Periods often come with a bunch of uncomfortable side effects, like cramps and mood swings. One thing that I can always turn to in order to ease my period sorrows, is the wonderful and holistic world of yoga. This age old practice has proven to be a great tool in managing abdominal discomfort, general pain, and also has plenty of mental health benefits.
Take your pick from this list of my favorite yoga poses and stretches to soothe the mind and body while you menstruate.
Close your eyes and just breathe through it…
1. Child’s Pose
This pose is perfect for those suffering from menstrual pain originating in the back. By gently stretching the lower back muscles, this will soothe aches while also quieting your mind. Child’s pose is perfect for yoga newbies!
2. Forward Fold
Your body is way more tired than usual when you are on your period, so it’s important to keep your energy up and circulation pumping. And this pose helps you do just that. You will thank yourself for simply bending over and letting your head hang with this pose.
3. Knees to Chest
I have found this to be one of the most effective of poses for menstrual pain. This pose alleviates lower back pain and releases tension in your core, while also relaxing the mind and releasing anxiety. Tip: hug your knees tight and let yourself rock side to side for deeper relaxing effect.
4. Supine Twist
Twists are great for relaxing your core muscles and back, by sort of “wringing out” tension. Hold this pose for a minute or so, per side, and focus on relaxing your whole lower body. Tip: if you have trouble stretching to one side, try popping a pillow under your knees to make this twist easier.
5. Cat-Cow Bends
One of the more slightly active poses, cat-cow will help warm up your body, allowing a slow release of feel-good endorphins. Move gently and mindfully. Exhale and round your spine up towards the ceiling, and imagine you’re pulling your belly button up towards your spine. Tuck your chin towards your chest, and let your neck release. On your inhale, arch your back, let your belly relax and go loose.
Every yogi’s favorite pose – simply laying on the floor. This one is great for when you feel too worn out to move. Simply find a comfortable spot to lay out flat, palms facing the ceiling. Focus all your attention on your breathing, concentrating on each inhale and exhale, letting the tension flow out of your body. For added effect, try doing this pose with any guided meditation on Youtube.
7. Legs Up the Wall
Lay down sideways, facing away from the wall, and use your arms to help you straighten out and lift your legs onto the wall. This pose helps with circulation and takes strain off your lower back. Tip: this can be done on your bed too, against your headboard, if you have trouble getting your legs up a wall.
8. Seated Forward Fold
For this pose, sit comfortably, extend your legs and bend over them. You can try to reach for your feet or keep a soft bend in your knees and just hang your head. Focus on deep breathing to open up your back and ease tension. Tip: sit on a pillow or blanket if you have trouble sitting on the floor with an achy back .
9. Downward Dog
One of yoga’s most famous poses. This stretch will help ease your achy back muscles and allow for better total body circulation. Tip: walk your heels up and down to feel a deeper stretch in your legs.
10. Reclining Bound Angle Pose
This pose is known for its restorative properties. Lay back, palms facing the ceiling and have your heels touch each other by putting your legs in an almost cross legged position as shown below. Tip: use pillows or yoga blocks under each leg if you find it difficult to have your knees touch the floor.
While doing yoga, a common theme to remember is to focus on your breathing. Slowing down each inhale and exhale and envisioning yourself releasing all the pain and pent up tension from your body is key.
You are well on your way to using yoga as a crucial tool to combat period discomfort.