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Yoga and menstrual cycle

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

The menstrual cycle causes a constant change in our body and following that can be difficult sometimes. We may feel lost in all these movements of cyclicality, rapid change of hormones level, and mood swinging that comes with it. I was writing a bit about it lately and I recommend you check out the post about the menstrual cycle before reading this post.


Knowledge about physiological processes is one thing but the other thing is to notice all that, understand, and then start to live according to the needs of the body. In my experience, it is a long way to learn all that and every cycle shows something new.


Regular daily yoga practice is an amazing tool to stay in touch with these changes as you are able to see how your body’s ability, strength, and flexibility change depending on the day of your cycle. And after a while, you are able to see its regularity, which is determined by nature. So you become more aware of your body's needs and limits.


According to my personal experience and all the knowledge I have gathered over the years of practice, I have created a small guide that may be helpful for some to make practice more suited to the needs of the body. I have tried to put some general rules here that should be good for everyone. But do not forget that every body is different so what is good or bad for me might not be the same for you. Treat this post as an inspiration to learn more about your cycle and to search by yourself for what is good and healthy for your body and what is not. If you have any questions or doubts you can write me an email: contact@kali-temple.com


This content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases. The purpose of sharing this knowledge is only for educational use and it should not be a substitute for professional medical advice.


  1. Bleeding period

Usually lasts about 3-5 days and for most of it is a physically difficult time so I don't recommend the heavy practice. Calm exercises with the intention to relax the body, breathing exercises, or meditation will work much better and can bring relief from cramps and pain.


  • Do not make Inversion poses like handstands, headstands, candle and shoulder stands!

I know that some do not really care about it but I recommend being careful with inversion poses when you bleeding. The safest option is to resign from these poses for that time.


When it comes to yoga philosophy, there are types of energy movement in our bodies and one of those is apana - downward moving energy as in excretion, urination, ejaculation, and menstruation. Inversion postures place the body upside down, which reverses the natural downward flow of apana. It disturbs the natural energetic flow and can create disharmony in a body.


The medical world created the term retrograde menstruation to name a situation when blood flows backward into the pelvis instead of out of the vagina during menstruation which can increase the risk of endometriosis.


A good alternative for this hard inversion poses can be Viparita Karani which has a calming effect and is fully safe during the period. You can use a blanket or a pillow under your head and cover your eyes to relax even more.

  1. Put your butt as close to the wall as possible.

  2. Put your legs all the way up and lie on your back. Relax the shoulders. You can put a blanket or pillow under your head and cover your eyes. Stay here as long as you need.


  • Release the belly and the pelvis area

All the poses that strongly engage abdominal muscles are not recommended. Tension in this area can create more painful cramps or even excessive bleeding.


Forward bends yoga poses can help release the tension in the pelvic area, but only if your feet are hip-width apart. Remember to do the exercise gently and do not bend at your maximum because too much pressure in this area can cause the opposite effect.


Janu Sirsasana - a simple stretch that will help you release the pelvis area as well as gently lengthen your hips and groin.

  1. Sit in dandasana with feet hip-width apart.

  2. Bend right leg. Left leg extended forward. The bottom of your right foot places on your left inner thigh. Back straight. Chest opened.

  3. Inhale and raise both arms up extending the spine.

  4. Exhale. Bend forward bringing your chest down.

  5. Stay here for a few deep breaths. Remember to keep the spine straight.

  6. Do the same on the other side.



And if you want to bend forward deeper, rest your forehead against something to keep it from hanging loose. Then, your core has less weight to support. You can use a yoga block if you have one but if not, books will also do the job and it is easier to adjust the height.


Svastikasana with the head supported on the front is good pose to release the tension from pelvis but also if you suffer from migraines.


I recommend supporting your head also in the downward facing dog pose.


  • Relax, relax and then relax again

It is the best what you can do to yourself during period. Below are some other postures propositions that may help you to release the tension from the body. It is good to use bolsters or blankets to make it more comfortable for you. Try to stay longer in the poses and work with the breath.



Baddha Konasana - opens up a pelvic region.


Bend knees and bring feet together. Keep your back straight. Breath calmly.


Supta Baddha Konasana - gentler version of Baddha Konasana

  1. Go into Baddha Konasana. Put bolster or blanket behind you.

  2. Slowly go down and relax back.


Supta virasana

  1. Sit in virasana. Knees together, feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Back straight. Put bolster or blanket behind you.

  2. Drop back on your elbows and slowly go down and relax back.

  3. If you do not feel comfortable, try to add more blankets.


I advise you to check by yourself how this time of the month is for you and decide what you feel is possible for you to do and what not. And if you have any medical diseases the best option is to talk to your doctor about what kind of physical activity you should avoid. Remember to treat your body with respect!


2. Time after the period until ovulation.


That is the best moment for heavy exercises if you like ones. Now our body produces more estrogen hormone and it is scientifically proven that physical activity may improve estrogen metabolism. Basically, you can do whatever you feel it’s good for your body. At the time after bleeding, you may feel an inflow of fresh energy so it is a good time for dynamic practice or building strength in the muscles.


3. Time after ovulation until the next bleeding


Lowering estrogen levels and increasing progesterone can cause fatigue and lack of energy that will build up with each passing day as you approach your period. If you add up PMS to that, it will give us some pretty exhausting days. Yoga practice may help you to get through this time but remember to not be hard on yourself. I would recommend some mild, relaxing exercises with a slow pace of practice. Yin yoga is a good option.


It is also the right moment to wear more comfortable, loose clothes (tight ones can bring pressure to the abdominal area) and start focusing on pelvis opening exercises that you will continue during the bleeding time. It is also a good moment to resign from abdominal tightening exercises.


sources:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/275095-estrogen-exercise/





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