Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Should You Practice "The Five Tibetan Rites" When Menstruating?

The monks who practiced the original Rites were celibate and male. There were no instructions given regarding menstruation!

However, my experience and the feedback of many of the women I have taught, is that T5T seems to improve the symptoms of menstruation. Some women report less bloating, moodiness, anxiety, cramps and sore breasts. Others say they feel less congested 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 cumulative effects of regular practice.

The monks said that the purpose of the Rites is to get the chakras (energy centers) 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.

An example of this hormonal stimulation is that I taught one women who reported an increase in the production of her breast milk!

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! 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 definitely discuss this with him/her. There are some people who have underlying conditions such as cysts that have become aggravated through practicing the Rites (or doing other forms of exercise). If you experience any irregular spotting then you should see your doctor.

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.

It is worth considering that in many rural cultures women work whilst having their period. They also work right up to the day before giving birth and return immediately after delivery! Of course their bodies are conditioned to ongoing physical labour, whilst those of us in urban communities need to be more cautious. The point I am making here though is the human body is pretty tough!

Personally I share the opinion of Barbara Benagh - a yoga teacher, seminar teacher and columnist on Yoga Journal

..."Since I know of no studies or research that makes a compelling argument to avoid inversions (eg. Rite No 5) 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) 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. Rather than express (waste) their sexual energy in a sexual manner; they used this powerful energy for creating higher spiritual awareness, by channeling it up the major energy lines of the body. Read my article "Why We Don't Teach The 6th Rite From The Five Tibetans" for more in-depth information.

The bottom line is that the Rites appear to help stabilize the periods. I have not had one report of ongoing 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!!!

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Anonymous said...

How about during pregancy? Can we still practise 5 rites? thanks!

Carolinda Witt said...

Yoga and PregnancyThe Five Tibetan Rites - No 2 (copyright www.T5T.com)

Yoga is wonderful during pregnancy to maintain your fitness; keep your muscles toned and improve your posture. It increases your energy levels and reduces fatigue as well as assists with maintaining optimal health levels during pregnancy.

It also teaches you how to relax and breathe. This is very important to help you adjust to the demands of pregnancy, then birth and motherhood itself. There are precautions though if you want to practice any form of yoga during pregnancy. For example you should not carry out any poses that require you to lie flat on your back (as this decreases blood flow to the uterus).

You should also avoid lying on your belly or performing exercises that require excessive stretching of the abdominal muscles. Do to the release of the hormone relaxin which enables the uterus to expand during pregnancy you are at more risk of straining muscles, so extra care must be taken to avoid strain on your joints.

There are special requirements for each stage of your pregnancy. In the 2nd trimester you will need to pay attention to your technique to avoid placing undue stress on your joints as your connective tissue will be softer due to relaxin. Because balance can also be affected during pregnancy, extra precautions need to be taken with standing poses during the final trimester of pregnancy.

The Five Tibetan Rites and Pregnancy

We do not recommend you begin practicing The Five Rites during pregnancy, unless you consult a specialist teacher in pre-natal yoga. She can help you adjust the poses (or offer alternatives) at each of the different stages of pregnancy. The first movement is a Spin which can cause dizziness. If you experience nausea in the early stages of pregnancy this may make it worse.

In the 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy you may have problems with balance so this movement would not be recommended. The other four movements can be modified or adjusted but you really must see a qualified pre-natal yoga teacher.

Pregnancy is not a time to work hard on improving your flexibility as special care needs to be taken to avoid over straining your muscles due to the effects of relaxin which softens your connective tissue. A trained instructor who has experience in instructing pregnant women will also offer you additional movements to assist you with the demands of pregnancy and birth.

After Birth

The first six weeks of birth are really about healing and adjusting to the demands of the baby. Relaxin will remain in your body for around 5 months so care still has to be taken to avoid overstraining your muscles and joints.Exercise is best limited to gentle pelvic floor and abdominal exercises as well as swimming and walking.

The T5T version of The Five Tibetan Rites incorporates pelvic floor and lower abdominal strengthening and can be helpful in your recovery. However, once again, it is advisable to discuss this with your qualified pre & post natal yoga or Pilates instructor. T5T is great for finding that little bit of time for yourself as it takes around 10 – 15 mins per day. You can fit it in between sleeps, feeds and laundry!