Biologically there is no real reason to stop inversions during menstruation however energetically there are a couple of considerations:
- Yogic philosophy suggests that apana, the downward flow of energy is challenged during inversions and the natural flow of menstruation (a downward flowing elimination) may be disturbed.
- Inversions, such as Downward Facing Dog are considered high-energy poses and because a women’s energy may be depleted during menstruation high energy poses should be avoided.
Practicing inversions during menstruation is definitely an individual choice and it is not up to me to determine who should and should not practice Downward Facing Dog but I do ask each of you reading this to consider your own needs during your menstrual cycle.
Regardless of what you choose during your menstruation phase of your cycle Downward Facing Dogs has application in all phases of a women’s lifecycle including:
- In the Premenstrual Phase of the Menstrual Cycle
- For optimising Fertility
- Pregnancy (as a strengthening pose and as a transition pose – although caution in late pregnancy)
Downward Facing Dog can be helpful for women who suffer Premenstrual Tension (PMT). Benefits include reducing severity of headaches, calming the mind, relieving heaviness of the body, bloating and relieving pain in the back. Sometimes a support such as a bolster, blanket or block under the crown of the head can be used to relieve headaches and fatigue.
Asanas in general support the reproductive system however Downward Facing Dog may optimise fertility. According to Bobby Clennell (2007) downward facing dog is beneficial for correcting a displaced uterus. While a displaced uterus does not directly cause fertility issues it can be associated with other conditions that may make conception difficult (Whelan, 2017).
Downward Facing Dog helps to increase blood flow throughout the body including organs of the pelvis, providing nourishment and keeping the reproductive system oxygenated and healthy.
Being a calming and cooling pose Downward Facing Dog can release stress and promote a sense of relaxation for women undergoing fertility treatment.
During Menopause downward facing dog can be highly effective at relieving hot flushes. According to Suza Franzina (2003) hot flushes represent a release of kundalini energy which can negatively impact the nervous system at the time of menopause. Downward Facing dog is a cooling pose and helps to calm the nervous system making it an effective pose for relieving hot flushes before they occur.
As a woman transitions to motherhood through pregnancy practicing downward facing dog is a reminder of personal strength. Being a full body poses downward dog strengthens the body supporting you as you transition from one position to another. Practicing with mindfulness and adjusting to suit the stage of pregnancy is recommended.
The therapeutic benefits of downward facing dog have varied application throughout the entire cycle of a women’s adult life from menarche to menopause. This is definitely a favourite pose to practice and if you want to learn more about the anatomy of the dog so as to include it in your practice read more here or join me in a class.
Clennel, Bobby (2007) The Woman’s Yoga Book; Rodmell Press, Berkley
Francina, Suza (2003) Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause; Health Communications, Florida
Sparrow, Linda and Walden, Patricia (2004) Yoga for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle; Shambhala Publications, Boston
Whelan, Corey (2017) What you should know about a tilted pelvis; Healthline https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/tilted-uterus