Is It Okay to Do Yoga Inversions When…

yoga inversions safety for pregnancy and menstruation

Is it okay to do yoga inversions when you’re pregnant or menstruating? Let’s take a look…

Yoga inversion poses like Headstand, Shoulderstand, and Wheel are very popular, but there is some controversy over when these poses are appropriate. Many people advise that you should not do even the mildest yoga inversions (like Downward Facing Dog or Forward Bend) while pregnant, and others say women should avoid the more advanced inversion poses while menstruating.

Still other health experts and yoga instructors say it’s perfectly fine to do inversions whenever it feels safe and comfortable. So who should you believe?

Is it really okay to do yoga inversions when…

You’re Pregnant:

According to SpoiledYogi.com:

…It’s usually safe to continue doing the activities that you were doing before you became pregnant–including yoga inversions–as long as you continue to feel good in that position.

(Do I need to say it again? Listen to your body’s intuition first! If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it no matter what your teacher says or what you read in blogs like this one!)

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Do the things that make you feel strong, confident, and capable, and leave the rest.

The only thing worse than forcing yourself into yoga poses that don’t work for your body (at any phase of life) is stressing yourself out about it.

You are making a miracle, after all. And that’s way more awe-inspiring than any particular yoga pose.

Read more about doing inversions while pregnant here.

You’re On Your Period:

According to Greatist.com

The reasons some yoga teachers suggest avoiding inversions such as handstands, headstands, and shoulder stands are based on both yogic tradition and a potentially increased risk of endometriosis.

Philosophically, in yoga, menstruation is considered to be apana, meaning your body’s energy is downward-flowing. Those against inversions say that the poses will disturb the natural energetic flow, so it’s better to avoid putting your uterus in the air or upside down.

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Endometriosis is a condition in which cells like those that line the uterus (the stuff you shed during your period) implant themselves outside the uterus, causing inflammation, scarring, infertility, and pain…

Women are warned that if their bodies are upside down, the blood flow will go backward instead of down and out, causing what’s known as retrograde menstruation, and possibly later lead to endometriosis.

Renowned yogini Gina Caputo says, “The expulsion of the uterine lining during menstruation isn’t propelled by gravity, but by uterine contractions. So, while there are no universally applicable medical reasons to avoid inverting your body during menstruation, every woman should consult a healthcare professional who knows their reproductive history and current condition when deciding whether or not it makes sense for them to do so.”

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So, at this point, the idea that yoga inversions could cause endometriosis is mere speculation from a medical point of view. As for philosophical reasons within the realm of yoga, there are differing opinions on whether inversions may improve the elimination of excess Apana.

It’s important to recognize that this prioritization isn’t rooted in biological function, but in philosophy,” says Caputo. “Much of what we’ve learned from traditional yoga is based in a deeply antiquated view of menstruation and dictated by people who have never experienced menstruation.”

In fact, many people in both the medical world and the yogasphere actually recommend certain yoga poses during menstruation as a way to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms — like cramps and bloating — that sometimes come along with it.

So, the answer to the nagging question? There’s no science-backed reason to avoid certain poses as long as they’re comfortable to you, regardless of where you are on your cycle…

As a rule of thumb in both instances, listen to what your body is telling you, and do what feels good and right for you! If your body (and your doctor) say it’s okay, then go for it!

 

About the author

Rose S.


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