Inversions on Your Period: Yay or Nay?
This article originally appeared on Yogaononymous.com
Inversions while on your period: to do, or not to do? That is the question.
The yoga community is split in two on this one. Knowledgeable teachers on two sides of the fence: One side suggesting you muststay away from inversions while on your period, while the other says, invert to your heart's desire.
In a world with opinions on opinions, which way should you fall? Well... Neither left, nor right.
There's no reason to have a stubborn opinion on the topic, but there is ample reason to educate yourself on the benefits and drawbacks of practicing inversions while on your period. Learn the facts, form your own opinion, and give yourself permission to change that opinion, if and when, you ever want to...
Benefits of Inversions on Your Period
Let's take it back to the basics. Why do you love inversions? They make you feel good.
Inversions work to strengthen your core, drain the toxins from your lymphatic system, and amp up your circulation... And more than that, inversions flush fresh oxygen into your organs, and hit the reset button on your adrenal glands (the glands that produce your stress hormone, cortisol).
Inversions are great for overcoming fatigue, reversing bloating, and breaking up congestion. So, when you're on your period, and need an energetic lift, an inversion may just hit your sweet spot—curing three period symptoms with one yoga pose.
Did you also know that core strengthening inversions help you overcome cramps? They help stabilize the muscles in your lower abdomen—and that helps alleviate the muscular pain, you know as, cramps.
Guess what else? Most inversions are core strengtheners. Think: handstand, headstand, dolphin, and even crow pose.
Drawbacks of Inversions on Your Period
Some ancient yogis believed that if you practiced inversions while on your period, you would cause an ooey-gooey build-up of toxins in your uterus, causing 'uterine congestion.' Yes, that sounds gross—but do you know what's really gross (and painful)? Endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition where your uterine lining starts growing outside your uterus. Many people thought that there may have been a link between inversions and this particular disease, but this was later found to be a myth.
There are so many myths surrounding inversions and your period—including one that says 'If you practice inversions, and go against the gravitational flow of your period, you will actually disrupt your flow, and cause your period to stop prematurely.'
Everyone's body is different—but the above conditions probably ring up last on your list of things that stop you from heading into an inversion while on your period. Number one, two, and three on your list will more likely be: cramps, PMS, and serious fatigue.
Many inversions, like handstand and full wheel, require an abundance of strength and also put pressure on the back of your lower abdomen. Does this sound like something enjoyable while you're on your period? Ugh, not so much.
If fatigue is the reason you're shying away from inversions, know that you can always move into restorative inverted postures, like legs up the wall pose.
If your reason is PMS, test out Rage yoga—it gives you the opportunity to let out all your hormonal rage in one go (rather than intermittent bursts of anger)—and you can still avoid inversions in that practice, as well.
If you love to live by the old school rules, and avoid inversions while on your period, there's no harm in that.*
Keep in mind that there is nothing technically wrong with heading into an inversion while you are on your period—it's more about how you feel, and fulfilling your body's needs in healthy ways. If you want rest, head to yin. If you want rage, feel free to go there, too. It's not about a cultural opinion, it's about your own opinion. After all, it is your body, and it is your flow.
*Note from the Author: I'd love to let you know that I once tried to live by ancient rules after reading an article about how women in ancient Africa retreated to huts during their periods for a time of deep self-reflection, and meditation. I did my own version of this by locking myself inside my apartment for an entire weekend while on my period because I was "honoring my womb"—and the end result? I felt extremely depressed, and came to the conclusion that my interest in connecting with others trumped the ancient rules of womb healing). My recommendation is: Be a radical feminist, and make your OWN rules!