Sometimes it feels like nothing is going to relieve or alleviate the pain, discomfort or feelings of your period. BUT there is. I can, hand on heart, say that yoga has been one of the most beneficial things that has helped me cope with my period.
So here are some of my favourite postures and poses for when you’re on your period. Lucky for you I’ve made a 20 minute Yoga when you’re on your Period class too!
WHY DO YOGA WHEN YOU'RE ON YOUR PERIOD?
If you suffer like I do you might be feeling bloated, uncomfortable, headaches, back pain or general pain in the abdomen. Exercising when you feel great needs an element of motivation SO exercising when you feel like this takes another level of will power.
I’ve got good news: don’t think of it as exercise. Instead think about it as a gentle way to move your body and get your ‘chi’ or ‘prana’ moving. In chinese medicine stagnant of stuck chi causes blockages (something we don’t want when we’re on our period) so look at this yoga practice as a way to help your health.
A review on studies published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that “yoga was linked to reduced severity of symptoms and pain relief in women suffering from these conditions. Some also found reductions in bloating and breast tenderness, more regularity in women’s cycles, better moods, and more relaxation and concentration.”
SIGN ME UP!
I slow things RIGHT down just before my period and keep them slow and nourishing during my bleed.
So get your hands on some pillows, a bolster if you’ve got one and maybe some blocks and get ready for some feminine self care!
BENEFITS: This is a great pose to do even if you don’t do anything else. Taking the spine in and out of extension and flexion is a great way to gently massage your abdominal muscles while also stretching out your back. If you suffer with lower back pain when you’re on your period this is a great on.
HOW TO: Start in Table Top (on all fours) on your mat. Place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhaling, drop your belly toward the mat, roll your shoulders back, and lift your chin and push the chest through the arms for Cow Pose. Exhaling, round your spine to the ceiling letting the belly button follow, head drops down, moving into Cat Pose. Inhale and come back to Cow Pose, then exhale and return to Cat Pose.
Move through this as many times as it feels good to help reduce aches and pains from your period. I like to close my eyes and let my breath move me.
WIDE KNEE CHILD'S POSE
BENEFITS: This posture is lovely and you don’t need to worry too much about the alignment or shape of the body. It helps to relax any tension you may have in your hips, thighs, lower back, and ankles. You can close your eyes and just let gravity take over while calming your brain and relieving stress and anxiety.
If you want to feel more supported or comfortable, place a bolster or pillow between your legs and let your belly and head rest on it too!
HOW TO: Start in Table Top and slide the knees apart as wide as feels comfortable. If using a bolster or pillow place lengthwise on your mat and position your legs on the mat in Child’s pose behind it. Begin lowering your bum to your heels with your toes touching. Slowly fold forward, supporting your torso on the bolster if using, and then allow your arms to walk out in front of you on the floor.
Your elbows can be bent or straight. Place your cheek on the bolster to rest or allow your forehead to melt into the mat.
APANASANA / KNEES TO CHEST
BENEFITS: This pose is often referred to as wind relieving pose and girls we all know how windy we can get during our periods. So let there be WIND! This pose is also perfect for releasing tension and tightness in your lower back that commonly occurs during your cycle.
HOW TO: You can do this pose on your mat, your bed or even a couch if you don’t feel like moving. Hug your knees to your chest while wrapping your arms around them, just below your knees. Tuck your chin towards your chest to lengthen the back of your neck.
Allow your shoulders to drop away from your ears allow tension in them to melt into the floor. You can stay still and passive or invite a little bit of movement in by rocking side to side or up and down on the spine.
BENEFITS: This posture is great for your period as it stimulates your abdominal region, soothes menstrual symptoms like cramping and lower back pain, and relieves fatigue. Feel free to use a bolster or a block to sit on and raise your hips if they’re tight.
HOW TO: Start seated on your bum on the floor or place a block/bolster to sit on if needed. Bring the soles of your feet together by bending your knees. Allow the knees to drop down towards the mat, if you are very tight you can place pillows or blocks under the knees to support them.
