"Action has meaning only in relationship, and without understanding relationship, action on any level will only breed conflict. The understanding of relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action." -- Jiddhu Krishnamurti
An interesting question from a yoga trainee last Saturday clarified my view on wholeness and integration. She asked, "Is there an empirical knowledge about what women can't do physically in a yoga practice during menstruation?". Since I know for a fact that athletes and olympians compete while on their periods, my answer to her was a no. She shared with me that, once in an Iyengar class, the teacher ordered all the menstruating women to gather at one corner of the room for a modified practice. The trainee felt uncomfortable with the idea of exclusion. Questioning clarifies the mind. When we ask ourselves the right question it connects us to the physical reality. The question becomes an antidote to carelessness and cynicism. The dropping of disconnect and aggression is the cure for emotional dissatisfaction. Wholeness is the integration of individuals. To understand ourselves wholly we must understand the individual parts of ourselves. We learn to ask the right questions.
How can I be sensitive to the needs of myself and others without being exclusive?
How can I be in a relationship without being bound by it and have a boundary without disconnecting?
Some of the women in the Iyengar class may have felt that the teacher was catering to their needs. But that doesn't make it OK to assume that all women have the same needs regarding their period cycles or one right way to treat all women. Nor it is OK for me to assume that the teacher was ignorant of individual needs. I told the trainee that as a yoga teacher I have options to offer and I don't call out or interfere with the participants' judgements in how they handle their bodies. A practice or a pose is meant to serve the individual body and not the other way around. My main job is to instruct the participants to connect to their body and proceed as they feel fit through the body awareness. I don't know the specific way someone should practice yoga or live their life. I'm here to remind them that the answers to healing and doing the right things are already in their unique bodies. Let us not skip the questioning by going right to the judgment. Ask the body the question. We literally make ourselves whole by mentally asking and physically answering.
The trainee's question came at the perfect timing. In the past couple weeks I've been working on a new project and recruiting the women in my classes to participate. My vision is to have 108 women answer candidly a set of questions relevant to all women and in particular to the women who choose yoga as the path of embodiment, health, and happiness. In the age of heightened awareness on gender fluidity and age discrimination, I am cautious of the exclusivity. In categorizing the women into eight different age groups I can look for any theme that may or may not emerge in each. I can also write about personal experiences, expectations, and perspectives on each time period. By asking myself and others the questions I aim for integrity that is the integration of the parts which make up the whole. Ultimately, I want to celebrate each individual woman who has been keeping my passion for teaching alive for over a decade. Through them, I want to learn the wisdom of all ages and in all ways of female embodiment.