About bloody time

The yoga community is a force for change in the world — that’s why it’s time to start talking about periods

Yes, men do yoga as well (back in India, that’s where it all began with the ancient yogis), but here in the West, it’s still commonly thought of as a female thing. Either way, it’s time to shake off some old taboos: that means talking about periods.

Periods may have once only been thought of as a woman’s issue, but nowadays their impact is felt in numerous ways. For starters, our Earth is struggling against the overwhelming weight of plastic pollution — and yet just one sanitary pad is the equivalent to four plastic bags. Couple this with the fact that a female uses on average 11,000 throwaway tampons and pads in a lifetime, there’s no doubt periods have become an environmental issue too. That’s definitely a problem for everyone.

And sadly, it’s not only the planet that suffers. Periods, despite being an inevitable part of a woman’s life, are a source of poverty for many. In fact, one in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products, according to Plan International UK; over 137,700 girls in the UK have missed school because of this.

It’s hardly surprising when you consider that menstrual products cost more than £18,000 in a woman’s lifetime — that’s about £13 every month. It is inconceivable that females become slaves to their body when it’s doing something perfectly natural. How periods are experienced shouldn’t be down to how much is in our back pockets.

And still, discussing periods as a whole remains a taboo topic. How many of us admit to hiding a pad or tampon in our pockets when we’re due to freshen up? Or feel embarrassment creeping in when we place these items on the checkout conveyor belt? It’s time to change the way we think about periods, and the best place to start is by opening up the conversation, instead of hiding in shame.

As yoga practitioners — students and teachers alike — we are perhaps ideally placed to get this message across to a wider audience. The planet itself may depend on it. As the late, great Gandhi once remarked: “Be the change.”

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.