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Dao Flow Yoga for Women’s Health and Fertility with Dr. Robin Saraswati Markus

In this episode we will be exploring Dao Flow Yoga for women’s health and fertility with Dr. Robin Saraswati Markus. Dr. Saraswati is a holistic gynecologist, seasoned yoga teacher, and thought leader in natural hormonal balance in women’s health and fertility.

Her signatures style Dao Flow Yoga combines the subtle body energetics of acupuncture and the meridian system into yoga to unlock your personal body code for self-healing and vitality. Her work has been featured in Yoga Journal, Mantra Magazine, LA Yoga, Spirituality & Health and Integral Yoga Magazine.

Visit her: http://nourishinglife.com/

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • “There’s nothing more radical than reclaiming your own life force. How you think, feel, believe and perceive the world around you has great impact on the secretions and receptivity of your reproductive tissues. Every cycle, including your menstrual cycle has both a yin and a yang phase. By gathering, coordinating and harmonizing the interplay of yin and yang energies, hormones can be rest and optimized. As human beings become more synced with the rhythms of nature, resisting the urge to push, fight, control, the body gets healthier and stronger just by going with the flow.”
  • “Maybe what Daoism and certainly that’s something that’s embodied in Dao Yoga is zooming out our perspective which is a major principle of really this recognition that nature is at the center of our experience and by observing nature and her rhythms we can gain some insight into the rhythms going on inside our own body and embedded in that area some of the solutions as well to the ways we feel out of balance.”
  • “What I find is a major cause of hormonal imbalance and disease process in general, where the seeds of imbalance begin, is where we over identify with the thinking mind and we may call it the stressful mind. That is not embodied.

    All of that is happening from the heart, the throat, the third eye, the crown and these upper chakras become almost the languaging I’ll use a lot is just congested with thoughts and to do lists and worries, regrets, concerns, how to control what’s coming in front of us and they congest.

    The literature, the spiritual literature, talks about our senses being these open, clear, bright opportunities to receive information, like insight. If they’re clogged we can’t connect to this wisdom body so that’s a major piece of finding harmony is opening the upper part of the body. Think about it, that’s where our stress gets usually held is in our jaw or in our temple, our migraines, top of of shoulders, chest pain, anxiety, depression, or insomnia. All of this is happening in the upper body.”

  • “In general, a very common way that medical practitioners, holistic medical practitioners, will think about the menstrual cycle is the time from the menstruation through the ovulation as a time where the body is shedding what has been — it’s when the cycle begins again and if you will, blood, and when I say blood now I mean the Chinese medicine blood which involves hormones and other healthy, fertile markers and secretions and so forth that usually happens around ovulation.”
  • “All this communication of hormones is happening through the bloodstream which is a key point that we should remember to come back to as it relates to practice of Dao Flow Yoga. All of the communication of your brain to the ovary is happening through the bloodstream. Remember that’s essentially what a hormone is. It’s a messenger, it’s sent from one part of the body to a distant part of the body and it travels through the bloodstream and once it reaches the tissue and is taken up through the tissue via a receptor site, then the tissue performs a certain function or activity.

    The hormone gives a message to tissues to do something, right? You can imagine if for some reason the blood is not flowing well or the tissues are turned off, they’re like I don’t want to take up that hormone right now because I’ve got other more important things to do, which is truly how the hormonal system works. That’s part of how hormones become imbalanced and it doesn’t take very long.”

  • “Our brain and the specific glands in the brain — the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland to be more specific — reads our environment and determines if it is safe to let down our guard and the body is always choosing between either a relaxed growth or a contracted protection.”
  • “All of those, the functionality meaning how well they work and respond and their predictability, their meaning, is based on blood flow and the hormones moving through them. So, the brain is reading its environment and deciding if it’s in a hostile environment or in a relaxed and nourishing environment and then body — those all turn into brain chemicals — and the body either is in an open stance, ready to experience life like it is — which is another definition of dharma — or is it in contracted and braced and trying to take control of things which will lead to the tissues actually, literally from the western side, the vessels clamp down and even further, those receptor sites slows down.”
  • “We can actually have a little bit of a stressful experience, but maintain this feeling of relaxed, growth, or a dynamic receptivity and that’s the key to take that off the mat and into your experience. That’s the way to move through our life and treasure your resources, whether you’re in your reproductive years or moving through towards menopause. This work that one does, she does, you do, the audience does to treasure her fertility is exactly the same thing that is going to help her walk through menopause.

    It doesn’t have to be this time of deficiency and depression and needing external hormones. You have laid the groundwork, planted the seeds for your body to operate naturally, grounded. It has the resources inside it to be healthy and strong for your whole life, not just until you’re 50 and then suddenly you’re deficient.”

