I was driving by the hospital the other day and there was a mammoth poster that said “Conquer Cancer”. Have you noticed how we talk about illness? Fighting a cold. Attacking a virus. Killing pain. Whenever I hear people talk about waging war against their body I worry. Instead of receiving their body’s message to slow down, listen and tenderly respond to what their body feels and needs there is a desire to “kill the messenger.” Quickly get rid of the invading illness or creeping fatigue.
This tendency of treating illness or tiredness as the enemy is at the heart of un-loving your body. To change this belief, notice when you start to feel tired or sick – do you immediately want the feeling to go away? Is there a voice in your head that says, “I don’t have time for this!”? Without judging yourself, become aware of this is old conditioning. After all it’s what you’ve heard on TV and read on billboards for decades now. And make a decision to override this conditioning with your own intelligence.
Make a commitment to respect your body’s call to slow down. When you start to feel your energy dropping respond as you would to a small child whose starting to get sick. Approach yourself with tenderness and compassion. As you create this inner space of nurturing and peace it’s much easier to return yourself to wellness and to wholeness.
Doctors and therapists of any kind will ask you, “how do you feel?” Or “tell me what’s happening?” Ultimately, we are the only ones who can listen, feel and communicate these inner messages with our health professionals. We are the first to know when something doesn’t feel right. A doctor’s role is to diagnose and treat pathology. Your role is to be in-tune with your body, mind and emotions in a way that nourishes your well-being.
Get quiet and listen to your body’s messages. Do this every day and your stress levels and anxiety will drop effortlessly. Two simple steps to soothe stress is an article I wrote to walk you through the process.
It’s unwise to make a Doctor or anyone besides you, responsible for your health. If you want to be a powerful, healthy woman; empower yourself as your own health expert. Learn about your female body and how it works. Learn about your cycles and your hormones. Get to know yourself so you can rely on and trust your own body wisdom. To help, I have two classes coming up. The first is my signature Moon Goddess yoga and meditation workshop. And soon I'll be unveiling a new on line course called Cycle Secrets – Unleashing the power of your feminine gifts.
How often have you felt bad about the shape, odor or menstrual phase of your body? The more women I work with I realize it’s true: We’ve inherited a cultural taboo that women’s bodies are unacceptable in their natural state. And I’ve been ailed with this obsession myself. When I was younger I remember carrying around perfume at all times, hiding the disposal of my sanitary napkins from my father and wishing I had a flatter stomach. It’s taken effort for me to change my perspective and habits.
I no longer use chemical perfume and the list of reasons why are too long to list here but if you’re interested in safe-guarding your reproductive health amongst other things read this article by Joy McCarthy who turned me off of perfumes permanently. Instead I dab lavender essential oil under my arms and behind my ears when I want to smell especially nice. Occasionally I’ll use a natural crystal antiperspirant which always does the trick.
One thing I’ve never worried about is “offensive feminine odor.” Nor have I felt compelled to constantly survey myself for “freshness” like the commercials insinuate and play on women’s insecurities. But I was surprised by what I discovered when I started using cloth pads and the menstrual cup – period blood doesn’t actually smell as strongly as I thought it did. It’s actually the chemicals in the commercially produced pads and tampons that react with the menstrual blood and cause the foul odor we tend to associate with our periods. Another good reason to use natural menstrual care. Check out Red Tent Sisters on the Danforth if you're looking to shop for cloth pads or the cup.
The body image piece is a tricky one even for me. I’ve been the same weight now for over 15 years but I definitely don’t fit into the same clothes I did 15 years ago. So clearly the fat distribution in my body has changed. I can no longer eat whatever I want without consequence. If I want that flatter belly (and I admit I do) then I need to adjust my eating and exercise habits. And I’m learning this goes beyond how I look. The hidden link between sugar, stress and period pain was enough for me to become mindful of how much sugar I eat. Now I’m trying to look at food as part of my whole woman-body nourishment regime too.
Zahra Haji is a modern day Goddess – really! She’s also a certified Yoga Teacher and Therapist passionate about women's physical health and spiritual balance. Inspired by kundalini yoga, meditation and educating women about their bodies and cycles Zahra created Yoga Goddess to reconnect women to their own innate wisdom and sensual, feminine beauty. Zahra is the first Yoga Teacher in Canada to combine yoga, meditation and awareness of the menstrual and moon cycles. She has authored 3 signature programs: Sensual Magic, Body Prayer for an Open Heart and her great passion Moon Goddess. To learn more about Zahra read her story.