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Eve in a reclining yoga pose with cushions and blocks for support

Yoga for Menstruation Fosters Well-Being

There’s a theory that yoga students fall into an age bracket that is between ten years older or younger than their teacher. I’m sure that this happens because the students want to share life experiences common to their stage in life. I don’t know if the theory is true or not. But I have noticed that, at my post-menopausal stage of life, there are fewer menstruating women in my classes. Nevertheless, I’m a great advocate for yoga and menstruation.

Menstruation is one of the natural biological cycles of a woman, along with pregnancy and menopause. Looked at in the most positive way, menstruation signifies fertility and a woman coming into her power. How does yoga fit into this time? Because doing appropriate yoga for menstruation contributes to not only healthy periods, but to a woman’s overall health. 

Unfortunately, for some women, the time of menstruation is considered, at best, an inconvenience or at worst ‘the curse’. Ana Davis has written a book, The Dark Moon, which offers insights into changing the negative paradigm about menstruation. She suggests that doing nurturing yoga offers women…

 a natural time of retreat…one that helps deepen our connection with our bodies, the moon, and ultimately pays off in boosting our energy levels, health, and overall productivity.   

For my part, when I was still menstruating, the right yoga practice at the right time was a lifesaver. Such a yoga practice alleviates many of the symptoms of a difficult period, such as irregularity, pain, exhaustion and premenstrual stress. It will also set a woman up, as Geeta Iyengar has said, in the healthiest way for her next period.

Practices

One of the most common problems of menstruation is cramping. Below you’ll find a sequence of poses from the excellent yoga text, The Woman’s Yoga Book by Bobby Clennell. The author writes:

…a regular, well-considered yoga practice, one that takes into account the cyclic nature of a woman’s body, will provide major health benefits. It will support a woman throughout all the phases of her life. It will give her the tools to overcome physical limitations, establish emotional and mental stability, and stay true to her feminine nature.

 

Line drawings of four yoga poses helpful for menstrual cramping

 

Women need to take into account when, how and what to practice. A well-planned yoga sequence will usually help with the release of menses, eliminate tiredness and balance hormones.

The following poses comprise a simple practice for reducing premenstrual tension:

Supta Baddha Konasana in both the supine position and as a forward stretch helps open the abdomen and pelvis, and eases cramps and bloating.

Upavistha Konasana as a forward stretch or gentle twist, or with the buttocks against the wall and the legs resting on the wall, to help with leg aches and headaches.

Forward Virasana with the torso supported on a bolster or blankets to help relieve lower back and sacrum ache.

Paschimottanasana and Janu Sirsasana with the head supported on blankets or a chair to stretch the legs and lower back.

Savasana for reducing irritability and tension.

Strenuous poses and inversions are contraindicated.

Resources

The Dark Moon: Nurturing Yoga for Healthy Menstruation

The Woman’s Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

Yoga: A Gem for Women