Classic yoga philosophy teaches that energy is flowing downward in your body during your period, and poses that require you to go upside down impede this natural flow.
Inverted poses like Headstand (Sirsasana) and Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana) are designed to nourish the cells, energize and invigorate the body, strengthen the reproductive system, and maintain the balance of the endocrine system. But classic yoga philosophy teaches that energy is flowing downward in your body during your period, and poses that require you to go upside down impede this natural flow.
What's more, inversions pull the uterus-which is heavy with blood during menses-toward the head, and this pull can cause the broad ligaments of the uterus to overstretch. The practice of yoga is also influenced by the ancient Indian healing system of Ayurveda, which holds that menstruation increases the heat in a woman's body and that when practicing yoga during your period, you should focus on cooling and soothing poses.
Instead of building heat in Handstand (Adho Muhka Vrksasana), concentrate on supine cooling poses, such as Reclining Bound Angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana), Fish pose (Matsyasana), and Reclining Hero pose (Supta Virasana). Forward extensions like Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) and Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana) [shown on the previous page] are great choices, too, because they create space between the rib cage and abdomen and have a cooling, peaceful effect on the body.
When your period is over, you can practice inversions again to bring the energy of your body back to normal. -Christine Stein, a certified Iyengar yoga instructor in Los Angeles, teaches workshops on women's health