≡ Menu

Go With Your Flow: Yoga On Your Period – To Invert or Not to Invert?

in Thanks for the tip, YD News

Firstly, PMS chocolate brownie points for the above yoga period graphic, Jezzies.

OK ladies, chime in whenever you’re ready.  Yoga during your period. Yay or nay? Reliable menstruating experts at Jezebel have taken on the question and went ahead to gather a few sources on the subject.

While much of the reasoning behind the “no yoga on your period” rule is steeped in Ayurveda to keep the natural direction of menstrual blood flow (that’s down and out!), there isn’t much modern day science to back it up. Still, if you tell any Iyengar teacher you’re on your cycle you better believe you’ll receive some “special option” treatment. (Most Iyengar and Ashtanga teachers don’t recommend inverting during your period or at least during the first few days of heavier flow. See Senior Iyengar teacher Bobby Clennell’s The Woman’s Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of the Menstrual Cycle)

However, concerns about retrograde menstruation, where the blood flows up and into your fallopian tubes (yikes) that can cause endometriosis is certainly a serious issue. Also, if you already have endometriosis, inversions on your period are probably painful enough you won’t do them anyway.

But, as the article points out, Dr. Timothy McCall writes about a study that found retrograde menstruation naturally occurs in 90 percent of women regardless of how long we hold headstand or invert at all.

So what’s the verdict? Let’s be honest, most of us everyday yogi super heroines aren’t holding inversions much longer than a tampon commercial, but the reasons not to kick your feet up over your head may be as simple as listen to your body when it’s trying to tell you something.

“To me the bigger question is whether you are listening to your body,” McCall told us. “If you are tired and crampy, then not only shouldn’t you be doing strong inversions like headstands in the early days of your period, but you probably should also be refraining from multiple sun salutations, arm balances and other strong poses, in favor of a gentler practice. I believe, however, that if it’s later on in your period, your flow is light, and you otherwise feel good, that going upside down for a minute or two is unlikely to cause problems.”

Sure, he’s a dude, but we agree. Do we really have to push, push, push all the time? Might we suggest a restorative practice during your lady holiday?

What’s been your experience, sister women?



107 comments… add one
  • choonmoon

    So two things dictate my practice when it comes to my moon cycle. Hormone level and Flow. Not Vinyasa flow, but how quickly you fill a tampon. And these things can change from month to month, depending on your stress level or diet.

    So here’s my story.

    I remember the first time I practiced inversions on my period. Remember may be the wrong word– I’m trying to forget… It was day 3 or 4 of my cycle and I felt great! I was energetic, bloating was down, and only wearing a regular tampon. (I’m usually super+) We were practicing headstand and I thought to myself, “I’ll be fine.” As I balanced, I felt a suction force pulling the air into my vagina, and thought, “Hmm that’s funny.” When I stood up, along with a gush of air, I leaked through my underwear and onto my light pink yoga shorts. I felt my crotch seeping with my menstrual blood. I quietly skirted to the bathroom and confirmed my worst nightmare. I cleaned myself up as best as I could, and left the yoga studio mid class. (My apologies to the teacher– It wasn’t you!) I experienced a significant increase in cramping on the days that followed even though I was on the tail end of my period. After that, I vowed never to practice inversions on my period again.

    Flash forward 2 years, I’m still a dedicated and strong yogi, but on the pill. My periods are super light, symptom free, and only last 4-5 days. (Previously, I was a 7-day flow girl.) I consistently practice inversions on my period days, with no adverse side effects. I do however, take it easy on the days AFTER my period when I start a new pack of BC. My body is being flooded with hormones, and those things are NO JOKE! (I recall going to the science museum as a child and seeing an exhibit that displayed the human blood to hormone ratio, and it was something like 1.5 gallons of blood to a 1/2 tsp of hormones.) I feel tired, lethargic, emotional, and bloated for about 4 days. I essentially experience PMS, after my period. Although I’m no longer bleeding, I truly feel it’s in my own best interest to take it easy these days, ie: light practice, and no strong inversions or arm balances. I advise my friends, colleagues, and students to do the same. Whether they feel hormonal, or if they have a heavy flow.

    This is just my two cents. I’m eager to read the other responses/experiences.

    • Virginia

      The same thing happened to me yesterday, but luckily I was at home. I was doing a shoulder stand and when I came out of it the suction of my menstrual cup released. I’ll never do inversions at the beginning of my period again.

    • Vipassana

      Choonmoon, hormonal suppression (“The Pill”) actually suppresses menstruation. The spotting experienced is simply breakthrough bleeding rather than shedding of the many colors of the endometrium (the full detox flow of menstruation). Many women do not know this information, sadly.

      So, if we are going to talk about the period, we need to know whether it’s full-on menstruation or the leaky light breakthrough bleeding – as these are 2 completely different conditions.

      The true nature of menstruation is a biodynamic Flow of great force and shift. And women who practice uniting body & mind and harmonizing lifestyle and food-as-medicine discover that real menstruation needn’t involve cramping or pelvic congestion – and it can even be pleasurable. Ashtanga yogini Jeannine Parvati (the first author on prenatal yoga in the western world) wrote and taught about this since the 1970s…. Currently, there is a resurgence of menstruation reclamation happening in some sectors of women’s culture, which I find heartening.

      My truth, learned from over 20 years of healing my own hormonal cycle and reaping the benefits of a healthy, natural period is that real menstruation is always remarkable, unmistakeable, downward to the earth (apana vayu), dramatic (blood like pomegranate juice, guava juice, potent in color, rivers and trickles, sea-musk saltiness). It is the microcosm of birth. And what’s interesting is that the more women reclaim natural menstruation, the less inclined we are to conceive babies out of ego-craving and dissatification.

      P.S. As to hormonal suppression and chemical B.C. – it is as yogic to me as is tossing plastic water bottles and using disposable menstrual products that contain toxic gels and dioxin bleach… The yogini understands that sexuality, fertility/creativity, and spirituality are inherently connected. Which leads us to question our ignorance about fertility awareness, sacred sex, and menstruation. At a timeless age of 46, I am looking forward to about another 10 years of natural menstrual cycling!!! Peace.

      • Wanna know

        Wow! Timeless age vipassana, what is your treatment for HPV? I keep seeming to give it to more and more women though I do everything to try to stop it: Aruvedic treatments, having sex with the woman on top, acupuncture?
        I don”t want to resort to anything “plastic” either — condoms are invariably made from toxic man-made substances. It is deeply deeply important to remain organic in all our tantric practices!
        The yogi wants to practice…in ALL ways….I am sure the true yogini will understand.

        • runninggirl

          HPV is no joke. If you are at all serious about that post, please cover up and don’t spread it anymore. I hope for your partners sake that is is not the cancerous strain. If you were a true yogi and don’t want to contribute waste to the environment, you would practice not having sex.

          • Beth

            I think that “Wanna Know” was responding to “Vipassana” with sarcasm, as the latter’s post was pretentious.

