Wait, there is no “M” in “Yoga”.
Well, it is an unsaid word, especially in the fitness crazed world that boasts of gender equality, in every possible area, even asanas practice.
M for Menstruation.
Telling someone you cannot join them for a rock climbing session because you are bleeding invisibly already invites a bunch of stares and even whispers of “uh, weak lah you”, even from fellow women, who should ideally be able to understand your plight. Telling them you cannot go for yoga class on your period is going to cause outright laughter, with your closest friends asking you, “Why? Yoga is just lying down and stretching, very relaxing what!”
Yet there are aspects of yoga a menstruating women should avoid, especially any practice that puts pressure on the abdominal and pelvic region. Here are some examples we discussed in our teacher training course on what to avoid during menstruation:
Pranayama: Kapalabhati, Bastrika
Asanas: Inversions e.g. shoulder stand, headstand. Even our beloved Adho Mukha Savanasana is a mini inversion, and should not be held too long if performed.
Bandhas: All bandhas to be avoided.
That basically throws almost all of the ashtanga practice out the window.
Is that the end of yoga practice during your period?
No way. There are so many aspects and asanas documented, there surely must be many that one can perform at any time.
Here are some that I am currently working on during my period:
- Bhramari – A lovely, melodious, parasympathetic pranayama to calm the body and mind down
- Trataka – Cramps are common during this time of the monthly cycle, so meditating by gazing at the flame can bring one to deep relaxation and sleep.
- Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutation) – Just tried it and stumbled about trying to move sideways instead of front and back in the usual Surya Namaskar. A graceful dance-like sequence that incorporates some deep stretching of the leg muscles and balance, which is definitely worth exploring to broaden my repertoire.
Combining these with the many other asanas gentle on the pelvic and abdominal regions, perhaps I could come up with a program just for menstruating women. Crazy, but if people are signing up to incredulous fads such as beer yoga, period yoga may not be such a wayward idea afterall.
– Teo Zhe Hui (Yoga TTC, Sep 2017)