Doing the same yoga routine every day can be boring. But for women, it can even be detrimental. That’s because a woman’s body goes through significant hormonal shifts during her menstrual cycle. And your physical body, along with your energy levels and emotions, fluctuate, too. So, it’s best to sync your cycle with your yoga practice, and go with the flow- literally!

Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga teacher, Maria Villella, specializes in women’s health. And she offers tips on how to work with your body’s ups and downs, rather than pushing through and creating more stress for yourself. 

Depending on the phase of your menstrual cycle, you may want to move less than usual, or you may crave a dynamic flow that builds heat. To find out which practice is optimal for every phase of your menstrual cycle, keep reading.

Phase 1: Menstruation 

During this phase, the uterine lining sheds, and it’s definitely not the time to over exert yourself, or experiment with inverted poses.

Instead, opt for gentle poses that encourage the downward flood of blood, along with movements that allow your body to rest and restore. To help alleviate cramps, consider trying hip-opening poses, too.

Phases 2 and 3: Follicular phase and ovulation

Now, the uterus is building the endometrial lining and growing new follicles in preparation for ovulation. It’s also a time for creation and movement.

During this phase, dynamic movement and building heat are your best bets because they increases blood flow to both the uterus and to the ovaries. If you want to try a challenging new pose or vinyasa flow, have at it – now’s the perfect opportunity. 

Phase 4: Luteal phase

At the beginning of the luteal phase, it might feel good to exert yourself, and try inversions and backbends – depending on your level of experience. However, as menstruation approaches, your energy levels may become lower, and you might need to scale back and turn inward.

When this shift occurs, try yoga practices that focus on creating calmness, balance and equanimity – all of which help to prepare you for menstruation.

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