The possibilities for movement are endless, the choice is yours
That which can be told is not the Truth.
That which can be named is not the Name.
-- Lao Tse
Namaz is movement poetry. There are times when women have to refrain from namaz. Whether it is Hindusim, Christianity, Judiasm, or Islam there is a consensus on the impurity of women due to menstruation cycles.
In exploring this subject, one enters land mines, opens Pandora’s Box, crashes into a beehive, falls into an open sewer without an escape ladder -- all at once.
Scientifically, menstrual blood is equivalent to arterial blood. Nothing else is medically or spiritually impure about women during this time.
Even yogis can’t seem to agree whether or not women on their periods should refrain from the headstand position (sirhasana), most equivalent to sajdah (Arabic for prostration to God).
This position effectively sends blood to the brain and the leader of the endocrinal system, the pituitary gland.
While we address issues of inequality embedded across cultures and religions, there are many other meditative movements women can enjoy during breaks from namaz. Here is a list of some:
Qigong: It’s life energy cultivation in Mandarin, a 4,000 year old philosophy of movement that connects deep breathing to awareness, visualization, and chants (Muslims can use hu as the zikhr or chant).
T’ai chi ch’üan: Similar to qigong, but a more modern movement philosophy more in tune with martial arts.
Aikido: Japanese for unifying with life energy, is a philosophy of defensive martial art movements that also protects the opponent.
Yoga: Sanskrit for union with the divine, dates as far back as the first millenium BCE, is a movement philosophy that combines, breath, mind, and body to achieve inner calm to enable meditation.
Moreover, dance (your heart out, in any style), jog (as time permits, before sunrise and before sunset are times rich in energy), and bicycle (it is amazing how many women in Bangladesh still do not know how to cycle, but it is never too late to learn). Movement possibilities are endless, the choice is yours, as long as it is done with awareness.
Shireen Pasha is Berlin Bureau Chief, Dhaka Tribune.