When I first started practicing yoga my teacher would always say not to do any inversions on those days. Inversions would include: Shoulderstand, Headstand etc all the upside down postures. However I would continue doing the rest of them just like a normal practice.
For years I just did exactly the same.
I didn’t really feel I had to change anything. It must have been the age as well. You don’t really think about these things in your 20s.
Later on, during my Vinyasa TTC, I started to feel how bad an intense dynamic Vinyasa practice is on those special days. I would feel really weak and uncomfortable pushing myself to do challenging and strength demanding postures while I should in fact allow myself to restore some energy, slow down and choose a more nourishing practice instead. I truly hated the fact I couldn’t skip the practice since we were participating in a teacher course. I was kind of missing the days in Rishikesh when our teacher Mahesh was saying we are allowed to skip the practice when we weren’t feeling good and just come and take notes instead. I mean, we weren’t forced to do it, but it was better to participate than not to. It was meaningful to the learning process.
We were told to avoid putting too much pressure on our belly, like to go less than we normally do in twists, forward bending, backbending, anything that works the belly area; Asanas like Peacock (Mayurasana) is like a NO no way thing on those days.
Due to the fact I was practicing on those days, especially that it was a twice a day practice- 6 days a week, it was the beginning of understanding my woman body much better than before. When I was younger I didn’t feel I have any limitations during the menstrual cycle. Special days or no special days, I would do the same things. I would however observe how much weaker I was at the gym on those days.
Few months after that I can truly feel my awareness of my own body and how the hormones influence me has significantly increased. I now chose a more gentle practice and sometimes just some restorative asanas that release the pain and discomfort. Like Supta badha konasana is one of those that I truly love to do. Really nice for the ovaries.
In more dynamic styles of yoga, like Ashtanga yoga, it is advised to skip the practice the first 3 days of your period and choose meditation and maybe some calming pranayama instead. In others, we can still practice a modified, soothing version.
The female body is influenced by the menstrual cycle. If you allow yourself to slow down on those delicate days, you will start feeling the difference. And if you practice yoga regularly it will start balancing yourself on a hormonal and emotional level and maybe prevent certain aches and pains (depending on every woman).
I always try to remind my students to avoid exhausting themselves on those “Moon days”, avoid doing some asanas if they join the open classes and/or go less into the postures. There is no need for pushing and hurting ourselves during a yoga class. It is in fact the opposite of what yoga should be. One of the principles of yoga refers to AHIMSA= non-violence which should be towards others, but also towards ourselves. Having respect for our body and not hurting ourselves to conquer a posture is ahimsa too. There should be no pain during a yoga class, I believe. At least not the bad pain that makes you injured, but that sort of pain that is born out of your willpower and makes you grow.
Unless you are a professional athlete, a dancer or whatever profession that requires breaking your body limits and not being able to adjust your lifestyle according to your menstrual cycle, I believe there is no need to hurt yourself on those days. Communicate with your teacher and let your teacher assist you the best he/she can in your yoga class.
Your Moon days are an opportunity to rest, slow down, nourish and care for yourself. They say the body is your temple. Feed it well and take good care of it so that your mind and your spirit have a pure place to live in.
© Unfold Your Mat 2016