can we do yoga during periods

It’s that time of the month again, you’re probably tired and a little achy and not sure what to do about it. YOGA, duh!

Although you might be thinking, “Can we do yoga during periods?” 💯 you can! Let’s dive deep into different thoughts on this topic.

Menstruation: The Beauty Of The Body

Some women believe that their periods interrupt their life. Modern society has trained women to ignore or fear the beautiful rejuvenating monthly gift of their period. I’d challenge you to start looking at your period as an opportunity, for rest and reflection, rather than a burden that interrupts your life every month.

Let’s talk about your period from a perspective that doesn’t taint it with shame or embarrassment.

Women have the gift of creation. Your beautiful womb prepares each month to create life. Those without a uterus do not get the experience of a built-in monthly refresh. This is an opportunity for you to celebrate this gift with rest and introspection as you come into the menstruation (bleeding) phase of your cycle.

menstrual cycle phases

The menstrual cycle is a beautiful set of four phases:

  1. Menstrual – when the uterine lining begins to shed and you bleed
  2. Follicular – the longest phase of your cycle where your ovarian follicles mature
  3. Ovulation – this is where ovaries release and egg through the fallopian tubes into the uterus
  4. Luteal – starting the day after ovulation, progesterone increases as the uterine lining thickens and the eggs settles into the uterus in preparation of pregnancy.

As a woman, your life is likely hectic juggling all the things women have to juggle. This makes it is easy to forget that this process is continuously cycling in our bodies. Do you know what phase you are in right now?

Ideally, we begin to respect and honor our body’s process two days before menstruation begins and the first three days of the cycle. Many women’s menstrual phase may last longer than three days, but the first three provide the most energy release. During these five days, to maintain the best health we want to spend as much time resting and allowing the dominant downward energy to complete its eliminating work.

If you have symptoms of irregular periods, heavy bleeding, or intense period pain it might feel comfortable to stir up the energy in a different way and do exercise such as taking a long run or a hot yoga class to relieve any uncomfortable symptoms. These strategies may have short-term benefits but long term these exercises are disrupting the apana vayu, “movement of energy outwards or away from the physical body”. It is critical to allow this energy to do its job uninterrupted.

You want your body to be focused on eliminating efficiently. When we interrupt the apana vayu, the elimination process is interrupted – the energy needs to go somewhere.

According to Ayurveda this disruption creates ama, toxic build up that disrupts digestion. This is the enemy of Agni, the body’s internal fire and signal of health. If you’re already having physical and mental symptoms of the hormone fluctuations of your cycle you don’t want to add this into the mix.

Many women, maybe you are one, might have disrupted cycles due to things like PCOS or endometriosis. Movement therapies like yoga are great for these conditions. Learn how with these articles: Yoga for PCOS and Yoga for Endometriosis.

Now that you understand a bit more about what is happening inside your body, can you do yoga during periods?

yoga for self mastery

Yoga When Menstruating: What Does Traditional Yoga Say?

Most traditions in yoga suggest that menstruation is a time for the body to rest. In some yoga schools that means no yoga practice at all during the bleeding days, some say abstain the first three days of the cycle. For example, in the Iyengar tradition, they would suggest inversions and deep backbends are strictly avoided.

These are 4 key themes to asana during your period:

Time to rest and relax

When you are menstruating, you are releasing from within. Your body is working hard to complete the menstrual cycle and certain yoga positions can interfere with the body’s process. You must be mindful of the extra work happening in your body during any yoga poses you take while your pelvis eliminates. Take a corpse pose (savasana) or legs up the wall and do some deep breathing. If you’re having severe period cramps you can put a hot pad on your pelvis while you do these. This is your body’s time to rest and reflect so taking resting poses is always a great option.

Gentle yoga practices

Since your body is seeking to relax during this time if asana practice is to occur it should be of a gentle restorative nature. Stick to deep breathing, yin postures, and very gentle backbends (think restorative bridge) if at all. Some prenatal yoga classes are a nice option during this time as well. Check out a bunch of them on my YouTube channel.

Avoid inversions

If your body is craving to practice yoga in a full sequence flow class while menstruating you do not want to invert your body during this time. An inversion can disrupt the downward flow of energy thereby interfering with the menstrual cycle. This makes even more sense if you add in the possibility of retrograde menstruation. Not sure what it is? Learn a little about retrograde menstruation here.


The number one rule in Asana practice! Listen to your body signals. In today’s day and age, many people have difficulty connecting to their bodies. Society more glorifies being up in your head rather than being in tune with your body. Yoga poses are an exceptional way to practice connecting with and learning to listen to our body’s signals. If you would like to dive deeper into your personal body connection the Uplifted 200-hr training is the perfect place to learn more about your body and harness that mind-body connection for yourself.

Yoga When Menstruating: What Does Modern Medicine Say?

The deep relationship between yoga and the menstrual cycle has not been fully explored scientifically so we can all look forward to many new discoveries on this topic in the future!