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Transcript

OSMARA: Welcome to The Metamorphosis Chronicles. I’m Osmara: researcher, writer, certified yoga teacher, and self professed wanderlust. With each new episode I bring inspiring interviews and messages to help you upgrade your mind + body.

For today’s episode we will be exploring Dao Flow Yoga for women’s health and fertility with Dr. Robin Saraswati Markus. Dr. Saraswati is a holistic gynecologist, seasoned yoga teacher, and thought leader in natural hormonal balance in women’s health and fertility.

Her signatures style Dao Flow Yoga combines the subtle body energetics of acupuncture and the meridian system into yoga to unlock your personal body code for self-healing and vitality. Her work has been featured in Yoga Journal, Mantra Magazine, LA Yoga, Spirituality & Health and Integral Yoga Magazine.

“There’s nothing more radical than reclaiming your own life force. How you think, feel, believe and perceive the world around you has great impact on the secretions and receptivity of your reproductive tissues.

Every cycle, including your menstrual cycle has both a yin and a yang phase. By gathering, coordinating and harmonizing the interplay of yin and yang energies, hormones can be rest and optimized. As human beings become more synced with the rhythms of nature, resisting the urge to push, fight, control, the body gets healthier and stronger just by going with the flow.”

I love that Saraswati! Welcome to The Metamorphosis Chronicles, how are you?

SARASWATI: Thank you. I am doing so good this morning. It’s beautiful to spend some time with you, Osmara.

OSMARA: Lovely, lovely. Let’s just jump right in because I think this is a very hot topic for all of the ladies listening in and I know it’s something I personally want to know more about myself in terms of empowering myself to understand my body and understand how I can tune in to those cycles and that flow of nature that you eloquently put in your quote through Dao Flow Yoga. Let’s just jump right in. Tell me, or tell the audience, what is Dao Flow Yoga and how did it come about? How did it start?

SARASWATI: Yeah, maybe we could just start with that quote. Just when you read it, I felt inspired again. You know, this isn’t an original idea. I’ve studied a lot of different systems and my husband was telling me the other day as I was reading him some material that I had written, you know I’m a creator, I’ve created a lot of material and he’s like, “You know what you are, Saraswati? You’re a synthesizer.”

That’s truly what I am. I’ll read materials from different teachers, study a lot, and take a lot from teachings as well. Just to give bow to the teachers that I speak of and those that go unmentioned, there’s so much gratitude. Very little of this work is really a true creation of mind, but I think that my talent lies in this synthesizing, this braiding together of different technologies along with experience and deep reflection.

I’m a clinician, I’m a Doctor of Oriental Medicine so I treat women. I’m a long term practitioner of yoga and contemplative practice, meditation and Qigong. I am a woman, a modern woman who owns her own business, and entrepreneur and living with the day in and day out struggles to find that balance that you’re talking about.

What I love about this quote is that it invites us to turn towards a wisdom body that we all have that we can turn to and gain information about some unlocking, some of these mysteries that feel just out of reach. Yeah?

OSMARA: Totally, totally. Well we were just talking right before we started, it’s about taking the reigns. So, taking the reigns of our own bodies and our cycles. I thought that was just so brilliant.

SARASWATI: Yeah, yeah and taking the reigns, you know I love that because there is a way in which we can take our own health and wellbeing, wellness, hormonal balance, however you want to describe that, into our own hands. It doesn’t lie in some mystery or exactly what our lab tests say or chasing symptoms.

Maybe what Daoism and certainly that’s something that’s embodied in Dao Yoga is zooming out our perspective which is a major principle of really this recognition that nature is at the center of our experience and by observing nature and her rhythms we can gain some insight into the rhythms going on inside our own body and embedded in that area some of the solutions as well to the ways we feel out of balance.

OSMARA: I love that and that’s what drew me to wanting to know more about Dao Flow Yoga because it mergers these principles that are united and yet you don’t really see a convergence of the yogic with the meridians with the Chinese practices. Let’s talk a little about that. What’s so unique about Dao Flow Yoga and how did it come about?

SARASWATI: It’s such an interesting way it came about, but the unique qualities — it has it’s own very distinct principles and therapeutic methods so that when you take a Dao Flow Yoga class you can expect that there is very much a sense of braiding together Chinese medicine, acupuncture, meridian energetics. So, really there is an understanding by your teacher of how energy moves and operates which really is how nature operates. It’s not different.

There’s this recognition of one fluid energy moving in, around, and through the body and we are able to harness that with various techniques which we will call, which Dao Flow Yoga calls vibration techniques, and there’s many.

