yoga for womenWomen have monthly and lifetime cycles that you must consider as you practice yoga. Certain poses and pranayamas are contraindicated during menstruation, others are helpful; post-menstruation one can structure one’s practice to bring energy during the whole month; pregnancy has its own considerations; during peri-menopause one can tailor one’s practice to help one to feel good. Knowing how to practice yoga for women can help with all of these things.

DURING MENSTRUATION

Do only those poses with which you are already familiar. Seek the guidance of an experienced Iyengar yoga teacher for specific issues.

Avoid sirsasana (headstand), sarvangasana (shoulderstand), and other inversions while menstruating.

Geetaji says in A Gem For Women:

  • Gem at 86: complete rest is advisable during 48 to 72 hours of monthly menstruation.
  • Gem at 87: Never do sirsasana or sarvangasana during menstruation.
  • Avoid:
    • Inversions (sec. IV, p.99)
    • Abdominal and lumbar (sec. V, p.100)
    • Backbends (sec. VII, p. 101)
    • Yoga karunta (sec. VIII, p. 101)

My Menstruation Sequence

Do all poses supported by wall, blocks, or bolsters or other appropriate props. Step the feet apart for standing poses (no jumping). Do not tire the legs. If the legs are already tired, skip the standing poses.

Based on paragraphs 40 (heaviness, numbness, aches), 41 (pain in the abdomen, profuse discharge, cramp, or dysmenorrhea), 42 (profuse discharge or menorrhagia), and 48 (cramp in the muscles, pain in the stomach, waist, and back, heaviness in the abdomen, and burning sensations) at Yoga: A Gem for Women by Geeta Iyengar, pages 86-88, and on Geetaji’s article The Practice of Women During the Whole Month.

Pranayama – choose 1. Reclining only.

  • Ujjayi I
  • Ujjayi II
  • Viloma II
  • Bramari (use cautiously)

Asana – click here to see the photo guide for this sequence

  1. Utthita trikonasana
  2. Utthita parsvakonasana
  3. AMS – place bricks under the hands and head
  4. Padangustasana – concave back
  5. Uttanasana – concave back
  6. Prasarita padottanasana – concave back
  7. Baddha konasana – sit on height
  8. Supta baddha konasana
  9. Virasana – sit on height
  10. Urdhva baddhanguliasana in virasana – sit on height
  11. Adho mukha virasana – sit on height
  12. Supta virasana
  13. Matsyasana – back straight, arms straight
  14. Paschimottanasana – legs apart,  sit on height
  15. Maha mudra – do only the chin lock – no other bandhas
  16. Kurmasana
  17. Malasana I – keep the back straight
  18. Upavista konasana – sit on height
  19. Bharadvajasana I
  20. Urdhva prasarita padasana with legs up the wall – use only after Day 1 and if flow is heavy

BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga at 59

Avoid asanas, and on no account stand on your head, but if flow is heavy practice these poses. Click here to see the photo guide for these poses.

  1. Upavista konasana – sit on height
  2. Baddha konasana – sit on height
  3. Virasana – sit on height
  4. Janu sirsasana – sit on height
  5. Paschimottanasana – sit on height, legs apart
  6. Uttanasana – concave back

POST MENSTRUATION 

My Post-Menstruation Sequence, based on the asanas and pranayamas included by Geeta Iyengar in A Gem for Women at paragraph 54, page 89-90. Geetaji says to use these asanas and pranayamas for 4 days after menstruation to calm the nerves and regain strength.

Asanas may be supported or unsupported, as appropriate. Click here to see a photo guide to a sample Post Menstruation Practice Sequence.

  1. Uttanasana
  2. Adho Muhka Svanasana
  3. Baddha Konasana
  4. Supta Baddha Konasana
  5. Upavista Konasana
  6. Janu Sirsasana
  7. Paschimottanasana
  8. Salamba Sirsasana
  9. Upavista Konasana in Sirsasana
  10. Baddha Konasana in Sirsasana
  11. Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana
  12. Salamba Sarvangasana
  13. Setubandha Sarvangasana
  14. Supta Padangustasana
  15. Svasana

Pranayama

Geetaji says if there are issues with the menstrual cycle, before ovulation do pranayamas where the breath is equal on the inhale and the exhale or where the inhale is deeper than the exhale.

  1. Ujjayi I
  2. Ujjayi III
  3. Viloma I
  4. Surya Bhedana

 DURING PERI-MENOPAUSE

Based on Geetaji’s guidance in A Gem for Women at pages 93-94, this sequence helps alleviate the symptoms of menopause.

Asana

  • Uttanasana
  • Prasarita padottanasana
  • AMS
  • Sirsasana
  • Dwi pada on chair
  • Maha mudra
  • Supta Virasana
  • Matsyasana
  • Chair Sarvangasana
  • Chair halasana – restorative
  • Setubandha Sarvangasana on bolster
  • Janu sirsasana
  • Paschimotanasana
  • Sanmuhki mudra
  • Svasana

When feeling normal, one may do all the asanas.

Pranayama pre-ovulation

  • Ujj I
  • Viloma I
  • Surya Bhedana

Pranayama post-ovulation

  • Ujj II
  • Viloma II
  • Surya Bhedana