Yoga and Menstruation

Nature is very wise to give a woman the gift of renewing her body both on a physical and mental level once a month. There are no two women who would feel in the same way during this time, some ladies hardly have any need to adjust their activities during these days, while others go through very painful experience and dread it every month. Therefore there are no strict rules, but there are general guidelines during menstruation.

There is good news that yoga is not prohibited during periods. On the contrary, the correctly tailored practise can help to cope with uncomfortable symptoms and bring harmony on the mental level, going with the flow of nature rather than opposing it. However, it is important to know which asanas are the best to avoid and which ones are to be included. Here we will try to explain all these questions to give you confidence in making your own decision whether to attend the class.

During these days along with blood the toxins are released. This is why it is believed that the inverted asanas shall not be performed at all. For example: Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Adho Mukha Vriksasana (handstand), Pincha Mayurasana (shoulderstand), Halasana (plow pose).On no account stand on your head during the menstrual period.
However, it is advised to start your practise with inverted poses right after your periods (but not earlier than in 8 hours after they are finished), and do them daily until the beginning of the next cycle. These poses have tremendous health benefits on the reproductive system and help to bring back the hormonal balance very quickly.
Except for the inversions, it is advisable to avoid during menstruation some asanas that are strenuous for the abdomen area, such as Mayurasana (peacock pose), Navasana (boat pose), Salabhasana (locust pose). And some asanas that bind the body, such as Eka Pada Sirsasana (asana with a leg behind your head).
It is also recommended to avoid bandhas (Mula Bandha and Uddhiana Bandha) and some pranayamas, such as Bhastrika and Kapalabhati. You can come back to them after the periods are over.

In general, it is better to make your practise more gentle during menstruation and focus on freeing your ligaments, gentle stretch, relaxation and meditation. Pawanmuktasana series 1 would be beneficial. Slow, gradual and non-aggressive impact would be more deep and efficient in this period of time.

There is a whole group of asanas in yoga that help to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of periods. Most likely you know these asanas, but you didn’t think of these effects. Examples include:
– Ardha Chandrasana (Half-Moon) – this one can be done by the wall.
– Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (a pose with a stretched leg). These two poses help when you have excessive flow of blood, pains in the back and stomach.
Also the beneficial poses are Matsyasana (fish), Supta Baddha Konasana (Butterfly lying down), Supta Virasana (Hero lying down) with using a bolster or a blanket under your back. These asanas help to improve the blood circulation in the hip area, reduce the pains during menstruation and sooth the nervous system.
Most of the sitting poses (Virasana, Padmasana, Baddha Konasana, Upavista Konasana) and also forward folds (Adho Mukha Virasana, Adho Mukha Sukhasana, Janu Sirsanasa) calm down the pains. Also, these asanas relieve headache and fatigue, insomnia and help to manage the stress.

It is believed that in the past a woman during her periods would go in the cave for some days to be on her own and to be able to fully “recharge”. If it is so, we went a long way from there as nowadays most commercials say to us that it is no time for a change and the woman should stay as active as possible. The truth is that those who practise yoga regularly get used to listen to their body. Thanks to this, you can easily understand what feels right for you. Be attentive to yourself, listen to your body and you will get the right answers.
If in doubt, ask your yoga teacher before the class.

1) BKS Iyengar “Light on Yoga”
4) Mark Stephens “Yoga Therapy”
5) Swami Satyananda Sawaswati “Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha”

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