I rarely hear yoga teachers name the uterus or womb and its neighbours (the vagina, ovaries and cervix) in classes. Yet women with these organs account for 90% or more of those people in most yoga classes. It seems that culturally, we just don’t rate the importance of these parts unless they are carrying out a reproductive function. This is something which I find odd as most women are really keen to know more about menstruation when an opportunity is presented. Culturally, we also believe this area is innately problematic and expect it to need medical intervention. The natural body function of labour has become increasingly medicalised and passive, as if the female body is not designed to labour without scientific aid and assistance. Yoga was traditionally male-focused and neglected women in its documentation. But it is now filling the uterine hole in its science, firmly supported by Ayurveda and the millions of female practitioners around the world exploring yoga from a feminine perspective. Here are a few things you may not have known about the uterus:
- The uterus has many more remarkable functions than just reproduction!
- It carries out essential immune functions and plays a role in endocrine functions.
- Moola bandha and uddiyana bandha are too strong for most women to safely practice during both menstruation and ovulation.
- It produces prostacyclin that prevents blood clotting and heart disease.
- Uterine orgasm is described as a mind-blowing bliss or profound emotional and spiritual connection.
- The uterus is acknowledged as a main player in our evolution as a species, when the creation of the placenta enabled a longer gestation period so that we could develop larger brains.
- The uterus has some of the strongest muscles in the body.
- The outer serosa (a membrane that attaches to the ligaments and fascia to keep the uterus in its position) supports the entire structural integrity of the pelvis and spine.
- The womb has been found to produce anandamide, another pleasure-invoking chemical, likened to cannabis and dark chocolate. This name originates from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’, meaning ‘bliss’.
These scientific understandings of the uterus validate its importance and the holistic nature of the human body, showing once again how everything is interconnected and interdependent. To look after the health of the uterus, we firstly need to give it some attention. To help this shift, teachers can name and bring awareness to the uterus in yoga classes and workshops. We can send our internal focus to our womb in our home practice and discuss its role and power amongst female and male friends or partners.
Here’s ten simple steps you can take to balance out your biochemical communication and improve your uterine health:
- Connect with the sensation of your uterus on a daily basis (look at a biology diagram – it’s really helpful to be clear about your own uterine placement in the beginning).
- Create positive life-affirming beliefs about your uterus and sexual organs.
- Reduce stress through making practical changes, try creating your schedule in a way that is mindful of your menstrual cycle, for example, rest at menstruation, plan gatherings and important meetings around ovulations, take time for reflecting and encourage compassion in the self-critical times around pre-menstruation, take slow simple steps without rushing back to the fast pace in pre-ovulation……
- Commit to a regular hatha, yin, female or womb yoga, meditation or conscious breathing practice.
- Join a red tent – www.redtentdirectory.com
- Listen and respond to your body’s needs for food, sleep, touch, sex, rest, expression, silence, etc.
- Give and receive regular loving touch.
- Decrease your contact with toxins and synthetic hormones (buy organic, eco-friendly everything! It’s good for your body and the body of the earth).
- Fit a water filter or order reusable 15-litre spring water dispensers to your home
- Do less external stuff and learn to ‘let go’.
If you’re interested in researching uterine health beyond this article, my main resources are these five amazing books:
1) Women’s bodies Women’s wisdom by Christiane Northrup, 2)The Uterine Health Companion by Eve Agee, 3)Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World by Judy Grahn and Charlene Spretnak, 4)Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture by Chris Knight, 5)The Woman’s Quest by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo.
I would like to thank these authors for their profound contributions to modern science, philosophy, spirituality and women’s health.
Copyright © Alex Hanly 2007-2015