One of the most common questions asked by female yoga practitioners is whether they are allowed to perform yoga during menstruation, and the religious and spiritual taboos associated with it.

The hormone changes during menstruation do affect our energy, mood and stamina.

Practising yoga will not harm you, especially pranayama (breathing) and meditation, but precautions are needed when doing asanas (postures).

For some, doing yoga during menstruation will help energize, soothe cramps and relieve bloating, but if you feel uncomfortable or restless, listen to what your body has to say. Take a break from asana practices for a day or two, or until you are ready.

According to yoga instructor Anuradha Kanasan, practicing yoga during menstruation, as controversial as it may be, is encouraged.

"I practice yoga during menstruation and I strongly advice my students to do it too. The reason is, yoga is good to heal pre-menstrual symptoms such as cramps and pain, mood swings, fatigue, bloating and irritability during menstruation," she told Astro Ulagam.

According to her, practitioners can always perform the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) and some other forward-bending asanas, namely the Paschimottanasan (seated forward bending), and Vajrasana (heron pose), both of which provides light massaging to the abdominal and pelvic region, which in turn helps to relieve congestion, heaviess, cramping and heavy bleeding.

Body twisting asanas such as Ardha Matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose) can remove back pain, cramping and congestion too. Meanwhile, gentle backvends such as Supta Vajrasana (twisted heron pose) and Supta Titaliasana (sleeping butterfly) can alleviate back pain and pelvic discomfort.

"I usually suggest my students to perform the Bitilasana (cow pose), followed by Marjariasana (cat pose) to relieve cramps abd back pain. These asanas will help avoid the use of pain killers," Anuradha added.

Inversion asanas are generally to be avoided during menstruation to avoid the reversal of oxygen and blood flow, which may disrupt menstruation and lead to other reproductive problems.

To know more about the "dos and don'ts" of asanas, please refer to your respective instructors.

Practising pranayama ad mediatation will help calm our mind during menstruation.

Pranayama such as Bhramari (humming bee breathing) and Anulom Vilom (alternate nostril breathing) are best practises during menstruation as they calm our mind immediately. Do not force your inhalation and exhalation and try to breathe in a deep and calming way.

Avoid any type of breathing that will increase heat in your abdominal area as it will cause pressure and pain at the region.

Female yoga practitioners best inform their instructors about their body conditions to avoid unwanted poses or breathing methods during yoga classes. Always listen to your body!

Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.

Photo source: Shakti School of Yoga, Pixabay