Women everywhere often dread “that time of the month” when their moods are variant, their bodies are sore and achy, sometimes with cramping in the abdominal muscles and lower back, and sometimes experiencing pains that are so debilitating they can hardly get out of bed. Yoga, fortunately, gives some well-needed rest and relief from menstruation and its often experienced side effects.
Tip Number One – Know Thy Asana
Practice only certain asana, meant for soothing achy muscles and calming the mind. Not every asana is appropriate to practice while you are menstruating. Some will inhibit menstrual flow, so you want to practice only asana that aid the body in releasing the stored uterine wall lining. These include asana like Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Prasarita Padottansana, and Parsvattonasana.
You can also practice asana that help to decrease heavy flow without obstructing it, like Ardha Chandrasana. Supine poses like Supta Badha Konasana, especially when done with the support of bolsters and pillows can help to encourage flow while relieving the lower back and abdominal muscles from cramping.
Tip Number Two – Herbs are Your Friends
Drink lots of water and Chamomile tea. There are also Ayuervedic herbs, which can help with symptoms like bloating, discomfort and irritability. Ashoka Rasayana also helps with PMS, hot flushes, red eyes and heavy bleeding. Asafetida will help to increase progesterone hormone which makes for easier monthly bleeding. Henna has a cooling effect and has been used for centuries as an aid to help with heavy bleeding. Valerian Root also helps to aid menstrual flow and its associated side effects. You should research more about how to properly use each herb to receive the best efficacy of each.
Tip Number Three – Don’t Underestimate the Power of Breath
Pranayama exercises during menstruation should be those that decrease the fire or Pitta quality in a woman. She should never practice breath of fire or other faster-paced breathing exercises, but instead breath deep, yogic breaths concentrating on filling the abdominal cavity with as much air as possible and exhaling every last drop, but without strain. Activating the ‘relaxation response’ with deep breathing can help to alleviate anxiety, irritability and help calm the brain. Take this time to work on the more introspective aspects of your yoga practice and rest. It is a very powerful time for rejuvenation if you allow it to be. The breath can greatly aid in restoring the Pranic flow of the body, mind and spirit.
You can find a yoga-breathing-meditation technique in this YouTube video that is very effective at relaxing the mind and heart.
If you follow these simple tips, yoga can make your next menstrual cycle much easier to endure, and perhaps even a time of reflection and contemplation you look forward to.