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Old 01-11-02, 11:12 AM  
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Asheville, NC
Do you do Yoga While Menstruating?

First of all I am a yoga newbie. On all the yoga videos I have seen it does not recommend doing certain poses during that time of the month. My question is why?

Also after all this talk on the forum recently, exactly what do you mean by breathing into your groins?
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Old 01-11-02, 11:34 AM  
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Yep, I do

I'm not sure what the historic reason for not yogaing while menstruating is, but the current explanation is that it stops the natural downward flow of the blood (and tissue), and also the redirects the natural downward energy flow that comes with menstruating. I'm not currently a big believer in the energy theories like tai chi, so I don't follow that advice. I also don't worry about changing the direction of the flow on my period since its only a few tablespoons (which is what those pamphlets you get in sixth grade say). Wouldn't sleeping interfere with the downward flow?

But then there is a difference in energy levels (the whole being) at different times of the month, so that is another reason a woman might not want to do vigorous poses then. Bryan Kest actually says every woman should do what's right for her. But, that said, doing restorative postures for 5 or 6 days a month is surely not a bad idea.

Breathing into the groins. Rodney Yee says this, especially in Yoga for Athletes. This is often laughed at because some of us are very literal and we only have one groin. But what he's talking about is taking deep breaths and thinking about the oxygen and air going into the groin area (or whatever area they are trying to relax). It really isn't bad imagery and helps you focus on the area you are trying to stretch and relax. It brought me out of the moment so to speak, because it sounded funny the first time I heard it.

As with anything, your milage may vary on your opinions in these matters.
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Old 01-11-02, 11:40 AM  
Lisa TV
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Yer Groins

In Rod's book he says this is a question he gets asked very often! LOL He says your groins are the narrow valleys where your inner thighs meet your pelvis.

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Old 01-11-02, 11:41 AM  
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maybe not inversions

As Lynne pointed out, there is some debate and doubt about some of the more historical and esoteric reasons for avoiding yoga during menstruation. Some cultural bias, some beliefs about energy flow, etc etc.

There are more recent rationalizations about avoiding inversions during menstruations, some concern about fluid/cells seeping back into the uterus, and causing potential problems. I'm uncertain here, too.

Generally, most modern day teachers advise doing yoga, but avoiding inversions (although there again, the definition of inversion may vary! Headstand=inversion, down dog, maybe not!)

I personally avoid full inversion during the first few days, then might go ahead and do them, depending on how I feel, later during the period. But as Lynne says, probably some restorative poses would be fine, or even more vigorous poses if you're up to it.

Breathing into groins - yeah, that's just kind of a funny Rodney-ism that's hard not to pick on. Personally, I like it better when I get to *spill* my groins!

be as relaxed as you can be, as you do what you gotta do.

~erich schiffman
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Old 01-11-02, 12:20 PM  
Lori P.
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: New Jersey
I never used to think it was a big deal (to do my yoga practice, inversions and all) during that time of the month until I got injured and stopped my practice for awhile. My back used to kill me (previously my period was close to being pain-free!)) and when I stopped yoga my pain went away, too! So for me there's something to be gained by not doing inversions, even down-dog, right before and during my period.
Just my 2 cents!
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Old 01-11-02, 12:26 PM  
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Pensacola,Florida
Yoga during "that time"

When I first started yoga, I read all the advice and explanations about why women should avoid certain postures during menses and decided to ignore them completely.

Big mistake. It took only doing this once for me to understand why. After doing some power yoga(on my menses)I had 2-3 days of extremely heavy flow(I usually only have 1) with breakthroughs occuring frquently throughout and having to sleep on a towel to protect bedding.(Something I read mentioned the rupture of engorged blood vessels causing this to happen). The increase in flow was also accompanied by weakness and general dizziness when getting up and down. This is not something I care to experience again--so I just do some pilates instead during this time.

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Old 01-11-02, 02:07 PM  
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Smile Funny, I was just thinking about this too!

I've been doing Kathy Smith's New Yoga for Beginners on and off for almost a year now but had never done it during my period, mainly because of time and energy level.

This time around I thought that gently yoga might help relieve some of the discomfort (I always have about 24 hrs of painful cramping). I found some interesting stuff on and substituted those poses when KS was doing inversions on the tape. I also went easy with some of the more challenging poses instead of pushing myself (not straining!) the way I would normally when doing the routine. It seemed to really help.

As always with yoga, if it's not feeling right, don't do it.

Good luck!
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Old 01-11-02, 03:20 PM  
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I do in moderation

Pretty much everything I usually do, with the exception of full-blown inversions like Headstands, Shoulderstands and the Wheel. When I first started, I thought, "Is this yet another excuse to keep women away from something else?". However, a friend of mine explained that the theory is that yoga is supposed to- in part- help rid your body of toxins and that by doing inversions you may be delaying the release of toxins from the body. Not that there is anything wrong with menstrual flow- except that it's inconvenient and a pain to manage- but it does contain sloughed off uterine cells, so, okay, I could kind of see the argument.

The few times that I have done the full-blown inversions I've stopped my flow for about a day, and then it comes back much heavier. Granted, these incidents were towards the end of my cycle which is always up for grabs anyway, but it seemed like those postures didn't help.

Having said all of that, yoga does wonders for your menstrual cycle. I was never in terrible pain, but most of the discomfort I used to have during that time has all but vanished.
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Old 01-11-02, 03:47 PM  
Renee D
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I do

But then, I'm a light flow, no cramps kinda girl and I find it helps with my stress and tension.

David Swenson said after he asked three female yogis what they do and got three different answers (do nothing, do everthing but inversions, do your regular practice) he concluded that every woman shoulld do what feels right for them, and I am inclined to agree.
Renee D

Let your love fly like a bird on the wing
And let your love bind you to all living things
And let your love shine
And you'll know what I mean, that's the reason
~Bellamy Brothers

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Old 01-11-02, 10:10 PM  
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Location: Upstate, NY
Another vote for doing what feels right

I asked this same question on the Yoga Check in a month or two ago. The answers were varied.

My (Ashtanga) instructor brought it up one day, and just mentioned not doing inversions primarily because that's the tradition, but do what feels right.

A friend of mine who teaches yoga said that the leader of her style said that the tradition to not do inversions was based on the idea that menstrual energy in the "astral body" flows down, and to invert pulls it the wrong direction (according to him, it's not really a concern for the physical body). He then pointed out that inversions are really only held for a relatively short amount of time, and are unlikely to really do much damage.

My opinion, based on my own experience and what I've been able to learn from others, is do what feels good and avoid what doesn't. I think the important lesson is to remember to do that when we AREN'T mestruating! (I tend to push myself a little hard when I'm tired sometimes). I often feel very energetic and "powerful" at that time of month, and so far doing inversions hasn't seemed to harm anything. I do know that sometimes I feel particularly tired during that time, and I will try to be careful to take care of myself at those times.

Be well!
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faq, menstruation, yoga

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