ASHTANGA YOGA AUSTIN
Taking rest from practice during menstruation is often referred to as “lady’s holiday”. It is recommended that women take three days of rest from asana practice at the start of their menstrual cycle. There are several reasons for this. First, 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 in the asana practice. A second reason to take rest is that the engagement of mula bandha is more difficult during heavy menstruation and can counteract this downward flow. Without proper engagement of bandha, vigorous practice can be physically unsafe. A third reason is that excessive activity can lead to an irregular menstrual cycle or the complete cessation of menstruation (amenorrhea). Menstruation can therefore be a wonderful time to rest and allow the body to replenish itself, as it prepares to begin its next cycle. Making time for more restorative practices, including japa and chanting, are 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.