On Yoga, Chocolate & Periods.

Via Kathryn Budig
on Jun 4, 2009
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kathryn budig yoga period

To Yoga or not to Yoga during one’s Period?

via Kathryn Budig

For years now, an epic battle on whether to practice yoga during a feminine cycle has been raging.

Some yoga teachers simply promote no inversion practice during a period. Pattabhi Jois, head of the Asthanga tradition, encourages a woman to take her entire “ladies’ holiday” off from practice.

Personally, I’m an avid fan of “no flow on my flow,” because anything more strenuous than reaching for my Trader Joe’s organic dark chocolate truffle bar is a…stretch. This is, of course, in the non-forward fold sense of the term. Not to mention, bulky pads won’t look so cute in your skin-tight Lululemon pants and if you’re thinking tampons will save the day, can i just say: queef? If you don’t know what I mean, just pray you don’t make any interesting noises as you come out of your headstand. Yes, we can’t help it, it’s natural. Yes, you will get weird looks. Spare yourself the pain and embarrassment because you won’t be the only one who knows you didn’t “drop a rose.”

I officially mark myself as senseless during the preceding days as the first few of the actual holiday. When you can normally find me working flips in a handstand till I can’t see straight, this time of the month it’s more common to find me propped up on the couch, my handy Jane Austen novel du jour next to me, and an artillery of spoons ready to attack a fresh mint and chocolate chip gelato.

The idea of lifting my frontal hip points to engage more core makes my poor little ovaries scream in surrender—and I’d like to point out that surrender is a wonderfully common yogic theme, and one I like to teach. I admire the yoginis who have a daily asana (posture) practice, but even the most astute practitioner can use a rest. The whole theory behind taking a break from yoga during a period, in my mind, is a form of respect. Some teachers will say you shouldn’t invert on your period because the blood will get stuck. Okay, honestly, that sounds like a poorly conceived old wives tale to me, but logistically speaking if something is trying to get out, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to turn it upside down. Or twist it. Or strain it. Or do anything more than supine postures, snuggling a bolster, light walks and all those bites of chocolate.

But seriously, (and I am serious about my chocolate) the period should be treated with great respect. It is our bodies’ time to cleanse and begin a new cycle, much like the full cycles of asana that we go through each time we take a class. I constantly teach my students to stop before they begin and observe. Notice what is happening in your body and mind before you race past it to where you think you should be.

Same goes for ladies’ holiday. Don’t ignore it by trying to keep life the way it is everyday. Stop, acknowledge, observe, respect and rest.

Honestly ladies, we’ve earned it.  Period.

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About Kathryn Budig

Kathryn is a lover and teacher of yoga by day, a wizard in the kitchen by dinner time and a professional dog snuggler at night. Follow Kathryn @kathrynbudig or on Facebook. Find her at kathrynbudig.com


54 Responses to “On Yoga, Chocolate & Periods.”

  1. Adam Sewell says:

    Being a MALE yoga and tai chi instructor probably lessens my credibility somewhat but I would say if your 'Ladies Holiday' is that bad, maybe a more meditational based practice works better. However, I have read dozens of studies from all over the world and never found one that states women should not invert during their cycle. Physiologically it doesn't quite make sense and although I have heard it before, it was always in the context of having come from Guruji or someone associated with asana practice in the days before exercise science got involved….The bottom line is, if it doesn't feel good, don't do it….but there ya go – I'm just a guy! Namaste.

  2. sina says:

    really funny and beautiful article…best is do yin yoga..very restorative and healing, certain poses even help to release pain in back and belly. And the big topic of inversions..if you feel good , you can do them..the body was smart to put some small hairs along the uterine tubes..so nothing can flow back…:)

  3. Giz says:

    agree!!! I found this article to be utter rubbish. Once upon a time, when women in the west did everything to keep the family mocing…fair enough…grab a rest whenever you can, -(in some parts of the world this "Red Tent" theory still holds, and of course thses are areas where women work from dawn to dusk…but for those of in living a modern life style, that can buy bread, or bake it from choice not need, this idea of a monthly holiday is a nonsense. Of course you should listen to your body. You should ALWAYS listen to your body…and that includes sounds it makes when coming down from an inversion- I attend Iyengar classes where the tradition is not to practise inversions during menstruation…but the only person who really knows whether or not you are menstruating is of course you…so if I feel like inverting I do so…incidently there is research which supports the idea that inverting during a heavy period, ie first few days of a cycle may increase cramping etc..
    I found it hard to believe this article was written by a yogi, perhaps the whole thing was tongue in cheek and I'm just too grumpy (yes I am having my period!!) to get the humour…

  4. Jackie says:

    Lovely post. Ever since I started to experiment with Yoga I feel calmer, fitter and my periods are piratically painless. I have actually managed to convince a few of my friends and one of them said that it's a lot better if you using a mooncup, which I will be trying soon.