All of my aunts are lovely women. I have quite a few of them, and throughout my childhood, they were doting, patient, and creative forces. I loved spending time with these women. They took me to the beach, duck ponds, and the library. One of my favorite aunts taught me how to eat an artichoke. Another told me once, "aunts are for spoiling." All of the "bros" I've ever encountered are not so lovely. They're loud. They're obnoxious. They walk around grubbing on junk food and slinging red Solo cups of beer. They're prone to emotional outbursts and teary, nostalgic reminiscing.
Replace that red Solo cup with a glass of Pinot Noir, and you've just described me on my period.
Say hello to Bro Flo.
I did not have to deal with a menstrual cycle for almost 2 years: After my pregnancy, my obnoxious friend stayed away for over a year, thanks to the magic trifecta of hormones, luck, and breastfeeding. I felt a sense of equanimity and calm that I had not felt... ever. It was glorious and freeing to have reliable stability in my emotions, rather than the ups and downs I lived with for most of my twenties and thirties.
But eventually my period did return. And what didn't occur to me while enjoying the vacation from my monthly visitor, is that I now have to navigate the waves of my anxiety, anger, and sadness while also being a mom.
But yoga helps.
Yoga offers specific poses for the myriad of discomforts that come along with our periods: PMS, cramps, emotional ups and downs—and I'll talk about those poses and some helpful, short sequences in upcoming posts.
But yoga also offers a mindset of self-forgiveness and compassion that's helpful when you're dealing with the whirling emotions that seem to come out of nowhere. The Yoga Sutras, one of yoga's oldest books on philosophy, tells us that at its heart, yoga is cultivating control of your mind's chattering ups and downs. To find that space, clearness, and peace, you take a few minutes, you come to your mat and you breathe and move. Again and again and again.
Even Bro Flo is a little more chill after a few rounds of Sun Salutations and some deep breathing.