During menstruation, the body is governed by the quality of apana – the energy residing in the pelvis and lower abdomen that facilitates the movement of blood down and out of the body. In addition to correct choice of postures (i.e. choosing grounding postures and avoiding Inversions), we can also use the breath to facilitate this process of apana.
The Apana Breath is an energetic way that you can support your body’s monthly detox as it releases ama (toxins), and it also has a balancing effect on your mind and emotions by helping ground you and connect with the earth.
The Apana Breath is a powerfully healing breath that supports the immune system, urinary and excretory systems, and strengthens your ojas or essential energy, and, according to Sandra Anderson, helps keep the ‘mind free of destructive forces’. For women, it is a particularly beneficial practice because it can heal diseases of the reproductive system and help with menstrual problems.
How to do it
The Apana Breath can be done in any Restorative posture that feels good for you, for example, Supta Badda Konasana. This breathing practice also works well if you are in a position where the soles of your feet are in contact with the earth. So, it can be done in a standing position, like a basic Chi Kung Stance—feet shoulder-width apart (or wider), knees softly bent, tailbone heavy towards the earth (see illustration). Or for a very relaxing, grounding posture that supports the quieter energy of this time of the month, try doing it in the Constructive Rest Position.
First, take a few gentle breaths as you settle into your chosen position. Then, take a deep breath down the entire length of your spine filling up into the back of the lungs, into the kidneys and adrenals (which sit on top of the kidneys in the mid-lower back, beneath the lowest ribs), into the belly, and down to the root of the spine at the perineum. Momentarily pause the breath there in the pelvic region. Then, as you exhale, imagine you are sending the breath out of your pelvis and down your legs into the earth.
As you work with this powerfully directed and grounding exhalation, visualise you are releasing any negative energy that is no longer serving you, into the earth. If you are feeling pain and congestion in your pelvis, lower back or uterus during your period, you can visualise that you are breathing this discomfort out and away with the long, releasing Apana Breaths.
Apana Breath Audio Practice – Lead by Ana Davis
Click the play button below to be guided through the Apana Breath practice by Ana Davis.
This audio track is one of the 8 x Dark Moon breathing, relaxation and meditation audio practices included in our Online L1 Yoga for Fertility Teacher Training course, and is also one of the 22 x audio tracks which accompany Ana’s book, ‘Moving with the Moon – Yoga, Movement and Meditation for Every Phase of Your Menstrual Cycle and Beyond’.
 David Frawley, Yoga & Ayurveda, p.254
 Sandra Anderson, Yoga International, ‘The Five Prana Vayus in Yoga: Apana’, May, 2013, https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-5-prana-vayus-in-yoga-apana