Should you practice yoga during your period?

A lot of women have this question: Should I practice yoga while I have my period?  Or maybe this thought has never occurred to you!  After all, we live in modern American.  We have tampon commercials that promise us we can ride horses, wear bikinis, and never even notice we have a period.  So why not practice yoga? Why we should stop ignoring and start loving our periods is a blog post for another day (in fact, it’s written right here.)

But let’s assume that you, the wise and enlightened woman you are, want to work with your body and not against it.  Should you practice yoga during your period? And if so, are there certain kinds of practices that are better or worse to do?

“SHE SAID IT DIDN’T MATTER”

One of my clients once told me that her yoga teacher said there were no changes that needed to be made to her practice during her period, and there were no poses that benefitted a healthy cycle or fertility.

Well, Geeta S. Iyengar (daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar – an entire style of yoga) says that’s simply not true. She’s dedicated her career to helping women overcome painful periods, illness connected to cycles and womb health.   She says in her book The Women’s Yoga Book,

“Yoga is meditation in action.  If you organize your practice in response to all phases of your menstrual cycle, it will provide you with the power and comfort of ritual and will add stability to your life by reestablishing your link with nature’s cycles.”

I agree.  So, if we know that there are certain poses to practice during certain times of your cycle, we know that during your period you want to select poses that enhance the energy that’s already happening.

APANA VATA

Apana is the downward flow of elimination that is associated with eliminating anything unwanted from the body, including shedding the uterine lining.  If we want to work with this energy and not aggravate it (and cause symptoms to worsen or appear) we want to choose poses that are:

  • Gentle.
  • Don’t compress the belly, uterus or ovaries.
  • Don’t reverse the blood flow (i.e. inversions).
  • Help reduce swelling, cramping and fatigue.

Some teachers recommend you don’t practice at all during your cycle, and you may find that this rule works well for you.  But if you choose to practice during your cycle choose a home practice so you can tailor your postures to your needs.  Follow these general guidelines:

  • Avoid standing poses – they generate too much heat that’s already being created from menstruation.
  • Avoid twists – they over tax your organs and can cause flooding or clotting of menstrual blood.
  • Try gentle seated bends – they can help reduce swelling.
  • Use seated forward folds (leaving room for belly or gently compressing on belly can bring relief from cramps depending on what feels right in your body.) They quiet the brain and reduce fatigue.
  • Avoid inversions – they reduce that apana vata flow of mala or bodily waste like menstrual blood. Can contribute to problems like heavy bleeding and endometriosis.
  • Reclining poses are wonderful – they help with feelings of pelvic pain and fatigue or headaches.
  • Avoid backbends – they overtax the system.  Gentle supported backbends like an elevated supta bada konasana are exceptions.
  • No seated pranayama- too challenging on nervous system.  Choose gentle breaths in reclining positions.

Jot down how you feel or take note of what poses feel best during your cycle. Click here for my favorite yoga poses for fertility enhancing!

sandra yoga period

Mama Wellness Tip- Spring yoga pose for happy hormones

For this Mama Wellness Tip you will start in utkatasana by stepping the feet to touch.

Bend into your knees, slightly tuck your tailbone.

Inhale and raise your arms, exhale and bring your palms to touch at your heart

as you twist to your right, bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.

Check that your left knee hasn’t moved forward (keep both knees in line).

Repeat for other side.

Especially useful for PMS, PCOS and endometriosis sufferers.

(Avoid this pose if you are pregnant, bleeding, or are past ovulation in your cycle.)

Interested in learning more about how yoga can improve your hormonal happiness,

schedule your breakthrough session with Sandra. 

mwtyogahappyhormones

 

The Green Kind

Hey Mamas,

Sandra here.  I want to get real for a minute, shall we?

It’s the New Moon, which is a time of planting new things. It’s a fresh start – the time women would typically start their new cycle, start bleeding. The time to start herbal tinctures and plant seeds. To be honest, this feels like a waste of time for me right now.  New seeds??  New seeds?? I can’t seem to get the ones I already planted to grow! Nothing seems to be taking root, nothing seems to be sprouting.  It’s a season of struggle for sure in many areas of my life.  (And if we’re honest, isn’t there always one area that is in the middle of some kind of struggle?)  The details aren’t even that important.

