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Prior to becoming a yoga instructor, I never thought that there would be such a controversy when it comes to practicing yoga while menstruating. To practice, to not practice, to abstain from certain postures, to increase mediation, there are numerous thoughts on this topic! Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I am simply going to educate you on both sides, so you can make the best decision for you.
Benefits of doing yoga on your period
1.-Decreased menstrual cramp pain
Using yoga as a way to reduce menstrual pain is a healthy and safe alternative to using painkillers (although pain killers are much easier to use as they require no effort). The pain felt during menstruation is typically caused by limited blood flow to the uterus, facilitating uterine contractions. These painful contractions decrease blood flow and oxygenation levels. Yoga helps to increase the circulation within our body, increasing the amount of oxygen levels found throughout (and specifically to the reproductive organs that are experiencing oxygen deficits). By increasing oxygen levels with deep, diaphragmatic breathing, the effects are drug-free, easy to do anytime pain is felt, and your body will not become tolerant to it!
Bloating is one of the hallmark symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and can stay with you for the remainder of your menstrual cycle! Yoga can help with decreasing bloating that may be felt during this time. Bloating can be a hallmark of decreased blood flow and energy to your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. By practicing yoga, we stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (aka the “rest and digest” system) and calms down the sympathetic nervous system (aka the “fight or flight” system). Through activation of the parasympathetic nervous system our body has time repair, break down food, and helps to ease the elimination of the digestive system – reducing bloat!
3.-Battle negative thoughts and feelings
I don’t know about you all, but during my menstrual cycle I always find myself stuck in a cycle of negativity. During the menstruation cycle, the stress hormone cortisol is on an incline, increasing your feelings of perceived stress (even when you wouldn’t think anything is stressful any other time of the month)! By practicing yoga and mindfulness throughout your day, cortisol levels are decreased, and endorphin levels are increased. Endorphins are those “feel good” hormones, and the hormones that typically drop when you are on your period. Through maintaining your yogi practice throughout this time of the month, you are proactively putting yourself, your mental health, and your physical well-being first as a priority.
Poses to Try
Poses to Avoid
Benefits to abstaining from yoga on your period
1.-Renew and restore
In current society we are so used to being “go, go, go” almost 100% of the times, including during the menstruation cycle. This may not be the best for us however, as our body is losing blood, energy, and overall flow. During this time of the month, yoga (or any other exercise for that matter) may not be as beneficial as during other times of the month. As energy is already being utilized and expended, even at rest, to ensure overall complete wellness, it is important to be mindful of how you are feeling. Giving your body, mind, and overall self, time to renew and restore, true self-love is being displayed.
2.-Honor your energy flow
Typically, in yoga we are used to the concept that energy regularly flows through our body as we move from one pose to another. During the menstruation cycle, however, we have to be careful with where we are sending our energy. This being said, it is recommended that inversion poses should be avoided during this time of the month. Downward moving energy is essential to maintain during our yoga practice, as to not disturb the overall cycle (resulting in an absence of a period or amenorrhea). Through keeping the energy flowing downward within your body, you are helping to support a healthy menstrual cycle.
3.-Respect the delicacy of your cycle
The menstrual cycle is extremely sensitive to various life experiences, and may be absent if we are experiencing stress, new environment, and a lack of nutrition/over-working out. This being said, practicing yoga throughout this time may not benefit your overall being due to the above sensitivity of this cycle. Menstrual cycles are natural, and immensely important for our bodies to regenerate, renew, and restore. Due to this, it is important for us to be mindful of how our various lifestyle choices impact the various aspects of cycle and our overall health. Since each person experiences their cycle differently, it is important to respect your own body, as well as be mindful that this is a completely natural process for our bodies.
As you can see there are benefits to both sides, and ultimately it depends on what yoga does for you specifically when you’re on your period. No two people are exactly the same, so your experiences with this topic may differ vastly from your friends, your fellow yogis, and your instructors. And that is OKAY! Don’t feel pressured to either abstain or participate in yoga during this time of the month if it is not what you, your body, or your soul needs. Ultimately, it is your body and it is your decision to either skip a few yoga practices…or not!
What do you think about this controversary in the yoga community? Do you think abstaining from yoga is the way to go during your period? Or do you think that yoga helps you to manage your menstrual symptoms? Have you heard from any of your yoga teachers/yogi friends that one way is better than another?
Thanks so much for reading!!! I can’t wait to hear what you all think and what experiences you have with this topic!
Peace and love,
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