Sometimes our periods leave us in a pile on our beds, wrapped around hot water bottles and cursing the universe for making us women. Those are the moments, though, when Jessamyn Stanley, renowned yoga teacher and body positive activist, recommends you get up and get yourself to a yoga class. It's easier said than done, but if she can do it, so can the rest of us.
"A lot of women feel as though they need to be ashamed of their periods," Jessaymn told POPSUGAR. "Like this is the time of month that they need to hide themselves away." She has heard countless women say that they feel like they can't go to yoga because they're on their period. As the newest spokesperson for U by Kotex, Jessamyn is trying to break down period stigma and encourage women everywhere to believe that they can accomplish just as much when they're menstruating as they can the rest of the month.
There are some mixed reviews on whether you should be practicing certain yoga poses when you're on your period, like Headstand or Plow. Basically anything where your lower body goes above your head is sometimes discouraged against. But that's not necessarily Jessamyn's philosophy.
"I do know that there are a lot of arguments for why one should not practice inversions when you're on your period," Jessamyn said. It's thought that reversing the blood flow in that way may be bad for your system. "I have never found that to be the case," she told POPSUGAR. "I practice inversions on my period. I may practice less intense inversions, though."
Jessamyn says "there may be shapes that you don't want to necessarily make because they don't feel good," and that's perfectly OK. But don't skip out on yoga altogether just because you're menstruating. Bringing movement and gentle stretches into your hips and pelvis will allow you to release energy from your lower body. "You're doing such a service to your body" when you're doing yoga on your period, Jessamyn said.
One of her favorite poses is a Reclining Twist, where you're lying on your back and you bring your legs to one side and let your head fall to the other side. This "helps your uterus with the process of shedding," Jessamyn explained, and it releases back pain. Additionally, "Happy Baby or Child's Pose, or any kind of hip opening pose," allows your pelvis to open up in an easy way. Jessamyn also recommends Bound Angle Pose, which loosens up your hips and releases your inner thighs.
These postures don't have to be done with the most intensity you possess, especially because you're probably feeling tired and low-energy on your period. That's why Jessamyn loves to practice Yin yoga, which is a slow practice with long holds and "subtle shifts." For Jessamyn, Yin yoga is the "practice that has the most profound effect on my life," and it allows her to "let out the stress of life."