Can we do inversions during periods? Which postures are safe to do at that time of the month? Are twisting postures harmful during menstruation? If you’ve been struggling to get clarity on these questions without much success, then continue reading. On International Yoga Day, we are demystifying a lot of myths while understanding the best way to approach yoga practice during periods.
Our hormones change throughout the month along with our menstrual cycle, which means our productivity levels also fluctuate. It is these hormonal changes that can cause some of us to be more sensitive and emotional during the PMS week. They are also the reason why women are eight times more likely than men to get knee injuries, which mostly tend to happen in the first half of their menstrual cycle.
So, our cycle impacts both our body and mind, which means it is only prudent to align our practices with our current energy levels, rather than sticking to doing the same thing every day. Here’s how you can align your yoga practice to your cycle.
The first phase of the cycle is menstruation which usually lasts anywhere between three to seven days. During menstruation, hormones oestrogen and progesterone are at a low level and therefore it can be a time of low energy and poor concentration. This also means that there’s a greater risk of injuries as our body is operating differently. So, if you’re new to inversions, you can avoid them. But if you’re a seasoned practitioner and confident about inversions, then there’s a lesser chance of things going wrong and you may continue.
Generally, the menstrual phase is best suited for slow, moderately paced practices with postures like Bound Angle Pose, Child Pose or restorative supine postures. Since what is moderate for one person can be intense for another, you should allow listening to your intuition and choosing as per your energy levels.
The next phase of the cycle is the follicular phase which starts once the period ends and continues up to day 12. Your energy levels start increasing and you’ll be able to do more dynamic practices. You may find yourself naturally enjoying creatively sequenced Vinyasa flows. Your motivation and endurance levels may be highest during this period. And you can certainly explore inversions in this phase, it’s the ideal time to start something new.
The third phase is ovulation, which is only one day, and you’ll likely be your most exuberant self. It makes us naturally extroverted and you can certainly tap into it with your yoga practice.
The final phase is the Luteal phase which lasts about two weeks. In the beginning, your hormones are still high and you will carry forward the energy levels from the previous phase. However, this will gradually decline as your body starts preparing for the next menstrual cycle. So, your endurance may not be as high as before, and you may find it harder to finish your usual workouts. Your progesterone levels are higher in this phase, which makes you calm and relaxed, improves your sleep and also makes you more aligned to meditative practices. You may notice a natural increase in your concentration and focus levels in this phase. You should definitely make the most of them with your yoga practice. You can practice headstands for most of this phase. Just be careful about pushing yourself or trying to up-level your inversion practice in this.
In summary, the menstruation phase is ideal to slow down, follicular and ovulation phases are great for new, dynamic and intense practices that challenge you, including headstands. And luteal phase is a time to gradually start preparing for the upcoming period by starting to slow down again. You don’t have to altogether stop your workouts or practices during this time, but you should become mindful of your energy levels.
By aligning your practice with your cycle, it will also help you with your mood swings and food cravings that can be disruptive during PMS.
The writer is a Yoga and Ayurveda Lifestyle Specialist and Founder of Yoganama.