“Strawberry Week”, the menses or simply "having your days" – are some the expressions for this time of the month and are almost as varied as the effects of the menstrual period has on the female organism. But what influence does the period have on one’s daily Yoga practice? Can women safely perform all Asanas, in spite of having their menses, or should they avoid certain movements?
Yoga teacher and MANDALA testimonial Ranja Weis writes about her experiences in her column and explains what should be taken into consideration when practicing Yoga during the time of the menses:
“Recently, I went to a Vinyasa class with my favorite teacher one morning, in spite of my menstrual period having started the day before. It was my only chance for a Yoga class that week and I didn't want to miss it. But immediately after the Yoga hour, I noticed that my bleeding had stopped, even though I had omitted all the reversal positions (Hand, Head, Shoulder-Stand, Plow). Neither had I practiced the Kapalabhati nor done any Bandhas. I had expressively left out all those exercises which were clearly advised against in the Yoga practice during the monthly period. Ultimately, doing a dozen downward-facing Dogs were also considered as reversals for the lower abdomen, so this exercise also was not conducive for the energy flowing down. Apana Vayu is the downward movement of the Prana from the navel to the Root Chakra and describes the forces that flow downwards contributing to the function of excretion, thus purifying the organism. This is why, it is important not to block these forces, otherwise we would interfere with the natural cleansing function of the body.
Monthly Bleeding = Purification & Physical and Emotional Cleansing
“During a woman’s menstrual period, her body goes through the natural function of cleansing itself, not only on the physical level by renewing her blood and de-toxifying metabolic products. Also, mentally and emotionally a cleansing may occur, for example, suppressed emotions, such as grief, shame or anger can find their way up into consciousness where they are palpably felt. Overall, the menstrual period can be seen as a kind of regularly occurring monthly spring cleaning. Nowadays, this special biological function of the female organism gives women an enormous advantage over many men. In former times, men used to cleanse their organism through physical activity, such as hunting or field work and regular sweating. This is no longer the case for a lot men, since most them carry out mental activities which require sitting in their office during the day. Therefore, it is most important for them to exercise regularly, in order to keep up a stable level of physical health. Or to practice Yoga. Here, a continuous Vinyasa Yoga practicing would definitely be beneficial.
Relaxing Yoga Practice During the Monthly Period
“However, it is not recommended for women to practice Yoga during their menstrual period, even without the reversal positions. A calming-down Hatha Yoga exercise instead is suggested, whereby, the abdominal and pelvic area should not be compressed or rotated. Exercises such as the Sphinx or gentle pelvic movements while lying down have a positive effect on the draining energies of the organism. Yin Yoga is also advised. Here, bending over is okay, since Yin Yoga is mostly practiced in a sitting position having a rounded back and soft stomach muscles. Sometimes, however, it is also important to postpone your Yoga practice for a few days, maybe to just go for a walk, preferably in the woods, by a lakeside or in the mountains. As we are often more sensitive and emotional than normally during these days, a direct contact with nature can be quite beneficial, emotionally balancing-out and harmonizing. And from my point of view, it is even more important to allow ourselves once in a while with a clear conscience to simply do nothing at all. Perhaps lying outside in the garden and facing the ubiquitous pressure to perform with a relaxed smile in daydreams. My new resolution for the next period!"
Our MANDALA testimonial Ranja Weis is one of the best-known Yin Yoga teachers of Germany. Sie lives together with her daughter in Munich and has been practicing Yoga for many years.