As you press the knees down elongate the spine, being conscious of bringing space to your chest and height to the top of your head. Gently fold forward over your legs, or onto a comfortable prop such as a pillow, bolster, or cushion. Stay in this pose for one to five minutes to feel the full effects.
SEATED WIDE-ANGLE FORWARD FOLD
BENEFITS: This is a good one! Don’t worry how far apart your legs are – instead focus on the sensation NOT the destination. This seated pose targets deeply stretching your pelvis, spine, and legs while releasing tension in your hips, thighs, and lower back.
HOW TO: You can move from butterfly pose into this pose, again if you need the hips raised sit on a block, bolster or cushion. Start to open your legs away from each other as wide as they will comfortably go. Allow your hands to come onto the mat in front of you or onto something that will raise them up if they don’t reach.
From here start to hinge forwards from the hips allowing your chest to come forward toward the floor. Don’t worry if you’re still sitting quite upright. Use slow inhales and exhales and on each exhale you can deepen the stretch by bending your elbows or bringing your hands further forwards.
BENEFITS: This is a great deep hip flexor pose that can also release sciatic pain. It helps to open up your hips and stretch your thighs, groin, back, and piriformis — which can become too tight from sciatica or prolonged periods of sitting. We all know when we have our period we don’t want to move around a lot but this can make our pain worse.
HOW TO: I like to get into Pigeon Pose from a downward dog. Once there lift one leg up to the sky and drop your right knee behind your right wrist. Slide the knee to the right if it is in the centre of your mat you want the knee to be on an angle to the side of the mat. Shuffle your right toes to the left, try to not get hung up about how far the toes go or how parallel your shin is to the front of your mat.
Work on squaring the hips and evening out the weight between the two sides. You can place a block, pillow or bolster under your right bum cheek to support some of the weight if you have tight hips. You can keep yourself upright or if it feels good allow yourself to fold forwards head to the floor.
BENEFITS: I recommend this pose to do everyday for it’s mobility benefits but it is a great one when you’re on your period to open out the spine and feel a bit more fresh. It is a great stretch for the shoulders and chest too.
HOW TO: Lie on your back on the floor or in bed and stretch your arms straight out to the sides away from your body. Bend your knees into your chest and allow them to drop to the right hand side.
We are aiming to have the knees in line with the belly button but if this is too intense slide the knees further down. Allow your left shoulder to melt into the ground and your left ear to follow. Don’t worry about the news if the lift away from the floor. Stay here for 5-10 breaths and focus on the exhale to help your knees and left shoulder sink further away from each other. Keep your shoulders square and melting into the floor then release and repeat on your left side.
RECLINED BUTTERFUL POSE
BENEFITS: If it’s all getting a bit too much try this pose. It is great for calming, relieving cramps, gives you a good stretch to your inner thighs and hips, and calms your nervous system.
HOW TO: Get your hands on a bolster, pillow, rolled-up blanket or towel and lay it down vertically on the mat. Sit on your mat with the prop behind you and draw the soles of your feet together letting your knees drop out to the side. Start to lay back onto the prop, resting your elbows on the mat if needed and get comfy.
Allow your arms to relax and turn the palms to face up to open the chest. Relax your body and focus on lengthening through your spine to your tailbone. Stay in this pose for up to 10 minutes as you decompress and clear your mind.
INVERSION- LEGS UP THE WALL
BENEFITS: Inversions are a great way to clear the mind, calm your breath and relax but let’s be honest most of us on day 1 or 2 of our period can’t be bothered with a headstand. This posture improves circulation and digestion, lowers blood pressure, boosts energy levels, and soothes the nervous system. Emotionally, inverted leg pose can help you keep your chill, even in the midst of angsty mood swings.
HOW TO: Come as close to a wall as you can and lay down. Place your feet on the wall and start to shuffle your bum towards the wall. You’re trying to get your butt touching the bottom of the wall. Allow your legs to rest on the wall going upright. You can let the knees slightly bend and the legs slightly open. Hands can rest by your side, on your belly (maybe with a hot water bottle) or over the head on the mat.