Practicing yoga during periods is a notorious issue – while some say that women should not practice it during her menstruation, others believe practicing it has many benefits. Some say do the inversion asanas whereas others say to avoid it. It is all about beliefs and misconceptions. Let’s gear to find some facts.
Every woman is different in terms of menstruation – some may not have any side-effects, low-energy or a completely different feel than the rest of the month, whereas others have serious pain and discomfort, bloating, fatigue, mood swings, irritability and many other symptoms that force them to stay in bed. No woman is same, and there are no set rules regarding practicing yoga during menstruation. However, there are some general guidelines that help to understand what is important during this time.
Women’s monthly cycles are very delicate and response to what women practice in their daily life. If stressed or travel or change dietary habits, then the cycle undergoes a change. Therefore, it is important to listen to what our body and be aware of monthly cycles. Those who do not notice these changes often have irregular periods or not at all with many other symptoms. It can be said that the state of monthly cycles determines the mental and physical health. Therefore, not just yoga poses impact it, but also the mind, influencing on the need for meditation and reflection practices.
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It is the time that requires high level of awareness and sensitivity. Often, the problems that we face during other days become more prominent at this time, which affects us more strongly. Thus it is crucial to identify these problems and look for solutions. Monthly periods provide the best time to explore within and analyse the inner self. Of course, this is the time that requires nurturing and healing the body and mind.
Yoga involving relaxation techniques can be very beneficial for women having periods. It clears the negativeness and brings positivity. The main reason why people say no to yoga poses during menstruation may be due to the symptoms that it brings along. If a woman is having extreme menstruation, the mere thought of practicing asanas may bring negative thoughts. However, this should not be the case. The best pose at this time is the yoga nidra and gentle moves of pranayam like anulom vilom (alternate nostril breath), deep breathing, bhramari (humming bee breath), and ujjayi (victorious breath). OM chanting is also great during this time.
Women feel too uncomfortable when having periods. But, yoga practices can be useful to help alleviate the symptoms that cause this state of discomfort. Various yoga asanas can help alleviate back pain, muscle cramps, balance the emotions, and help with anxiety, anger, mood swings, and irritability. The asanas also open the pelvic region gently, relieving congestion if there it persists. Seeing the benefits, it can be said that menstruation is the time to take on yoga practice and look within to find peace and tranquillity.
There are some asanas to avoid
There are some yoga poses that should be avoided when menstruating. The first in the category are inversions. This is because when we practice inversions, the ‘prana’ (which normally flows downwards from the manipur chakra (naval centre) to mooladhar chakra (cervix)) gets reversed. During other days, it awakens the kundalini. But, when menstruating, it goes against the natural flow so it should be avoided.
Secondly, strong asanas like twists, strong backbends and standing positions should be avoided as they put pressure on the abdominal and pelvic region. Surya namaskar can be helpful but only when done gently and slowly. It should be avoided in case of extreme pain and heavy bleeding.
Thirdly, bandhas asanas should not be practiced when menstruating as it can put enough pressure on the already suffering regions.
Some asanas to practice
Pranayam, yoga nidra and meditation are great as they can provide many benefits. Preparatory movements like arm, leg and knee movements are good. Pawanmuktasan and Surya namaskar (Sun Salutation) should be practiced slowly.
Gentle forward bends are fine as they give light massage to the abdominal and pelvic region while relieving congestion, heavy bleeding and cramps. These asanas include Ardha paschimottanasan (Half Forward Bend), Vajrasan Yoga Mudra Type 1 (Child’s Pose), Janu Bhalasan (Standing forward bend and Ugrasan (Ferocious Pose) also bring calmness to the mind. But do not put enough strain while practicing these asanas.
Backbends when supported can alleviate pelvic discomfort and back pain. Some examples of these asanas include Supta Titaliasana (Sleeping Butterfly) supported with bolsters, Supta Titaliasana (Sleeping Butterfly) and Supta Vajrasan (Sleeping Thunderbolt). Vajrasan series is also helpful during menstruation. Leg up the wall poses also help. These asanas open up the pelvic region and help to remove stagnant blood from the legs without lifting this region.
Other yoga exercises during periods to practice are Vyaghrasan (Tiger Pose) and Marjariasan (Cat Pose), both help to alleviate pelvic tension and back pain. Titaliasan (Butterfly) pose tones the pelvis and Sulabh Pawanmuktasan (Simple Gas Release Pose) relieves the back pain. Simple Pigeon Sulabh Koormasan (Simple Tortoise Pose), simple supine and spinal twists are also great during menstruation. The list doesn’t end here as there are thousands of yoga asanas to choose from. But consider the guidelines when practicing these poses.
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