This short yoga sequence is designed for women during their menstruation. In terms of asana practice, avoid twists, as well as inversions, which reverse the natural downward flow of menses. Backbends, upward facing dog, bridge pose, and strong vinyasas should also be avoided. In terms of pranayama practice, kapalbhati and bastrika are contraindicated. Menstruation is a sacred time we should honor it with rest and restorative yoga practice. The following sequence focuses on gentle stretching, breath awareness, meditation and relaxation. This is a time for slowing down, so listen to your body and breath during this practice. Take it easy. Rest is especially important on the first day of one's period, thus this practice focuses on gentle and restorative practices from a sitting or supine position that calm the nerves and quiet the mind.
A yoga affirmation for this practice, to say at the beginning and to end with is: “I let go and release anything that does not serve me. I feel my body and mind cleansed. I take time to reflect, rest and restore.” Remind oneself to come back to the affirmation.
Yoga for Menstruation Sequence:
Mindful breathing from easy pose sitting on a cushion, bolster or blanket. Rest the hands palm facing up on each leg or cradle the hands, one on top of the other, in one's lap. Take 10 breaths, smooth, deep breaths. Watch the inhale. Feel the sensation of the cool breath entering the nostrils going down the back of the throat and filling the lungs. Feel the stomach expand on the inhalation and contract on the exhalation. This pose is good for bringing one's attention inwards. As this in naturally a more introspective time, many of the postures in this sequence focus on breath awareness, synchronizing breath with movement, meditation and relaxation.
Neck rolls. From the same seated position, lengthen the spine and increase the space in the spine. Inhale with the head facing forward, and on the exhale, lower the ear to the right shoulder, inhale and bring the head back to centre. Inhale, then exhale and lower the chin to the chest. Inhale and bring the head back to centre. Check that one is seated in an upright position. Inhale, then exhale and lower the left ear to the left shoulder. Inhale and bring the head back to centre. Finally, inhale and then exhale and lift the chin and slowly let the head fall back. Inhale and bring the head back to centre. One may have symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, which may include headache. This stretch helps to relieve any tightness or tension in the neck or shoulders.
Shoulder rolls – on the inhale, begin rotating the shoulders backwards for five rounds. Inhale on the upward movement of the shoulders and exhale on the downward movement. Then change the rotation of the shoulders, bring them forward for five rounds, again, inhaling on the upward rotation and exhaling on the downward rotation. Again, this stretch is for relieving any tightness or pain in the neck and shoulders associated with premenstrual symptoms.
Baddha Konasana (Bound angle pose) – from easy pose, bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together with the knees bent. Grab the ankles and lengthen up from the base of the spine. Take five breaths here, lengthening the spine upwards on the inhalation and bringing the knees towards the floor on the exhalation. Feel the downward natural pull of gravity, cleansing and purifying the body. Find the quiet and stillness in the pose. Take a few breaths or moments to observe the effects of the asana. From here straighten one leg and then the other into staff pose. Put the hands by the sides to assist with lengthening the spine and opening the chest and shoulders. Feel the neck balanced over the shoulders, a natural extenstion of the spine.
Upavista Konasana (Wide angle forward fold) – This posture also assists with the downward flow or movement of the menses. From staff pose, separate the legs as far as comfortable. Talk a deep inhalation and feel the chest lifting and extension from the base of the spine. On the exhalation, lean forward with the hands in front of you on the floor or grab each leg, ankle or food. Do what feels most comfortable at this time. You can also use a bolster or stack some cushions in front of you in order to make the posture more restorative. Take five or more breaths here. On the inhalation lift up from the chest and come back to a comfortable seated position. Take a few moments to observe the effects.
Reclined Baddha Konasana (Reclining bound angle pose) – This pose is restorative by nature and is for calming the mind. You can do this pose with the support of a bolster to open the chest. From a seated position with the legs bent in front of you, slowing lower yourself to the floor with the support of your hands. Lie back onto a bolster with your head and neck supported. You can put a cushion at the end of the bolster, as well as under each forearms for more support and to fully relax into the pose. Feel the body let go. Bring your conscious attention to any tight areas and release the muscles. Stay here for 10 or more breaths.
Child's pose with a bolster – Using a bolster transition the body so that one is lying face down on top of the bolster, with the belly facing down and the legs straddling the bolster. Fully relax and release the body, feeling the support of the bolster. Take deep, slow and smooth belly breaths. Feel the stomach completely relaxed. Rest here for 10 breaths or more.
Savasana (corpse pose) – Take a few minutes to get comfortable lying flat on your back with your palms facing up and chin slightly tucked in. Make any last minute adjustments to your positioning and try to remain as still as possible. When the body stills, the mind follows. Bring your attention and consciously relax different areas of the body. Relax the feet, the toes, the ankles. Then moving up the legs, feel the muscles of the calves release. Relax the front and back of the knees, the thighs and the hips. Feel all of the muscles in the pelvic region release towards the floor. You are fully supported now. It's ok to let go. Relax the muscles of the stomach and the internal organs in that region. Release the base of the spine. Moving up the spine to the upper back and the chest, release and relax. Feel a warm glow emanating from the solar plexus. Relax the fingers, the palms of the hand, the wrists, the forearms, elbows, upper arms and shoulders. Finally, feel the throat and neck relax. Release the jaw, the small muscles of the face and around the eyes, and the forehead. Feel the body heavy and supported. Let go of thoughts and focus on the rejuvenating and soothing effects of the posture. Stay here for 5-10 minutes. Start to introduce a bit of movement in the feet and hands. Then stretch a bit more as if you're waking up in the morning, stretching the arms over head. Come to a comfortable position on one's right side.
Seated Meditation – When ready, come to a comfortable seated position, such as easy pose. Make sure the spine is elongated in preparation for seated meditation. Take a few minutes to focus on the breath. Follow the sensation of the cool air entering the nostrils, going down the throat, filling the belly and lungs. Follow the breath leaving the lungs and coming out of the nostrils, the air warmed by the body. If the mind wanders, that's ok. Be gentle with yourself. Bring one's awareness back to the breath. Feel the body grounded and anchored where you are. Let the muscles of the body release and feel the positive effects of the restorative yoga practice. End the practice repeating the affirmation one began the practice wit
“I let go and release anything that does not serve me. I feel my body and mind cleansed. I take time to reflect, rest and restore.