Menstruation affects your energy, mood and stamina. With hormones changing, you may wonder if you should even venture to a fitness class at this time of the month. Some practices do discourage you from doing yoga during your period, maintaining that it is a time for “renewal” and rest. In India, since time immemorial, various practices are followed to ensure women complete rest during periods.
“Can I practice yoga during menstruation?” is a frequently asked question. It mentions in the authentic and ancient texts that asanas should be avoided. It is a controversial issue and here we will look at the reasons why asanas should be avoided.
Inverted postures – if they are practiced during menstruation they can cause reflex or back flow of menstrual blood from the uterus to the fallopian tubes and then to the abdominal cavity. The blood would carry along with it some endometrial cells and tissue – this is called retrograde menstruation. It is quite possible that the endometrial cells could get implanted and grow in the pelvic peritoneum and abdominal cavity. These implanted cells would cause menstrual bleed during each cycle under the hormonal influence, a condition called endometriosis.
Increased pressure in the abdomen – just before menstruation there is regression of the endometrium. The coiled arteries become buckled up and there is stasis of blood flow in them. This local stasis and the vasoconstriction of the arteries supplying the endometrium causes the necrosis of the endometrium. At this stage the arteries relax and the menstrual bleeding starts. An increase in abdominal pressure, through certain asanas, the blood flow through the arteries would increase causing more blood loss.
Aches and pains – though some asanas may decrease the pain it is important to be aware that we should not practice any asanas that cause pain or strain to the body. Every woman is different and will have different effects on the asanas. So it is important that they listen to their own body.
Instead of practising asanas; meditation, omkar chanting, mantras, yoga Nidra and relaxation can be practised as this is a time when a woman is more in tune with her mind and can become more easily focused.
Considering the above discussion, it is up to the individual woman to decide on the practice of yoga and to develop their own personalised program. However, remember to give your mind and body complete rest, for healthy menstruation decides the rest of your days.