While yoga can be used very effectively as a therapeutic intervention for major health concerns, it is important to work in the scope of your practice. Unless you are specifically trained in a yoga therapy teacher, which requires over 1000 hours of training in the yoga therapy field, using the words therapy or therapeutics is strictly prohibited. That being said, it is highly probable that you will have some student come into your class with a major health concern. Being able to offer specific suggestions as they relate to particular ailments can offer a layer of safety to your classroom and to a student's practice. It is always appropriate and highly ethical, if a student's ailment is beyond your scope of practice, to respectfully decline to work with a particular person or to refer them to a more capable and trained professional in the yoga or wellness field. Before diving into all of this information, we must also put lifestyle into perspective. Almost all of these issues, while they may have genetic factors, are also incredibly lifestyle related. In particular, we live in a sedentary culture and live sedentary lives. Even if you exercise 1 hour a day, every day, you still live a sedentary lifestyle, only “exercising” 4% of your day. Most of these issues include the factor of sedentarism and are considered to be affluent illnesses referring to the cultural paradigm of relying on convenience for food, travel, and entertainment that preclude them
Dysmenorrhea or Endometriosis In general, depending on the intensity of a period, it is advised that a female bodied practitioner takes rest during the first 1-2 days of her cycle or during the heaviest bleeding times. Some say that inverted postures should never be performed as to emphasize the downward flow of blood but I personally suggest that each individual keep in tune with their body. Do understand the mechanism of bleeding as outlined below and factor that into the type and duration of movement that you engage in or that you tell your students to engage in. To begin to navigate around how we can use movement to soothe process of menstruation, first, we need to know what menstruation is. The uterus itself is composed of 5 layers. The 3 outermost layers are muscle, the 4th layer is called the endometrium, and the 5th layer is the stratum functionalism which is the part that sheds. Right before you get your period, blood vessels that go to the endometrium contract and shot of oxygen to the inner most lining. Essentially, your body withholds oxygen to the 5th layer, starves it, and kills it. This natural process is called ischemia, when things die from blood loss. In response to that death, the white blood cells are released to process and remove the now dying functional layer of the endometrium which is called desquamation. The white blood cells essentially chew this layer off, they secrete digestive enzymes that are breaking up the dead tissue. Naturally, there is overlap between functional blood vessels and the tissue wall so some of the digestive enzymes also get on the blood vessel that used to feed that layer, just beneath the dying lining and so you have blood vessels that lose a bit of their wall and are now freshly exposed resulting in blood & tissue loss. Dysmenorrhea is when your period doesn’t go so smoothly or when there is delayed repair. In a healthy body, the process where the body fixes the blood vessels lays down the new layer and initiates fresh growth is very fast. But when you have a lot of bleeding for a long period of time, then the repair process doesn't function the way it should. This process is determined by a particular protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor. The more that you produce, the faster you repaid and the less you bleed. One thing that’s interesting to note is that high blood sugar is interfering with the development and the function of HIF. 50% of women have a period that is functioning with the range of abnormal. The functional movement factor in this issue is not blood flow to this region just during the period, but blood flows all the time. Issues with menstruation aren't just a problem in itself, it is a symptom of poor blood flow through the pelvis. Because the uterus isn’t living in a vacuum. It lives in your body where everything is connected to everything else. So the whole body movements that encourage the appropriate movement of blood in the pelvic region, which could also be considered the movement of repair, involve the movement of the pelvis in general.
Top things to include in a period protocol, including homework:
-Hamstring & quad stretch and strengtheners