Although irregular or missed periods can have many causes, a frequent contributor is emotional or physical stress. A yoga practice that focuses on calming poses and breathing techniques to reduce your stress level may help. Because your needs vary during the course of your menstrual cycle, different practices will be appropriate at different times during your cycle.
Every woman's menstrual cycle is different. Cycles typically range between 23 and 35 days, with the menstrual period lasting from three to five days. There is a great deal of individual variation, however. Menstruation is considered irregular when bleeding happens outside of your typical pattern, or if you frequently miss periods. Irregular menstruation can occur for many reasons. Because it can sometimes be a sign of a serious health condition, you should consult your doctor if you experience irregular bleeding.
Stress and Irregular Menstruation
A frequent cause of irregular menstruation is stress. The stress hormone cortisol can interfere with sex hormones and interrupt normal ovulatory cycles. Anovulatory cycles, in which your ovaries do not release an egg, are a common cause of missed periods. Bobby Clennell, an Iyengar yoga teacher writing in "The Woman's Yoga Book," recommends emphasizing restorative yoga poses and calming breath techniques to reduce your stress level if your periods are irregular.
Yoga For Your Periods
Clennell suggests keeping a diary for several months to track your periods. This will give you information that will help you individualize your practice. During your period she recommends avoiding vigorous poses and inversions, which she says may interfere with the normal menstrual flow. Instead, she suggests restorative poses and forward bends to reduce stress. Immediately after your period, she recommends a practice that includes forward bends and inversions such as Shoulder Stand to restore energy and balance your system.
Between Your Periods
In the time between your periods, continue to focus on reducing stress. Clennell recommends practicing a variety of poses that match your physical and emotional needs, including standing poses, forward bends, twists and inversions. She suggests approaching backbends with caution if you have irregular cycles. Don't practice backbends alone, but incorporate other types of poses into your session. She also recommends a regular practice of pranayama, or breathing exercises, during the month. Start with simple rhythmic breathing while lying down.
- Women to Women: Irregular Periods
- The Woman's Yoga Book; Bobby Clennell
Joe Miller started writing professionally in 1991. He specializes in writing about health and fitness and has written for "Fit Yoga" magazine and the New York Times City Room blog. He holds a master's degree in applied physiology from Columbia University, Teacher's College.