Sometimes there are days when, no matter how motivated you are, you just can’t get into the groove of your yoga practice. Maybe it’s the pace and flow, or perhaps the intensity just doesn't match your mood. While there are a number of factors that can block your yoga state of mind, your hormone levels throughout your cycle can play a huge role in knocking you off balance, too.
Your body naturally goes through four phases: Menstrual, Follicular, Ovulation, and Luteal. You can track your phases using apps or paper charting, along with getting to know the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). When you understand your cycle, you can match specific types of yoga practices throughout the month to better accommodate what your body needs, maximizing your strength and energy.
Menstrual Phase: Reflect
Day one of your period is the beginning of your Menstrual Phase, which typically lasts between three and seven days. Your hormones are at their lowest level, and while you may feel lethargic, you can still nourish your body by capitalizing on your deep state of mind. This powerful phase of your cycle is a great time for slow movement and plenty of meditation. Consider a Candle Light Stretch class, Sivananda Yoga, meditation with breath work, or Yin Yoga session for long, deep stretches. Be gentle, reflect, rest, and seek to restore energy balance.
Follicular Phase: Blaze New Trails
The next phase is the Follicular Phase, which spans approximately seven to ten days. During this phase, your hormones are low, but your period has ended. You may find that you are more open to new experiences, and feel extra creative and outgoing. Use this energy to try a class you’ve never taken before, such as Paddle Board, Anti-Gravity, or Heated Yoga, for a cleansing sense of renewal that also challenges your physical limits.
Ovulation Phase: Push Your Limits
Your Ovulation Phase, generally lasting around three to five days, is prime time for burning lots of energy while your hormone levels are peaking. You’ll likely find yourself seeking and enjoying social settings at this point of your cycle, making an Acro or Partner Yoga class a great fit. Also try a Ashtanga Yoga or Vinyasa Flow to generate internal heat, or Yoga Sculpt class, incorporating lots of poses and testing your stamina.
Luteal Phase: Find Your Ebb and Flow
Listening to your inner voice becomes especially important during the Luteal Phase, lasting about ten to 14 days, as your hormones are transitioning in preparation for your period. You may experience increased energy during the beginning of this phase, and then a need to transition to lower impact activities toward the end. Start with a Heated Vinyasa and end the phase with a slow Hatha class. Discover what your body craves, slow down, and listen to your intuition as your body prepares again for the Menstrual Phase.
Keep in mind, these phases will vary in length from person to person, but paying attention to your body will allow you to maximize your unique potential during each part of the cycle. With so many types of yoga available to try, whether it's indoor or outdoor, in a group class or an online video at home, there will always be a variation you can seek to meet your needs. Relax, have fun, and enjoy the positive effects of a regular yoga practice!
Alexandra Mulliner is a wellness enthusiast, Certified Health Coach, and lover of all things natural. She's originally from Virginia, but currently resides in Ocean Beach, San Diego. She has a Master’s degree in General Administration and she's a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. Her favorite things include hanging out with her pup, going on beach picnics, practicing yoga, and paddle boarding .