Wednesday, August 23, 2006
The Five Tibetans - Should you practice when you are menstruating?
I received this query on my website, and thought it would be of use to others interested in the same question.
Can girls/women practice T5T during periods? Or should we break during those five to six days. Please advise.
The monks who practiced the original Rites would have been celibate and left no instructions for women!
However, my experience and the feedback of many of the women I have taught is that T5T seems to improve the symptons of menstruation. Some women report less bloating, moodiness, anxiety, cramps and sore breasts. Others say they feel less conjested and the flow is improved. I believe that because you are doing a little bit of yoga & core training (T5T) everyday - your body becomes conditioned to it - and you benefit from the cummulative effects of regular practice.
During menstruation some women's physical energy is not as strong as usual. In this case - maintain the pattern of your practice so as not to lose the motivation of the daily ritual - but perhaps to do less repetitions, or revert back to one of the easier versions of the postures. However, some women experience increased energy during their period - so there is no one size answer to fit all! At the top end of performance, whatever the time of month - think of all the female Olympic athletes!
Exercise is good for you, and in fact is normal! Our sedentary lifestyle has turned exercise into an option! Certainly if you have a condition that requires you to receive treatment from a doctor - you should definately discuss this with him/her. If you are exercising so much that your period stops, then that is not healthy. You would have to be working out at very high intensity for this to occur from exercise alone.
What I have observed both personally and with all my students, is that the Rites help stabilise the periods. I have not had one report of increased blood flow or stopping of menstruation through practicing the Rites. What I do hear about is people saying that they are less moody, have less cramps and reduced bloating - but maintain a craving for chocolate!!!
The monks said that the purpose of the Rites is to get the chakras (energy centres) of the body spinning rapidly and evenly again. The chakras are located above major nerve plexi (bunches of nerves) and the major endocrine glands of the body. In this way, they are said to improve hormonal function.
As an example of this hormonal stimulation, I taught one women who reported an increase in the production of her breast milk!
Personally I share the opinion of Barbara Benagh - a yoga teacher, seminar teacher and columnist on Yoga Journal http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/546_1.cfm who says,
Since I know of no studies or research that makes a compelling argument to avoid inversions during menstruation, and since menstruation affects each woman differently and can vary from cycle to cycle, I am of the opinion that each woman is responsible for making her own decision.
The bottom line is that hatha yoga is full of contradictions and varied opinions, leaving each of us ultimately responsible for our own choices. Pay attention to your body and discover what works and what doesn't — not just during your period but every day.
Geeta Iyengar (yoga expert) http://www.yogaholidays.net/magazine/Menstruation.html says that the practice of Uddiyana Bhanda (the 6th Rite) should not be done during menstruation. I do not incorporate the 6th Rite in any of my teachings as the monks said you must be celibate to practice it. They channeled their sexual energy up the major energy lines of the body for heightened spiritual awareness.