Beginner Yoga FAQs

To Practice or Not to Practice During Menses

— Moon Curious

Jaki Nett’s reply:

If you lack the motivation to do yoga while you are menstruating, it’s the body’s way of sending a message that you need to relax. My suggestion is to listen to it. Each woman experiences her cycle differently—some retain fluid and feel puffy. Some might feel lethargic or confused, while others might feel physically or mentally off balance. Many women experience headaches, backaches, or sacral pain, and some just become very unpleasant to be around! The lucky ones may experience only a few of these symptoms.

I have been on both sides of the issue as a student and as a teacher. But as a teacher, I would tell you to stay home and take the opportunity to nurture yourself. If you came to my class I would direct you to do a restorative series.

Rather than ask whether it is “good or bad” to go to a yoga class during menstruation, the question I encourage you to ask yourself is, “is going to a class beneficial for my health?” Make your own decision about your health during your menses. But if you choose to go to class, be willing to surrender to do what the teacher thinks you should do–whether it’s to separate from the group and do restoratives or to fully participate (if your teacher thinks that menstruation “should not be the reason not to do yoga”).

Understand that yoga practice is for your health, not the teacher’s, so choose wisely. It is always better to be on the nurturing side of yoga practice during menses than to look back with hindsight and wish you had listened to yourself.

Jaki Nett is a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor in St. Helena, California, and a faculty member of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco. She teaches public classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and leads workshops in the United States and Europe, including specialty workshops on female issues.