        • Dear Wanna know,

          Chinese Medicine had cure HPV with herbs and herbal suppositories. It can take 3 to 4 months. In the meantime, don’t have unprotected sex! Also, the virus is causing throat cancer due to oral sex, not just cervical cancer. Choosing partners wisely is important.

      • Bloodmystress

        Vipassana thank you so much for your comment, and for mentioning my favorite gone yogini Jeannine Parvati. I am 37 years old, have never used the pill, and I use sea sponges or a felt rag to catch the flow. I feel a strong apana pull for about 24 hours of my new moon and that is when I do not practice inversions. Our bodies are talking to us all the time, we just have to listen. Namaste

        • Sam Louise

          Sea sponges or a felt rag? What the hell?

          • Bloodmystress

            Natural sea sponges, small ones (or cut well from a larger one) make a fairly good tampon that you can rinse and reuse. The pads I use are handmade cotton/felted wool or maybe they’re flannel? I’ve tried different materials but these have held up well with repeated washings. Just google natural + period + pad and see the awesome range of alternatives to bleached cotton disposable products.

      • anonomyssy

        Respectfully I hate the pill, can’t take it, messes my body up horribly…but please don’t judge others for using it. Having babies you don’t want, and can’t feed is less yogic than using artificial hormones.

        I’m happy you are in harmony with your body, etc…but please be gentle with others.

  • Sara Dillon

    Excuse the length of this, but thanks for the subject.
    I’ve had endometriosis for thirty years. It is indeed the migration of endometrial cells outside the uterus. Those migrated cells build up and slough off blood and tissue every month. Having nowhere to go, the extra material turns to scar tissue, which turn to adhesions, which can bind other materials in your pelvis together like fallopian tube walls, or the uterus to the back of the pelvic wall, or even the outside of the intestines. These can cause not only menstrual cramping, but obviously, infertility (in the case of blocked tubes), and GI problems, and sexual problems. Many of us who have endometriosis have to be on the pill to control our periods. You can try luprin to shut your system down for six months, but it can make you a little crazy. You can get a laparoscopy and get the adhesions lasered out, but they can grow back. If you can’t take the pill, you’re stuck w/ painkillers.
    It’s a rotten disease.
    Yet the notion that inversions can cause endometriosis because of blood flowing back up through your uterus when you go upside down a couple of times at the end of a practice — now that is patently fucking absurd. As sexist as this sounds, only a man (and I think it was the male elite of the yoga world, but I can’t remember, sorry) who came up with this stupid idea.
    Yeah, inversions — like MANY other poses — during your period can make your blood flow change, but I seriously doubt they will cause a disease.
    As a life-long sufferer of endometriosis, I would MUCH rather my teachers help me with living with chronic pain, and with understanding the role of internal adhesions in the pelvis in all my yoga work. I sometimes wonder if the fascia of different muscles and organs are just bound together by endometrial adhesions. I wonder what can be done. Without another lapro, I suppose I couldn’t “see” it, but I’m not having another one of those.
    So let’s keep asking women and girls what our experiences are with our bodies. Let’s keep telling teachers what we need. They won’t have all the answers, but I’d rather keep the conversation going intelligently than resort to mythology and “tradition” about women, periods, and certain poses. Thanks!

    • Sara Dillon

      And, also, to give him credit, it IS a male doctor, McCall, who points out the link between endometriosis and “retrograde” mentrual flow is a weak one anyway.

      • endo

        I, too, have Endometriosis. I am also an Ayurvedic practitioner. I understand your anger at the idea of retrograde flow, etc., but I do agree with the idea of not going upside down during menstruation – and for that matter, I also don’t recommend holding Mula Bandha. The reversal of flow is more of an energetic nature. Apana Vayu – that downward movement of Prana (or Vata) from the pelvis down, is essential for proper elimination of waste products, as it is essential for proper flow of menstrual blood – and childbirth. Anything that messes with that is likely to cause trouble in the long run. So it’s not the occasional practice of inverted poses that will mess your cycle up, but rather a long-rime habit, combined with your constitutional make-up and your disease tendencies.
        I do hope that your teachers can help you find relief from pain and insight into healing. Personally – I’ve had great success with herbs and acupuncture! Good luck 🙂

        • Endo too

          Hi endo,
          Like a lot of Aruveda, what you’ve put forth doesn’t make much sense. Directional problems eliminating waste? Human beings can elimate waste from just about any direction. Your view seems more intutional than scientific — not a bad thing, but given the fact that instutional imagistic or associative thinking is prized in yoga as “authoritative,” it just seems silly. Invserion practices habitual over time causing trouble? No. Most endo starts for young adolescents in their mid-teens. Obviously, most will not have been doing inversion practices — unless they have from monkey bars as kids a lot.

        • Sara Dillon

          Thanks, endo. But assuming that endometriosis might be caused by or even made worse by inversions (even over time) is as silly and far-fetched as the old designation of endomentriosis as the “career woman’s disease.” This misogynist, 1950’s, blaming diagnosis presumed that not getting pregnant was the problem, that “careers instead oc babies” was the problem, and that getting knocked up every couple of years like every “sensible” woman would cure endometriosis (or at least stave off the symptoms for nine months at a time.) The fact is that no one understand what causes the migration of endometrial material outside the uterus, or why the disease behaves the way it does. There are women who have it who have terrible scar tissue adhesions, blocked tubes and infertility, but are so pain-free they don’t even know they have it until they can’t get pregnant and finally get diagnosed. There are other patients with very few adhesions and excruting pain. In both cases, pain and discomfort can actually have VERY little to do with actual visible menstrual flow. To whit, no one really understands the pain associated with endometriosis. So it’s great you’ve found relief w/ acupuncture and “herbs,” but frankly, Aruveda is shooting in the darkeven more than traditional medicine. No an inherent sin — just means it’s bad business for any yoga or aruvedic teacher to pretend they know dick about the disease. You don’t.

          • Vipassana

            Oh my. The feminine ego is vast, I know mine as capable of that at least. Hmm. Well then if you want to diss ancient science and modern biodynamic principles, you might as well call the great gravitational center of the earth a Moron instead of Magma… Restoring reverence to ourselves and our cycles has as much to do with restoring reverence to our relationship with the earth, the seasons, and the great cosmic life cycle. That is the perspective of yoga. The 24-Hour fitness/gym version of stretches and external exercises, is something other than the “Yoga” I am oriented to.

