Gina Molinari yoga, wellness, travel and coaching
We are often asked to set an intention at the beginning of our asana practice. It's a simple idea to come back to, a reminder of how or why we are practicing. I'd imagine we often chose something that we need in our lives off the mat, and so we chose to practice it on our mat. At the invitation to set an intention in a Vinyasa class the other day, my mind's immediate response was the word "honor" and it got me thinking (yes, I know I shouldn't be thinking while I practice) about my relationship to my body, my practice and the concept of honor.
Honor has a myriad of definitions including: to regard with great respect or esteem, to fulfill an obligation or agreement, or to be a privilege.
We step onto our mats with the balance of using our bodies to experience the privilege of the practice and respecting our bodies in the practice. Dance the asana and listen to the response. The Body is both the humble, doting servant and the grateful Queen. The relationship must be fair and balanced.
Then I see another antiquated definition for honor: a woman's chastity, virginity, purity, modesty...
Finding that balance has always felt difficult. How does a woman use her body to fulfill the gifts it affords her, the enjoyment, while also having dignity and respect, especially when honor has historically meant maintaining an untainted and pure body? It makes me think of the Macarena lyrics: Dale a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena, porque tu cuerpo es pa darle alegria cosas buenas/ Give your body joy, Macarena, because your body is meant for giving joy and good things.
I've never quite figured that one out. The dance of using my body to give/receive Joy and remain "honorable" by society's standards seem to clash. So, I suppose my practice is to show up on my mat with the intention of repeatedly exercising myself in a way that honours my body. To find the balance of using it for Joy and pleasure, but still respectfully being with it in order to honor it. To stay engaged and present enough to be conscious with every experience.
How do you practice honoring your body, on or off the mat?
On a lighter note, the crisp weather has encouraged me to start baking and cooking again. Inspired by the rosemary in Yoga Home's community garden plot, I baked these gems for a potluck at Orion Freeman's house concert. Honor your body with some tasty snacks!
Rosemary Lemon Biscuits (Vegan & Sugarfree)
Yield: about 24 biscuits
2 cups flour (I suggest spelt, but use whatever you want)
1 1/2 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary (or more!)
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
6 Tbs vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1-2 drops of rosemary and lemon essential oils OR
1/2 tsp lemon zest + more rosemary
1. Preheat oven to 450F. In a small bowl, mix ACV and milk. Let it sit.
2. In a larger mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, rosemary (and lemon zest if you aren't using oils). Combine and then slowly mix in the vegan butter with a fork. Don't overmix! The butter clumps should break down to be about the size of peas.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until combined, but don't kill it. Keep it fluffy!
4. Using a lightly floured surface, portion out 1 Tbs blobs and pat them into loose 1ish inch Biscuits. Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. They won't expand. Brush the tops with melted vegan butter or coconut oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and then enjoy them fresh!
I have a uterine fibroid twice the size of my uterus. It’s a tough, fibrous, non-cancerous tumor sensitive to estrogen and progesterone growing between my uterus and fallopian tube. Fibroids in and of themselves are common among women of childbearing years, but not many have fibroids that grow to the size of a small grapefruit.
I’ve started writing this 7 times, each slightly different. What do I want to say? I’m frustrated with Western medicine. I’m angry that I went to the ER for a diagnosis and they never mentioned what could have caused this enlarged fibroid (though I am grateful for the diagnosis and modern medical imaging). I’m angry that the common “solutions” include hysterectomies, destroying uterine lining, hormone treatment similar to sparking early menopause, and surgeries to kill the fibroid. Western medicine fails to acknowledge that the fibroid isn’t the “problem”, it’s a gracious warning sign that something else is out of balance. It’s my body’s way of alerting me to a deeper issue that needs to be dealt with. Western medicine would have me treat this occurrence only to leave the root issues unresolved and forcing my body to continue sending out its “are you paying attention yet?!” signs.
Physiologically, the cause is a hormone imbalance. My body is processing too much estrogen, either because it’s producing too much or I am taking in too much through my diet. The true solution is to find balance here. Simply getting rid of the fibroid would be like removing the “collapsed road” signs and continuing to drive along. I can do it for awhile, but somewhere down the road I will have to stop. In fact, the imbalance had already manifested in ways like abdominal bloating, water retention, weight gain, and cramps that I’ve shrugged off as minor annoyances. Intense pain was the only way to stop me long enough to actually look at the root of the problem.
Four years ago I read Love, Medicine, & Miracles by Dr. Bernie Siegel. Drawing from a clinical background, Dr. Siegel discusses self-healing and how our physiological illnesses and diseases are actually dis-eases of the soul and the emotional body. We repress something, hate something, or neglect something, and it shows up as a physical manifestation demanding our immediate attention. After reading that book, I had no doubt that I’d one day end up with some medical issue impacting the parts of my body that made me a woman. I grew up absolutely loathing my womaness – periods, the anatomy, wearing a bra, the expectations to not have hair in certain places. When my mom gave me “the talk”, I begged her to make me a boy.
My misunderstanding of the gifts of being a woman and an overall lack of love for my body continued to create unhealthy conditions as I got older. Through my late teens and early 20s I found myself in bad sexual situations, feeling betrayed by both my own body and boys I had trusted. I felt powerless and continued to hate my female anatomy for the trouble it seemed to bring me. I wanted my vagina to be lined with teeth, my uterus to disappear. Is it any surprise that after hating being a girl for half my life, my body reacted? My self-loathing attacked my uterus, the part of my body that is undeniably female.
It was only after my recent trip abroad that I made conscious efforts to embrace it – to be proud of being a woman, a creator, a Goddess in all the ways the divine feminine wanted me to embrace. I’ve experimented with allowance for tenderness, sensuality, sweetness, and confidence. Maybe the fibroid, essentially a muscle mass, is actually my feminine flexing super hard after being repressed for so many years?
Life isn’t always gentle with its messages, but sometimes that’s because the whispers went unheard and I need a blaring siren to alert me that something is askew. As I’m learning, this is another necessary lesson. It’s time to mean it when I say I am going to LOVE and care for myself, especially the parts I’ve historically disrespected. It’s time to accept a bloated belly and weight gain and love my body just the same. It’s time to find balance in being a woman. It’s time to focus on the cause of the issue, to understand it’s emotional and physiological roots, and heal those places rather than accepting a band-aid to make the outside temporarily feel better.
I’m going to heal this, but I’m starting at the root of it. I know you want to know what I’m going to DO, so to ease your worried minds: 1) 100% whole food plant-based diet (vegan) 2) acupuncture 3) DIM estrogen balancing supplement 4) emotional healing work for some old wounds 5) spending time with everyday Goddesses who are examples of embracing the feminine 6) loving my body even when it seems to be hurting me
What I need from you: 1) share your concern, but then talk to me about something other than how I’m feeling 2) don’t try to convince me that my fertility should be a priority, trust me when I say I do not intend to have children, ever 3) share your personal fibroid stories and solutions 4) have patience with making plans as some days are good and some are rough
In love and eternal healing for all,
Ramblings, insights, & motivation