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Shrink on the Mat – August 2011

August 4, 2011
Q: My teacher often indicates that those female students on their first two days of their cycle should avoid doing inversion, can you explain to me why?
A: There appear to be different ideas as to whether to avoid inversions during the early days of the menstrual cycle; some practitioners believe that inversions are doable for woman who are up to it during their cycle.  Others are adamant that no women should practice inversions during menstruation.

In the completely against inversions camp, some of the reasons cited are that women usually experience lower energy during this time, and so it is wise to conserve energy, (however it is clear that this is not the case for all women, and some women are actually more energized  over this time). Until recently it was thought that it would increase the risk of endometriosis, however this has since been disproved. Also there have been theories that inversions might cause excessive menstrual flow due to something called  “vascular congestion.”

What seems to fit yogic philosophy most clearly is the concept of apana.  Energetically, the natural flow of menstruation is downwards and it makes sense that inversions would disrupt the natural energetic flow.  However, there are some systems of yoga where inversions are used to improve elimination of excess apana. Again, a contradiction.

I would say that if any of the above reasons make sense and apply to you, avoid inversions. Sometimes avoiding inversions is valuable if you are consciously choosing to adhere to the guidelines of your teacher or of the type of yoga you practice.  However, if you are generally in touch with your body, and wise to when you need to be more gentle in your yoga practice, you might be able to decide for yourself what is right for you. Like with many things in life, there are contradictions, and the journey of trusting your body and its wisdom might give you the answers that will work for you.

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Linda Kantor is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher and practitioner who has been in private practice for the past 15 years. www.be-awake.co.za.
Have a question about yoga? Email Linda directly lindi@isoft.co.za or editor@yogaaa.co.za
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