The monks who practiced the original Rites were celibate and male. There were no instructions given regarding menstruation!
However, my experience and the feedback of many of the women I have taught, is that T5T seems to improve the symptoms of menstruation. Some women report less bloating, moodiness, anxiety, cramps and sore breasts. Others say they feel less congested and the flow is improved.
I believe that because you are doing a little bit of yoga & core training (T5T) everyday - your body becomes conditioned to it - and you benefit from the cumulative effects of regular practice.
The monks said that the purpose of the Rites is to get the chakras (energy centers) of the body spinning rapidly and evenly again. The chakras are located above major nerve plexi (bunches of nerves) and the major endocrine glands of the body. In this way, they are said to improve hormonal function.
An example of this hormonal stimulation is that I taught one women who reported an increase in the production of her breast milk!
During menstruation some women's physical energy is not as strong as usual. In this case - maintain the pattern of your practice so as not to lose the motivation of the daily ritual - but perhaps to do less repetitions. Or revert back to one of the easier versions of the postures. However, some women experience increased energy during their period - so there is no one size answer to fit all!
Exercise is good for you, and in fact is normal! Our sedentary lifestyle has turned exercise into an option!
Certainly if you have a condition that requires you to receive treatment from a doctor - you should definitely discuss this with him/her. There are some people who have underlying conditions such as cysts that have become aggravated through practicing the Rites (or doing other forms of exercise). If you experience any irregular spotting then you should see your doctor.
If you are exercising so much that your period stops, then that is not healthy. You would have to be working out at very high intensity for this to occur from exercise alone.
It is worth considering that in many rural cultures women work whilst having their period. They also work right up to the day before giving birth and return immediately after delivery! Of course their bodies are conditioned to ongoing physical labour, whilst those of us in urban communities need to be more cautious. The point I am making here though is the human body is pretty tough!
Personally I share the opinion of Barbara Benagh - a yoga teacher, seminar teacher and columnist on Yoga Journal
..."Since I know of no studies or research that makes a compelling argument to avoid inversions (eg. Rite No 5) during menstruation, and since menstruation affects each woman differently and can vary from cycle to cycle, I am of the opinion that each woman is responsible for making her own decision.
The bottom line is that hatha yoga is full of contradictions and varied opinions, leaving each of us ultimately responsible for our own choices. Pay attention to your body and discover what works and what doesn't — not just during your period but every day."...
Geeta Iyengar (yoga expert) says that the practice of Uddiyana Bhanda (the 6th Rite) should not be done during menstruation.
I do not incorporate the 6th Rite in any of my teachings as the monks said you must be celibate to practice it. Rather than express (waste) their sexual energy in a sexual manner; they used this powerful energy for creating higher spiritual awareness, by channeling it up the major energy lines of the body. Read my article Why We Don't Teach The 6th Rite From The Five Tibetans" for more in-depth information.
The bottom line is that the Rites appear to help stabilize the periods. I have not had one report of ongoing increased blood flow or stopping of menstruation through practicing the Rites. What I do hear about is people saying that they are less moody, have less cramps and reduced bloating - but maintain a craving for chocolate!!!
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Copyright (c) 2005 Carolinda Witt - author T5T - The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites (Penguin/Lantern 2005) and The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan (Random House/Three Rivers Press 2007)