            As someone who self-healed from endometriosis and ovarian cysts in my late twenties (over a yearlong journey of ayurveda, chinese medicine, menstrual retreat, asanas on each non-menstrual day, quitting tobacco and cannabis, eliminating raw garlic and other inflammatories) I could say a lot about the above. I would recommend to any who are struggling with endometriosis to explore the below allies:

            switch to cloth pads, re-align with the experience of flow.. tampons are liberating sometimes, but they sometimes really displace our intentional relationship with the whole downward flow river thing.

            read yogini Maya Tiwari’s writings on healing womb imbalances, found in “Path of Practice: Ayurveda for Women” and Jeannine Parvati’s writings in “Hygieia: A Woman’s Herbal.”

            study and learn the glandular orchestration going on during the natural menses. If you pay attention to your internal world, you will find that your pituitary/intuition is extremely expanded.

            practice formal sukhasana (cross-legged sitting) during heavy flow days. The only “asana” needed in healthy menses is deep meditation, because it’s the deepest time. AND, sukhasana is a “power posture” for the pelvic floor (as explained by Maya Tiwari). If you have menstrual distress/disease/imbalances, there are asanas that are excellent for relieving cramps: tiger pose (kundalini), bow pose, and locust.

            Yes, it takes commitment, time, energy, and a willingness to change in order to do the above rather than pop pills and go under the knife. I am not saying that major medical/pharma intervention is never an option – it’s just that if a woman is informed and she takes a year to address these lifestyle changes, she may very well find that she creates durable healing and rejuvenation. I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to heal what I healed, as my own mother had always been a menstrual/uterine victim, and I was raised to believe in the concept of “The Curse.”

            I have found that with sincere intention to relate to the intelligence of the bodymind and the intelligence of the biodynamic field, there is profound healing and union possible. I wish this for you.

          • What?

            Dear god, “Vipassana” — what did you just say? “The feminine ego is vast?”
            Do you really just say that?
            Way to insult every possible reader, then go on to opine about your plan of treatment. Yes, yes, it would “take time, commitment, etc” and I’m sure those of us who have had tooi much else to do and have been so uncommitted and unwilling as to “go under knives and pop pills” are inferior to you with your choice of cloth pads et all BUT —
            So glad for you that you — uh — “self-healed”
            OMG. Are we really going to humblebrag about dealing with fucking endometriosis TOO?!
            How sickening. What a cunt. I’ve had it. Fuck off. The war between the sexes is nothing to the war between women. Over this, too? Over this?

          • Sara Dillon

            “What?” :
            Calm down. ” Endo” is also “Vispassana” and both apparently have vast egos.
            But I agree with you. The effort to move conversation forward is stymied always by this kind of self-righteous shit. Oh you cured yourself from leprosy and ecoli by proper diet and the right tinctures? Oh really? And if everyone has the “time, commitment,” etc they will cure themselves too? How about, well, leukemia and malaria? Should we call in exorcists about or “vast feminine egos?”

          • Vipassana

            Yes, that’s what I said. I have found my own ego to be quite a vast shadow. I don’t know about you – but it seems to be the lot of the modern age.

            In my work with students and with pregnant women and women in labor, recognizing that we have vast egos is the first step towards training it down to a workable size and aligning with something greater than the ego-based mind is a powerful source of support.

            No need for you to get upset if you don’t have a vast ego, lol.

    • Wholeyogi

      Thankful someone with some insight commented…. Curious why you are choosing not to get another lapro to remove tissue…. About to get my second in a month and would love to know your reasons for opting not to?

      • Wholeyogi

        My question was directed to Sara Dillon about deciding not to get another surgery… I realize I forget to specify… Thanks

    • Guna

      Dear Sara – have you ever tried TCM for your conditions? They will check that your liver is balanced and functioning well and also that your cloacles are clear too. Kind Regards x

  • KP

    One way to really feel the difference is to practice supported and restorative yoga when on your period. Especially those that gently open the hips (supported with straps for example). Symptoms such as aches, fatigue, bloating, etc. slip away. One feels refreshed and “in the flow”. I have never known myself or other women on their periods to obtain these benefits with a vigorous practice that includes inversions. (I have practiced yoga since I was 25 years old and I am now post menopausal at the age of 53…have children, so I’ve pretty much experienced all the phases of womanhood through yoga). I have studied mostly Iyengar yoga, and have followed the advice of those teachers…and am glad for it.

    • Yoga Mama

      I appreciate that is how you have felt and that you speak from experience. My experience is different and I’m not new to the mat either.
      I’d also comment inversions are not necessarily “vigorous”. When done skillfully inversions can be quite calming, meditative and refreshing.

      • KP

        yes, inversions can be very calming. But I was not talking from just my experience, but I have also been teaching for over 20 years. This is also the experience of the women in my classes. But as you suggest it can be an individual matter. I am curious what your experience is, since you did not mention specifically your practice.

        • Yoga Mama

          Thanks for your curiosity. I’ve been practicing yoga for 40 years. I do it seriously and have taught full time for most of those years. I watch and observe. My opinions and my teaching are formed by that experience.

  • dr

    If I’m already cramping, I won’t do anything one way or another to make anything worse. If I’m not, even if the flow is heavy, everything is fine. Movement and inversions of any kind can bring the menstrual blood to shed more quickly off the uterine walls and make flow temporarily heavier. Excessive movement, for some women, can cause menstrual blood clots; the need for the cervix to pass clots can cause cramps. Other women actually get relief from cramps by a vigorous practice. It’s entirely individual.

  • I am a crazed lady before my period and usually need, want, and require a strong and challenging class when PMS is in full swing. The second day of my cycle is the heaviest..logistically, no headstands. I usually take it easy for a few days and then feel strong and refreshed when all is said and done. Listen to the body! It has lots to say!

  • Yoga Mama

    I have practiced yoga for many years and practiced inversions while menstruating with no problems. Clearly some women do have problems. Everyone is different and the menstrual cycle is a time when hormones influence our movement in a significant way. In the article both experts quoted encourage women to pay attention to their bodies and their experiences not only while on their cycle but with every practice. Sound advice. I hear teachers say not to practice inversions while menstruating and I ignore them because they are just repeating what they have heard, without thinking things through, and give silly reasons not to invert – the medical reasons that Dr. McCall states are unfounded and, most annoying, the reference to the “ancient tradition” of yoga not to invert. Please. Women didn’t even do yoga until about 60 years ago so stop with the antiquity stuff. Pay attention and if inversions or strenuous poses don’t jive with your period then don’t do them but don’t paint everybody with the same brush. And personally I think having menstruating women lie in supta baddha konasana with their legs spread as the alternative to invertingis crude.

  • I’ve been practicing yoga intensively for 6 years. I’ve always been told that when we menstruate our bodies are detoxifying, so you don’t want to be upside down and pushing it back when it should be (…flowing) out!
    Also, it’s bad enough periods cause cramping, tension and light headedness. Being in an inversion will only amplify the period symptoms. Especially dizzyness, light headedness and lower energy.
    Inversions take alot of energy to instill alot of energy.
    I don’t agree with doing them for atleast first 3 days of a cycle.
    Just my opinion.
    p.s I do Ashtanga & Hatha.

    • will?

