MODIFYING YOUR YOGA PRACTICE WHEN YOU'RE BLEEDING
When bleeding it is particularly important to honor the deep work your body is performing and try to just support this cleanse. This can't happen easily if you are pushing against the natural needs of the body at this time.
For me, this means:
taking deep rest when possible (especially yoga nidra type practices)
meditating more & taking note of my dreams (we are often more perceptive around this time)
not disturbing the downward flow of energy in any way (I take a break from mantra and all but gentle asanas, particularly inversions and deep stretches)
keeping warm and avoid cooling practices including swimming, activities and foods (the womb is susceptible to cold invasion at this time)
i take a break from going to my regular kirtan gatherings as the chanting creates such an upward energy it tends to disturb me and lift my energies upwards when they need to flow unimpeded downwards.
When we are bleeding our energies INTERNALISE and it is useful to respect that as much as possible. Going inside is an important part of yoga (and life) and allows us to rest in our essence which then purifies and revives all the energies of the body and being. In yoga terminology this is known as Pratyahara, the withdrawal. By withdrawing from your regular activities and turning inside you can venture deeply into your sacred self, propelled deeper than usual by your body's menstrual process. This is a sacred advantage of womanhood and has traditionally shepherded women into a deep and mystical union with spirit (yoga).
This is why its beneficial, at this time of each month to suspend (or thoughtfully reduce) your daily asana, pranayama and mantra practices as these things redirect energies in the subtle body when those energies need to be flowing organically downwards. Your body is doing sacred work and resting will support this.
There are also physiological changes that happen during menstruation that should impact your yogic asana practice - notably the presence of the hormone relaxin which allows tendons to weaken and stretch to allow the contractions of the uterus to expel the blood. This is the same hormone released in pregnancy to allow the joints to open up and the baby to push through. This is important to understand as this means we can be more flexible when we are coming up to bleeding and through the blood time, yet also more prone to injuring our tendons! so be careful not to over stretch, not to push it in this delicate time.
Depending on your personal experiences of pain or stagnation during your blood time, it may be advantageous to perform certain asanas or qi gung practices to encourage the smooth flow of energy and blood whilst menstruating. By establishing a womb friendly yoga practice throughout the other periods of your cycle you can put yourself back on the path of wellness during your blood time. You may require further assistance with this and I would recommend Acupuncture and Chinese medicine as an excellent support as problems in your blood time indicate underlying health imbalances.
The best place to start is wherever you are now.