Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Menstruation and Ashtanga practice

There are many concepts and opinions concerning feminine menstruation and practice in the yoga world. 

Should I practice or not? 

Should I resign from practice even though I do not feel different? 

Should I practice at a push when I am in pain and would instead wrap myself in a blanket?


Like with everything, everyone has their convictions and justifications. My opinion stems from my experience as a woman who practices Ashtanga Yoga (earlier Iyengar yoga for several years) and as a teacher who works with women with various feminine conditions.

Body awareness is one of the most important things we learn in Ashtanga yoga. These constitute a basis for making decisions that will be neither harmful nor abusive to our health. We follow this rule in every individual case. 

Every woman experiences menstruation differently – one painfully, the other almost insensibly. From my perspective, generalizing all the cases is illogical. To get to the point, if nothing is going on, excluding a possible sense of heaviness or accumulated water, women practice yoga in my classes (this applies to the European climate, not the Indian one). More so, many of them need to deepen the monthly cleansing process.

An exception is women who have practiced yoga six times a week for several years, most of all the yoga teachers. For them, practicing yoga during menstruation causes an excessive deficit in life’s energy. Thus, there are 2-3 days off practice, an individual Moonday-Lady’s Day. An additional clue is a regulated cycle that comes on New Moon, not a Full Moon.

Menstruation frequency also changes after practicing Ashtanga yoga for many years. For instance, for a short time, menstruation appears during New Moon and Full Moon – every two weeks – when the body needs to clear the hormonal system; some other times, it vanishes for 2-3 months. It all requires careful observation. What also helps is to observe our eating habits more carefully. It is always good to consult a teacher.

There are women for whom menstruation is painful. Still, sometimes this pain appears only during the practice of certain asanas, for example, the ones that intensively engage the abdomen or deeply warming ones.

When I practiced Iyengar yoga, I obeyed the rule of not doing abdomen asanas, twists, or inverted positions. Due to heavy pain, I often could not even attend yoga classes. My initial experience with Ashtanga yoga looked similar. When a teacher used to tell me to practice all asanas with no exceptions, it raised my concerns. Additionally, I really felt asanas that were earlier forbidden during menstruation. To be blunt, I felt that somebody was wrestling and burning my insides, so, as a result, I resigned from practice during these days in a class but decided to practice yoga mindfully at home instead. I wanted to learn what was going on and who was right. 


Today I know there are three reasons for pain:

  • cooled and under-energized kidneys and spleen,
  • too thick blood – a liver cannot transmit (‘pull-through’) blood which it stores,
  • poor blood – which is undernourished – is usually caused by iron deficiency but also deficiency of other minerals.

So if the pain does not subside after years of practicing, look closely at what and how you eat. It is worth to consult a Chinese medicine doctor, too. Especially if you are a yoga teacher and your pain isn’t gone after years of practice.

After many years of practice, I found that everyone is right in specific cases. My condition vanished entirely after several months of practicing Ashtanga. However, forcing practice does not help a gradual process of healing. Intensive work and overheating the bottom of the abdomen during menstruation may cause a minor hemorrhage. Bear in mind that Ashtanga is a practice where bandhas and breath play a pivotal role – thanks to them, the energetics of a body and Prana’s circulation change.

To conclude, intuition and conscious cooperation with your body are most important. Every woman is responsible for her health and makes a decision every time she gets on a yoga mat.

Menstruation and Ashtanga practice