The four basic ones that we focus on are breathe, so that vibrates the energy of chi in your body and then as we focus our attention, which is the second vibration technique … so visualization will aim that chi life force energy into a body area or into an energy line. A third technique is sounding. We may use mantra or just different, what’s called seed syllables, that represent the goddess within or the earth energy or the fire element or the different chakra centers. So, each of these different aspects of our experience can be captured with a sound. We will often use sounding in the practice of Dao Flow Yoga. Then the fourth is movement, how we either elongate, expand, or contract and align our muscle system. We may even call that a unit of fascia that extend through the whole body.

Fascia is a whole other interesting subject, but just to bullet point it, it technically is made up of water, a crystalline collagen structure which acts as a semiconductor for energy. That is how we can use a vibration technique like sound — like the word Om — and we point it into a meridian line, it actually probably is moving immediately, quicker than the speed of light through the fascia line which overlaps with the meridian line and causes that meridian and internal organ to create a different function or it creates a resonance in the body and creates a functionality that’s different than where you started. So, that’s a little bit of Dao Flow Yoga. It’s using all of that technical, geeky out stuff that I really love.

OSMARA: I love that too.

SARASWATI: Yeah, I know because we’ve had so many long talks about these things. That’s all the Chinese medicine part of Dao Flow and a little of the western medicine and modern research and it’s overlaid into a yoga method so when you come to a Dao Flow Yoga class it feels very much like you could be in any yoga class.

It’s really how the teacher guides your yoga class that makes it feel really different. The third element is then how it grew and how it began, the origin, is directly focused on women’s health and women’s well being and feminine culture.

OSMARA: Yes, I love that. I love that you said that our menstrual cycle has both a yin and a yang phase. Let’s talk about that. What would be the yin and the yang of our menstrual cycle?

SARASWATI: Tell me, do we all understand yin and yang?

OSMARA: I think that’s a great place to start. I would love to hear it from you and what your perspective is of yin and yang.

SARASWATI: Absolutely. The first piece we already mentioned is that this whole system of the Daoist Way. It’s interesting to say it like that, but it really means the way and the way that nature operates. If we observe nature and ourselves being part of nature, not something separate, but in that flow of life, then there is typically a more active phase of a cycle and there’s a more passive phase of a cycle.

It’s a very robust, yet delicate way that nature operates. It’s really, health is understood as a state of balance and harmonious relationship and the relationship is between yin and yang aspects of our experience and of our being. Yin and yang always exists, always, in relation with one another and they’re used to describe the continuous, maybe natural, process of change.

It was a little bit of a long sentence, but that last piece — yin and yang are used to describe a continuous yet natural process of change — and if I noticed anything in my own life and then as a clinician in the lives of my patients, it’s change that really we encounter and learn to deal with or are asked and invited to deal with over and over and over.

It’s interesting how sometimes I feel like I’m back all the way at the very beginning, like I’ve never been asked to change before, like I fight it until I soften and realize it’s natural. Change is just part of it. I think that’s why I love the yoga component so much in my life and why I’ve centered so much of my life around it is that it really … there is so much we can do to deal with change within the yoga system.

Your question about yin and yang really is describing that natural process. So, we can categorize our experience through this relationship between more yin phenomenon or more yang phenomenon, but they really can’t exists without the other, but they’re describing a cycle of a more dormant phase or a more active phase.

I think we understand more about yang because most of us are very much out in the world and living an active life where we are wanting to accomplish a lot and achieve a lot, wishing we had more hours in the day. So, those are more yang principles. I might just state a couple things that might anchor that a little bit, but characteristics that we might say are yang are day time, action, warmth, process of doing something — we might be doing something fast, as fast as possible — expanding. Those are all part of the same expression and in the body the yang areas are more of the upper half of the body, the mind, maybe even the spirit, the heart, the throat, third eye — belong to the more subtle energy. The yang belongs to the masculine if we have to give it a gender, not male or men per say, but just a masculine quality that all human beings have. It is a more masculine or male quality.

The yin energy is related to more slow, process of being as opposed to doing. Much more associated with darkness, with moisture, with rest, with contracting energy. So, it has a completely different quality, but these two energies are working together and it’s when they’re in balance or at least in relationship with each other that our body also follows suit, that our body also follows balance.

This is a major action in a Dao Flow practice is the recognition of both of these energies and that they’re both operating in harmony, really at the same time. One may be taking the lead because it’s more appropriate. If you’re doing a yoga practice in the middle of the day it would be more natural for it to have a preponderance of yang energy, but the yin energy is required to, if you will, feed or bring into balance the way that you or the individual is interacting with her yang energy.

