Yoga in Times of Excessive Bleeding

By De West

Whether you experience heavy bleeding during your period, after childbirth, following a miscarriage, or in the flooding of perimenopause, these gentle yoga sequences provide a safe and practical way to stem the tide, get some relief, and connect to what‘s going on inside. If you feel exhausted and weak from excessive bleeding, rest completely. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb for doing yoga is to practice with awareness and breathe all the way down into your uterus. Avoid standing poses (which tend to zap your energy), unless you use the wall for support. For example, doing Half-Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) at the wall, a restorative pose par excellence for myriad menstrual concerns, will give you a sense of openness in your pelvic region, bring space to your abdomen, and produce a drying effect on your uterus. 


But heavy bleeding often moves beyond the physiological, carrying with it an emotional component: the desolation of losing a baby, the trauma of childbirth, the passing of one‘s fertile years. A yoga practice can strengthen what Jungian analyst Marion Woodman calls "the connection to our souls"—yoga gives your soul space to find rhythm, to be held, and finally, just to be. 

During times of grief, depression, and acute suffering, however, doing anything that requires thinking—even yoga—can hurt. Painful thoughts inevitably start crowding in, elbowing each other for prominence. Even yoga, with its slow, deliberate, and precise movements, can seem like too much mindfulness. The beauty of vinyasa (flow) yoga is that we can connect with a light touch, without fixating. These mini-sequences, with the postures connected together by the breath, favor a continuum of creative movement over a final destination or pose. Just the reminder of impermanence we need to prevent getting stuck in our inner muck. 

Standing flow series
1a. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) Stand with your back to the wall and step your feet about 4 feet apart, with your heels 3 to 4 inches away from the wall. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees (parallel to the wall) and turn your left foot in slightly. Stretch your arms out to the sides, exhale, and keeping your spine elongated and back against the wall, extend your trunk to the right and place your right hand on a block. Stretch your left arm up in line with your shoulders. Breathe deeply without strain for 6 to 8 breaths.

1b. Half-Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) On an exhale, bend your right knee, pick up the block with your right hand, and move it about 1 foot in front of your right foot in the direction your toes are pointing. Walk your left foot halfway in toward your right foot. As you inhale, lift the left leg until it is parallel to the floor and straighten your right. Your left leg, hips, head, and shoulders should rest against the wall. As you turn your belly and chest toward the ceiling, stretch your left arm up. Stay here for 6 to 8 breaths, relaxing your abdomen, pelvic floor, and vaginal wall. Return to Triangle Pose by bending your front knee, reaching back with your left leg, and placing your left foot back where it was when you started. Now straighten your front leg into Triangle Pose and breathe here for a breath or two, coming up on an inhalation. Practice the pose on the other side. 

Effects: Tones the pelvic floor, helps slow heavy bleeding, relieves backaches, and increases circulation to chest, pelvis, and legs.
Contraindications: Hip, ankle, neck pain, hamstring, or groin injuries.

Seated flow series
2a. Staff Pose (Dandasana) Sit on the floor with your back to the wall, your legs out in front of you, and your belly slightly lifted in and up. Place your hands behind you with the fingers pointed toward your feet. Your hands remain like this throughout the series.

2b. Head on Knee Variation (Janu Sirsasana) Staying upright and lifted, inhale as you bend your right leg and slide your foot along your left inner leg and up as high as you can, turning your right knee out to the side. Exhale and pause. 

2c. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana) Inhale and slide your left leg along the floor so the soles of your feet meet close to your groin. Exhale and pause.

2d. Wide-Angle Seated Pose (Upavishta Konasana) Inhale and spread your legs wide with your toes pointing to the ceiling. Take a full breath. Inhale, bring your legs together, and repeat the whole sequence, beginning on the other side. Repeat each side 3 to 4 times. 

Effects: Stimulates circulation in pelvis and abdomen, helps with sciatica pain, and stretches the hamstrings. 
Contraindications: Hip joint, hamstring, and groin pain or injuries.

Twisting flow (Parigasana variation)
3a. Kneel on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Extend your left leg out to the side and point your left foot forward. On the inhale, sweep your left arm out to the side and then overhead so your fingers are pointing toward the ceiling. 3b. Twist your torso to the left and allow your eyes to follow your left hand. On the exhale, swoop your left arm down and through the opening between your torso and right arm in a reverse twist (called "thread the needle"). Inhale and sweep your arm out and overhead again; exhale and thread the needle. Repeat on each side 6 to 8 times. 

Effects: Stretches pelvic region, opens shoulders, improves spinal flexibility.
Contraindications: Shoulder, neck, and knee pain or injuries.