Jan 26, 2023

Book Review: Yoga for Women by Swami Muktananda

 I love the books from the Bihar School of Yoga. When I visited Blossoms bookstore a few weeks back, I picked up this book - Nawa Yogini Tantra - Yoga for Women.

As the name suggests, this book is focused on women - their connection to spirituality, physical well-being and relevant Yoga practices.

The initial chapters provide a basic understanding of the hormonal and reproductive systems, the role of ida/pingala nadis, the summary of chakras, and the pancha koshas. The author then moves on to the topic of menarche and menstrual cycles.

On the topic of seclusion and the origins, this point made a lot of sense - "This retreat was a psychological protection at a time of heightened emotional sensitivity". I wish the intention of this custom was conveyed with this meaning rather than making the young girl feel impure/polluted/disgusted.

As I started to tune inward with my body, I could so resonate with the point of increased sensitivity and awareness during my monthly cycle.

I have been quite curious to understand the four stages of life described in the Vedas - brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa.

The author elaborates on how these four stages relate to a woman's life. Menopause provides the ideal transition point for women to move onto vanaprastha and develop spiritual practices, though vanaprastha doesn't necessarily depend on menopause. Also called karma sannyasa, Vanaprastha "does not encourage us to retire from the world, but to live in it with a different philosophy and a wider deeper awareness."

The author also breaks a lot of myths and misconceptions about the role of women in society.

"That women must bear the children is a biological fact. That they must carry the chief burden of tending to them is not a biological necessity, It is convenient, but convenience is not a necessity. There is even less reason for women to maintain the household just because they are females."

"The most effective and happy individuals are those who have developed both the masculine and the feminine sides of themselves"

"Closely following traditional sex patterns is not consistent with optimum mental health."

I found the first half of the book to be super insightful. The second half focuses primarily on various health ailments concerning women and the corresponding Yoga sadhanas that will help address the symptoms and the root causes. This section will be useful as a reference guide.

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