That’s a really important concept with how to work with yin energy. I want to make sure and I want to get to your point about the cycle, but I want to make sure that we … you know that yin can get a little bit of a bad rep even though I think we embrace our femininity, I don’t think we necessarily want to be resting all the time and slow and cold, just laying around. I think maybe a more wholesome way to think about our yin energy is as maybe even a dynamic receptivity —

OSMARA: I like that … dynamic receptivity, that’s beautiful.

SARASWATI: Right?

OSMARA: Yes, because I think you’re right. It’s not about being all yang or all yin in the sense of always charging forward — all yang and you’re going to end up exhausted and overworked and all yin you’re never going to get anything done because you’re going to be very passive.

As I’m hearing you describe this principle I’m seeing waves ebbing and flowing — there’s the up turn and the down turn, the up turn and the down turn. They are two sides of the same coin so I think that is beautiful and dynamic receptivity is a very elegant way to describe that more feminine state of being and meaning. I love that.

SARASWATI: Yeah and there’s a radiance, there’s a calm being. Maybe we can even say, a flowing restfulness that allows up to really hold our full experience with a mindfulness and a heartfulness that is very embodied. I mean the actual physical matter of the body belongs to yin and let’s make no mistake – this yoga or meditation is an embodied practice.

What I find is a major cause of hormonal imbalance and disease process in general, where the seeds of imbalance begin, is where we over identify with the thinking mind and we may call it the stressful mind. That is not embodied.

All of that is happening from the heart, the throat, the third eye, the crown and these upper chakras become almost the languaging I’ll use a lot is just congested with thoughts and to do lists and worries, regrets, concerns, how to control what’s coming in front of us and they congest.

The literature, the spiritual literature, talks about our senses being these open, clear, bright opportunities to receive information, like insight. If they’re clogged we can’t connect to this wisdom body so that’s a major piece of finding harmony is opening the upper part of the body. Think about it, that’s where our stress gets usually held is in our jaw or in our temple, our migraines, top of of shoulders, chest pain, anxiety, depression, or insomnia. All of this is happening in the upper body.

We really work on opening and softening all of that while really bringing influence to the lower body and remembering this dynamic receptivity, this flowing, restfulness.

OSMARA: I love that. I love that. One of the episodes that I taught about Citta Vritti, which is the fluctuations of the mind and so how yoga – and yoga is not about the postures or turning your body into a pretzel, it’s so much more then that. In fact, that’s only ⅛ of it, but it’s dealing with the fluctuations of the mind and I’m glad you said it with such a great word, congestion.

Yeah our nose and our airway can get congested, but so can our mind and to link that to the imbalance, to the origins of disease is something that the western perspective has overlooked and has been very disjointed in that. That’s what I really love about the eastern practices is that they see it as a holistic interplay of all of these different elements.

SARASWATI: Yes and that yoga sutra that you quoted is definitely one of my favorites, the fluctuation back and forth, back and forth, back and forth between typically what we want or what we don’t want, what we have or what we don’t have and this process of trying to reconcile that and that yoga is not about flexibility. It’s about steadiness, it’s about trying and the steadiness between that fluctuation and in that it gives us an opportunity to think about yoga not as something we do, which is yang, but that yoga is a state of being.

It’s a place that we inhabit, is a being state where we hold, where we recognize that we have these wants and desires, whether it’s something we want to draw to us or push away, but there is this calm stillness that we hold inside that we can nurture, tonify, make more of it through practice and a fruit of practice is the steadiness — as a result of practice with discipline and never giving up. We can actually experience that kind of steadiness that becomes the leading force, the leading energy in our life. One that we learn that we cannot live without, that to sacrifice it is a big deal.

OSMARA: I resonate with that. Yeah, because you know, the Grand Metamorphosis, and the whole premise of the show, is about how do we have that transformation from reactive slave, that we are products of our environment and we are in reaction mode, to becoming sovereign creators where we are able to choose how we are going to respond instead of reaction.

We are choosing how we are going to respond from within and I think that is just so brilliant how you said it. In terms of the yin and yang and in terms of our female menstrual cycles, what would that look like? What would the yin phase look like and what would the yang phase look like?

SARASWATI: From many … there’s different points of view because we are talking about a conceptual model, it’s based on contemplation and experience and from that side, so just to know that there are different points of view and to speak to your audience if you have a different experience doesn’t mean your experience is wrong.

