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Can I do headstands on my period?

Debunking the Myth

As a yoga teacher, one of the questions that gets asked frequently is whether it is safe to practice inversions such as headstands and shoulder stands during menstruation. In this blog post, we will look at the origin of this myth and examine the scientific evidence.

So, where did this idea that inversions shouldn't be done during your period?

B.K.S. Iyengar's school of yoga encourages their practitioners to refrain from inversions during menstruation, as they propagate the belief that these poses disrupt the downward flow of energy known as apana, which is related to reproductive cycles. On the other hand, the teachings of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois through the school of Astanga suggests that women should take a "holiday" from yoga during the first three days of menstruation, advising practitioners to refrain from any type of practice during this period. Other schools of hatha yoga are conflicted about whether inversions should be practised or not.

The outdated idea that menstruation disrupts the downward flow or can cause a backflow originates from yogic philosophy and ayurvedic principles developed by men with little understanding of how female anatomy functions, purporting that inverting the uterus will cause this menstrual flow to revert inside the body. However, in a yoga class other inversions such as standing forward fold or downwards facing dog are not discouraged for practitioners on their period, which is contradictory, as they also invert the uterus.

Biologically speaking, the body's functions are not affected by its orientation to gravity. Bedridden patients are still capable of urinating, even when they are lying down, and you can even swallow when upside down. Blood circulation within the body operates both with and against gravity, suggesting that the body's orientation does not alter the natural movements of its systems. Even in space, in zero gravity, female astronauts are able to menstruate. To conclude, going upside down during menstruation does not reverse the natural downward flow.

Though, the debate surrounding inversions and menstruation in yoga is complex and different yoga traditions express different views. While some schools discourage inversions during this time, scientific evidence suggests that the body's orientation does not affect the natural flow of your period or cause backflow of menstrual blood into your body.

Ultimately, when you are on your period, you may experience headaches, cramps and reduced strength which may affect your desire to practice inversions. So, you should listen to your body and decide whether you feel like practising inversions, without having to worry that it is detrimental to your health or reproductive cycle.

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