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Apana: The Menstrual Force
I would like to know if there is any science behind the belief that women should avoid inverted yoga poses during menstruation
Cho Zhang
Tai Pei, Taiwan

Yogi MarlonYes, the science of ayurveda supports the thought that inversions are counter-indicated during menstruation. Ayurveda is the oldest school of medicine in use today, pre-dating even Chinese herbal medicine. Within Ayurveda there is a study of pranas, or energies, that are vital to the body’s functioning. In total there are 5 pranas, or energies of movement, within the body. Each corresponds to automatic physiological functions that work so well, they most likely go unnoticed.

  • Apana-Downward moving energy as in excretion, urination ejaculation and menstruation
  • Vyana-Multi-directional energy that circulates & distributes. Vyana propels circulation of the blood and hormones.
  • Udana-Outputting energy centered in the throat that formulates information and projects it into speech.
  • Pran-Expanding energy that fuels respiration and creates absorption
  • Samana-Slow-moving energy centered at the naval that drives metabolism as it moves food along the digestive tract over time

Inversion postures, such as headstand, shoulder stand, and hand stand, place the body completely upside down, which reverses the natural downward flow of apana upon which menstruation relies. Similarly, a disturbance is created when the bubbles of carbonated soda gravitationally move up from the stomach (creates the ability to burp) when food wants to digest downward. In both cases, there are two energies present that are moving in opposite directions. The message is mixed, so body cannot function optimally. Here are a few ways you can use the opportunity to relieve the abdominal pressure that can accompany menstruation, while others are doing inversion postures.

    1. Ease menstrual pain by supporting the sacrum with a bolster, allowing the pelvis to tilt down over the edge of it. Put your body in an L shape with sit bones on the ground and close to the wall, with only the legs on the wall. Either the heels are stretched up the wall or the soles of the feet facing each other with the feet down near the groin. Breathe slow ujjayi breaths, elongating particularly the exhale.
    2. Baddha konasana is another posture that relieves menstrual pain. Here again the soles of the feet are facing each other. Instead of lying on your back, you are sitting up as in lotus. Remain lifted in the chest as you slowly walk the hands forward and chest toward the ground, gradually over several exhales. Bend forward from the hips only as far as you can with a flat spine. Be sure the back of the neck is in line with the spine, usually by dropping the chin a bit and projecting through the crown of the head. Breathe.
Although most modern women lead a life as over-scheduled as any businessman, it is important to take the time to honor menstruation as the remarkably efficient way the female body cleanses itself that it is. Allowing time for extra rest respects menstruation's high energetic demands. Setting time aside for quiet reflection utilizes the enhanced intuition and cultivates the heightened psychic ability many women experience during menstruation.

Unique to the feminine gender, menstruation is not "the curse" it was termed in high school. It's a blessing.
Om Shanti,

Yogi Marlon

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