In general, a very common way that medical practitioners, holistic medical practitioners, will think about the menstrual cycle is the time from the menstruation through the ovulation as a time where the body is shedding what has been — it’s when the cycle begins again and if you will, blood, and when I say blood now I mean the Chinese medicine blood which involves hormones and other healthy, fertile markers and secretions and so forth that usually happens around ovulation.

When that cycle begins again and it’s very much based in blood and the growth of blood or the growth of inside the ovary, in the western society, is the growth of the follicles and as the follicles, which contain the eggs, as they grow and probably for a healthy woman in her reproductive years, each menstrual cycle will produce any where from 10-20 follicles which will begin to mature. Cohort will start and as the follicles inside the ovaries begin to mature they secrete estrogen and as they secrete estrogen that feeds back through the bloodstream.

All this communication of hormones is happening through the bloodstream which is a key point that we should remember to come back to as it relates to practice of Dao Flow Yoga. All of the communication of your brain to the ovary is happening through the bloodstream. Remember that’s essentially what a hormone is. It’s a messenger, it’s sent from one part of the body to a distant part of the body and it travels through the bloodstream and once it reaches the tissue and is taken up through the tissue via a receptor site, then the tissue performs a certain function or activity.

The hormone gives a message to tissues to do something, right? You can imagine if for some reason the blood is not flowing well or the tissues are turned off, they’re like I don’t want to take up that hormone right now because I’ve got other more important things to do, which is truly how the hormonal system works. That’s part of how hormones become imbalanced and it doesn’t take very long.

That period, time, from the first day of menstruation which a health menstruation will last anywhere from 3 to possibly 7 days, with around 5 days most average, and so we would say the first day of bleeding is day 1 and through ovulation — all of that is the yin phase. So, really it’s a time of slow restful growth of blood, if that makes sense and included in that blood is hormones predominantly estrogen.

Then the yang phase would be the second half. So, if ovulation, textbook, we would say is on day 14 of the cycle, then from day 14 or 15 on, so as ovulation happens there’s the chance of conception and then there’s the implementation that may happen around 7 days after ovulation and then relay this rooted in and starting to generate it’s own hormones takes about another 7 days and that’s the life cycle of the menstrual cycle as it’s geared through nature to be able to conceive. That becomes the yang phase that is dominated by so much movement and heat and warmth.

All mammals, their temperature will raise about 1 degree during the luteal phase as a result of ovulation and this is when progesterone largely is at play, it’s predominating in the yang phase of the cycle. So, that is how yin and yang, and it’s really based in physiology and based in the moon cycles as well and that’s what we do in our practice as Chinese medical practitioners.

Most of us when we are helping women to regulate their hormones or their menstrual cycle or even as we are regulating them through perimenopause and menopause, we are thinking about these yin and yang phases and how they are relating to them and those are the energies we are working with.

OSMARA: It’s so interesting when you put it in that perspective. The intelligence of the body, the intelligence of life, the intelligence of this planet is just awesome and astounding. So, what would be the tell tale signs of imbalanced female hormone system? What do you see in your patients when they’re all out of whack?

SARASWATI: Yeah, well some of the things that are common to see is … it can be really anything. I think our body gets used to feeling unwell and so it’s not going to be … it can be things like oh, I’ve been trying to get pregnant for three years and I’m 27 years old. That’s a marked sign of hormonal imbalance or reproductive issues or disorder.

Some of the things that slip by us that sometimes we think it’s just us or genetic or maybe age, the more insidious things are fatigue, weight gain particularly around the center and middle belly, sugar cravings, low libido, feeling of overwhelming, confusion, brain fog, erratic moods, your mind jumping all over the place.

What we are really missing, what we described yin energy as this really dynamic receptivity, this ability to really take up your space in a wholesome way, not in a dense heavy blah way, but in a still, but penetrating luminosity. I mean that really inhabits this harnessing, this yolking, the yoga of yin and yang energy.

Those are some of the non-gynecological — it’s not a comprehensive list, but a selective list. Did I mention low libido and inability to connect with your partner? I don’t know about all of y’all, but I know that for me sometimes, I mean I love my partner, but sometimes I’m like, “Please don’t come near me.”

OSMARA: Unless it’s with chocolate or french fries, do not come near me.

SARASWATI: And it’s not even like so extreme like I’m mad, I just am not open. I’m not in a receptive place. It’s not that we have to be receptive 24/7, but I can tell when it’s pathological, when it’s my body out of balance, not wholesome.

So, some of the more gynecological ways we can recognize imbalance is period paid. It’s normal to have some kind of distension or to energetically feel different, but to have really intense pain where you’re taking medications or can’t work or these sorts of things, migraines, breast pain, to have irregular cycles, something we follow here — I believe I may have made it up, it’s been so long that I’ve been in practice, 21 or 22 years now, is a holistic gynecologist, it’s the three R’s: regular, rhythmic and repeatable.

