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Yoga for the Female Cycle - A Menstruation paper by Kate Marit

April 1, 2015

“Yoga is meditation in action. If you organize your practice in response to all phases of your menstrual cycle, it will provide you with power and comfort of ritual and will add stability to your life by reestablishing your link with nature’s cycles. As your body takes on the forms of animals, plants, Gods, and planets, yoga becomes your meditation and your prayer.”

-Bobby Clennell

 

Menstruation teaches us that we are cyclic beings. The seasons of nature include periods of rest, which promote growth and renewal, our bodies are made up of the same stuff as the rest of nature and we follow similar patterns. By respecting these natural rhythms we keep in balance and our cycles can come and go smoothly.

 

During the menstruation phase of our cycle we are most sensitive physically, mentally and emotionally. It is important at the time of menstruation to use our yoga practice to align our selves and gather energy, by resting, avoiding strenuous activities, postponing turning upside down and performing demanding yoga poses. We want to avoid inversions, unsupported backbends, compressed twists, abdominal poses and poses done on the abdomen, closed pelvic standing poses and balancing poses during this time of the month. Low hormone levels during menses mean energy should be conserved. 

 

At the time of menstruation the body puts out a certain amount of heat and the heat generated from some of the poses disturbs the process of elimination. The uterus should not be put under any stress during menstruation, as our bodies are designed to allow its flow out unrestricted. This process is disturbed when the body is turned upside down and may force the menstrual flow back up inside and cause the uterus to perform the wrong function. The process of elimination should be respected and nurtured and therefore, it is important to know what to avoid and have discrimination during this phase. Because we generally have less energy during menstruation, doing stimulating poses such as back bends can overtax the system and interfere with our natural rhythms and over time can adversely effect fertility.

 

It is so important at this time to protect our abdominal organs; by avoiding deep abdominal twists and poses done with and on the abdomen. In doing so we can prevent pressurizing, flooding and clotting of menstrual blood. We want to keep our selves open and in balance especially during this time, so avoiding any poses that the pelvis is closed off or compressed and taking support will help maintain a healthy cycle. As a practitioner of yoga a woman should understand her own cycle and the weaknesses it can bring, so she can use this time to restore and renew. Menstruation is considered to be a regulating process that corrects any imbalances that may have occurred in the proceeding month; therefore it is crucial to practice the right poses at the right time.

 

Examples of some poses to be avoided:

  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana
  • Salamba Sirsasana + variations
  • Salamba Sarvangasana +variations
  • Viparita Karani
  • Pincha Mayurasana
  • Urdhva Prasarita Padasana
  • Chaturanga Dandasana
  • Paripurna Navasana
  • Ardha Navasana
  • Marichyasana 3
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana
  • Jathara Parivartanasana
  • Parivrita Trikonasana
  • Parivrita Parsvakonasana
  • Virabadrasana 3
  • Garudasana
  • Bakasana
  • Eka Pada Sirsasana
  • Salabhasana
  • Dhanurasana
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  • Surya Namaskar
  • Supta Padangusthasana 1
  • Utthitta Hasta Padangusthasana 1
  • Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
  • Parivrrta Janu Sirsasana

 

References:

  • The Woman's Yoga Book - Bobby Clennell
  • The Path to Holistic Health - BKS Iyengar
  • Yoga a Gem for Women - Geeta Iyengar
  • The Practice of Women During the Whole Month - Geeta Iyengar
  • Menstrual practice print outs - Krisna Zawaduk
 

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