Are you a yoga enthusiast—or at least bought the mat so you can become one? Congrats! Yoga is a great form of exercise that improves muscle strength and flexibility, and that can also give you a sense of spiritual centeredness.
However, there is a persistent myth about periods that seems to bounce around yoga circles, so we thought we’d address it here. So pull up a mat and put on your comfiest leggings while we talk all about practicing yoga on your period!
Is it Safe to Do Yoga While Menstruating?
You may have heard that doing yoga—specifically, inversion poses like Plow, Dolphin, Crow, or headstands are unsafe or not advised during your period.
There are two reasons cited for this. The first is that menstruation is apana, or downward-traveling movement of energy and that inversions would disrupt this flow. However, not all yoga teachers or styles agree that an inversion would disrupt that flow, and some yoga styles actually recommend them.
If the spiritual component of yoga is very important with you, definitely talk to your instructor about your concerns!
In terms of whether it is medically safe for you to practice inversions while on your period, some suggest that you increase your risk of retrograde menstruation. That’s a very fancy way of saying that the blood will flow backward. As terrifying as that sounds, according to studies, retrograde menstruation is quite common.
What’s more, the suggested link between retrograde menstruation and endometriosis has not been conclusively proven.
Can Yoga Help While Menstruating?
You now know that doing yoga doesn’t pose a physical risk to your body, you might be wondering if there are any reasons you SHOULD practice yoga. The answer is yes!
We’ve written about how various yoga poses can help with your menstrual cramps, and some practices include engaging your pelvic floor. (We love any opportunity to get a Kegel workout in!).
Physical exercise in general gives us a natural high of happy chemicals which can combat some of the less-than-fabulous-feelings during our periods. But of course, if you’re in too much pain or just feel too bloated and gross for a workout, don’t feel pressured to power through.
Just grab a good book and a heating pad—being comfy and doing something that you love can just want the doctor ordered!
Lane Baumeister is an internationally-based Canadian writer with several years’ experience creating educational and entertaining articles that discuss intimate health and sexual well-being. When not waxing profound about menstruation, she devotes herself to enjoying extremely good food and equally bad movies.