OSMARA: Oh, I like that.

SARASWATI: It doesn’t mean it has to be 28 days or your cycle has to be like your best friend’s cycle, although it might be, but it needs for you to be regular, repeatable and rhythmic. That’s what we are looking for, that rhythm — returning to a natural rhythm and homing to a rhythm.

We want to have a full amount of blood, but not heavy bleeding. We don’t want light bleeding, infertility, and then we can get into some of the perimenopause signs of shorting cycle, 25 days or less from one period to the next, heavier bleeding, a missed period — these kinds of symptoms. Feelings of heat, resistant weight loss, depression. Women who are entering menopause are, this is a western state, are 14 times more likely to encounter clinical depression for the very first time then at any other life stage.

OSMARA: Wow, I didn’t know that.

SARASWATI: Yeah, it’s a real thing and I think it’s part of, Osmara, part of … I never really answered how the flow arose and we can still do that if we want to, but it is part of … there’s many findings throughout my practice like this that is this point about depression that is what drives me to come here and do this morning talk with you.

That truly inspires me to get the word out to women that we … you started the conversation with me about taking the reigns, you know, and that’s one way to think about it, but that there are real solutions that we don’t have to be the 14 times more likely … that doesn’t need to be our reality when we reach the young age of 49 or 51 which is the average age for western women anyway to reach menopause — that we don’t have to reach depression.

A couple other really important points that I’d love all women to know is that you should know that if you are in your reproductive years and you’re wanting to have a family that most women reach their fertile peak by around age 28 — that is the time where our body is most prime and most robust to have a child. That doesn’t mean that lots of women don’t have children after that, but if that’s kind of the most important thing to you there’s this notion of guarding your fertility and we can talk about that more or —

OSMARA: Yeah, I’d love to talk about that more.

SARASWATI: Guarding your fertility because if that’s important to you then that needs to be on that list of what it is that we nourish. Just a little bullet point for the women that are in their post-reproductive years, a little pearl of wisdom is that the ovaries, assuming that the ovaries are still in your body, are functioning your whole life.

Many women are under the impression that the uterus and the ovaries are kind of optional after they are through their reproductive years and in fact those are vital organs that hold, they’re an energetic center of creativity and nourishment, but more than that, the ovaries are still actively producing our operating hormones post-menopause.

Those are like, you know, deal breakers — game changers. Both the 28 is the fertile peak and that the ovaries are still working. Those really find their way into my work and in my classes, my training programs, as really centerpiece issues.

OSMARA: So, what would you say to women … increasingly we are having a lot of millennial women and what not that are pushing back the having children to mid-30’s and what not … what would you say to them about guarding their fertility and prepping for that?

SARASWATI: So, in order to guard your fertility, really how that quote that you started with in there holds the keys that the body has to be replenishing and rejuvenating itself in its deepest energetic level and that happens through really wholesome, healthy eating, nutrient dense foods, it happens through really finding our way into deep rest, it happens through moving the body enough in a way that — I mean the body is meant to move — so that has to do something with exercise and embedded in all of that, sort of the crown jewel is that the heart mind is peaceful.

Those are the hallmarks of nourishing oneself and as you pointed out in really the thrust of your work with the Metamorphosis Chronicles is looking at how one can live a more conscious life that’s not based in reaction, but that’s based in the gap between trigger and response — holding that dynamic receptivity, that truly taking up your space and making moment to moment decision, whether the action, activity, person, place or thing that you’re about to interact with is taking you more towards balance or more away from balance.

Everytime we make that choice, small or large, to move ourselves away from balance … meaning, “I’m just going to work extra late or I’ll just get up early or I’ll just skip this meal or I’m not going to meditate today” … all of those things, the more yang type of life — it has a price tag attached to it. We exchange some of our deepest energy that the Chinese medicine calls, in English, essence, and in Chinese it’s call jing.

This is the very material that our fertility really relies on — to be used, to come into play and that is what we recruit. We could actually say that hormones are an analog for essence or jing. So, as we … it’s really beautifully ties into your mission and your work.

You know women have been pushing off having children for you know, probably the last 20 years and I don’t know about your side of the world, but this side of the world and especially where I live … I’m in the mountain of North Carolina in a fairly cosmopolitan town called Asheville.

OSMARA: I love Asheville.