I know you can relate.  Is it trying to get pregnant for you? Does the idea of trying One. More. Time. just fill you with dread? Are you afraid everyday for the fragile life that you might be carrying?

Maybe it’s pregnancy.  You know that technically there’s your baby, your future, growing inside of you, but mostly it feels like inconvenience, pain, sleeplessness, discomfort, fear, exhaustion. It’s dragging.  Most of the time it feels like it’s getting worse, not growing something amazing.

Maybe your babies are here.  Maybe they’re even grown.  You’ve done all this work to help them grow and grow yourself and you feel like those seeds must have gotten washed away with the last storm.  Where’s the progress?  Why does everything feel hard?

Mama, I’m with you. More than you know. 

Let me join you there, in that place.  Not in a join-the-pity-party kind of way, but in a real, let’s be honest, this is how it is kind of way.

I watched a sermon the other day where the pastor brilliantly talked about the place between denial and despair.  It’s called destiny.  If we deny the reality of things, we’re not optimists, we’re crazy.  If I pretended that I was feeling awesome through my whole twin pregnancy for the sake of protecting my image to clients – that’s just a lie.  On the other hand is despair.  If I just spiraled downward into a hole and gave up hope that God could or would do anything beautiful through that experience, I’d kill any chance for growth – despair.

The place in the middle is destiny.  The place in the middle is where the seeds eventually bloom.  Where the winter eventually ends and something starts to look green.  Where the joy we’ve been fighting so hard to hold onto fills us with energy and we take one more step and finally see a breakthrough.

Take one more step, mama.

You can do it.  I’ll do it with you. Plant more seeds.  Wait on the planted ones.  Water them with your tears – of sadness and of joy.  Try One. More. Time.  God’s moving in the seasons when it looks like nothing is happening or ever will. How long ago did I plant that seed of hope for a baby? That seed of health for myself? Who even remembers at this point?  Don’t give up the hope.   God is a God of green hope.  There’s a future for you – your health, your family – even if it seems like it’s buried under a lot of *shit* right now.

Happy New Moon Mamas,  See you at Harvest time. 🙂

Mama Wellness Tip- Let the Moon boost your Fertility

The moon plays a crucial role in your healthy sleep habits and in return your fertility.

Follow this Mama Wellness Tip to maximize the benefit!

Need more help with finding hormonal happiness?  Click here to schedule your Mama Wellness Breakthrough Session and get the on-on-one attention you need and deserve.

Mama Wellness Tip to make your house more joyful

Add this one thing to your shopping list for joy on your mama journey no matter where you are. It’s especially useful to enhance the romance of life. Make sure to choose roses or dried rose petals that are free of pesticides. Especially if you will be adding to your tea. What makes this even better, a girls night shared with a fellow mama soaking in the joy and sharing some tea time together.

Looking for on online collection of mama’s to join on this journey with, join us on facebook Happy WOMBen: Pre-conception, Pregnancy, and Mama Wellness. 

What held me back from having a great period for years. (Even after I went to Nutrition School)

love your period

It’s common in our culture to disdain that time of the month when we bleed.  Our commercials for period accessories try to prove how great they are by showing how they help us completely ignore our periods all together.

When I got my first period in middle school my mom sort of just said Ok, here’s a tampon, good luck. There was certainly no celebration of entering womanhood or passing on of womanly wisdom.  I did get a discreet envelope during my 5th grade “sex ed” class full of intimidating pillow sized pads.  That was super helpful. I got the message: we don’t really talk about this, except maybe to complain.

That message has been reaffirmed throughout my adult life.  I didn’t actually learn about how to chart ovulation or connect with the lunar cycle until I was much much older.  And in the meantime, I assumed that dramatic PMS symptoms like cramps, drastic mood swings, clumpy or heavy bleeding were just normal.  After all, isn’t this why we were supposed to complain all the time?

Turns out, I was wrong.

I wish someone would have told me in my early twenties that not getting my period for months at a time was not a cause for medication but actually about my strict calorie counting, self-loathing and obsessive exercising.

I wish someone would have introduced me to the idea that my lunar cycle is a celebration of womanhood, the potential for motherhood, and a unique opportunity to gently cleanse every single month.