      “Detoxifying” precisely fucking what?
      It’s just endometrial material that didn’t get used to cushion a zygote, then embryo, then fetus — what’s “toxic” about that? It’s not “toxic,” queasy-ass suckers. It’s not unclean. It’s not poison.
      Bleach, arsenic, cyanide, nuclear waste, and various food additives — THEY are “toxic” — WE are NOT.
      What’s toxic, moreover, about sweat, blood, or anything else we excrete? This “de-tox” bullshit is teaching us to hate our bodies and think we need fucking yoga teachers to de-tox us of our own bodies! Fuck ’em all, I say. Fuck EVERY SINGLE ONE of these “yoga de-tox” bitches.
      As to energy? Who says? Inversions don’t take half as much energy as many other standing poses. The rest — dizziness, lower energy, whatever — are totally subjective. Sometimes in the midst of the most intense flow, I feel the MOST grounded and energized!
      Fuck all this horse-shit these queasy old men have “taught” us from the “ancient traditions” — they’re just scared of women’s bodies.
      Don’t be afraid of your own body. Try everything and see what feels good!

      • Vipassana

        Wow, you sound pretty…. toxic!!!

        The womb has both muscular and glandular functions. Menstrual blood contains excretions of anything that has been too much for the system – just like breast milk does. Menstrual rejuvenation is a reality best known through personal experience.

        Something most modern women don’t know is that the natural menstrual lining (not suppressed by hormone altering) is composed of three layers – and it takes three cycles to rid ourselves of cellular remains of various emotional experiences/lovers.

        Yes, intense flow is VERY grounding and energizing. In many earth-based cultures, women menstruated at the same time (due to the heavy effect of the tides on the womb before the EMF interference of city grids) – and would have all-nighters of soultalk, singin, craftin, meditating, etc. I always have one night during my period of super high energy where I stay up till 3 or 4am flowing my creativity.

        There’s a difference between fierce self-reverence and reactionary, male-identified notions of our capacities, strengths, and gifts. To me, working WITH the body’s flow and change and respecting myself is quite a fearless thing. The whole center of it is a feminine center connected to Source, the body-as-ally rather than enemy. Understanding that we are alchemical masters of Change and Healing is to understand female-bodied power and fearlessness.

      • honomann

        Wow Will. Sounds like you need to take up something relaxing like, er, yoga.

    • Yoga Mama

      Menstruation not “detoxifying”, it is a normal body process. Women are not toxic during their periods though cultures throughout history have and continue to shun women during that time. Inversions may amplify your symptoms but that is not the case for everyone so please don’t assume that because you don’t like them that all women should avoid inversions.

      • Vipassana

        I think there are some emotional triggers to our semantics here. We can all agree that we live in a world with many physical and emotional toxins. The womb as an ally in processing stuff and releasing what does not serve is actually a positive thing. I suppose my orientation is that the toxicity is transitory, and that the uterus/womb is inherently transformative and rejuvenative. Perhaps if we called menstruation “rejuvenating” and recognized that this includes the health benefits of what’s contained in what flows OUT with the flow, we would feel better?

        The biodynamic forces of the first 3-4 days of the natural period are a microcosm of the same forces that conduct birthgiving. As a midwifery-oriented yoga teacher, I would not recommend any woman who wants a fulfilling and conducive natural birth to take postures that counteract the gravitational and muscular concentrations involved in the hormonal blueprint of labor. Same goes for the significant days of the period.

        And sure, ya’ll – we – ie., women (mothers of the race) can do anything we set our minds to, including inversions during menstruation and early labor. The question is, are we creating optimal health and harmony? Are we maximizing the alignment of our powers for conduction and mind-blowing sexuality? And, are we willing to reclaim recognition of our biodynamic body in order to create longterm rejuvenation into old, old age? Are we able to apply our hearts to the present moment in such a way that we create positive longeterm outcomes and an inspiring example for the young ones coming up after us?

        Who do you want to be when you’re 70? It’s all good and well to attend yoga classes and maybe even teach them – but are we living our yoga, cultivating our own wisdom, and plunging the depths of rejuvenation and self-healing?

        • be well

          Who ever I am, I hope I am never as long-winded, fanatical and dull as you are.

  • I have studied with BKS Iyengar and while not currently certified with them .In the past I have asked about this and it seems mostly based on cultural differences in attitudes to menstruation being unclean.

    The first and most important thing I want to say and say to my students is. You as women have had for long enough Men telling you what to do during your period. you should do what feels good to you.

    Second my wife Shital and I work with women with fertility,pregnancy and post natal yoga we have done much scientific research on this subject as have others and at least 2 articles in the last few years in the American Yoga Journal back up that it is ok it do yoga with a flow if you want to! Retrgrade flow if that was an issue what would women astronaughts do and yet they have no problems with the issue and in fact if blood could travel up like this or even enter back thru the cervix as sometimes suggested well we would have women dying of infections left right centre.When pushed farther the supporters of the inversions being bad theory say that women are to emotionally unstable to do inversions. Well ahem lets not go into that as pure chauvinism raises it’s head.

    Not feeling like pushing yourself or cramps or to heavy a flow to control when you come down from upside down are always great resaons to not to a pose or something different. This should not belimited to women who are flowing it should be across the board if a student does not want to do certain poses than that is absolutly what they should do. it seems some teachers think they area dictator forgetting the student should ultimately be in charge of their body.

    God we yogi’s can get serious can’t we.
    Sam and Sydel Weinstein

    • Yoga Mama

      Thank you for a considered response.

  • wondering

    see what you’re in the mood for and figure it out for yourself.

  • Kristin

    The instructors at the studio that I attend have explained it as having to do with the flow of prana within the body. We’re always given options during shoulderstand should we be menstruating, though it always feels sort of telling when you choose those rather than participating with the rest of the class.

    I have definitely experienced what the second commenter mentioned: feeling her menstrual cup release in headstand. Regardless of the rationale, I’m not venturing down that road thankyouverymuch.

    I am however interested to hear more responses on this, as I am beginning my RYT200 next month and will hopefully have students of my own in the near future to explain this to!

    • Yoga Mama

      I would suggest the issue of the menstrual cup has more to do with the device, which might very well be impacted by anti-gravity, than with the overall issue of inversion during menstruation.

      You are a new teacher so I encourage you to educate yourself with real information and avoid the vague “flow of prana” mumbo jumbo. It sounds so yogic but what does it mean?? What kind of teacher will you be if you choose not to venture down the road of considering well founded explanations and science that de-bunk culturally driven theories? Inverting is not inherently dangerous, how one feels is what matters.

      And just what is the fact that you choose the alternatives rather inversions when given the option telling you? That maybe you don’t like shoulderstand, that you feel you “should” choose the alternative, or maybe that your energy is truly low in which case you probably shouldn’t have come to class in the first place. It is certainly not telling you that inversion is dangerous during menstruation. And you have no idea how many women who are happily in shoulderstand are menstruating.

      Be curious, keep learning.

      • anonomyssy

        Flow of Prana is mumbo jumbo? Ohhhhh so disappointed. Am I understanding that you teach yoga and calling prana mumbo jumbo? Say it ain’t so. I’m sorry you can’t see/feel prana…perhaps after more years of practice you will become aware of the subtle world of energy within and around us. YOGA is all about prana! If you think prana is mumbo jumbo, you are missing the whole point.