Rakhshaee, 2011 found that Cobra, Fish, and Cat pose “reduced the severity and duration of primary dysmenorrhea.” Primary dysmenorrhea (PD) is the pain occurring during menstruation in a body with no pelvic pathology – Cramps. (Secondary dysmenorrhea would be if the pain is associated with a pelvic pathology such as endometriosis.) This study finds that yoga poses during menstruation can relieve menstrual cramps therefore would be beneficial and encouraged.

Steffany Moonaz, PhD, C-IAYT, discusses in Yoga Therapy Today that “we do not have evidence that asana practice during menstruation is harmful.” Her ideas are that refraining from practicing during your period could actually be harmful as the benefits of a regular yoga practice are scientifically proven and if you skip your asana practice on the menstruating days, you will be less benefited by the practice than those who don’t menstruate.

Bobby Clennell, Author of “The Woman’s Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for all Phases of the Menstrual Cycle” takes an Aryuvedic approach. She says “Standing poses, active backbends, and the strong twisting poses are best left until menstruation is over, as their practice disturbs apana vayu, the vital energy in the lower abdomen that supports elimination.” She also says “Do not practice any inversions until the menstrual flow stops completely.”

As you can see, just like traditional yoga, science supports women doing yoga on their period but with slight modifications.

To yoga or not to yoga on your period?

Again, listen to your body. As your uterine walls journey downward your energy flows with it. This is a cleansing process, to release the old and make space for the new. This is a perfect time to sit in stillness on the mat giving gratitude for the miracle going on inside your pelvis.

Sit in meditation and reflect on your previous month’s cycle. Journal your findings. And, if from this meditation seat your body starts craving movement, make these moves slowly with intention and remain at ease.

If you have a heavy period or high menstrual pain, you may not want to do a moving/standing asana practice. Still, get on your mat, and connect with your body through breath and constructive rest. This is a perfect time to investigate the sensations of the cramps. What could your body be trying to tell you?

restorative yoga pose for periods

Laying on your back in reclined bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) with props and blankets is one of the best poses for this internal investigation. Where are you feeling the pain in your abdominal region? Is it a sharp or dull pain? Is it consistent or fluctuating? Pause, reflect, and connect. And when in doubt, you can always come into a child’s pose.

I have an entire section on women’s health in the Uplifted Membership that can guide you during this time.

Benefits of Yoga While During Periods

There are so many great reasons to get to your yoga mat during your period:

  • Relaxation – spending quiet time with your breath is a great way to come into the present moment. Restorative yoga postures are most beneficial for encouraging ease.
  • Pain relief – through easy gentle postures your period symptoms can be alleviated. Deep breathing will also increase potential relief.
  • Emotional balance – Practicing yoga during the menstrual cycle can relieve anxiety and mood swings also increasing mental health.
  • Increased body awareness – you have the best opportunity during your period to investigate your body processes.

Which Types Of Movements Are Best Avoided During Your Period?

If you are committed to a yoga asana practice, avoid disrupting your downward energy unnecessarily. Things during your yoga flow that might disrupt your natural downward energy:

  • Inversion poses – When your heart is above your head your body is inverted, sending blood flow and energy up towards the heart and head rather than down. The most common inversions are forward fold and downward dog. Imagine yourself in one of the poses now, imagine your uterus placement in space. It is now working against gravity.The more vertical inversions including handstand (adho mukha vrksasana), headstand (Shirshasana), and shoulder stand (Sarvangasana) should also be avoided. If you practice inversions regularly, use these few days to try a more grounded practice.
  • Intense Abdominal Work – Activating the abdominals intensely also disrupts apana vayu. Examples of this type of disruption would be strong core exercises and deep twists. Forward bend standing or in a seated position could be intense depending on your body.
  • Vigorous or Strenuous Exercise – the natural inclination of our energy at this time is to go inward, rest and recover. Avoid any activities that could cause excessive strain or fatigue. If you are very physical in your regular exercise practice, now is the time to rest and prevent any unwanted stress. The goal is to totally relax your breathing.
  • Overstretching & Deep Back Bends – Stretching open the stomach would also disrupt the energy’s natural rhythm. A deep Camel pose or bow pose can stretch open the area so a great modification would be experimenting with a more reserved version of the pose. Can you find anything new here? Can you sense the interior work happening inside?

So, Can We Do Yoga During Periods?

Do what feels right to you while being mindful of the downward energy process happening. And if you are in a studio class, it’s up to you if you want to let your yoga teacher know that you’ll be taking extra modifications at this time. Respect and honor your amazing body for being a creative force.

Remember, this time is not a burden it is a gift. The gift of your body making space for new beginnings and reminding you that you need to slow down.

Next Steps

  • Take my History of Yoga Course to learn all about yogic principles and how they are applied to daily life!
  • Order my Yoga Life book for a practical guide to applying yogic principles to your life and constitution.
  • Check out my Yoga Philosophy knowledge hub for more inspiring content
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