Did you know that there are certain things you should avoid when you have your period when it comes to yoga? Maybe this sounds weird, because yoga should be so good for us? And it is of course! But there are certain things that are good to avoid when you have your period - and it´s not the end of the world. Continue reading what you should avoid and why.
We have come to think we are static and don´t need to think about that we really are women and are in a constant flow of a cycle. The hormones are shifting, our mood are shifting, so trying to just keep going in the same way 24/7 is not optional for us as women. It´s like we are afraid to adapt to what we really need, as if this is a weakness, instead of being connected with our true nature and proud of it! Anyway, as women we need to follow our cycle instead of fighting against it. You can read more about that in this blog post Using your feminine power.
Some women find it boring that for some days we can´t do everything in our yoga practice. I hear you! I used to think like this myself, being a disciplined yogi that wanted to do my daily yoga practice without a modification. I really wanted to do my 40 days yoga therapy without a break in some of the postures and it seemed unfair that the men didn´t have that issue. But things have changed and I have changed and now follow my cycle instead of fighting against it.
You don´t need to avoid these yoga poses your whole period though, but the three or four first days in your period is enough, depending how heavy your period is. If you bleed heavily you avoid the poses/exercises longer.
Listen to your body, what you need when you have your period. Do yoga, listen to your heart and give yourself what you need.
I also want to point out that there are different approaches when it comes to this topic. My approach is as below, what I´ve learned in my 2 year long yoga teacher training and also because I´m specialized in endometriosis and pelvic pain, some people may find me a little bit stricter when it comes to this.
So here we go, these are things you should avoid in yoga when you have your period.
Inversions are yoga poses basically where you put your head below your heart. And the poses that are good to avoid is when your legs are up in the inversions.
The reasons you should avoid these poses are several:
One is because of the increase of the risk of blood flowing out of the fallopian tubes. We all do that sometimes without doing inversions, but it´s good to avoid, since we don´t know if this can cause endometriosis adhesions in the pelvis.
Another factor is that often inversions can be challenging for your body and abdominal area, and when you have your period it can be good to slow down a bit. But this is of course up to you.
Also, in the yogic tradition the apana, energy that flows in the downward direction from the navel centre and down, is reversed when we do inversions, so it is said to interfer with natural flow of the menstruation.
I want to add here, that only because you do inversions, it doesn´t mean that you will get endometriosis, there are so many factors that are involved in this illness and many unsolved factors unfortunately.
Plow pose, shoulder stand, head stand, half wheel pose (picture above).
2. Yoga poses where you pull in the navel point
There are some yoga poses where you emphasize the abdomen and/or pull in the navel point. Why you should avoid these poses is because you can start to bleed heavily and that is good to avoid, especially if you already have problems with that. And if you have a lot of problems with cramps, it is better to relax in that area than to put pressure on it. Some of these poses can be great to do rest of the month, when you´re not having your period though.
Some yoga poses you should avoid:
Leg lifts (photo above), crunches, bow pose, stretch pose
3. Breath of Fire
Breath of fire is a rhythmical breathing technique that creates energy and helps to clean your blood (among other benefits). It´s a wonderful technique to use if you feel that you need some alertness and energy. In this breathing technique you pull in your navel as you exhale, so that´s why you should avoid it when you have your period, because it can make you bleed heavily and also let your abdominal muscles relax instead of contracting them, as written above.
4. Root lock
Root Lock stimulates and circulates the energies of the lower chakras and helps transform sexual energy into creativity and physical regeneration. You contract the anal sphincter, the muscles around the sex organs, as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine, and the muscles around the navel point, pull them backward toward the spine.
Also here you pull in the navel, so that´s why you avoid root locks when you have your period. I know many teachers that don´t avoid root locks in their teaching, they simply avoid pulling in the navel. That´s fine if you are a yogi that are used to this, but in my classes I totally avoid them and also in my own yoga practice. My approach is to rest in this area when we have our period.
It is good to do yoga though, when you have your period so don´t skip it! It can help you to calm down and make your period easier. So continue your yoga practice and listen to what your body needs! I recommend my online course Breathe and Open up when you have your period, it´s great for your pain and hormones!
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Helen Kåselöv is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist and the founder of Healing from within with yoga & food (former Yoga for Endometriosis & Pelvic pain). Helen has a history of severe endometriosis and is today helping women with endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids and other pelvic pain online, with yoga, nutrition and other lifestyle changes. Using yoga both as a tool in different kinds of healing programs, pain management, yoga has become the foundation in her work. “Yoga can help you in so many ways: Physically, mentally, spiritually and as a personal development tool.”