        I logged onto this article to read exactly what asana was included in inverted…standing forward bend, or simply headstands…? Instead I’m getting an eye full of debate, interesting as all get out. I have, however, practiced yoga, on and off, since I was a little girl with Lillias on PBS, until now as an almost 50 woman…and having worked as a bodyworker, and energy worker, please don’t disregard your energy…reversed polarity, and clogged nadis (or in Chinese medicine channels) can be a part of chronic health issues, emotional issues, etc…to hear a yogi diss prana makes me want to Shake my Head, and hope you don’t teach near me. Its like a color blind interior decorator…a Vegetarian chef in a steak house…a non drinking sommelier…a nutritionist who lives on chips and diet coke…

  • I take two days off a month, the first two of my period. I feel so bloated and crampy, and the flow is so heavy, there is no WAY I’m getting on my mat – or anywhere other than the couch with a block of chocolate and Its Always Sunny reruns…

    Might add an inversion occasionally from day 3/4, depends how I feel. Guess that’s the key thing here – if there’s nothing medically wrong with it, then it simply comes down to how each woman feels and what she wants from her practice that day.

  • Not having to worry about moon cycle is one of the great things about menopause. Yoga to your heart’s desire!

    • anonomyssy

      You know though, on the menopause issue, I once read that all our chakras spin clockwise, except, every 28 days or so, the sacral chakra spins counter clockwise…in both men and woman..and through out our lives…so energetically men and post menopausal woman, both have periods, and have heard women say post menopause that they still have PMS, and symptoms, without bleeding…so you tell me?

    • anonomyssy

      Wow, all the agressive comments, let me guess, everyone is ‘on the rag’ here??? I’ll come back next week. (coming from a woman who tracks and goes out of her way to be mindful the week or so before my period, so my friends, coworkers and husband will still talk to me next week…yikes)

  • maya

    Just something else to consider besides the whole ‘reversing the flow’ as being the reason why women wouldn’t practice inversions/yoga during their period – joint health. Obviously this isn’t applicable to every woman but I know I tire more easily during my period. So if you’re more easily fatigued during your period then it’s also more likely that you’ll sink into your joints and stress your body that way. Of course it 100% depends on what your practice is like, but I always considered joint health as the bigger risk factor if practicing during my period than anything involving the direction of blood flow.

    • Karen

      This reminds me: I know pregnancy hormones cause changes in women’s ligaments and tendons, so that the joints can more easily become dislocated (basically, prepping for opening the hips during birth). What I don’t know if whether anything similar, or on a smaller scale, happens with menstruating women.

      With severe PCOS, while they have become easier overall as I’ve let go of a lot of body shame, periods can at times be so excruciating that movement of any kind is impossible. Meditation is yoga, too, and whatever positions I feel able to get into, meditation makes a huge difference in my ability to cope – both physically and emotionally.

      The repeated advice to listen to your body seems to me very much the core of what we’re trying to learn as yoginis.

      I recognise that I’m privileged to be able to work from home, and won’t lose my income if I don’t show up for specific hours. Many women just don’t have the opportunity to take healing time – we live in a society that puts the demands of the CEO and shareholder over the health of the majority of people.

      • hm

        This sets up an implied dichotomy between pills/science/meds and “time” — which may not be your intention.
        What ever my work shedule, I choose to use bc pills to lighten a nasty first couple of days of period so I can get on to the things I really want, including a work life, a family life, and a vigorous asana practice. Choice: what we’ve all fought for. I’ve been extremely put off by the ideological nature of some of these posts, and don’t appreciate/won’t tolerate being preached at by any self-appointed “natural feminist” any more than I would tolerate being preached at by a politician. Those posts have served to turn me off to, not get curious about, “alternative methods” of dealing w/ periods and yoga.
        So maybe, folks, next time, before you post, think about how you’re putting yourselves across. Yes, it’s easy to shake your head about the “rage” of the cussing posts, but the self-righteousness of some of the others is just as obnoxious.
        “Women’s community” indeed. It can be suffocating, not freeing.

  • Yoga?

    This issue is deeply mystified to a lot of women because we have lost our deep connection to the earth and moon cycle. I used to have inconsistent period and a huge mood swing during PMS as well as agonizing cramps. Now my period is super regular and always fall during the dark or new moon. Why are we so freaking helpless when it comes to our body? Please sisters, stop taking pills or wishing that some doctors or teachers could tell you what to do. No, the blood is not toxic. It’s part of the body’s intelligence. The moon period is not inconvenience. It allows the body, like nature during the dark moon, to finish things up and rest so, renewal can take place. The body ovulates during the full moon and we have more energy at this time to be very productive. So, go ahead and do as many sun salutations and headstands as you like. Trust your beautiful, intelligence body and let it rest during a period. Yoga exercise is not going to make you feel better. Loving and honoring your body will.

    • Vipassana

      Alas, many “yoga-oriented” females in our culture (and many yoga teachers too) are alienated from the wisdom of the natural body, and its gifts for physical healing and sustainable relationships. Sometimes it’s only after years of popping Allieve, or a few negative birth experiences, or a “yoga divorce with children” that we are willing to go to the places that scare us inside. The dark side of the moon. The uterine truth of it.

      In a time where the Vagina Monologues have been popularized, there has been a saddening sort of pseudo-reclamation of the vulva. A pop culture reclamation, an external one (for many).

      On the bright side, Glad Rags menstrual cloths are commonplace in health food stores (I used to have to order mine by U.S. Mail twenty years ago), conscious celibacy/brahmacarya as an option to uncommitted sex and its heartaches is at least being talked about, getting off The Pill and into fertility awareness is a new wave of women’s health, and midwife-attended homebirths are on the rise.

      • Vipassana

        P.S. To clarify, Eve Ensler’s work is fantastic and important, I’m just saying that, like with anything else, the easiest and most entertaining route of dealing with the material is to say you went to the show, or saw the DVD. To listen to what the body says, to tune in to the truth of your uterine story, is a whole other path. A path much less travelled, but possible for everywomen.

      • LikeItOrNot

        I think a lot of what you’re saying, Vipassana, is pretty misogynistic, and condescending, and just plain inflammatory. Maybe you feel you’re being helpful, but telling women with endometriosis:

        “switch to cloth pads, re-align with the experience of flow.. tampons are liberating sometimes, but they sometimes really displace our intentional relationship with the whole downward flow river thing.”

        and repeatedly referring to ANY other solution in a condescending, demeaning manner such as “popping pills”, “going under the knife”, and “popping Allieve” (by the way, it’s spelled Aleve)… none of that is helpful, and NONE of it is going to make your audience more receptive to what you’re writing.

        Whether you like it or not, some of us do not have “a year” to wait for natural methods to begin to work– endo girls are mothers, or working women, or both. We are human beings. Most of us don’t have massive chunks of time on our hands, and often we’ve been robbed of too much time by our endo already. Sometimes we turn to painkillers or surgery, and use the time that buys us to MAKE changes that we hope will help.

