The menstrual cycle is so much more than menstruation. The whole monthly cycle is a fascinating flow of changing hormones and doṣas (āyurvedic physiology). As hormones and doṣas change, so will mood, energy and physiology. These are shifts half of the population will experience. And, of course, this cycle will affect how we approach and experience our yoga practice.
Sometimes we feel strong, motivated and powerful. The muscles grow and repair easily. And other times our coordination is off, we are fatigued and we easily overheat. Maybe there is more risk of injury or a sense of hypermobility.
Sadly this is often ignored. It is as if we feel we “should” be the same throughout the month. And perhaps that would be easier in a very linear world. But we are not. We are cyclical beings and there are powers in the menstrual phase, follicular phase, around ovulation and the luteal phase. We just need to recognise them.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we started working with our bodies? Harness the power of our cyclical nature rather than ignoring or actually working against our body?
Anja is so passionate about this topic that she had to write about it. This became her book Teaching Yoga for the menstrual cycle - an āyurvedic perspective (published Dec 2022).
As an experienced yoga teacher, teacher trainer and āyurvedic practitioner (BSc, PGDip) she wanted to share how we can embrace our cycle in our yoga practice with the wisdom of āyurveda. Āyurveda is often said to be a sister-science to yoga and it is the traditional medicinal system of India. Often translated as the Science of Life, it is still practised today in Indian hospitals and across the World.
In the book she explores why we need to understand our cycle, we get a solid and practical introduction to āyurveda and how it relates to the cycle. she explores anatomy and physiology from a Western science view as well as the āyurvedic. Once we understand our cycle we can tailor our yoga to how we feel at that specific time in our cycle.
During menstruation, it’s the perfect time to rest and reflect. Energetically the energy is moving down and out and the hormones are low. In yoga and āyurveda it’s perfect for more restorative and relaxing yoga.
From the end of menstruation up until ovulation, we have more physical strength, stamina, endurance and potential to build muscle. This is ideal for stronger yoga flows. Yet, being mindful that relaxation is always important too.
This is just one day. But the energy may be there a little longer. You may feel confident, strong, sensual and outgoing. You can continue the stronger practice or embrace a more sensual, creative and fluid flow.
After ovulation and before menstruation things shift again. The hormones are changing as are the doṣas in āyurveda. We can embrace the sharp focused energy to focus on alignment and technique being mindful of not overheating. At some point, it may feel natural to enjoy a softer more restful practice.
The most important thing is to listen to your body. Not the ego. And find the perfect balance between being active as well as taking time to rest and restore.
The book, Teaching Yoga for the menstrual cycle - an āyurvedic approach, goes into many further details on how to work with the cycle and any common complaints such as PMS, cramps, endometriosis and heavy periods.
Find the book on all the popular book-selling sites internationally.
Anja Brierley Lange is the author of Teaching Yoga for the menstrual cycle - an āyurvedic approach. She is an experienced yoga teacher and āyurvedic practitioner (BSc, PGDip). Anja teaches yoga online and in person. Visit yogaembodied.com and on Instagram @anja_yogini.
Anja is wearing our Cradle to Cradle Certified, biodegradable and circular yoga fashion on these pictures. She is wearing our sustainable Fresher Cropped Tank in Diamond White and our C2C Easy Pocket Leggings in Shoreline Blue. Our products are safe for the environment and for our skin.
Until next time,
Your Wellicious team