Asanas and menstruation

I usually like doing Asanas during my period/menstruation. It really helps, relaxes and energizes me to do my Asanas then. I hear that some Yoga teachers say you should not do any Asanas or at least no inverted postures during your period. What is your experience? Do you practice Asanas during your period? (I am from Germany - I hope my English expressions are correct).

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  • Yes thank you swami saradananda. I'm sure you're 100% correct on everything.
    thank you for clarifying my post for me.
  • Om Namah Sivaya everyone. I feel a need to speak out about this issue as it is one that comes up regularly in yoga classes. I appreciate everyone’s comments here, and so it may seem like I am attacking you specifically here in my post, I’m not, because I’ve heard all these arguments before and I don’t agree with any of them. This post is to go on the record with why I believe there should be no restrictions placed on women who are menstruating and who want to do yoga.

    1. Myth: you shouldn’t do inversions because it disturbs apana vayu.

    I think the vayus know which way to go regardless of the orientation of the body. If you swallow while in headstand does the swallow not get to the stomach anyway? Does digestion stop depending on if you are laying down, upside down, upright, sideways? Does the heart stop beating depending which direction you orient the body? People confined to bed rest are still able to urinate and defecate.

    If it was so easy to upset the vayus, then why is so hard to raise the apana and lower the prana to meet in the middle by using bhandas? We spend hours and sometimes years at this in pranayama to make this happen.

    The argument that the apana vayu is disrupted when doing inversions seems at first glance like it makes sense because inversions can make the menses seem to stop for a few hours or a day before resuming. I suggest it is because of gravity, and not because of upsetting the vayu. It is not a big deal. The vayu knows where to be.

    2. Myth: menstrual blood is impure.

    I can’t fathom why anyone would think this except for misogynistic reasons. Menstrual tissue is first grown in the uterus to allow implantation of the fertilized egg and to provide nourishment for a newly fertilized egg. It is sacred in it’s life-sustaining ability. When an egg does not implant, it is no longer needed by the body, and is evacuated. At that point it comes biological waste, but I think calling it impure implies the connotation that women are impure and all the bodily discharges made by them are impure.

    If you believe all biological waste is impure, then lets have a discussion about the impurity of semen discharged for purely recreational activities. That never happens, because misogynistic thought does not allow male discharge to be considered impure.

    3. Myth: ovaries/uterus/perineum are too fragile.

    The ovaries/uterus are well protected and very resilient. Anyone who has ever carried a baby to term can tell you that during the 8th and 9th month of pregnancy every single internal organ is squished and stressed beyond belief. This includes the uterus and ovaries. Not only that, but babies kick HARD and indiscriminately everything inside the mother’s body. After that, we have a very rigorous delivery, potentially the most difficult physical activity that a body can endure. And yet after all this, the uterus and ovaries work just fine and many women have more than one child.

    Besides this, there are many professional female athletes who run, swim, dance, practice gymnastics, ski, etc. I doubt they take off four days from their sport to rest during menstruation and they have no ill side effects in the long run.

    Yoga is potentially the most nurturing and healing of all disciplines. I don’t believe that a simple headstand or any other yoga posture can be more stressful on the internal organs than having a child. Do you know someone who has had their reproductive organs injured because of yoga? On the contrary, I think yoga can help sustain and improve the function of the reproductive organs no matter when it is practiced.

    I think womens’ bodies are built strongly enough to do yoga whenever we want.

    4. Myth: the rshis told us not to do it.

    The rshis should be venerated for bringing us the science of yoga. They are to be held in high esteem.

    The truth is, the rshis lived in forest ashrams surrounded by brahmachari boys and maybe a few other male monks. If he had a wife, he did not allow her to do yoga. When Swami Vishu-devananda brought yoga to the US in the 1960’s, he taught asanas to women for the first time ever. He placed no restrictions on what women could or could not do during menstruation. He also was a self-realized yogi and a hatha yoga master so I think he knows something about it too. All these objections have come up since his time.

    Women were kept from doing yoga for millenia. It was misogynism. I don’t think the viewpoint of the rshis on this matter should be taken seriously.