        There are good things in natural medicine, helpful things, but it doesn’t hold all the answers. Like it or not, conventional medicine is also helpful. It isn’t right to push all-natural anymore than it’s right for that pesky neighbor to keep pushing Jesus.

        And by the way, it’s REALLY counter-productive and misogynistic to insinuate that women’s periods are toxic, which perpetuates the myth that women’s bodies and natural functions are unclean. I found your posts about as helpful as my doctors “offering” pregnancy as a treatment option: Not. Helpful.

  • ktech

    We are talking about two different things here — inversions during menstruation, and vigorous practice during menstruation. The Iyengar school explicitly says no inversions during one’s cycle, but nowhere have I heard or read that this is because it causes endometriosis; to me (a feminist) it is not sexist at all — it’s common sense. To be very non-technical: stuff is coming out of me and I would like to encourage it to run its course. Going upside down could discourage the flow. From what I have learned and IMHO, if it is a special occasion/workshop, or your flow is light, or you’re embarrassed about your condition (which seems weird to me in a class of mostly women), then you don’t have to ‘fess up about having your period, and you can go up, even if just for a couple of minutes. The Iyengar method has evolved, and while in Light on Yoga I believe it’s written that women shouldn’t practice at all on their cycle, if you read Geeta Iyengar’s “Yoga: A Gem for Women,” very few poses are said to be off limits during menstruation — just inversions and closed twisting asanas.

    I wish all of us could have the first day of our period off from work. Often I am fatigued on day 1 and I want to do only restoratives and certainly nothing vigorous or requiring great effort/strength. So when the Iyengars (or any other school) advise against vigorous practice, it’s not based on tradition…it’s because they know what they’re talking about based on their own practice as well as lots of teaching (thanks Geeta). So for me, it feels right follow those guidelines and recommend them to others — it matches up with my personal experience.

    • Sara Dillon

      I’m sorry, this is stupid. “Stuff coming out of you” can be affected by all kinds of things more strongly than you standing passively upwards and kinda hoping it will all fall out. The Iyengars don’t always know everything, and yes, it has in fact been constantly alluded to in yoga that inversions and yoga can make worse or even cause endometriosis.
      For women who do or DON’T have endo, vigorous exercise including inversions can cause endometrial material to shed off more quickly and heavily for some women. For some women, that causes clotting, and to pass clots, some women cramp more. Yet for other women, learning to vigorously use the pelvic muscles actually helps pass menstrual material (what you call “stuff”) — with or without some cramping. The issue about whether to invert or use bandhas or how has not even been broached by most women; most of the mythologies (“traditions”)about such things have been created by men, often from cultures where there are mentrual taboos and a sense of the “stuff” that comes out of women being “unclean.” Thank Geeta all you want, but bthe conversation from women, by women, about pelvic care in yoga has barely begun.
      “Stuff.” Fucking stuff coming out of you, indeed.

  • Can't believe ths shit

    I can’t believe this shit.
    Now we know why all this is a problem. Now we know why yoga is inherently an anti-feminist “tradition” which, if women are to continue to practice, we must transform.
    According to the self-righteousness of “vipassana/endo,” women are so undeserving of having lives and relief from pain that any painkillers or birth control are cop-outs. we must be pure. we must be organic. We. must. be. real. Or we’re not “really” yoga.
    Anti-feminist puritanical “cultural feminist” horse-shit from the 70s on par with the blaming of autism on vaccines.
    You self-righteous horror.
    Brainless, dangerous.
    Cue assholes like “wannaknow,” an apparent spreader of the HPV virus, which, in men, is undetactable except through evidence of passing on b/c the warts can exist in the male urethra, undetected. And yet this piece of toxic waste refuses to wear condoms. Is this for real?
    Mothers and fathers, get your daughters immunized against this foul piece of filth.
    Mothers and fathers, get your daughters immunized by education and skepticism and healthy self-esteem against “vipassana/endo.”
    No woman or girl has to be perfect, ultra-organic, non-drug, or pure.
    Keep questioning. Keep being skeptical No one, no one, no one has to be so perfect, Keep seking answers in both traditional and non-traditional ways. Don’t ever let anyone bully or judge or shame you into one thing or another.
    I can’t believe this medieval shit.

    • Vipassana

      Well, 90% of our negative emotional reactions have to do with ourselves, and OUR PAST.

      “Woundology” is a popular post-feminist place to hang out in, but not a happy one.

      Yoga is about cultivating a steady mind and thriving intuitive guidance system. It’s about Shakti: feminine source. It’s about Svatantrya: Dependence on universal law, no other. Dialogue within these principles can be fascinating. There’s plenty of merely exercise-oriented dialogue elsewhere, why bother with with this page if it just perpetuates your negativity???

      The book “The Places That Scare You” by Pema Chodron, a meditation teacher, has been very helpful for me when encountering my own shadows and rages.

      And no, I am not Endo, but you’re projecting quite a lot onto both of us aren’t you? I started practicing asana in 1989, and have attended many organic, instinctive homebirths and birthcenter waterbirths. And a certified yoga teacher for over 9 years. You?

      • Youch

        Post-feminist woundology? Sounds like….well…post-feminism.
        The eternal attribution of anything one doesn’t like hearing or reading to “shadow” and “projection” is classic now in yogini-speak. When did such careless pop-Jungianism come so into vogue amongst pop psych yoginis? You only advertise your own stupidity through such jargonistic doublespeak.
        You can claim anything you want about yourself. There is no way to prove any of it. LOL! “Organic, instinctive homebirths and center waterbirths?” Are you a dula as well? Oh really? Do you also cure blindness and heal the sick? Do you have a book and movie deal?
        Your tone is self-righteous, pious, and silly. Your advice is dangerous and ignorant. You make yoga look bad indeed.
        Is yoga only for stupid people like this? Sad.

        • Vipassana

          Naw Youch – just a woman being a woman, a yogini in training for life and love, donating some time here on this blog because I believe that women have the capacity to liberate ourselves through conscious embodiment, and that it heals the world.

          Your attackspeak only says to me that you are in pain or denial of it – otherwise, you would appeal to critical thinking and intelligent exploration of realities. We can agree to disagree without personal attack.

          • youch

            “you would appeal to critical thinking and intelligent exploration of realities”
            Dear girl. You wouldn’t know these if they — well, crammed themselves into your vagina.
            I am not in pain. I am in disgust about you. “attackspeak?” pretty,
            The tendency to pathologize intense disgreement is now characteristic of yogini culture.
            Psychobabble on, girlfriend. Giggle!

          • LikeItOrNot

            “just a woman being a woman”

            Oh my. You’re not just making yoga look bad, you’re making women look bad. May that phrase never cross your lips or keyboard again.

  • abbylou

    A lot of strong opinions on this subject. If I am up to taking a class when I am menstruating, I don’t hold back on inversions. If I am so exhausted that I can’t get off the couch, I don’t do inversions.

