I believe that Iyengar (and others) recommend inversions for menstrual difficulties not during the time of actual menstruation, but at other times in the cycle.
It would seem logical to me that since there are two openings at the top of the uterus that lead to pelvic cavity, blood should NOT be flowing in that direction. Having experienced internal bleeding from a ruptured ovarian cyst, I can attest to the prolonged pain from having to reabsorb that blood, which last for weeks. My GP said, "blood outside of a blood vessel [and in this case, the uterus] is irritating to the lining of the abdominal cavity and doesn't belong there."
Kathleen Lea Summers, MD, PhD
"Until recently, increased risk of endometriosis was considered the most common risk. But since more is known now about that disease, the idea has been debunked."
That's not true. In 2011, retrograde menstruation remains the prevailing scientific hypothesis for what causes endometriosis. It's complicated, and other factors play a part- things like genetics, epigenetics, immune function, environmental toxins, etc. For sure women who have more frequent periods, those that bleed heavier, and those that have a blockage to normal flow through the vagina are the most likely to develop endometriosis. That indicates the amount of backward flow is important in development. Baboon studies back this up - the more endometrial tissue in the pelvic cavity, the more likely you are to develop disease. While there are no studies looking specifically at whether or not women who practice inversions during their periods are more likely to develop endometriosis, prudence is wise. Anyone with a personal or family history of endometriosis should never do inversions while on their period. Other women need to be careful too, especially during the days of heaviest flow. If they choose to invert during menses, then time in the posture should be limited to 30 seconds. The longer time spent inverted and the heavier the flow, the more likely there are to be consequences.
Kathleen Lea Summers, MD, PhD
Ive started paying attention when I'm on my time of the month. Like B. I stay away from intense inversions. Ive seen that my cycle stays longer when i do intensive inversions. I believe it depends on the woman. My friend said she is fine when she does inversion, while another says it does effect her cycle. All I have to say is listen to your body and mind when you feel something isn't feeling right.
I agree with the author. It is like with everything in Yoga, and in life. If it doesn't feel right do not do it. Personally I continue with my inversions: The time I can hold them for may very from time to time whether or not I am having my period. Actually, since I started trying to prolong more and more the inversions, as a daily routine, my cramps have immensely decreased... which has encouraged me to keep inversions (shoulderstand, plow, hand stand, scorpion) as part of my daily routine. Thanks to the author for this answer, I was starting to worry that maybe, silently, my body had started to develop some weird disease.
Thank you for the first clear answer I have received to this question! :)
Iyengar actually recommends practicing inversions as part of a regular practice to alleviate menstrual problems. As with all his healing routines, the key is a daily practice, not to practice just when you feel the symptoms.
I find that intense inversions during my cycle make me feel sick, so I stick to restorative practices for those days. But a regular yoga practice, healthy diet, and keeping well hydrated make a big difference in making that time of the month a little easier.
I'd always heard it was a woman's choice whether or not to invert while menstruating, and recently had even encountered lots of people scoffing at avoiding inversions during your period as a myth or old wives tale.
The past four months I continued my normal yoga practice while on my period (which includes inversions) and found that it actually seemed to disrupt my menstruation, causing the flow during my normal period to be reduced and spotting in between periods. In addition, it seemed like my cramps were worse.
I've always like gentle, non-inverted stretching during my period but this experiment has definitely let me know where my body stands on inversions during menstruation.
Thanks! I've been asking around about this for some time now, but I've never gotten such a complete, informed answer.
The idea that a woman shouldn't invert during menstruation has always had an air of codswallop to me. I've wondered why down dog is fine but a shoulderstand isn't, or how the belief came about in the first place. Even the best instructors have only given me a piecy, stuttering response.
Thank you again.
I have just started doing yoga (1 session last week and 1 session yesterday, is this likely to affect my periods as I am worried that I am late?