Known by many names, menstruation can be a time of reverence or a time of feeling cursed. I like to refer to this time of the month as our moon time, honoring how our cycles often follow the phases of the moon.
There is much confusion about yoga and menstruation. Some teachers suggest to stop practicing, while others suggest specific practices for the menses and different conditions of the menstrual cycle. In classical Ashtanga practice we take the full and new moons and the heavy days of our cycle off and rest.
After many years of practicing and teaching yoga I am a firm believer in the development of a personal practice. Swami Kripalu talked about radical self- acceptance as being one of the highest forms of yoga. If we follow our own intuition and the needs of our bodies we will create a sustainable practice that supports our stage of life and health. Having said this, some simple guidelines may help to navigate and manage the uncomfortable and often painful side effects of our cycles.
Most experts recommend that we stop strenuous exercise during the heavy days of the cycle. The body is sloughing off the lining of the uterus and it is a good time to practice gentle self-care. Rest, have a nap, enjoy a cup of tea, go for a walk or read a book. Take the time that you might practice yoga and sit in quiet meditation or simply breathe deep and full for 5-10 minutes.
If you have cramping, pain, profuse discharge or heavy bleeding a simple practice might include:
- Sit comfortably for 5 minutes:Pay attention to the breath
- Head neck and shoulder warm up: Turn head side to side, right ear to shoulder, left ear to shoulder, circles (like drawing a circle on a chalk board with your nose)
- Spinal Flexion: Forward and back, side to side then circles Right/Left
- Badakonasana: Bound angle
- Supata Badakonasana: Reclined bound angle
- Prasarita Padottanasana: Wide legged forward bend right/left/centre
- Jathara Parivartanasana: Spinal rotation right/left
- Svasana: Relaxation
Some things to avoid include shoulder stands, head stands, forearm and hand balances. Avoiding postures that increase blood flow or makes you feel uncomfortable is also important.
If you would like to read more about specific conditions of the menstrual cycle and yoga, one of the best books on the subject is, Geeta Iyengar’s book, Yoga: a gem for women.
For more information or a private consultation around yoga, menstruation and specific conditions of the menstrual cycle contact master yoga teacher, Denise Davis-Gains. firstname.lastname@example.org
Denise Davis-Gains, MA (INP), CYT
Through a lifetime of spiritual pilgrimage, Denise has learned to move gracefully and appreciate music, she enjoys a good story and was blown wide open when spirit, movement and sacred music met on the yoga mat in 1993. A Kripalu/Ashtanga inspired teacher, Denise walks a path towards wholeness and integration as a healer, yoga teacher, mentor and leader. Denise shares her inspired life with others at Atlas Studio located in Cambridge, ON, Canada