How did you learn about menstruation? Did an enlightened parent create a beautiful coming-of-age ceremony? Were you told by friends? Or did you have no idea until the first day of your very first cycle when you were handed a sanitary towel by your mum without a clue of what to do with it? How much would you have loved a class on healthy hormones and menstruation? It’s one of the most impactful and touching topics I cover in my Zenergy teacher training courses and teen girl classes.
In our society today, girls still feel embarrassment, shame and negativity about a natural part of being a girl and a woman. The education received in school is clinical and usually talks only about the reproductive cycle, not the menstrual cycle. It’s time to demystify, uplift, educate and take back the sacredness of being a girl. These simple yoga exercises can help empower teens and encourage an easy and regular cycle and happy, healthy hormones.
Women’s bodies and hormones emulate the patterns and cycles of the moon, the ebb and flow of the tides — physically, mentally and emotionally. Every woman’s cycle is unique to her body. For some women it can be 20 days, for others it will be 30. Each month a different ovary fires. One month it will be the right side and the next it will be the left, which means that if one ovary isn’t working as well, every second cycle the period may be painful or heavy and the next month it will seem easy and ‘regular’. Any pain, PMT, length irregularity, bloating or nausea can be helped with some specific yoga therapy exercises.
Yoga therapy for healthy menstruation and hormones:
- Butterfly hip lifts: to relieve back pain and balance hormones
Ask your teen to lie on their back, with their hands behind their head, knees open wide and the soles of the feet together. Then tell them to, “Take a big breath in and as you breathe out, lift the hips.” Then inhale back down. Repeat this four times.
- Hip lifts and squeezes: for even blood flow, strong blood quality and to prevent missing periods
Instruct them to lie on their back, knees bent and feet hip-width apart. They hold their ankles if they can reach. Then say, “As you exhale, lift your hips high up to the ceiling and exhale back down.” This is repeated 10 times quickly.
2. Half bow: for regulating the length of the cycle to the same number of days every month
Tell them to lie on their bellies, bend their right knee and hold the ankle. Their left arm is extended next to their left ear. Explain that it is important to keep their face looking down so as to lengthen their neck. Say, “Keep your knees squeezing together. Take a big breath in and as you breathe out, lift the bent knee and the straight arm and torso.” They then inhale down. Work out the harder side with them and, if they do more on the difficult side, it will help with the ovary side that is weaker or not working as well.
3. Sit-ups: to correct imbalances in the ovaries
Have your teen lying on their back, hands on their belly and one knee bent out to the side with their foot against the straight knee (Tree Pose lying down). Encourage them to exhale, sit up and inhale back down. To help them sit up, hold their ankles. Again, work with them to find the harder side and do more on the hard side as that relates to the ovary that may not be functioning as well.
4. Seated twist: to help build a healthy new lining in the uterus every month and eliminate pain during the period
Choose any simple seated or lying down twist. My favourite is lying on the back and dropping the knees side to side.
5. The fabulous nurturing massage:
It is important to teach girls the art of self-nurturing, connection to self and listening to their body’s wisdom. What better way to do this than through a soothing massage? Your teen lies on their belly, while you stand over them and place one foot into their sacrum and lean in, release, and lean in three times. Then rock the sacrum back and forth with your foot, using the same pressure. Drop your knees into their upper thighs. Walk your hands up each side of their spine three times and massage their shoulders when you get to the top. Finish by rubbing your hands together to create some heat, then place your hands over their kidneys; think happy thoughts and send this energy into their back.
More tips for healthy menstruation:
- Ginger compress on the belly. (See instructions below)
- Sleep well. Get a good night’s sleep to allow the inner cortex of the brain to relax. The hours of sleep before midnight are the important ones.
- Eat well. Stay away from refined, processed, blood-thinning foods such as sugar, white bread, soft drinks and juices. A wholefood, plant-based diet rich in grains, beans, vegetables and sea vegetables is key to health.
Ginger compress recipe:
Grate a handful of fresh ginger and place in a cloth bag.
Bring a pan of water to the boil.
Turn down the heat to a simmer.
Squeeze the excess juice from the cloth bag into the water and then put the whole bag of ginger into the water.
Simmer for seven minutes then remove from the heat.
Take two ends of a tea towel and dip into the ginger water. Wring out and place over the area to be treated. Place a towel on top to keep the heat in.
Once the tea towel loses heat, repeat the process.
Continue for approximately 15 mins or until the area goes red.
Aim to have the tea towel as hot as you can.
Learn more about Loraine Rushton and her yoga therapy for kids at www.zenergyyoga.com