    Here’s another topic for discussion: stress and cycle.

    I am 36, no kids, no hormonal birth control,and have always gotten my period like clockwork. This past spring I was really stressed out about work. For a few months I got my period every two weeks– a really full period that totally zapped all my energy. Since July 4th, my workload has become more manageable and I seem to have resumed my normal menstrual cycle. Has anybody else ever experienced this? Before this, I had 24 years of regularity.

    • fluke

      These comments have gotten so aggressive, that I am nervous about adding to them. However, I have had this experience though my cycle did not go back to normal. Instead, my doctor discovered I had a very large cyst growing on an ovary. If you haven’t had time to check it out, I would.

  • Vipassana

    Wow Ms. Dillon, pelvic care in yoga has been discussed for a long time now, probably since before your born. Jeannine Parvati published in the 1970s, Maya Tiwar published in the 1980s…. As well as tantric anatomy texts that go back, um, hundreds of years, and map the kundalini-shakti and moon centers.

    The macho/male-identified approach to our bodies I hear in your writing about NOT being dictated by men resounds like other kinds of internalized oppression voices. There are stages to feminist embodiment reclamation. The first may perhaps be rage and reactionary attitudes. Channeling the rage into energy that can be used for self-care and rejuvenation is another stage. Responsibility, i.e., the ability to respond and consciously create healing in ourselves and in the world is another. These are not linear, there are spiral dynamics, and in yoga both ends of a spectrum can be worked at once. So, have at it.

    • Sara Dillon

      Ugh. “Internalized oppression?” plus ” embodiment manifestation” = feminist theory combined w/ trumped-up pseudo-spiritual wank. “Rage and reactionary?” as a “”stage?” I think not. Take your arguments ad feminam and diagnose elsewhere. How crude. How cheap. Putting people who disagree with you on the couch for what you perceive as their emotions is the cheapest form of argument. Speaking of argument: more dumbness. “Responsibility= ability to respond?” Jargon from 90s recovery circles. Oh lord. Pious one, have at it with some one else. There is not an original thought to be found in all these half-baked predigested notions.
      I only hope we will all get better at moving actually USEFUL ideas and information forward.

    • Sara Dillon

      PS — I’m 48, you silly bitch. So don’t condescend to me.

  • abbylou

    What is going on here? This discussion has taken a very nasty tone.

    • Agreed

      I know — right? But I have to agree — the war between the sexes is nothing to the war between women.
      For what? Who is pure, who is right, who is really spiritual, who is really yoga, who is really grace gratitude and grit, who is good, who is wise, who is feminist, who is….
      better than.
      It always starts.
      So carry on! Ask the questions! Gather information! Reject the easy diagnoses!
      Keep it going.

  • Not shocked

    Women love other women. Women hate women. Women compete with other women. Women compete with other women for the spoils of empire and capital. They kept us in a guilded cage, as Mary Wollstonecraft said. Yet women fought, women died to get us rights to question and seek answers. The bird cage door is open, but still we flutter, and flitter, and moralize, and strut, and peck eachother’s eyes out. The door is open. The door is always open. Get on that bar, get in that doorway. Fly.

  • ktech

    I’m soooo enraged!! Just kidding. But you know who you are.

    Anger just marred what might have been a good discussion…which is ironic (see ahimsa). We will be fine; there are lots of good books out about the pelvic floor and the female perspective on yoga. The incivility is puzzling — most of us are just sharing our experiences and ideas, and expressing disagreement using calm, valid points is much healthier than vitriol.

    • Not shocked

      I like that. Though maybe not “anger’ is the problem but self-righteousness. A well-channeled anger is cool stuff for cutting through bullshit. Keep going! What ABOUT that pelvic floor, huh? Yey pelvic floor! Yey sharp insight vitriol! Yey calm too if that’s where and when you come to insight. It’s all good. Push it forward!

      • Sara Dillon

        You know, I love you, Not-shocked! Embrace it all, move it forward. Woo-hooo! Don’t pass judgment on ANY’ emotion! It’s ALL good! Allow for one another to have and express any emotion and no judgment on any emotion as “unclean” or “impure” or “ahimsa” or what the fuck ever. It’s all ours. Your emotions are your birth-right. Don’t hold back; don’t be pure or pretty. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Just keep moving the ideas and information along.

  • Yoga Mama

    Wow! This is great! Women roar!
    I am so glad that not everyone (I thought it was only me!) goes meekly to the corner and spreads their legs in Supta Baddha Konasana when its time for inversions or buys that mumbo jumbo about apana flow, tradition, detoxing, you’re a delicate flower and the other cultural overlay that keeps us subservient, blah, blah, blah.
    If you feel vulnerable(for whatever reason), do a gentle practice; if you’re feeling excellent let it shine. Own your body! Yeah!
    What a great discourse.

    • anonomyssy

      You know though, you can be tough, and still be a delicate flower, who practices self care. I think a lot of women have bought into the myth that we should always push, always take care of everyone, not rest when we are tired, etc.

      I think it’s very important to honor being a woman, and it’s not mysoginistic to be feminine. Nor is it for a man to be masculine. (If you should so desire) There is such beauty in our differences…it’s not a negative to be a woman, nor should it stop you from education, reaching your goals, etc…but it’s also ok to rest when you are tired, nuture, honor the differences, etc. I’m wiped out when I have my period. You bet I’m hittiing the couch…and I don’t bad, guilty or God forbid, anti-feminist if I do so.

  • OMG…I can’t believe where this discussion has gone. I just checked back after I left a comment hours ago.

    Logistics are important. Questions like, will my menstrual blood come spewing out if I go into a headstand today? Do I actually want to go into a headstand? Do I even want to practice when I think I would be better served by a nap on the couch? These are the questions I ask myself. Usually, my body knows best….Sure, I can power through and go for it all, blood and all, good idea or not. I’ve learned to listen better and to discern what is right for me and my body at that time. I’ve learned to back off when I should and go full speed ahead when I can and feel like I must. I wouldn’t do a headstand during full menustral flow just to smite the so called tradition. If you want a headstand, do it. If you don’t , then don’t. If you don’t feel like practicing, then skip it. If supta badha konasana sounds like a super, kick ass idea, then go for it. Really….listen to your body.

  • Yoga?

    Perhaps some of us are experiencing PMS while offering our thoughts. I have not seen so many profane comments in other yoga related articles. Totally agree that our body is unique and different. But if your cycle is not regular and you are experiencing strong mood swing and cramps on a regular basis you should look to holistic self care rather than just popping pills. So, some of Vipassana’s suggestions are actually useful. I used to take a lot of pills myself to stop cramps but never birth control with pills. I have heard horror stories from women who use to take them long term. Also, I am shocked by how many women I know have strongly irregular menses. Chaos certainly show up in other areas of life. Just look at some of these comments. Sexism is not going to be overcome by tampons or pills. Get well, get organized (body, heart, mind) and give each other love and support beautiful sisters so, we can be the strong inspiration and leader of our life and society.

