Yoga and Menstruation

yoga and menstruationThere are differing opinions on yoga practice during menstruation. Should it be avoided altogether? Should the practice remain the same? Are there asana positions that are therapeutic? What should be avoided?

All women are different. There are no blanket rules that apply to everyone. Some women have few or no side effects during menstruation. Others may have abdominal or back pain, emotional swings, bloating, and more. There is also a wide range of severity of these symptoms from woman to another.

Some women may find that asana practice relieves discomfort and creates needed energy. If discomfort is not severe, yoga practice can be may help alleviate some aches and pains, and lift the emotions.

Others may experience discomfort and pain during yoga practice. The key is to pay attention to our bodies. If you feel weak and uncomfortable ask yourself whether you need nurturing and rest or to be energized with movement.

We often experience magnified emotions and increased sensitivity before and during menstruation. It may be a good time to give yourself permission to slow down and look within. You may benefit from meditation, journaling, and general relaxation.

While there are guidelines for menstruation, you have to do what makes sense for your particular body. If and how you practice yoga during menstruation is a personal choice. Allow yourself to change your practice as needed for your individual health.

Many poses are useful in relieving menstrual and premenstrual discomfort. Below are some poses that may prove helpful to you.
Poses to avoid during these times are at the bottom of this page.


Poses to Avoid During Menstruation

Full Inversions (Shoulderstand, Headstand, Plow pose):
1) Energetically, during inversions we enhance apana, a naturally downward flowing prana (life force) that assists in waste elimination in the uterus and digestive system. When menstruating the inversion goes against the natural flow.
2) Physically, broad ligaments in the abdomen may become over stretched, eventually increasing menstrual bleeding.
3) Ayurvedic belief: When practicing prolonged inversions the blood flow becomes arrested. The blood, as well as all bodily waste is considered ‘mala’ and must be shed rather than retained in order to continue natural healthy flow.
Strong, or Difficult Asanas:
This includes strong backbends, twists, balance positions that place stress on the abdomen and pelvic areas. This area experiences spasms and contractions during menstruation and we should be gentle rather than adding unnecessary pressure and tightness to that region.
BandhasBandas are locks, tightening areas of the body to hold in energy.
1) Energetically bandas move the apana (life force) upwards instead of down, against the natural flow of menstruation.
2) Physically bandas would tighten and contract an already tight, contracted region.
Everyone is different so whether you practice yoga and how you practice during your period is a personal, individual decision. Pay attention to your body. Nurture yourself. See what is right for you.