For most women, that ‘time of the month’ brings with it a host of changes to your mood, stamina, and energy levels. With your hormones all over the place, living your life as normal can be a challenge; however, it’s best to stick to your daily routine as much as possible. If you practice yoga, you may wonder whether to attend your weekly class. While some people use the week for rest and rejuvenation, others prefer to put on their yoga top as normal. In this article, we explore whether it is safe to practice yoga when you’re on your period.
Simply put, it is safe to practice yoga during your period – providing that you take the necessary precautions. To minimize complications, it’s best to steer clear from certain types of asana. As a general rule, you should avoid using inversions as they direct your energy upwards. During menstruation, your energy should be directed down, instead. Providing that you avoid inversions, it’s perfectly safe to use yoga during your period. In fact, the exercise can boost your energy levels, relieve bloating, and soothe cramps.
It’s important to remember that all women are different. No two women will experience their period in the same way. For some, it’s relatively painless – they feel pretty much the same as they do every other day of the month. Others, however, experience intense cramps, painful bloating, and even sickness or nausea. If you’re feeling rotten, you may prefer to skip yoga practice during your period. If you feel up to it, though, there is no problem with heading to the studio!
Even if you’re feeling OK during your period, you may prefer to change your approach to your practice. If you normally practice power yoga, you may find it better to attend a restorative class for those few days of the month.
Although it’s still safe to use a dynamic class, you might not feel up to a high-intensity workout. During your period, it’s not unusual for your iron levels to drop. For some women, this can leave them feeling fatigued until their body builds the levels back up. If this is the case for you, you may find it beneficial to eat iron-rich foods, such as spinach, during this time of the month. If your symptoms interfere with your daily routine, it may be worth getting some iron tablets from your doctor. If your energy levels are low, opting for a less-intense class will allow you to practice without feeling worse.
If you find the right class for you, going to yoga may even reduce your symptoms. A recent study has shown that women who practice yoga regularly are less likely to experience discomfort during their menstrual period. The study involved 40 women, 20 of whom practiced yoga regularly for 12 weeks, while the other half did not. At the end of the study, those who did not use yoga reported more pain and discomfort than those who did.
Another study, published in the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, looked into the benefits of yoga for menstrual disorders. During the study, 150 women used yoga regularly for 6 months. By the end of the study, most of the women experienced improvement in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and pain symptoms associated with their period.
While most yoga poses are safe to practice during your period, there are some which you should avoid. Below, we explore these in more detail.
As mentioned previously, it’s best to avoid inversions during your time of the month. Poses such as headstand, handstand, and shoulder stand are all classed as inversions. Inversions shift your Apana energy, which flows from your belly button to your cervix, in the wrong direction. While reversing the flow would normally increase your energy, during your period it can have the opposite effect. Additionally, inversions cause the uterus the move toward the head; this can lead to an increase in blood flow and cause a heavier cycle.
It’s also best to avoid extreme postures during your cycle. Asanas that involve intense backbends, arm balances, or extreme twists should be given a miss, particularly ones that place stress on the abdominal area. These postures require a high level of stamina and strength, which may not be available during your period. Additionally, if you’re suffering from cramps, the pain in your uterus could compromise your ability.
Although yoga won’t cure your menstrual symptoms, certain postures can be soothing to practice. Below, we explore some of the beneficial postures.
To practice Supine Twist, begin by lying on your back. Bring your arms out into a T position with your palms facing down. Next, bend your right knee and place your right foot on the left knee. As you exhale, move your right knee over to the left side of your body by twisting the spine and lower back. Move your head to look at your right fingertips, and keep your shoulders flat on the floor. You are in Supine Twist. Hold the asana for around 10 breaths before repeating on the opposite side.
Supported Bridge can also relieve discomfort during your period. To practice the asana, start by laying on your back. Pressing your feet into the mat, lift your hips off the floor and slide a yoga block under your lower back. Finally, lower your hips back to the mat, resting your back on the block. You are in Supported Bridge. Hold the posture for 30 seconds before raising your hips and sliding the block out.
If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to use yoga during your period, the answer is yes. However, it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too far. If not feeling up to it, there is no harm in skipping your practice for the day. If you do choose to use yoga during your period, it’s important to wear the right clothing. If you experience tender breasts during menstruation, be sure to pick up a supportive yoga bra before your class.