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Yoga During Menstruation


Menstruation is a natural monthly cycle in women which begins in their adolescent period, generally, between the age of 8 and 18 and lasts until between ages 40 and 60. The menstrual cycle of most women is about 28 days, though it can vary considerably from one month to another. Every month the inner developed layer of the uterus (endometrium) flows out as menstruation. The discharge consisting of blood and cells flows out for three to five days. 

This menstruation is the sign of the ability of the ladies to conceive. If the lady conceives, there is no menstruation till the delivery. The menstruation reflects not only the health of the uterus but also the health of the endocrine glands that control it, i.e. the ovaries & the pituitary glands. The cessation of the cycle comes as part of the ageing process. The ageing body normally produces smaller quantities of the hormones which control the cycle, and ultimately it ceases. This time is known as the menopause.


The ovum develops in one of the two ovaries. The hormone known as estrogen is produced in the ovaries. It increases the thickness of endometrium. The mature ovum is released from the ovary fourteen to fifteen days before the menstruation which is called ovulation. Then this ovum passes through the fallopian tube which goes towards uterus. 

While travelling towards the uterus if this ovum comes into contact with the semen of the male the ovum becomes capable of reproduction. This way conception occurs. It takes three to five days for the ovum to reach the uterus after it is released from ovary. If the ovum is fertilised it becomes mature and gets attached to the inner lining of the uterus. Then it develops as foetus. If the ovum and the semen do not come into contact or if there is no fertilisation even after the contact, the inner lining of the uterus becomes thick but it does not get hormones. As the time passes it breaks down and as regularly it happens in the body, the menstruation starts.


Though menstruation is normal, some women experience some dilemma during this cycle, like menstrual cramps or Dysmenorrhea, or Pre-menstrual syndrome. Medical evidence indicates that both spasmodic and congestive dysmenorrhoea are due to hormonal imbalance. With spasmodic pain there is too much progesterone in the body, while congestive problems are due to an excess of oestrogen. Uterine cramps may be due to high levels of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances produced by the lining of the uterus in great quantities just before it is shed.

Lack of progesterone (that is, too much oestrogen) also causes the body cells to retain sodium and lose potassium. This has severe consequences, for the transmission of impulses throughout the nervous system and brain depends on the correct sodium/ potassium ratio. It seems then, that hormonal imbalance is also the physiological root of our emotional vulnerability during the menses. Symptoms include continuous pain, tenderness of the pelvis, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, quivering, rapid heartbeat, and sweating. The pain usually occurs a few hours before bleeding, comes to a peak within a few hours and subsides in one to two days. Rest, heating pad on abdomen or back, nutrition, and medication are common therapies. A balanced diet which includes adequate amount of calcium, fluids and Vitamin B6 can help prevent or alleviate pain.


Women undergo hormonal changes during menstruation & the science of Yoga is proved as a boon in such conditions. It offers natural and effective methods without toxic side-effects and with benefits that extend far beyond the physical. Many women ask if it is safe to perform Asanas during their periods. It is essential not to strain at any time, but apart from this usual precaution there is absolutely no reason to abandon your practices. 

However, it is important to recognize the need to slow down and practice Yoga gently. The abdomen should remain soft and inactive throughout the practice, so that the menstrual flow can continue unobstructed. Twists and inverted positions (Sirshasana and Sarvangasana) are not suitable as this may reverse the flow or squeeze the abdominal area and interfere with the natural discharge. Following poses are particularly useful during the menstrual period. These poses ease menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, pelvic discomfort and the low back pain associated with menses.


They increase the blood circulation in the pelvis. They help in straightening the spine, slowing down metabolism, promoting inner tranquility and keeping your mind still.


Forward bending postures like Shashankasana, Marjariasana, Yogamudra, Mahamudra and Janushirasana are particularly beneficial during menstruation as they induce a feeling of tranquility. They relieve mental and physical tension. The diaphragm gently massages the abdominal organs to improve digestion, tones the muscles of the abdominal wall and soothes cramping and lower back pain. Forward bending postures stimulate the endocrine system, regulating hormonal secretion, which can relieve painful or irregular menstruation and improve the digestion to reduce the feeling of bloating.


It strengthens muscles of the back, pelvis, hips and legs and improves disorders of female reproductive function. Stretches the abdomen and tones pelvic organs and kidneys.


It is also called the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. You inhale through one nostril and exhale through the other nostril.


This posture helps in removing all the pains & strains on the body and mind. It also helps to relieve cramp.


Congestive period pain is relieved when the menstrual flow is at its peak and the flow is quickened by contractions of the uterus. For that Moola- bandha could be particularly beneficial.

The following exercise is very beneficial for this problem:-


Sit on the floor with legs wide apart. Hold the left big toe with the right hand. Take the left hand behind the backside. Inhale while sitting straight. Then exhale & bend down on the left knee & try to touch the knee with the forehead. Keep the elbows on the floor, if it is possible. Hold it for 3 breaths. Inhale & come up. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat on both the sides 10-12 times. It is useful for inner parts of the abdomen. It gives large benefit to the ovaries of women.

Contradiction Those having slipped disc and sciatica should not do the above exercise.


Yoga during menses is a matter of personal preference. What works for someone, may not work for other. Listen to your body, you are the best judge of what you can and cannot do, while you are under menstruation and that should be your final word.


During the rest of the cycle a balanced program of Asanas will harmonize hormone production through their subtle manipulation of the glands. Asanas massage and compress the glands and internal organs, forcing stale blood out and allowing fresh blood to circulate. The glands and the whole reproductive system are toned and strengthened. A good program would include Surya- namaskara, Sarvangasana, Halasana, Kandharasana, Matsyasana, Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Paschimottanasana, Moola-bandha and Vajroli- mudra. Meditation practices, notably Yoga-nidra is also ideal for relieving the tension that disturbs our physical and emotional harmony.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna

Aum Shanti