If you ask me one thing we don’t talk nearly enough about is our period. Somehow, through the years of patriarchy, we’ve been made ashamed of it and it’s been something that the majority gets a bit uneasy if discussed in public and not behind closed doors. Well, I call bullsh*t on that!
Menstruation is a perfectly natural process, and to be completely clear, none of us would have been here today if our ancestors didn’t have their periods, so it seems like a pretty important thing to me.
Although I’m really into this topic, I’ll discuss it in more detail in one of the next posts. What I really want to talk about today are yoga poses and practices that might feel good during menstruation.
How come this topic came to mind? Quite simply — I got my period today and have been hanging out on the couch all day with my hot water bottle, thinking how I’d love to do yoga but at the same time how I really don't want to get up from the coziness that is my couch.
Without further ado — here are some yogic practices that might do you well if your cycle just started:
1. Slow it down, down, doooown
A general guideline for yoga during your period is to take this time to nurture, cleanse and release. Take the time to be still and don't feel bad about it. But if the movement feels good, make your yoga practice soft and rhythmic.
2. Listen to your body
This should be a general rule for any yoga class but especially during your period. If it feels good, do it, if it doesn’t (and even if some people swear by it), don’t do it. During your period, yoga practice might be completely different than your usual practice and that’s okay. Plus it’s a perfect way of practicing aparigraha (non-attachment), which is a big part of yoga.
3. Think twice before going for that headstand
When on period, it is generally suggested to avoid inversions (yoga poses like handstand, headstand, plow, and others where the heart is higher from the ground than the head) as well as Mula Bandha or root lock. During menstruation our flow of energy and blood are directed downwards (apana vayu) but both inversions and root lock want to send the energy up (prana vayu), which is the main reason for avoiding these practices during our bleeding days. Energy (and blood) going in different directions can make these poses quite uncomfortable, to say the least, as well as prolong our bleed time. But if these practices feel good even during the days of your flow and you feel like that is what your body needs, by any means, do it.
4. Back-bends or forward folds?
Well, it depends. For some, back-bends are the most efficient way to reduce period pain, while for others what helps is practicing forward folds.
If back-bends are what works for you, try Camel Pose or Snake Pose, but if forward folds are what your period days are all about, (supported) Paschimottanasana or laying on the back and hugging your knees into your chest on the exhalation may be your go-to poses. Experiment and see what works for your body.
5. Don’t forget about the breath
One of the main things that get me through period pain (besides painkiller sometimes), is a hot water bottle and Ujjayi breath. To practice Ujjayi breath, first part your lips a little and on the exhale slightly close your esophagus, just like you’d do when you try to fog a mirror. Your exhale will be longer and you’ll most likely be able to hear it. When you’re comfortable with that breath, try doing the same on the exhale but with your lips closed. Voila, that’s Ujjayi breath. With its slightly prolonged and audible exhalation, it gives your mind something to focus on besides the pain.
* Learn Ujjahi breath in Me Time with Melon & Lime app.
Dreamer, creator, lover, yogi.