It’s still awkward to sit one out when you’re on your period. For one, everyone knows something about you that you wouldn’t necessarily tell them and for two, you’re not even sure if you really need to abstain. I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for the past eight years and over the years, I’ve come to some conclusions about doing yoga poses on your period.
First off, let’s look at the yogic perspective. The issue of inverting on your period revolves around apana energy or downward pranic flow. The concern is that reversing the normal flow of energy could cause heavier bleeding later or cramping. I have not ever experienced this. And to be frank, all sorts of fluids beyond your period flow downward throughout the month related to your cycle like cervical fluid, for example.
In ashtanga yoga, women are advised to take a break from yoga poses entirely while they’re menstruating. This makes a lot more sense to me because in my particular experience, I feel dense and lethargic when I’m on my period as if my body is naturally trying tell me to take a break. That heaviness weighs you down, it doesn’t make you want to invert.
From a scientific perspective, the Mayo Clinic refers to something called “retrograde menstruation” which occurs when menstrual flow goes in the opposite direction. When cells flow back into the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out the body, it could lead to endometriosis. Although, science hasn’t proven this as a direct cause. However, Lizzie Wade wrote on Slate that even if retrograde menstruation was a valid cause of endometriosis, inversions don’t cause it. Rather, uterine contractions reverse flow back into the body. Bottom line–inverting isn’t going to cause retrograde menstruation.
There you have it–if your period slows you down, skip your practice or consider Yin Yoga or Restorative Yoga. If not, have at it–practice yoga poses all you want.
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Image: Robert Bejii