    • be well

      There has been a tendendcy towards nastiness between women on this site for a long time.
      I tend to laugh but then tune out when people starting throwing down. More annoying to me is the sanctimony and superiority copped by so many women about how they deal with everything from periods to pills.
      Sexism can indeed be better stopped by women aided in wellness by whatever aides them: pills, herbs, who cares. No one’s way is better than anyone else’s (not that you in particular intended that).

  • Yoga?

    Oh yes, to invert or not to invert is a tiny issue compared to what we women have been forced to pluck up over centuries. Let it flow sisters.

  • Marie

    Interesting that my child grew in the toxic secretions lining my uterus. How do we even mange to reproduce as a species?

    • Chichi

      No, the womb lining dies of no fertilized cell is recieved, as such these dying, decomposing cells can be called toxic in a really uncontroversial way. The presence of you growing child was obviously a major difference to a normal cycle where the body would have removed to lining.

      • Chichi

        Just saying! Yes, that is my real name an no I am not vipassana pretending to be someone else.

  • wondering

    lovin the self healing thru self absorption threads here. perhaps a wknd. retreat will be offered soon and some of this wisdom can be gleamed, to the worthy/wealthy only of course. better make it a month long retreat…you’re worth it!

    • Chichi

      Self absorption is bad? I guess that’s why I get treated like dirt since my mental and physical health left me after miscarriage and I retreated into myslef, stopped being a productive job holding member of society. But you are wrong about the wealth part! Not rich but yes, had to keep telling myself that I was worth more than the clients I stressed myslef with while I was pregnant.

  • LA

    “Listen to your body” is pretty much the rule I practice yoga/ life by. If I’m too tired to do a vigorous practice, or even practice asana at all, then I don’t do it. If it feels right, then I do. Plain and simple!

  • Thank you for writing this article and inviting us to report from our experience. Mine is this: I am nervous about inversions now after hearing the potential hazards, however… I suffer from terrible period pains. One came on in a Yoga class some years ago in which our teacher had us do shoulder-stand early in the lesson. The cramp started and I wasn’t sure what to do: RUN for a painkiller or hope for the best. It was approaching ‘beyond uncomfortable’, speeding towards painful as we came into shoulder-stand. My teacher loves letting us hold it for a long time. My pain vanished within 2 minutes. It wasn’t a full blown pain attack yet, but was heading that direction. Instead it was gone. I’ve tried it several times since then when pain came on and it often helped, sometimes erased all pain but not always. This would be the day before my period or the first 2 days of having it. I continue to be amazed. And I realize that my experience is opposite to someone who wrote higher up in the comments section. Listen to you body seems a key ingredient in doing what’s good for it.. xxx

  • Yoga Mama

    Birgit, please don’t be nervous about inversions. The article and subsequent, sometimes lively, comments have made it clear that women experience menses in different ways and that the decision to practice or not or invert or not is best made from experience rather than rules. You experimented in shoulderstand and found it not only did not harm you, it relieved your pain.

  • Shoulder stand….That’s a whole other story. I stopped practicing it for awhile due to a non-period related issue. I had vertigo and I could not ascertain whether it was augmented by headstands and shoulder-stands.

  • moongirl

    I really didn’t think there was much to add to the discussion other than how it works individually for each woman depending on her cycle with or without the pill. I wasn’t expecting people to attack one another for offering how it works for them.

    thank you Vipassana for some wonderful insights.

    the more integrated I become through a regular practice the more it all makes sense.

    • ooof caught ya

      I think “vipassana” has been applauding herself and adding to and thanking herself and adding to her own stuff here under many moonstruck moongirrl bloodbflowwimmmmgrl type names.
      Hall of mirrors. echo chamber. whatevs. have fun on your mats!

  • choonmoon

    Man-o-man, I just wanted to hear some of my sister’s “on the rag stories,” and swap tips. Didn’t think I would get attacked for using tampons and birth control. Oh internet, you did it again!

    Let it go, let it flow! 😀

    • no kidding

      No shit! Women can be so awful to one another. So much for girl talk.

  • redyoga

    Prior to menopause, I always did inversions during my period. There is no medical reason not to.

  • Twisted Yoga Sister

    Can’t say I’ve ever had a problem doing anything during my “moon cycle”. Like anything else, if you can and want to, do it! I can pretty much figure out if my mind and body want to do yoga on any given day.

  • I commented earlier, but just had my period and did handstand on day two. While it felt fine at the time, I felt great and energised afterwards, I did notice my flow slowed for a few days and has gone on for a little longer than normal.

    Could be totally coincidental, but interesting observation for me anyway!

  • Thank-you so much YD for broaching this subject. It’s one I’ve been pondering lately, and it sounds like many other women have too!

    I feel from these comments that there’s something of a disdain for the yogis of old who may have proposed this idea that women do not either invert or practice at all on their periods. Those who disagree seem to be making the claim that it was sexist. However, can I point out that “modern” medicine has only VERY recently begun to include women in clinical trials and to stop thinking of men as the “default” gender.

    I think that all women should listen to their own bodies, obviously, and of course – we all do. It’s almost silly to give women this advice, as most if not all of them will do it anyway.

    Finally though, I would like to point out, that I danced for 18 years, and never once did they say not to practice on your period. I’m pretty sure that gymnasts don’t take days off for it, or pole vaulters, pilots, astronauts, or any other women who might be spending some time upside down. 🙂

  • As a physician who specializes in Yoga-based care, here’s my two cents

    The Dangers of Yoga Inversions on Your Period

    • Thanks for posting that article Kathleen, I brought this question up in a yoga training I was in for women’s health issues, and that idea was dismissed (even ridiculed) by a surgical nurse and gynecologist as being impossible. I saw references also to the connection in a chinese medicine text for infertility treatment (not sure what the source was). Personally, I enjoy supporting the pranic flow of apana during my cycle and having a quiet practice, I can be more easily attuned to my inner voice when I don’t aggravate my heart rate and fire up my solar energies. Its a lunar time and being atttuned to and in resonance with subtle energies if supposed to be one of the classical goals of a yogi.

      • Dana – so sorry to hear that you got some attitude from the medical profession. I like your approach and feel it is wise.

  • 01

    *sigh* From occult perspective apana blah blah doesn’t make sense. You’re SUPPOSED TO invert prana and apana. Whoever is preventing you from inverting prana and apana is preventing you from reaching enlightenment. Another thing – in taoism (nei dan) there’s exercise that stops your period – for longevity purposes (can be reversed any time). You’re welcome.

    So much venom… No way in hell I’d post my website url, I don’t want such commenters.

    Also, just started to practice shoulderstand on very heavy period and it helped. I feel energetic and really well. That inspires me to holding it for longer… Weren’t such poses supposed to be held for long, like, couple hrs? I don’t remember where I read it. I’ll re-check in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, maybe there’s something about it there.

    • Chichi

      This is the most interesting post on this thread. Yoga is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Leave a Comment