I wish someone would have helped me understand the impact nourishment, rest and reflection would have on those “unavoidable” symptoms.

I wish someone would have passed on some wise woman wisdom about herbal, nutritional and yoga therapeutic remedies to help regulate my hormone production so my body didn’t feel the need to get my attention every month.  The role my liver, thyroid and adrenal function played in having a consistent cycle.

I wish someone would have told me about the toxic chemicals in most period accessories.

I wish someone would have taught me to love my period.

What if you could have a great period?

Ignoring it was the problem. It held me back.

I was talking to a client the other day who ignored the severe pain she was having for a year because her endocrinologist said “getting pregnant would fix it”. We need to get back in touch with our intuition, and stop ignoring your period.

What kind of words do you associate with it? Are you trying to get pregnant and dread that time?  Are you “postpartum” and can’t seem to find a good normal?  Have you been able to learn to love it? What are your favorite ways?

Any of this sound like what you’d love to know?  Let me help you.  Schedule your Mama Wellness Breakthrough Session by clicking here.  Let’s get an action plan going for your specific period needs.

Seeds for Hormone Health

foods for fertility

There are all kinds of things you can do to help balance hormones before, during and after baby.  Herbs, supplements, yoga, meditation, medication.  But one of the simplest is to increase foods in your diet that help to remove excess estrogen, protect the body from xenohormones (synthetics that bind with estrogen receptor sites and inhibit the liver’s ability to remove excess estrogen), contain blood nourishing iron and vitamin C to help with iron absorption, and omegas for healthy cell membranes.

Some of my favorite foods for this are a few easy-to-eat seeds. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which helps to support progesterone release and also omega-3 fatty acids.  Flax seeds are high in lignans and omegas, helping to block excess estrogen.  Sesame seeds are also high in lignans and sunflower seeds contain selenium – a trace mineral that aids the liver in detoxification.  Best if eaten raw, (and especially in the case of flax seed – ground), added in small amounts daily to smoothies, yogurt, or soaked cereals.   I have been craving pumpkin seeds the entire 14 weeks of this pregnancy so far!

Twist for Release – Yoga Pose for Detox

Yoga Pose Tip: Marychasana C

This deep twisting pose is incredibly cleansing for your internal organs.
If you’re suffering from PCOS, blockages in your fallopian tubes or bad PMS symptoms this pose is great for you. It compresses (cutting off prana and blood flow to) the liver, ovaries, womb, and then releases, flooding with fresh energy and oxygen!

If you cannot get your elbow to the outside of the knee, just hold that knee with your hand. Don’t strain to turn the head, let it be the natural extension of the pose. Keep the straight leg active.

When to do it:

  • After you’ve warmed up your spine and practiced some breathing exercises.
  • In the morning before eating or at bedtime (on an empty stomach).
  • During the first half of your cycle (pre-ovulation) if you’re trying to conceive, or all the way up to your period if you’re not.

When NOT to do it:

  • When you’re actually bleeding.
  • If you’re during retrieval or implantation days if you’re using those methods.
  • If you’re pregnant (you can modify by sitting in easy seated pose and just gently twisting to each side with one hand behind you and one hand on your knee.)
  • The second half of your cycle (post ovulation) if you’re trying to conceive. (You don’t want to continue to overstimulate the ovaries, instead focus on poses that encourage implantation!)

ENJOY!

Mama Wellness Tip – Herbs for PMS

herbs for pmsCramp bark is one of my favorite female herbs (read: herbs for pms!)  It’s a uterine antispasmodic, which means it relaxes the uterus. Best taken as a tincture or tea, it can be useful for painful periods, cramping or threatened miscarriage.  It combines really well with valerian root (also relaxing and antispasmodic), vitex (for hormone regulation), and wild yam (helps the liver process estrogen).  It can be taken while pregnant (for threatened miscarriage) and I know of no known contraindications like breastfeeding, but check with a knowledgeable care provider if you’re taking medications or have special conditions.  Can be taken multiple times a day during heavy cramping.  I have a “Mama Maurer’s Moon Tincture” with motherwort (for mood), vitex (for regulation), cramp bark (for cramping), raspberry leaf (for uterine toning) and valerian root (for relaxation).

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