    In summary, I think each woman should decide for themselves what they want to do during menstruation. It seems with all these restrictions to be mainly men telling us what to do with our bodies. Only women know how it feels. Some months I feel great and I do all the asanas. Other months, not so much and then I prefer hip openers and seated postures. I do what feels right for me at the time. I think women should make their own judgments and assertions and then we can move forward to a more realistic view so that our daughters and grand-daughters don’t have to deal with the ever-present “you can’t” do this or that because you’re a girl.

    Many oms to all of you and much success on your spiritual path.
    • OM

      Dear Sita
      Your arguements are logical and based on intellectual analysis. But they contain quite a bit of mis-information.

      For example: in 4. Myth: the rshis told us not to do it.
      You state: "The truth is, the rshis lived in forest ashrams surrounded by brahmachari boys and maybe a few other male monks. If he had a wife, he did not allow her to do yoga...."

      Actually the truth is that there was no "if" about a rishi having a wife - by definition, a rishi had to have a wife. If he didn't have a wife, he couldn't be a rishi - he couldn't do the rituals required without his wife.

      Your comment that "he would not allow her to do yoga" - I wonder where you got this information.

      Re: "When Swami Vishu-devananda brought yoga to the US in the 1960’s, he taught asanas to women for the first time ever."
      was this before Mr. Iyengar taught asanas to his daughter Geeta?

      RE: Swami Vishnu-devananda "placed no restrictions on what women could or could not do during menstruation".
      Are you sure of this? Did you actually meet Swamiji and ask him? The only person I ever witnessed asking Swamiji directly was an Indian woman, who practiced asanas regularly. Swamiji's answer was that it would be a good idea if she took a few days off each month. When she asked him why he didn't tell this to his Western female students, his answer was "they work too much with their rational minds and are not sensitive enough to the cycles of their bodies".

      I go with the apana theory - yes, reversing the stance of your body can reverse he flow of the vayus. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, we are told to not do inverted poses in the afternoon/evening - as this reverses the natural flow of prana. But how many modern yogis follow that instruction?

      I think it is important that we get over the victim mentality of seeing things as misogynist plots to keep us down. Instead we should put our energies into develping the best ways for women to do asanas, taking into account that are bodies are different. In fact, I think I'm going to start a discussion of how women's bodies are different - and how we have to work differently. So, thanks for inspiring me to do this!!
    • Sita,
      BLESS YOU!
      1.You have actually summed up what I actually wished to say when you say,"...In summary, I think each woman should decide for themselves what they want to do during menstruation." Ultimately, each human body is unique. Each one has one's own threshold of the pain-tolerance. Thus, each Yogeenee must try to find out what type of the YOGA suits her and what type of the YOGA does not suit her, what she can tolerate and what she cannot tolerate, through a bit of educated trial and error method with patience.
      2. I don't know much about Swami Vishu-devananda. So, I don't know whether Swami Vishu-devananda knew it or not,.but, we certainly know for sure through our experiences that the Naadee Shodhana Kreyaa without including this perineum aspect may prove to be a negative strain on the energy system.
      3.".....applying pressure to the perineum is certainly likely to harm the female genital parts" is said here in the sense that the women report profuse bleeding during menstruation-time. Now, imagine - blood is profusely flowing from your vital part and you are doing some YOGA Aasana! How would you feel? Won't you feel any pain? WELL, I'M not a women and so can't give the correct answer to this question. Those of you who are women may give it a try and let me know if you felt pain or not, if felt what was your tolerance level?
      4. There certainly is an UPWARD-DOWNWARD or other kind of movement of your genital area when you do any type of the YOGA. During the menstruation period, this movement certainly may cause some kind of strain/pain. Again. it's a matter of individual's pain-threshold. Just as some women are able to tolerate labour-pangs and some are not, so is the case with the menstruation-priod-YOGA matter.
      5. "....applying pressure to the perineum is certainly likely to harm the female genital parts." Well, I would like to request you all the YOGEENEES to apply pressure to the perineum with the heel of your left foot during the menstruation period and notice the effect. Does it harm your vital part, i.e., rupturing of the membranes, etcetra? Your own experience in this regard must settle this question individually for all of you. We are here not to indulge in any EGO-INFLATION EXCERCISES. Rather we all ARE TRUE STUDENTS OF THE VIDYA [TRUE KNOWLEDGE] AND AS SUCH MUST ASPIRE TO ACQUIRE THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE ONLY, FROM WHERVER/WHICHEVER SOURCE IT COMES....!

