Inversions are contraindicated for menstruation. This is due to the effect that inverting the uterus has on the menstrual flow. Whilst inverted, gravity works against the flow, and the flow may be disturbed or even stop. This is considered contradictory in Ayurveda, in which waste products from the body should not be withheld within the body. The practice of inversions during menstruation has also been associated with complications, and may also lead to increased menstrual flow.
Asana that strongly grip, compress and or twist the abdominal muscles are also avoided during menstruation, as this can also disturb the flow or place undue strain on this region. In addition, asana that are highly stimulating, overly exertive, or restrict the breath are generally avoided during menstruation.
These principles result in the following classes of asana being avoided:
- inversions and arm balances;
- intense backward extension;
- body knottings and closed twists that compress the abdomen;
- strenuous poses, for example, jumping to enter standing asana; and
- lengthy periods of seated pranayama, and some practices of pranayama.
During menstruation a practitioner may use modifications to reduce the exertion required in asana, allowing energy levels and/or strain on the abdominal area to be managed.
Examples include using the support of a wall for standing poses or taking the head to support in forward bends.
Supported Viparita Dandasana and Setu-bandha Sarvangasana are commonly practiced whilst menstruating as these asana can provide the same benefits of Sirsasana (head stand) and Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), which are contraindicated during mensuration.
1. YOGA A Gem for Women, Geeta Iyengar, 1990
2. The practice of women during the whole month, Geeta Iyengar, 2009