Yoga practice is well known to calm, centre, and strengthen both body and mind. You may not feel like rushing to exercise on your period, but practising yoga for menstruation can offer enormous benefits to balance your mood, and – we cannot stress enough – ease cramps. Who could say no?
Why do yoga to reduce pain during periods?
Yoga has been tried and tested to be especially beneficial for and mentality. Doing it releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers that help to relieve cramps and boost your mood.
Certain yoga positions are particularly good for targeting the areas where cramps are most common. Think your back, stomach, hips and pelvis… stretching these areas out will relax the muscles around your uterus and might even revolutionise the future of your periods.
Below are some carefully chosen poses that aren’t too strenuous and will be accessible for beginners. These poses will help you relax and are perfect to try if you won’t have time for a full flow or yoga class.
Downward Facing Dog
A classic pose amongst yogis, the downward facing dog has many benefits – it strengthens and stretches, as well as calms your mind. Downward dog also helps to relieve menstrual pain.
Come to all fours on your hands and knees and lift your knees on an exhale. Lift your hip towards the sky and stretch your heels and shoulders (don’t worry if your heels don’t touch the floor). Stay in this position for several full breaths and let your cramping tummy relax, focussing on deep breaths (and not falling over).
Downward dog is a great pose during yoga – especially in the morning to set you up for the day. Don’t worry if it feels quite intense to begin with. Practise makes perfect! It‘s easy to move into this position as part of the sun salutation if you have slightly longer to practise.
The Child’s Pose
The child’s pose is a nice resting pose that can follow the downward facing dog. It relaxes and helps especially with lower back pain.
Kneel on the floor so that your big toes touch, with your knees widened and sit your bum on your heels. Exhale deeply and lay down your torso, with your arms stretched in front. Rest your forehead on the ground so it stretches your neck and stay in this position.
This pose doesn’t require much strength and can easily be done in between a busy routine or for few minutes between Netflix episodes. Remember to breathe deeply and relax into the pose.
The Camel is slightly more demanding but is an effective cramp-relieving stretching pose which engages the lower stomach and pelvic muscles. The pose also works to reduce anxiety and re-energise.
Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart, lean back and try to reach your feet (don’t worry, if you can’t reach them at first – just start with your palms on your lower back, fingers towards your bum, and work your way down over time). Inhale and lift your chest, leaning against your shoulder blades. If you want you can carefully drop your head and stay in this position for up to one minute. After this you can go back to the child’s pose to counteract the intense back bend.
The bow is another back-bend position that can help with period pain. It stimulates the reproductive organs and gives you a good stretch whilst strengthening your back.
Lie on your belly and bend your knees so you can reach your ankles, whilst keeping the knees no more than hip-width apart. If you can’t reach them, you can use a strap and ensure you keep your arms straight. On the inhale lift your thighs and chest, paying attention to lifting them the same height to stay level. Remember to keep breathing (it’s easy to forget when concentrating) and stay in this position for up to 30 seconds before you slowly release and exhale.
This is an energising pose and can be a good boost during the day if you’re feeling lethargic or uncomfortable at work or home.
The Reclined Goddess
Aah, the reclined goddess, perfect for when you’re getting calm and comfortable, ready for bed. A relaxing favourite amongst the Natracare team, this is a restorative pose which opens the groin and stimulates your ovaries. It can easily be done in bed, and even better with a hot water bottle on your belly.
Lying on your back, angle your knees and put your feet together, knees falling to either side. Place your arms next to your body, palms facing upwards, and breathe. You can stay like this from anything from 1 minute to 10. It’s important to be comfortable so support your head from underneath if needed, and don’t force your knees towards the floor. This way you can relax your body and soul like the menstruating goddess you truly are.
When to see the doctor for period pain
You may have tried every possible solution to ease your cramps and nothing seems to be working. If this is the case, and your pain is preventing you from going about your daily life, we recommend checking in with your healthcare professional. They’ll be able to help you investigate the pain you’re experiencing, and whether something like endometriosis or PMDD is exacerbating your symptoms.
Not sure how to talk to your doctor about your period? Check out our blog.
We hope these few simple poses can help you find relief and let you get through your period a little more comfortably. If any pose gives you discomfort or doesn’t quite feel right, stop and if in any doubt ask a yoga instructor. Yoga especially is beneficial for relaxing your muscles and helping calm your thoughts.
Have a natural period!
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These top 5 period exercises and movements can really help with period pain. Let us know which poses help during the various stages of your menstrual cycle.