoga, to listen to your body and honour her needs: slowing down when she needs it and increasing the pace when she has more energy. Your body knows. Your body holds deep wisdom.
If you would like some guidance in how to adapt (or start) your yoga practice to support your inner season or specific life cycle you are in, please take a look at my 1:1 offerings and get in touch. I would be honoured to support you!