"The monthly hormonal cycle of menstruation serves as a constant backdrop for the mental and emotional life of every woman, as well as being an important factor in her overall state of health. From the spiritual point of view, the days around the menstrual period are very powerful and auspicious for a woman to practice meditation and japa yoga. The period commencing three days before the onset and continuing for five days of menstrual bleeding and the first five days of the new cycle is a time when a woman gains a heightened level of awareness naturally, by virtue of the altering hormonal balance. This is a time when her natural insight and intuition become very prominent, and it is a most powerful time for psychic awakening." --Excerpted from Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Sarawati
I just love that quote above in regards to menstruation, which is something that has a bit of a negative association in our society. What with all of the complaining about PMS and the "inconvenience" of getting one's period, menstruation gets a bad rap. That's why it's nice to hear another perspective on the subject.
For those of you who feel that all of this positivity around periods is a bit of a stretch, here's some yoga suggestions to make PMS and menstruation a little more tolerable:
Sun Salutations -- if you're energy is feeling too low for such a vigorous practice, try the low impact version that I described in this post.
Supported bridge -- I like to put a standard yoga block vertically at the small of my back, but you can also put a long bolster under your body starting at just under your shoulder blades all the way down to your feet.
A gentle series using sound -- apanasana (with MA chanted on the exhale as you bring your knees back to your chest), table pose (on all fours) down to child's pose (chant MA on the exhale as you come down into child's pose), bridge (chant MA on the exhale), supta baddha konasana variation (inhale the knees together, exhale the knees back down to the floor with the chant MA), apanasana (MA chant on exhale) to finish.
I also highly recommend Yoga Nidra for relaxation and Ginger Tea. Personally I enjoy practicing Yin Yoga during my cycle. I enjoy the quiet introspection that the deeper practices offers. After all, we have to get quiet to take advantage of the "psychic awakening" this time brings.