      Jaya Jeeva,
      Jagadambaa Vebhuutee Swaamee Aprtemaanandaa Jee
  • i have some knowledge in Yoga. i am still hoping to learn more from this site.
  • Dear Aspiring Yogeenee Lisa Jee,

    1. I quote from Page 21, Lesson Third, Gheranda Samhita by Srisa Chandra Vasu, available online [free of all costs] on :

    Gheranda Said:
    "....In whatever business a Yogi [yogini] may be engaged, wherever he [she] may be, let him [her] keep his [her] tongue turned upwards [towards the soft palate] and restrain the breath. This is called Nabho-Mudra; it destroys all the disease of the Yogi [Yogini].” [ Verse number 9]

    2. You may safely practise the Nabho-Mudra during the menstrual period. The only care that has to be taken is that you must not hold-in the breath beyond your comfort-level.

    3. The Nabho-Mudra seems to be far safer than the Naadee Shodhana Kreyaa [Praannaayaama] for the simple reason that the later requires the wise Yoge/Yogeenee to apply the pressure to the perineum with the heel of one's left foot if the Yoge/Yogeenee were to avoid the HARMFUL downward flow of the energy resulting due to the pressure built-up by the continuous breathing-in and breathing-out on the physical human body system...Although some amount of the pressure may be built-up even by the Nabho-Mudra, but this one seems to be negligible and harmless...In the Naadee Shodhana Kreyaa [Praannaayaama], there is a continuous movement of body parts [you may notice an UPWARD-DOWNWARD movement of your genital area].....Now, applying pressure to the perineum is certainly likely to harm the female genital parts and doing the Naadee Shodhana Kreyaa without including this perineum aspect may prove to be a negative strain on the energy system besides the likely strain on the genital parts due to the UPWARD-DOWNWARD MOVEMENT, DURING THE MENSTRUATION-PERIOD...THIS IS THE PLAIN TRUTH...I REALLY WONDER HOW THESE ALL FAMOUS/NOT-SO-FAMOUS YOGA GURUS ARE PREACHING/TEACHING THE NAADEE SHODHANA KREYAA without inclusion of the "apply pressure to the perineum with the heel of one's left foot" ASPECT.....?

    4. Hope, this piece of information REALLY helps you and other Yogeenees.

    Jaya Jeeva,
    Jagadambaa Vebhuute Swaamee Aprtemaanandaa Jee
  • Dear Lisa,

    Thank you for being concerned,

    That is why it is prohibitated by our legend Maharshis and yogis and so far as light excercise is concerned (Sukchama kriya) my point of meaning was wrist movement, shoulder movement and feet excercise which can be done with Nadi Sodhan Pranayama a very steady and slow way of breathing the air, but better if you do not do any asana will be much much better.


    Kriyananda Maharshi Dayananda
  • During the menstruation course it is strictly prohibited to do hard physical asanas but it really depends how and which asana you do at that time. I can suggest you only for Nadi Sodhan Pranayama instead of asanas.

    Since at the stage of menstruation a good amount of impure bloods gets out of body and gets changing and develops such activities with hormones so that a new establishment could take place and that time a woman needs rest because due to getting much blood out of her body and it goes continue for four days, needs sufficient rest and hygiene food to recover the blood went out.

    Sirsa Asana, related to abdomen asana and all hard asana are avoided and suggested not to do. So my advice is to do those asana only which is very light. If you do not do it for four days will not harm you but ultimately you will be benefited that is true. I am not a woman but got the feed back from.

    Kriyananda Maharshi Dayananda
  • I do my best not to do asana on the first two days of my period. Every once in a while, I will do Bikram Yoga during that time but I try to take at least one day for rest. On that day, I do no form of exercise but in terms of Yoga, I do mostly Japa (mantra repetition). I do not do poses like Sarvangasana or Dhanurasana (the first brings down my menses and the second adds too much blood to the womb). Throughout my menses and even a day or two after my cycle, I do no Kaphalaabhati. Everything else is fair game once I get my day (or two) of rest.

    I also instruct this when I teach students. You never know how many women in your class have some kind of reproductive issue - including PMS. It's better to be safe than sorry. At the same time, a student can do whatever she wants. Only she can be responsible for herself.

  • I think it's different for everyone and you should do what feels right to you. This varies from month to month and from person to person.
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