May 22, 2020

All too often, modern yoga classes forget to make the proper adjustments to honor a woman’s body when she is on her period.

When we are on our menstrual flow, our womb wants us to open up, relax, and slow down… Part of this ignorance stems from the yogic lineages that came to the west in the 20th century were primarily taught by men, for men (for example, in India yoga was taught exclusively to men and women were often forbidden to practice) — which means the yoga flows were focused on what works for the male body, whom, as you know, don’t menstruate or have uteruses.

The crazy thing is that modern western women took over asana yoga, and it is now essentially a female-dominated practice (studies by the Yoga Alliance back in 2016 reported that out of the 36 million Americans that practice yoga, over 70% of them are women… and it is forecasted that 55 million Americans are practicing yoga in 2020, with a similar male to female ratio, but I digress…)

Even in Shakti Kundalini Yoga (a form of sensual yoga I teach to empower women), strong bandha locks, aggressive breath of fire, inversions, PC pumps, and certain Shakti raising kriyas are not the best fit for a woman when she is on her flow.

As women take over the yogic lineages in this modern age, it is up to women to educate ourselves (and our teachers and yoga studios) on proper modifications to honor our wombs and menstrual flow. If you’d like to send a pamphlet to your local yoga studio, please download my mentor’s Womb-Friendly Yoga Manifesto.

Here are 4 key yogic practices that are contraindicated for women who are on their menstrual cycle (and how to make modifications on your own):

❤ Hot Yoga: While it’s become quite trendy to sweat it out in a hot yoga class, a woman on her period does not need the extra heat and detoxification (which can deplete her inner resources), especially if her menstrual cycle rhythm is erratic. This is a time to cool down and nurture your body. This is also a big no-no for pregnant and nursing mothers. Avoid hot yoga when you are on your period, period.

❤ Bandha Locks: We pull bandha locks in our yoga practice to direct the flow of energy in the body. For a menstruating woman, she wants all that energy to flow DOWN and OUT her vagina, not up. Therefore, all locks (root, diaphragm, and neck lock) and contraindicated, or should be used very lightly during this time. Same goes for PC pumps and kegels. Just relax when your yoga instructor asks you do pull a tight Mula bandha and visualize the energy running downward, not up.

❤ Pumping Breathwork: Breath of Fire plays a crucial role in activating your Shakti Kundalini energy during your yoga practice, but the heavy naval and diaphragmatic pumping is a no-no if Aunt Flow is paying you a visit. Any rhythmic breath that uses abdominal or pelvic floor contractions should be done very lightly or replaced with long deep breathing. You can get back to your kundalini activations after the third day of your flow, as long as you are no longer bleeding heavily.

❤ Inversions: Headstands or any move that puts you upside down so your pelvis is above your head (like plow pose) should be avoided. Inversions reverse the flow of energy and literally turns your uterus upside down during a time when you should be allowing your blood to be released downward naturally. Female yoga experts say that this could even extend the length of your cycle, and who’s got time for that? Just say no, sit up straight, and wait until the next appropriate posture is cued in class.

The number one rule of thumb is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: Don’t feel pressured to do any move in a yoga class that feels uncomfortable to you, contradicts medical advice, or simply doesn’t feel right intuitively. You are in charge of your body. Listen to her inner wisdom and allow her to guide you.

OH, one last thing… I also wanted to share with you ladies a FREE full-length Shakti Kundalini Yoga flow & meditation class that helps you drop into your womb and surrender to her Shakti power, no matter where you are on your cycle or phase of womanhood.

Julie Avena

Meditation & Intimacy Coach

P.S. Check out more original Womb Artwork (the beautiful artwork in the center of the cover image) by @hellies.goddesses

Julie Avena

Try a women's yoga class for your moontime!

Yogic wisdom to regulate your moods and menstrual cycle:

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1 Comment

  1. Hope you enjoyed this article! Stay tuned for more in this series about yoga and our menstrual cycles…

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