Should you practice yoga during your period?

During my teacher training in Rishikesh, India, we were asked to inform our teachers when our periods started. This was the first time where I sat down and thought about my period and of what I do or not do during this sacred time. I was used to continuing my week as usual, numbing the pain with painkillers and ensuring that my plans were not distributed. I was surprised to learn that there are certain poses that women and people with periods should not practice during their moon time and that this time calls for turning inwards and taking rest. Today I feel blessed every month when my period arrives and I know exactly how to take care of my body with the help of yoga, meditation and pranayama.

Why is it important to adapt your yoga practice to your period?

During the first week of your menstrual cycle (day 1 of your period), the body is governed by Apana energy residing in the pelvis and lower abdomen that facilitates the movement of blood down and out of the body.  It’s important to practice asanas that have a soothing and comforting effect on the areas affected by your period, such as your belly, lower back and any possible mood swings. 

Which asana’s should be avoided on your period?

There are several asanas that can work against the Apana energy which can have unwanted effects on your menstrual cycle and reproductive organs, such as heavy and longer periods.  The main type of asanas that are often avoided during your period are inversions. This is because the practice of poses such as headstands or shoulder stands can disturb the flow of energy moving down, as your uterus is working hard at removing the blood from your body. It’s also worth noting that when we practice inversions the uterus is pulled towards the head and causes the broad ligaments to be overstretched which may result in increased menstrual flow and heavy bleeding.  Others poses such as strong backbends and anything that doesn’t feel right for your body should be avoided, not only during your moon time but any time you practice.

What asanas are good for period pain?

During my yoga studies in Ecuador, I learnt that our periods deserve to be honoured and we should practice self-care every more during this time. I believe that yoga is a magical healing practice that can help with various period discomforts. We want our yoga practice to restore energy, nourish our body and calm our mind especially during your period so you should choose asana’s that can do that for you. Some of my favourite poses to practice are supported child pose, supported bridge, any time of supported forward fold and of course extended savasana. 

The power of your breath to release your period cramps

Deep belly breathing calms the nervous system by targeting the largest cranial nerve in our body, ​the vagus nerve​, which in turn soothes the stress responses in the brain. When giving birth, women are told to breathe deeply as the nurturing breath brings more oxygen and thus energy for not only the baby but also the mother’s muscles and uterus which helps the muscle relax and release pain.  Learning how to breathe deeply and being able to direct the breath deep inside our bellies can do wonders for your periods cramps.

Practising yoga on your period today

For your complete guided practice of therapeutic and nurturing yoga flows for your period visit www.yogatemple.co.uk created by Maja, There you will find healing breathing techniques and a recorded yoga Nidra where you can fully surrender, let go and be supported throughout your menstruating week.