Yoga is a practice of breathing and holding different positions, called asanas. Several of the asanas are inversion positions, which require the head to be below the level of the heart. That’s why doing yoga during your period is sometimes considered controversial, and many believe that it’s better to avoid it completely during this time. Others feel that some positions should be limited.
Some people choose to ignore their period and go on with their daily activities. Others prefer to take it easy and wait until their symptoms have passed. Regardless of how you feel about your period, yoga may help with the symptoms that you are experiencing.
If you are uncomfortable practicing full yoga moves, perhaps some deep breathing, gentle stretching, and chanting may be more beneficial for you. If you feel that yoga during your period might be right for you, you might be interested to know that it can help to alleviate back pain and cramping. Some people find it also helps them balance their emotions.
Most studies on the effect of yoga on menstruation studied the effect of regular exercise on symptoms. A recent study found that yoga was able to significantly reduce moderate to severe pain, abdominal swelling, and breast tenderness associated with the menstrual cycle. Another study found that women who added yoga to their normal routine two times per week for twelve weeks had significant improvement in menstrual pain, physical fitness, and quality of life.
If you’re wondering which yoga positions (asanas) are the most appropriate during your period, there are at least three that studies found may help reduce menstrual cramps by stretching and strengthening the back and pelvic floor muscles. Let’s take a look at them.
- Cobra (Bhujangasana)
Lying on your stomach, stretch your legs, put your palms on the floor next to your chest under your shoulders, and your elbows against your body. Inhale, straighten your arms and lift your chest and head slowly off the floor while extending your toes. Breathing calmly, hold this pose for about 15 to 30 seconds, then release and exhale.
- Cat (Marjaryasana)
Come into a tabletop position. Your arms should be perpendicular to the floor directly under your shoulders, and your knees should be hip-width apart. Keep your head in a neutral position, looking at the floor. As you inhale, raise your chin and put your head back, push your navel down, raising your tailbone. Hold the pose for a couple of seconds, breathing deeply. As you exhale, round your spine and drop your chin gently to your chest. As you inhale, resume the tabletop position. Repeat several times.
- Fish (Matsyasana)
Lie on your back, straighten your legs, and keep your feet together. Place your relaxed hands under your thighs with palms down to the floor. Inhaling, lift the chest up and your head back so that the top of your head touches the floor. Make sure that your weight rests on your elbows, keeping your thighs and legs pressed on the floor. Hold the pose for several seconds, breathing deeply, then exhale and relax your body back down. Repeat several times. To come out of the pose, lift into your forearms and raise your head off the floor.
You may also wonder, are there any yoga poses to avoid during periods? While there are many yoga poses that are suitable to practice during menstruation, some people believe that upside-down, or inverted, poses (such as handstand, headstand, and full wheel) are better avoided because of the heavy load they place on the ligaments and the risk of increased bleeding. There is no scientific proof to support this claim so far. Nevertheless, it’s always better to self-assess your physical state or consult with your health care provider.
There are so many different options today for period products. There are tampons, pad, menstrual cups, and discs. The best advice is to use what is most comfortable for you. Some people swear by using a tampon while doing yoga during your period. However, if your flow is heavy on that day, you may need a little extra protection.
Clothing is important as well. The pants that you choose for your yoga session should be comfortable and not put too much pressure on the abdominal area.
One fortunate thing about yoga is that you can practice this form of exercise at just about any age. Studies have shown that it helps to alleviate symptoms related to changes in hormonal levels throughout your life.
It’s very important to consult with your health care provider before beginning a yoga workout regimen so that any concerns or health risks can be discussed before you begin so that your practice may proceed safely.
It might be a good idea to start your yoga practice with an instructor who can ensure you’re doing it correctly.