A Yogini’s Guide to Taking Care of The Planet and Yourself with Every Period

Me, my menstrual cup and organic cotton pads!

Yoga is all about union and oneness so it goes without saying that part of Yoga is taking care of the planet and all living things on it. We all know that we are facing a huge ecological crisis and that humanity’s presence on Earth has become dangerously destructive. There are so many ways in which humans negatively impact the environment, but the one I am going to focus on today is the problem of waste disposal and how small everyday (or in this particular case every month!) choices can help to live a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle in line with Yoga philosophy.

Landfill sites are overfilling with our waste which releases methane gas contributing to the greenhouse effect. Incinerating waste produces toxic substances and air pollution. Years back, when trying to think about ways in which I personally contributed to the problem of waste, I realised that every month I was throwing away a lot of waste from feminine hygiene products. Some sanitary pads can contain the equivalent of around 4 plastic bags. The Ocean Conservancy volunteers collected 27,938 used tampons and applicators on our world’s beaches in a day (International Coastal Cleanup, 2013).

So I decided to try the menstrual cup instead and organic cotton pads. I have also since heard of thinx pants which are underwear that absorbs your period that you can reuse. Menstrual cups are a re-usable device used to collect menstrual blood during a period. It’s inserted into the vagina and then emptied and rinsed out every 4 to 8 hours. It is hypoallergenic and contains no toxins or bleaches unlike most leading brands of tampons and pads which are made with harmful bleaches and chemicals. Tampons come with the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome as well as increasing the chances of thrush, due to absorbing important natural fluids which are needed to keep the vagina’s flora healthy. In terms of practicing the Yoga Yama Ahimsa (non-harming, non-violence) we can have a period that is less harmful to both the planet and our own bodies.

Menstrual cups are revolutionary because they are both safer and healthier for women / people with periods and the planet. On average, a woman will use over 11, 000 disposable sanitary products in her lifetime, waste that the planet has to deal with. The cup lasts for years, meaning you can save a considerable amount of money, making a single investment in a sustainable product.

I also use Natracare organic panty liners as a double protection against leaks. Natracare makes totally chlorine-free, plastic-free products with GMO-free plant derived materials from sustainable and renewable resources that are biodegradable and compostable. Even better would be to use reusable pads or pants. There are lots of different choices of menstrual cup now since the Mooncup was created in 2002 as the first reusable silicone menstrual cup. I also wrote an article all about the menstrual cup and how it breaks us out of disposable consumer capitalism, challenges period shaming and empowers women across the globe. You can read it here on The Huffington Post.

As well as making the choice to look after the planet every period I also take it as a time in the month to take extra special care of myself. I have drawn below a set of Yoga postures that I do on the first couple of days of my period when I’m especially low on energy and have painful cramps.

These yoga poses help calm the mind, relieve pain & discomfort associated with menstrual cramps and relax the whole body. Menstruation can present the perfect opportunity to slow down, honour the body and take extra good care of ourselves. I like to feel supported by using bolsters, cushions and blankets when practicing restorative yoga postures during my period. This time of the cycle can be associated with letting go, turning inwards and connecting to our intuition. It is indeed, a sacred time worth honouring. Or if all that’s not really your thing then physically these yoga postures can really help relieve the pain of cramps, I promise!

Illustration by Jasmine Sara Whitley Irving

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