Have you ever been in a yoga class where the teacher’s recommend anyone on their period skip the pre-savasana shoulder stand and wondered why? Same. So I reached out to Tiffany Lester, MD, an internal medicine physician at Parsley Health, to find out why you might want to push pause on your inversion practice during the menstruation phase of your cycle.
“The thought is that you could potentially cause retrograde menstruation.”
“The thought is that you could potentially cause retrograde menstruation,” says the MD. This happens when period blood isn’t discharged from the body but rather flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis. It’s believed to be one of the common causes of endometriosis, a painful menstrual condition that arises when tissue similar to the type that lines the walls of your uterus winds up in other parts of your body.
Instead, she suggests doing gentle and supportive poses to minimize the effects of cramps and fatigue during your period and reserving more intense yoga and inversions for the first half of your cycle. Some of the best ones you can do, according to yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley, author of Every Body Yoga and spokesperson for Kotex’s new fitness-focused line of feminine products, are seated twist or reclined twist, along with postures that open up your pelvis and hips such as garland pose or king pigeon pose.
These asanas are particularly good to practice during your period from a medical POV because “when you’re doing twisted poses, you’re literally wringing out the body,” says Dr. Lester. “That includes your abdominal organs and your liver, which is a detox organ that releases estrogen.” Plus, they’re good mood boosters Stanley says: “When you’re feeling all the emotions based on physical ailments, yoga will make you remember that despite of those ailments you’re still strong, your light is just as bright as ever.” Anything that can make it easier to go with the flow is worth a shot, right?