Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yoga Practice During Menstruation

Menstruation can be a challenging time with symptoms like cramps, heavy bleeding, low back pain and pelvic discomfort. Most of my fellow yoginis told me that they usually will not do any yoga during menstruation. I have read that it is ok to practice yoga during menstruation as the yogic postures, deep breathing and meditation help to cope with the pain and discomfort.

However, a gentler yoga practice is recommended during menstruation with poses that encourage a state of groundedness to alleviate the mental and emotional heaviness of menstrual symptoms.

The following poses are recommended to provide relief and alleviate pain during menstruation.

Forward Bending Poses
- Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend Pose)
- Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)
- Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Baddha Konasana (Seated Cobbler’s Pose)
- Gomukasana (Cow’s Face Pose)
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
- Upavisthakonasana (Seated Wide Leg Forward Bend Pose)

These poses apply a light massage to the pelvic and abdominal region without causing collapse to uterine veins. This massaging effect can alleviate heavy bleeding and cramps.

Twisting Poses
- Lying Two Knee Spinal Twist
- Seated Twists

These poses aid in relieving back ache and cramps.

Supported Back Bends
- Setu Bandhasana (Spinal Lift or Bridge pose) with support
(block placed under the sacrum and crest of the hips)

This pose alleviates pelvic discomfort while generating a relaxed state.

Supported Leg-Only Inversions
- Viparita Karani (Inverted Two Leg Stretch or Inverted Lake Pose)
placing legs up against a wall as if in Staff Pose while pelvis remains on floor.

This pose relieves pelvic discomfort and improves circulation of veins and lymphatic vessels in the legs.

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

This pose relaxes and calms the nervous system and balance emotions.

We are asked to avoid inversions during menstruation but since there are no studies or research that makes a compelling argument to avoid inversions, it is up to you to make a decision. I myself have done shoulderstand and halasana during my period and did not have any problem. You can see how you react to inversions as menstruation affects each woman differently and can vary from cycle to cycle. However, if you do not feel comfortable, I would advise you not to do the poses. Also note that if your energy and strength is low, performing physically challenging vinyasa and power yoga may result in poor execution and a loss of integrity. Pay attention to your body and discover what works and what doesn't!

Click here to read article from Yoga Journal on Inversions and Menstruation.


Anonymous said...

Your last few posts including this one were really informative. Really enjoyed reading them. Thanks a lot!


mang0 said...

Often I don't 'dare' to do bridge pose during menstruation, any hips-higher-than-head poses made me feel uncomfortable (maybe because of traditional teachings)...I should try one day and see how good is the effect :)