Practicing Yoga During Your Period
There are two lines of thought when it comes to practicing yoga while menstruating. The first is that you could do anything you would normally do when not on your period. The second is that your body is doing something different and that we should honour that and make adjustments.
We're going to look at the second approach - the things you might like to consider, especially with regards to traditional yoga philisophy.
There's a traditional yoga concept of energy flow (prana, or life force), and this can be divided into five components called Vayus. Apana Vayu is in the lower abdomen and is responsible for energy that goes downwards and out - think along the lines of digestion, toxin and waste elimination, and reproduction which also includes your period.
Essentially, we don't want to block these body functions from happening in their normal down and out way. In the case of practicing yoga during menstruation, this would contraindicate any inverted poses such as handstands, headstands and Pincha Mayurasana.
Instead, you could substitute for a more gentle inversion like Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall/Waterfall Pose) or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose). To assist with the down/out energy flow, consider doing a pose like Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Butterfly Pose).
Strong abdominal work
Any poses that may put too much pressure on the abdomen such as strong core work or closed twists aren't recommended due to potential irritation of the uterus and cervix.
Rather than closed twists where you twist inwards towards yourself, opt for open twists to create more space around the belly.
Planks, deep backbends or deep forward fold positions can be substituted with more gentle options like Apanasana or a wide-legged Child's Pose with a gentle lift in the abdomen.
Rest and restore
Consider using this as a time to practice restorative yoga; do poses that will conserve and build your energy, alleviate tiredness, and leave you feeling lighter.
Slowing things down and shifting your intentions during your period can be a challenge if you're used to a more fast-paced, intense practice. However, consider giving it a go and noting how you feel before and after your session.
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