Is It Safe To Practice Yoga During Periods Or Should I Take A Break?

Yes, ‘girls just wanna have fun’, but the female reproductive system has a nasty kicker that reminds us each month that life isn’t always fun. Menstruation is something that every woman has to endure, so we just need to learn to live with it. But, living with it is one thing and managing an exercise or yoga routine with severe abdominal cramps and heavy bleeding is another. So, how do you strike a balance? Is it even possible to practice yoga during periods and if so are there any particular issues that you should be concerned about?

Should You Practice Yoga During Periods?

“Yoga is generally seen as mild physical activity, which is why most experts regard it as safe during periods – just avoid high intensity yoga workouts like hot yoga or power yoga”

Practicing yoga during menstruation is generally regarded as safe and a regular yoga routine can even help to alleviate painful symptoms of menstruation. Of course, the logic is the same as with exercising during periods – it depends to a large extent on the type of exercises you’re doing. High intensity exercises are not ideal, but low or moderate intensity exercises can actually help relieve period pain. Yoga is generally seen as mild physical activity, which is why most experts regard it as safe during periods, but there are various yoga disciplines today, some of which involve high intensity workouts like hot yoga or power yoga. If you follow a gentle restorative yoga practice and meditation, yoga could be the best form of exercise during periods, even helping relive cramps and mood swings. However, it would be best to avoid high intensity activities.

Benefits Of Yoga During Periods

“Several studies have shown that yoga workouts can bring about a significant reduction in pain intensity and duration, even in women suffering from menstrual disorders that cause severe pain”

There have been several studies highlighting the reduction in symptoms of menstruation through the practice of yoga. One such study that appeared in the Journal of Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology found that yoga workouts with poses like cobra, cat and fish poses brought about a significant reduction in pain intensity and duration in women suffering from primary dysmenorrhea, which is condition of extremely painful periods with severe abdominal cramps. Similarly, a study in India found that Yoga Nidra could be therapeutic for patients with menstrual disorders who experience high levels of anxiety and depression. Short term yoga exercise interventions have also been found to reduce physical premenstrual symptoms, which is why many experts recommend yoga for menstrual pain.

Advice On Practicing Yoga During Periods

“When practicing yoga during periods opt for gentle asanas, focusing on those like the Cobra Pose, Cat Pose, Legs-up-the-Wall Pose, and Bound Angle Pose”

For best results, you should listen to your body and modify poses to suit your comfort level. As with any yoga practice, if it’s causing discomfort you shouldn’t be doing it or you’re not doing it right. When practicing yoga during periods opt for gentle asanas, focusing on those like the Cobra Pose, Cat Pose, Bound Angle Pose, and Fish Pose. You can even use props to increase comfort while practicing. One of the best features of yoga is the meditative and breathing exercise practice, as this helps promote relaxation and will relieve most of those unpleasant menstrual symptoms.

Ultimately the decision to practice yoga during periods is a personal choice. The severity of menstrual symptoms can vary greatly among women, so you need to listen to your body and decide accordingly. If you’re determined to go ahead with your practice, just keep in mind that poses involving inversions should be avoided because of their obstruction to the natural flow of blood.

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Rakhshaee Z. Effect of three yoga poses (cobra, cat and fish poses) in women with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized clinical trial. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2011 Aug;24(4):192-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2011.01.059. Epub 2011 Apr 21. PubMed PMID: 21514190.

Rani, Khushbu et al. “Six-Month Trial of Yoga Nidra in Menstrual Disorder Patients: Effects on Somatoform Symptoms.” Industrial Psychiatry Journal 20.2 (2011): 97–102. PMC. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

Tsai, Su-Ying. “Effect of Yoga Exercise on Premenstrual Symptoms among Female Employees in Taiwan.” Ed. Anthony R. Mawson. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13.7 (2016): 721. PMC. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

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