ASHTANGA YOGA AUSTIN
Taking rest from practice during menstruation is often referred to as “lady’s holiday”. It is recommended that women take two to three days of rest from asana practice during the heaviest days of menstruation. During a woman’s menstrual cycle, the uterus lining builds up to prepare for pregnancy. When conception does not occur, the body sheds the lining of the uterus through menstruation. Giving the body time to rest during the menstrual period is important to allow and encourage the natural downward and outward flow that occurs during this time. Engagement of mula bandha (the pelvic floor) is not only difficult during heavy menstruation but can also counteract apana vayu – the downward eliminating flow. Engagement of bandhas in asana practice is important to protect the body from injury. Without proper engagement of bandha, vigorous practice can be unsafe. Too much activity can also lead to an irregular menstrual cycle or the complete cessation of menstruation, known as amenorrhea. Menstruation is therefore an important time to rest and allow the body to replenish itself, as it prepares to begin its next cycle. Engaging in more restorative practices is often more enjoyable and encouraged during this time. Observing “lady’s holiday” gives women a chance to stay more attuned to the changes in their bodies and adapt their practices in synch with their natural rhythm and cycles.