Sometimes there are days when, no matter how motivated you are, you just can’t get into the groove of your yoga practice. Maybe it’s the pace and flow, or perhaps the intensity just doesn’t match your mood. While there are a number of factors that can block your yoga state of mind, your hormone levels throughout your cycle can play a huge role in knocking you off balance, too.
Menstrual Phase: Time to Reflect
Day one of your period is the beginning of your Menstrual Phase, which typically lasts between three and seven days. Your hormones are at their lowest level, and while you may feel lethargic, you can still nourish your body by capitalizing on your deep state of mind. Menstruation is a time to rest and renew. Most contemporary western cultures favor pushing women to continue to work, cook and over do. It is advisable to refrain from most asanas while the body is eliminating the blood and fluid from the uterine lining. This powerful phase of your cycle is a great time for slow movement and plenty of meditation. Consider a gentle luna class, anything yin or restorative, meditation with breath work, long, deep stretches. Be gentle, reflect, rest, and seek to restore energy balance.
gentle reclined ujjayi pranayama, supported backbends and forward bends that don’t compress the uterus can support this natural time of flow and elimination, and provide relief from many common complaints such as cramping, digestive disorder and depleted energy. Through proper practice and nutritional support, we can create potential for positive flow and creative energy in our lives.
Follicular Phase: Get Moving!
The next phase is the Follicular Phase, which spans approximately seven to ten days. The estrogen phase immediately following menstruation facilitates development of follicle into egg as well as growth of muscles tissue and bones. During this phase, your hormones are low, but your period has ended. You may find that you are more open to new experiences, and feel extra creative and outgoing. Use this energy to try a class or style of yoga you’ve never taken before, such as Paddle Board Yoga,, Anti-Gravity, for a cleansing sense of renewal. Challenges your physical limits. The cloud has lifted and youre feeling good
Once the menstrual flow has completely stopped, it is wise to support hormonal balance with inversion practice for a few days. Then, when the body feels energetic, with this hormonal stability, one can engage in an adventurous asana practice. It is a good time to learn new actions and more challenging poses, to hold poses for longer time to build strength and stamina. Try challenging yourself with strong standing poses, unsupported backbends and balancings. For example: Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, Virabhadrasana 3, Urdhva Dhaurasana, and Bakasana.cultivate hormonal balance and internal steadiness. A balanced, ‘middle way’ asana practice encourages reflection and stillness and can support any symOvulation
Phase: Top of Your Game
Your Ovulation Phase, generally lasting around three to five days, is prime time for burning lots of energy while your hormone levels are peaking. Hormones (LSH and FS) spike within short time period to release the developed egg. This is an appropriate time to reflect on what are you trying to bring forward in your life. You’ll likely find yourself seeking and enjoying social settings at this point of your cycle, doing yoga with a friend or partner is great just now.
Try a coreplay or shtanga or vinyasa, generate internal heat, incorporating lots of poses and testing your stamina. It can be very helpful to practice inversions during this time to ptoms that may arise. With pranayama and meditation, we move towards inner clarity and are able to move forward in desired and deliberate directions.
Luteal Phase: Listen and Slow Down
Listening to your inner voice becomes especially important during the Luteal Phase, lasting about ten to 14 days, as your hormones are transitioning in preparation for your period. The progesterone phase involves preparation of uterine lining to receive fertilized egg. If you have conceived or are actively trying to, then modifications that honor the possibility of pregnancy are appropriate and necessary. Avoid abdominal asanas, deep twists and unsupported backbends.
In general, asanas that emphasize circulation to pelvic organs and endocrine system are helpful during this time. Favor a balanced practice that includes all categories of poses in a single practice session. Some women find balance can be a challenge immediately before the menses begin due to subtle changes inside the pelvis. Be cautious with new poses and unfamiliar actions, as ligaments may be tender and subject to inflammation..
You may experience increased energy during the beginning of this phase, and then a need to transition to lower impact practice toward the end. Start with a gentle Luna Vinyasa and end the phase with a slow Hatha or yin class. Discover what your body craves, slow down, and listen to your intuition as your body prepares again for the Menstrual Phase.
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I’m an inclusive, not scary, totally normal yet heavily qualified yoga instructor and founder of YogaBellies® and the Birth ROCKS Method. I’m trained in self hypnosis and meditation and what I love is helping women (ALL women) enjoy yoga without having to whisper all the time and wear fancy activewear that cost a month’s rent.
I believe Yoga is for everyone.