Slowing down isn’t bad. Not at all if you have your menstruation cycle on. I slow down on my running - keeping my runs shorter and slower and sometimes don't run if I feel drained out. But when it comes to Yoga - my approach changes!
And while most people say - you should not do Yoga while on the menstrual cycle, I feel that Yoga does a great job of healing a sore cramped up body! Yes it’s controversial. But I am glad many women are asking this question and figuring out what works for them.
I see that every woman feels differently about her menstrual cycle- a time of heightened awareness and sensitivity. It’s also the time to heal the body and not make it work harder. It’s the time to make the body feel relaxed in ways that are strictly not physical.Because every woman has a different set of problems in her periods, her activity levels get decided as per this. Periods create an emotional, physical and mental baggage that every woman likes to handle on her own. Yoga being a personal journey helps every woman to heal in way that only she can understand.
During menstruation the forces in the body are trying to move down and out. The yoga practice tends to lift everything up. Energetically this works against the natural flow of your cycle. Having said all this, Yoga is adaptable and must be fluid to accommodate our needs. So if one must practice then it should be such which does not make the lady run out of energy or bring any hormonal disturbance.
Some of the asanas that relax the body and provide relief during menstruation are:
- Simple sitting poses/ asanas done gently check over bleeding soothes the abdomen and help to remove tension and stress. Forward bends generally increase circulation into the pelvis and lower down. Thus any cramping or swelling of the legs may be reduced. The downward nature of the head rests the mind completely.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha konasana)
- Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha konasana)
- Hero Pose (Virasana)
- Cow face Pose (Gomukhasana),
- Head to Knee Forward bend (Janu Sirsasana)
- Lying down poses/ asanas relax the muscles and nerves which are under constant stress, strain and irritation. These asana help to relax and slow down the abdominal and the pelvic region.
- Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana),
- Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddhakonasana),
- Reclining Hand to Big Toe pose (Supta Padangushtasana 1 and 2)
If one was to follow the Mysore Ashtanga tradition of Yoga then no asanas should be practiced till the flow has stopped or at least three days. However, as per the Iyengar tradition of Yoga one should refrain from the practice of Inversions.
Personally for me this is a time of total break from any asana practice. I feel lethargic and the body demands rest and release. I feel that my body goes into complete rest and repair mode and when I get back onto the mat it surprises me with deeper stretches and bends.
Because no woman is the same there are no set rules regarding what to do during menstruation. What is important is that we listen to our bodies during this time. Any asana that put a lot a stress on the abdominal and pelvic region should be avoided. Practice Non Violence toward yourself.
I wrote this article along with my Yoga mentor - Ritu Govil.
Ritu is an internationally certified Yoga Acharya (Teacher) from the Sivananda tradition. She has been practicing different forms of Yoga for over 10 years and teaching for last 4 years. Her strength is regular practice and strongly believes in her Swami's philosophy that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory.