Most of us know yoga and have at least tried it once. Hatha, Vinyasa or Yin Yoga, there are so many different styles and especially when starting, you might ask yourself, which one is best for you. To me there is no “best choice” in general, but I do recommend certain styles at certain times of the menstrual cycle. To have a different intensity during your period and your ovulation totally makes sense. To understand why and to get an overview of how our cycle works you can read my article UNDERSTANDING THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE TO BENEFIT FROM IT. Today I want to focus on our menstruation. Does it make sense to do yoga while you’re on your period? Are there things you should avoid doing in your practice? Let’s have a look (:
1. Yoga on your period – a good idea?
That is a definite YES! Movement can help us to feel so much better, in times we might feel super tired, not in our energy or when we’re more sensitive to pain. It can even help to reduce menstrual pain or cramps.
While some women like to do more powerful movements, others need to be very gentle and soft. I find it very helpful to be extra slow and connected to my breath at the beginning of my inner winter and start to have more powerful movements towards the end of it.
Whatever it is you feel like doing, be honest with yourself and only do what feels good. The inner winter (the time shortly before menstruating until the end of your period) is there to reflect, rest and take care of yourself. This can be challenging at times, but try to be very understanding and loving with yourself. You will see – if you slow down a little bit and maybe try to do some gentle yoga, your mood will be even better afterwards.
2. things you should avoid during your period
There are a lot of opinions and tips out there. Some say you do not need to avoid anything when it comes to your practice, others will give you a list with a hundred things you should not be doing.
First I want to say: your body knows best! So if you feel like a high intensity workout and your body feels great during and afterwards, go for it.
But I do want to encourage you to try to be more gentle and easy on your body during your period. Try out some of ‘my best practices for your period’ listet below and be honest with yourself on how it makes you feel.
Exercises I recommend you NOT to do on your period are those ones that put extra pressure on your stomach/ Abs. Why? Your body is already doing a lot of work around your stomach / womb area. To put extra pressure on it during this time, can actually cause (more) pain and can get you out of balance emotionally. I even know some women, that didn’t have their period anymore, because they were doing really challenging workouts, without listening to the needs of their bodies.
When it comes to yogic exercises, this also means, it’s not the right time for strong breathwork like Kapalbhati.
As I said before, your body knows best. But I encourage you to at least try one ‘inner winter’ to be super gentle and soft to yourself, truly start feeling every single pose and connect with your natural breath instead of pushing yourself to the limit. Ask yourself afterwards, if the more gentle exercises made you feel better or maybe even helped you with your period pain. And reflect, if your body truly enjoys the hard(er) exercises or if it’s your ego that wants to push you to the limits.
3. 5 practices to do on your period
These are my best practices for your period:
- Yin Yoga:
I LOVE Yin Yoga during my inner winter. It helps me to truly listen to my body. While I stay in a certain pose, I can more easily put all my attention towards my breath and go even deeper into the stretch. It helps my body to calm down. Especially after the practice I feel so good and the stretches help me to release blockages.
- Restorative Yoga:
This is for me to calm down, relax and just BE. Usually I love to do more challenging exercises, practice my head- and handstand and like to flow quite quickly. But in my inner winter I do love the slow pace of restorative yoga. Especially with this practice I prefer to do it just by myself. This helps me to listen and focus on what my body and mind need.
- All easy Yoga Flows:
This is super general, but sums up best, what I love during my period. All flows that feel easy to me, help me to connect to my inner world. While I don’t have to focus so much on the pose itself, I can connect to my breath and really start feeling what wants to be felt.
- Easy and gentle Breathwork:
Our breath is one of the most important things to connect to, while we do our yoga practice. During my period, easy and gentle Breathwork is what I enjoy. Also my body feels really good after connecting to my in- and exhales. Just surrendering to the flow of my breath is what I find most helpful during menstruation.
- Yoga Nidra
If I feel super tired, Yoga Nidra helps me to still connect with myself. Also it helps me to regain some energy and to calm down my mind. Especially on days I feel very emotional, this helps me a lot.
4. final thoughts
Listen to your body. That’s what it comes to in the end. You and your body know best, what you need, what feels good and what you like. No matter if you feel like doing a lot of movement or not moving at all, you decide and everything is more than ok! I just encourage you to do some selfcare, relaxation and calming down, especially during your period, to support your natural cycle and inner balance. Use your yoga practice to look inside rather than outside and to help yourself with truly connecting to your body and needs.
In this very hectic world using your breath and movement to slow down can be such a gift. Allow yourself to do less and enjoy the insights you might get.