SARASWATI: Yeah, well the pendulum has swung all the way back where women are, there are so many young families here, it’s wild. Really. So, I think that younger women in their 20’s and 30’s are seeing how many of their older sisters have gotten to be 40+ years, kind of thinking I can just turn to having children whenever they want. They think that if they just get their life going right then I will have children only to find out that it doesn’t work that way, or it’s a lot harder, or it ends up being a procedural intervention which god bless them, thank god there is that.

It ends up not being quite like we all expected. Just to dial it in a little bit more, I can give a list of do this and don’t do this, but I think I want to speak to how and really tie it into your work because they directly touch. We are talking about the same thing, but perhaps pointed in a different way. I’m pointing it at the hormonal system and at the reproductive system and directly how when we do not … when we are living in reactivity instead of in response then we’ve lost our sovereign power. Then the body goes into automatic pilot which is consuming resources. Let me just put it like that.

When we are a, what is it — sovereign?

OSMARA: Sovereign Creator.

SARASWATI: Yes … we are conserving resources. So, it’s really quite that simple and as we consume resources we can make that choice, but my wish is for women to know when they’re doing it and live with their eyes wide open. That is even more Sovereign Creator. Like, I am making this choice to work extra hard because this goal that I’m looking at is actually more of a priority than conserving my resources in order to achieve pregnancy.

OSMARA: I love how you put it in that context because I’ve had multiple guests and there’s a thread that pops up in the conversation and that is that the sovereign creator, know thy self, you take the time to reconnect and go inward and the reason why I started this podcast and the reason why I do what I do is because I want to give women and people, doesn’t matter women or men, I want to give people the tools to summon that power at any moment without having to resort to something on the outside.

I think that is so important. You mentioned automatic pilot — I call it the autopilot epidemic, right? So, we are in this autopilot mode where we aren’t even away that we’re not aware and there’s so much that we don’t know that we don’t know. I love how you put it in this context because I hadn’t put it there before.

The funny thing is I’ve been doing a lot of research on the scientific process of metamorphosis particularly as it pertains to the caterpillar and the butterfly obviously. I was blown away when I found out that the process of metamorphosis is driven by the hormones in the insect’s body. I was researching the endocrine system and the glands and how they relate to the energy centers in our body and how they impact all these different functions as human beings, but then to see it like macro to micro and micro to macro is just like, oh my gosh.

The hormones are behind metamorphosis on all levels and so I love how you’re bringing it home to that feminine … capturing our femininity in the grand scheme of things.

SARASWATI: Well, absolutely and maybe we can tie it into that when, if we can use the word stress which is so overused, but it still is great word for describing that overwhelmed, overworked, A type personality, that is able to achieve so much and get their whole life kind of looking right on the outside. What seems to happen is there is an emptiness that emerges on the inside like, “God this isn’t exactly what I … how come I’m not happier … how come my sense of wellbeing isn’t what I thought it would be?”

You can feel even more lost than ever and that stress mode actually is … we can relate it to accelerated aging. We can even think of like multitasking — we wear it like a badge of honor, but it doesn’t … if we are doing four things at once it takes that much more of our energy, it’s not like just one amount of energy, but we are using up 4X the amount of energy at once and we call it efficient.

That process of life in that mode, you know, our brain and the specific glands in the brain — the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland to be more specific — reads our environment and determines if it is safe to let down our guard and the body is always choosing between either a relaxed growth or a contracted protection. Relaxed growth opens our body into a open blood flow where hormones can be dropped down and then moved through the blood in these relaxed, open blood vessels that communicate with the reproductive tissues and all the tissues of the pelvic bowl like the bladder, the urethral opening — so many women have bladder disfunction and I don’t even mean menopausal women, I mean young women. I’m seeing one or two new patients a week with a condition called interstitial sinusitis which is really a deeply contracted dysfunctional, even possibly immune related dysfunction of the bladder. It feels like a bladder infection, but there’s no pathology there.

All of that. All of those, the functionality meaning how well they work and respond and their predictability, their meaning, is based on blood flow and the hormones moving through them. So, the brain is reading its environment and deciding if it’s in a hostile environment or in a relaxed and nourishing environment and then body — those all turn into brain chemicals — and the body either is in an open stance, ready to experience life like it is — which is another definition of dharma — or is it in contracted and braced and trying to take control of things which will lead to the tissues actually, literally from the western side, the vessels clamp down and even further, those receptor sites slows down.

It’s so interesting. So, you may actually be secreting hormones, but they just are not taking up into the cells. Functionality becomes erratic. It becomes unpredictable and that’s really where the seed of imbalance, the seeds of imbalance lie. Just think about how we can retrain our responses and habits with yoga, with contemplative practice we can reprogram and rewire our ability. We can practice the ability to shift our body from stress mode to relaxation mode. We can even put our body into a little bit of a stressful place, like say doing a strong pose or a vinyasa sequence meaning a one pose flowing into the next, so we are challenged in a position, but if we move our breath in a very deep and purposeful way — moving the breath in and moving the breath out with a peaceful feeling at the level of mind and our eyes, in our being — then we begin to reprogram how we interact with stress.

