That time of the month often comes with some uncomfortable, inconvenient, and painful effects. With over eighty percent of women suffering from period-related pain at some point in their lives, it’s important to understand how to treat cramping holistically.
Yoga has proven to be a helpful tool in managing these negative effects associated with menstruation; so instead of self-medicating or just skipping out on everyday activities, you can turn to yoga to soothe aches and pains.
Along with breath work, the poses below will help clear the mind while relieving pain and discomfort. These poses are considered Yin Yoga postures and when completed in Yin fashion (i.e., holding passive poses for 3-5 minutes), the benefits are enhanced through a deep stretch while getting in touch with the sensations of the body and mind.
A regular yoga practice will help your body and mind relax and unwind. You’ll discover how to enjoy regular movement, ease discomfort and learn to sit with any emotions that arise — even the full-blown menstruation emotions!
To get you started, here are 6 yoga poses to relieve menstrual cramps AND help soothe your mind.
1. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is the go-to resting pose in most active yoga classes. With many benefits, the pose is a great option for those suffering from menstrual pain originating in the back. By gently stretching the low back muscles, Child’s pose will soothe back aches while also quieting the mind.
Focus on deeply breathing into the back and notice the rise and the fall of the breath in the body. Relax through the hips and let the torso rest upon the tops of the thighs which will help alleviate fatigue.
Tip: Put a bolster or pillow under the torso to make a cozier space more conducive to holding the pose longer.
2. Forward Fold
Counteracting compression, Standing Forward Fold pose lengthens the spine and stretches the hips. It also help ease the pain that radiates down the legs and around the back by stretching the hamstrings, calves, and back.
Although our bodies are exhausted when menstruating, it’s important to stand up (and bend over) after sitting or lying for long periods of time. Your body will thank you for getting the circulation moving!
Tip: Grasp opposite elbows in the pose and release the neck muscles to further unwind.
3. Knees-to-Chest Pose
One of the most effective poses for menstrual pain is the Knees-to-Chest pose. This feel-good posture relaxes the lower back and abdominal muscles, relieving tension and reducing pain. Knees-to-Chest pose also increases circulation to the abdomen, aids the internal organs, softens the mind, and reduces anxiety.
Tip: When in the pose, rock from side to side and front to back to give yourself a back massage.
4. Supine Twist
Twists are believed to stimulate, detox, and refresh the inner organs by “wringing out” the body. Holding a Reclined Spinal Twist for a few minutes while tuning into the breath will help ease the nerves during menstruation, as well as any accompanying abdominal pain.
Tip: Relax the legs, shoulders, and hips, letting gravity take over the twisting process. Prop the knees on top of a bolster or pillow if you have trouble relaxing in the twist.
More active than the previous poses, moving slowly through the Cat-Cow pose will warm up the body, which is known to relieve menstrual cramps. In addition, these poses target the back and abdominal muscles—stretching and toning them. This gentle flow will also help with coordination and emotional balance that may be altered during the menstrual cycle.
Tip: Move from one pose to the other as slowly as needed, lingering where desired. Remember to inhale to rise with Cow pose, and exhale to coil inwards with Cat pose.
The final resting pose that usually denotes completion of a yoga class is Savasana, also known as Corpse pose. This simple supine posture requires very little effort but reaps a handful of benefits.
Tip: The key in Savasana is to soften the body and mind. Feel the support of the ground beneath you, and bring attention to the breath. By controlling the breath with deep and meaningful inhalation and exhalation, the mind has space to quietly focus and redirect attention away from pain.
Sometimes it’s hard to focus on anything or to muster up the energy to do anything when suffering from menstrual pain, but this pain and distress shouldn’t hinder everyday life. Practicing yoga can be a gentle and therapeutic alternative to taking pain relievers to deal with period pain. Just remember to go at your own pace and breathe throughout the entire process.