I am like many working women in Israel – I have two jobs. I am an environmentalist and a yoga teacher. Having read that, you probably think I am a vegetarian, tree-hugging, super calm person, who knows how to breathe through every situation, never shouts, lives off wheat-grass and eats only organic. Happily for me and my family, that is very far from the truth.
As a wife and working mother of 5, life is always busy and crazy. This is the common theme for most women in today’s modern society, running as fast as we can just to keep up, to be the perfect mother, wife, and professional, to live picture-perfect Facebook lives.
A few years ago, following a crazy year having returned from shlichut, dealing with a sick child and giving birth to child #5, I decided it was time to do something for myself and went to study to be an instructor for “Yoga for Pregnancy”. This led to another year of study to be an instructor for “Yoga Nashit”. This journey has been life-changing for me and I now have a responsibility to pass these life lessons on to other women.
So what is Yoga Nashit and how can it help you?
Yoga Nashit or Yoga for Women’s Health is the practice of yoga adapted to support a woman through all stages of her life, using traditional yoga poses and techniques but paying specific attention to a woman’s body, mind and spirit. Yoga Nashit connects the woman to the truest essence of herself and empowers her with tools to deal with the changes she goes through from puberty, her menstrual cycle, childbearing years, possible infertility, menopause and beyond. By enabling each woman to understand how her body changes over her life cycle, as a result of natural hormonal changes or unexpected illness, she acquires tools to be better prepared.
By focusing on full breathing together with pelvic floor muscles (Mula Bandah) throughout the yoga practice, Yoga Nashit enables each woman to experience improvements in her physical well-being, emotional state and regulate her hormonal fluctuations. Yoga Nashit teaches her to be more connected to her body, understanding how it works and to monitor and map its ebbs and flows.
It was only when I had the privilege to learn this method of yoga, that I realized how disconnected I was from my hormonal changes and resulting mood swings, especially as I haven’t experienced a period for a few years due to an IUD. I learnt that by understanding my monthly cycle and the way my hormones change throughout the month and stages of life – even with an IUD, could I be more realistic about achieving everything that I wanted in its right time and place.
Yoga Nashit employs three key tools:
Mapping emotional changes in a daily journal,
Guided/intuitive writing with trigger questions,
Traditional yoga poses that are practised with a feminine insight
In this way, Yoga Nashit becomes specific for each woman.
For example if you participate in a class during your period, Yoga Nashit promotes a more gentle practice with no inversions (backbends) or head poses. If however you participate in a class during your ovulation time, Yoga Nashit will encourage an energetic practise that coincides with high estrogen levels. Alternatively if you are trying to get pregnant, Yoga Nashit encourages poses that will increase blood circulation to the reproductive organs to stimulate those organs and support potential egg fertilization. If you are experiencing symptoms such as hot flushes, which frequently accompany menopause, Yoga Nashit would encourage a sweat inducing practise to allow you to experience your hot flushes in a controlled and monitored way.
In each of these classes, you will be challenged to assess how your body is responding to each of these poses and how that impacts your mind and spirit. Hence, by understanding what physical, biological or emotional problems each woman is encountering, Yoga Nashit becomes a personalised and empowering response, which can adapt to each woman’s changing situation.
That is why Yoga Nashit is also a great practice for teenage girls and women going through mental health issues or other illness. Yoga Nashit encourages teenage girls specifically to connect to their body in a safe environment and learn how their menstrual cycle works, how their regular hormonal changes affects them, and teaches skills to cope with stress, body image issues, anxiety, social stresses etc.
Furthermore, the awareness, connection and empowerment that is created between body, mind and spirit through regular Yoga Nashit practice has the potential to change women’s mikveh experience. By being more connected to yourself, understanding your monthly cycle, improving a range of menstrual cycle symptoms so that you encounter your period in a more positive and accepting way, allows you to embrace the mikveh as a renewal experience rather than a monthly burden to bare.
So today my life is still busy, still crazy, still full-on, but I have learnt how to feel more in control, more empowered to make the right decisions for me, more informed about what I should be doing and when,and more realistic about what I can achieve. And yes – I do still shout at my kids, occasionally!
Yoga Nashit as a form of yoga practice and life-style choice has been developed by Mira Artzi-Padan over the last 25 years. Mira has pioneered this movement nationally and internationally http://www.yogaforwomen.co.il/
For details about Jacqueline’s classes you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.yogaforwomen.co.il/Show_teacher/212