Resting from Practice During Menstruation
It is recommended that women take three days of rest – often referred to as “ladies’ holiday” – during their menstrual period for several reasons. The purpose of the menstrual cycle is to prepare the body for pregnancy; when conception does not occur, the thickened lining of the uterus is shed through menstruation. One reason to take rest during the menstrual period is that the downward and eliminating flow during this time may be counteracted by inversions such as sarvangasana and sirsasana. A second, more subtle, reason is that engaging mula bandha may be more difficult and/or may counteract this downward flow. Without engagement of the bandhas, vigorous practice can be physically unsafe. A third, more general, reason is that excessive activity can lead to an irregular menstrual cycle or the cessation of menstruation (amenorrhea). Menstruation may therefore serve as a convenient time to rest as the body begins the next cycle. We recommend that all female students take rest from practice during the first three days of menstruation and then avoid inverted postures until the end of their cycle. As the external and internal practice changes over time, the physical and spiritual importance of taking rest for a particular woman may change as well. If a woman decides to observe ladies’ holiday, she is still very much practicing yoga during this time, as yoga is far more than just asana.