We can actually have a little bit of a stressful experience, but maintain this feeling of relaxed, growth, or a dynamic receptivity and that’s the key to take that off the mat and into your experience. That’s the way to move through our life and treasure your resources, whether you’re in your reproductive years or moving through towards menopause. This work that one does, she does, you do, the audience does to treasure her fertility is exactly the same thing that is going to help her walk through menopause.

It doesn’t have to be this time of deficiency and depression and needing external hormones. You have laid the groundwork, planted the seeds for your body to operate naturally, grounded. It has the resources inside it to be healthy and strong for your whole life, not just until you’re 50 and then suddenly you’re deficient.

That’s just how you’re different, just like how spring is different than autumn. I find it better and more useful to give like this larger context of how to interact with our lives versus do this and don’t do this because you can decide. Everyone in the audience, your audience can decide for her what it means to be in relaxed growth with regard to how we eat, how we move, how we rest, how we relate to our lives.

That’s where the real power comes in deciding for yourself and stepping forward into that so this notion of taking up your space of leadership and then sharing that with others. Those are really very deep Dao Flow values.

OSMARA: That is a beautiful note to end this interview on. I love it. I’m inspired by that and I hope the listeners are too. This is wonderful, you know, I really appreciate the work that you are doing because you’re right, not everybody is the same, we are all different, and we all respond to different things and we all value different things so to do the work to get to know our own selves, I think is one of the highest missions we could every undergo.

SARASWATI: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And, if you want to at some point, if your listeners are interested we can get into some very specific techniques of we talked about the vibration technologies, but you know there’s very specific techniques on how we can make the brain communicate with the ovary better, how we can make the triad of hormonal balance the thyroid, the adrenal, the ovary — how we can make the Three Sisters, and they all really have something to do with each other, they all need to be functioning well for any of them to be functioning well and that’s really part of the Dao Flow system.

We can keep the conversation going if there’s interest and yeah.

OSMARA: Most definitely. We are very attuned because a lot of the work that I’m doing with the show and everything is talking about that and the importance of the vagus nerve and nurturing it and the science of chanting and you know, it’s not just the words, but the vibratory technologies is cutting edge and ancient and timeless all in one.

SARASWATI: It is and it’s like when that happens there is like this opening. There’s this big yes that comes from the inside of my body and I hear it from the outside or feel it from the outside too. Like, yes this is the right way and so that opens and we move forward and that’s what we call sounding, but sometimes chanting gives an idea.

We can call it sounding for someone who has never been exposed to chanting. It’s a sound wave and of course we know that, that has an impact on the environment, the container that it’s in.

OSMARA: Yeah, on every single cell.

SARASWATI: Yeah.

OSMARA: Wonderful, well we are definitely going to have you back on because I feel like we could keep talking for 5 more hours, but we are going to stop here for today. Saraswati, thank you so much for all of your wisdom and your wonderful message of understanding our bodies, so much deeper.

SARASWATI: My pleasure and it’s always so easy to talk with you. How many times have we talked in the past about this exact experience and here it is and congratulations on sharing your beautiful voice and message with the world and your incredible brain and heart. I really appreciate all the work that you are doing as well.

OSMARA: Well, thank you and likewise.

SARASWATI: Also, may I just invite your guests to check us out at daoflowyoga.com and you will be able to see this probably on the site.

OSMARA: On the website, absolutely. We will have your URL and bio and all that good stuff and they can check out your DVD as well because if they can’t make it to Asheville they can definitely bring you into their homes.

SARASWATI: Absolutely and we have them all available for downloads, as downloads so you can just start practicing right away.

OSMARA: There you go.

SARASWATI: Yeah, so thank you again and all the very best to you. Okay. Let’s keep in touch. Good bye everybody. Thank you for your sweet attention. Om.

OSMARA: Thank you. Om Shanti. Namaste and In Lakech.

Again, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you wanting to upgrade your mind + body with me.

And if you enjoyed this episode make sure you subscribe for future ones over at osmara.com/podcast. I’m grateful for and love personally seeing your feedback and your comments, and your shares and your tags so be sure to drop me a line on Facebook, or Instagram. I appreciate every single one of you listening. If you got something valuable from today’s episode share with someone you love. Till next time, this is Osmara and you’ve just listened to The Metamorphosis Chronicles.

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