There is this hashtag that has gained currency on Instagram: #yogaeverydanmday. I would like to argue that yoga every day is not only unnecessary but bad for you - especially so for women.
The same Vedic texts that the modern practice of Hatha yoga (yoga of postures and breathing techniques) are derived from, are quite clear in their advocacy that a woman's cycle is both powerful and fragile. This is a time when you are 'full mooning'. There is incredible energy and heat in the body (the start of creation of life) at this time. In order for this process of creation and then expulsion to happen effectively, a lot of energy needs to be drawn and then coagulated in the pelvic region and lower spine.
Ayurvedic knowledge describes this process as an expression of Apana vata. I am going to describe this in conjunction with reference to the chakras (centres of energy along the spine correlating to the endocrine system). If a woman's body does not have sufficient stores of Apana vata at the base of the spine (Muladhara chakra) in order to effectively manage this process, it oftentimes transfers and drains energy from the prefrontal cortex region, or pineal gland (Ajna chakra), This is a transference of energy from Prana vata (upwards and outwards through pineal gland) to Apana vata (downwards and outwards through the organs of elimination).
In other words, if your Muladhara chakra is weakened or blocked, your body relies upon the Ajna chakra energy store to complete the process of menstruation. Why would your Muladhara be weakened? Stress, a history of sexual abuse or complications, fatigue - emotion and physical, too many stimulants/sedatives, toxic body, poor diet, not enough sleep, state of fear/anxiety. These are all very common things that many women could identify with.
You know if your body undergoes this transference of energy from the prefrontal cortex region to the base of the spine in the lead up to your period and during it, if you get headaches, tension headaches, migraines, insomnia, fuzzy headedness, poor concentration, pain behind the eyes, mood swings, lack of drive/creative inspiration. This is a tell-tale pattern and many women suffer. A sure sign that your Muladhara chakra is weak is if you suffer from constipation, bloating, water retention, lower back/ pelvic pain before or during your cycle.
In the case that your Ajna chakra is also under strain and has not got sufficient energy stores, one simply cannot menstruate effectively and amenorrhea is the result. Simply put, this means, your body is under so much strain that there is not enough excess energy to complete a creation, coagulation and expulsion pattern through Apana Vatta. This is common in female athletes and when women undergo a lot of stress. When I had eating disorders in my teens, I went through 9 months without a period at all. I developed a long term condition similar to endometriosis as a result, and this cannot now be undone.
I have learnt through my own mistakes that when I am menstruating my normal exercise routine is bad for me. For women in particular, yoga is not advisable every day. The symptoms of tension headaches, fuzzy headedness, depression and exhaustion I can suffer from are so much worse if I continue with my normal exercise regime whilst menstruating. I rest completely on the first two/three days of my bleeding, and then on the remaining days I do a shorter, softer and restorative yoga sequence that assists the Apana vata - downward flow of energy. A full or regular practice of yoga commonly involves not just inversions, but many other postures like twists and standing poses that require a strong core and a concentration of constriction and upward movement from the pelvic region. This can be disruptive. In fact, core work in general is obstructive to the natural flow of energy during menstruation.
I have recorded my menstruation yoga sequence and it is available here for you to follow. This is just under 20minutes for ease of transference and watching. However, I would advise that once you have got the hang of it, you hold the postures for twice the length of time I do here and make it a restorative 40minute routine.