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Yoga for Your Period

I never thought that Yoga would lead me to actually enjoy having my period, but this has truly been the case. For many years I dreaded the crampy, sleepy, moody days of my menstrual cycle, which always seemed to sneak up on me at the worst possible moment. Then, a couple of years ago, I integrated the Iyengar Yoga menstrual sequence into my daily practice, and it has made a huge difference. Because the sequence involves deliciously relaxing, nurturing poses, I’ve taken that essence into the rest of my life. During my period, I minimize responsibilities and allow myself to rest. It’s like a mini-vacation from my otherwise busy and ambitious schedule, the oasis at the end of my monthly journey. (I’ve also started charting my cycle so that I’m no longer caught by surprise.)

Allowing time for rest during one’s menstrual cycle is rooted in age-old wisdom from traditions all over the globe. Modern patriarchal culture pushes girls and women to pretend that it isn’t happening, keep performing, and push through. This just isn’t healthy. The menstrual sequence is a wonderful way to re-claim a precious, much needed time of rest and recuperation built rhythmically into our lives. In addition, this practice can prevent or alleviate reproductive system issues and future problems during menopause and beyond. Iyengar yoga also emphasizes regular practice of inversions when not menstruating. Inversions can do wonders to regulate hormones and reduce mood swings; I’ve also noticed that my period takes half the time since I’ve committed to longer holds in headstand and shoulder stand the rest of the month.

I wish so much that young girls, women, and anyone with a uterus could have access to this empowering, healing wisdom. Here are three poses that can help ease your menstrual cycle. These are also great poses for fertility and pregnancy. To reduce cramps: Ardha chandrasana (at wall, coming in and out) To help the body relax and release: Supta baddha konasana with all the restorative support shown To ease back pain, relax the inner pelvis, and calm the nervous system: Upavishta konasana with ample support

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