Today I decided to post my first video on Youtube – eek! I really wanted to share how yoga can benefit women and how we can modify our practice to align with our hormonal cycles. I’m not very confident with speaking in front of a camera but I’m sure that will improve with time and I hope you enjoy the video anyway. I have summarised the main points underneath the video too for anyone who wants the short version.
There are so many benefits of yoga on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. For example yoga:
- Increases strength and flexibility of muscles and joints
- Strengthens bones to reduce risk of osteoporosis
- Reduces tension from the physical, mental and emotional bodies
- Calms the nervous system and the mind
- Boosts mood and reduces anxiety and depression
- Helps to connect with something larger than yourself through meditation
Practicing specific yoga asana and pranayama throughout the different phases of the menstrual cycle can also help women specifically by:
- Regulating cycles or bringing back a missing cycle
- Normalising menstrual blood flow
- Reducing pain in the pelvis, lower back and thighs during menstruation
- Creating emotional and mental stability especially during the pre-menstrual phase
- Reconnecting with feminine nature and yin energy
- Boosting creative and sexual energies
There are 4 main phases of the hormonal cycle to be aware of which can be referred to as the “inner seasons”.
Menstruation (inner winter) – A time to rest and recharge. Focus on gentle yin and restorative postures and meditation rather than intense standing poses or dynamic sequences. Use props to support the body and conserve energy. Avoid standing backbends and inversions (where the hips are raised higher than the head) as well as intense pranayama. Focus on abdominal or yogic breathing instead
Follicular (inner spring) – Time to rebalance the body. Bring in some inversions in the days following your period. Pay attention to your energy levels and start to increase the intensity of your practice as you move through this phase. Include flowing vinyasa sequences if you have this in your practice and enjoy moving your body more dynamically.
Ovulation (inner summer) – Focus on building strength in the body. Now is the time to experiment with more challenges asana to find your edge and increase fitness and flexibility. Use pranayama breathing exercises to calm down the nervous system if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or frazzled by this high intensity phases.
Pre-menstrual (inner autumn) – Time to slow down again. Notice when your body sends the signal that it needs more rest and adjust your practice accordingly. Towards the end of this phase start to shift the balance of your practice towards more seated and lying postures, in particular the few days before you start your period. Make sure to reconnect with your meditation and pranayama practice if you have been distracted during the busier first half of the cycle