practicing the menstrual sequence

Every month as my cycle approaches I tend to dread doing the menstrual sequence. I’ve never been a big fan of forward bends and especially supported ones. They sound like they should feel great, right? SUPPORTED forward bends. Usually anything supported feels pretty yummy and relaxing, but for me these make me feel uncomfortable and head-achey.  Manouso, one of my teachers, often says “If you want to be a popular yoga teacher, don’t teach forward bends.” So I guess I’m not alone.

So this week, when it came time to do the sequence for my home practice, I noticed that I was actually looking forward to a more restful practice. It’s been a hectic month and this week in particular I’ve been feeling really fatigued. So a slower, calming practice seemed really appropriate.

I have a pre-determined sequence given to me by the teacher-training faculty for this time of the month and it even tells me exactly how long I should hold each pose. I’ve included the sequence at the end of this post for any who would like to try it. As much as I’m complaining about it, it actually is a pretty good sequence and I must say I felt pretty good afterwards. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get through the whole thing if you hold the poses for as long as suggested. Depending on how available your props are and how long you take to set things up, it could go a little quicker or a little longer. All of the poses are meant to be supported in one way or another. Usually with a bolster. I’m lucky enough to have a chair and a setu bandha bench, so a couple of the poses are really quick and easy for me to get into.

supported upavista konasana

I tried really hard to open myself up to the forward bends and not just grumble through them, hating every second of it. I realized that maybe my discomfort was from my own ego not letting me prop myself up higher than I think I should. It’s poses like this that really allow you to check yourself. I have officially been checked. Once I gave myself permission to build a huge, soft, cushy wall for my head to rest on, the pose felt so much more relaxing and I could breathe into my hamstrings instead of fidgeting the whole way through. Ok, I confess, I still did a fair amount of fidgeting, but a tower of props teetering on a bolster isn’t the easiest thing to wrangle.

supported viparita dandasana

Once I got through the forward bends it was smooth sailing into sweetness. What I DO love about this sequence is getting to do supta baddhakonasana (see prior post on most loved pose) and a supported version of dwi pada viparita dandasana (two-foot inverted staff pose), which is heavenly to me! I finished with setu bandha sarvangasana (bridge pose) over my homemade bench (made for me by a fellow student in the program who is a fabulous carpenter).

Overall it was a nice sequence and I felt pretty great afterwards. I get to do it all again tomorrow morning and with any luck those forward bends will be even easier with my new attitude!

Menstrual Sequence : all poses done with support

Adho Mukha Virasana (downward-facing hero, or child’s pose – over bolster)          3 min. Adho Mukha Swastikasana (downward-facing crossed legs – head on block)             2 min. Dandasana (staff pose – sitting on blankets)                                                                      2 min. Janu Sirsasana (head-of-knee pose – fold over bolster, rest head)           1 1/2-2 min. /side Triang Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana (three limbs face one foot)    1 1/2-2 min./ side Paschimottanasana (back body intense stretch – over bolster, rest head)                3-5 min. Upavista Konasana (seated angle pose – fold arms on chair, rest head)                        3 min. Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose – rest head on chair or bolster)                           3 min. Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose -lie back onto bolster)              5 min. Supta Virasana (reclining hero’s pose – lie back onto bolster)                                       5 min. Viparita Dandasana (inverted staff pose – sit in chair, lie back w/ head on bolster)  5 min. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose – on bench or lying on bolsters)                  5 min. Adho Mukha Swastikasana (as before, first pose)                                                           1 min. Savasana                                                                                                                             5-10 min.

supta baddhakonasana over bolster

Tell me what you think if you try it.

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About beckyoga

Interested in yoga, design, dance, music, and dogs.
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2 Responses to practicing the menstrual sequence

  1. Narasu says:

    I feel you on the forward bends. I prop myself pretty high, and that helps. I’m impressed that you do this sequence so regularly. I am lazy and skip it most months. You have inspired me to keep with it.

  2. Stefanie says:

    This post was great – It made me laugh only because I am so much the same. I pretty much ignored the directive from teachers not to invert on my period until I started my teacher training. Since I am training in the Iyengar system, I thought it time I start abiding by the practice as set out for us by Iyengar and Geeta.

    Most of my yoga life I have motored through intense physical practices while menstruating and never seemed to be the worse for it. So, the first time I got my period after getting my instructions for my first year menstruation practice, I was not pleased – SUPPORTED FORWARD bends for over an hour?!

    What this whole thing forced me to do was listen to what my body was really saying and needing on those first few days of my period. I was tired, bloated, and achy and actually settling into that quiet practice was soothing to body, mind and soul. I am beginning to understand how our needs change over the course of the month and how important it is to really listen, not to the ego, but to the body.

    Thanks for sharing this!

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