Your yoga mat can be a place to stretch out the accumulated stress in your shoulders and back. But for women who have period cramps, yoga also can help soothe by gently massaging your lower abdomen. Avoid inverted poses for the first three days of your period as it may stop the flow momentarily, only to bring it back more heavily. Perform a restorative yoga practice with targeted poses.
Half Lord of the Fishes
From a seated position on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you, bend your knees. Draw your bent knees toward your chest, keeping your feet on the floor. Move your left outer leg to the floor with the knee still bent and then slide your left foot slightly behind your right hip. Lift your right foot over the top of your left knee and place it on the floor, just touching the middle of your left upper thigh. Inhale, and then on your exhale, twist from your waist to the right and place your right hand, palm down, on the floor behind your right buttock. Bend your left arm and place your left elbow against the outside of your right knee. Take five slow breaths and switch sides.
Stand with your feet together. Lower into a squat with your heels pressing into the floor, or if your heels do not reach the floor, slide a folded towel or blanket under your heels. Keeping your belly soft, twist from your waist to the right. Place your left elbow, against the outside of your right knee. Press the palms of your hands together and angle your right arm so the elbow is pointing on a diagonal away from your body. For an increased twist, press your palms more firmly against each other. Take five breaths and then repeat noose pose on the other side.
Kneel on the floor on all fours with your toes curled under. Your shoulders should be stacked directly above your wrists with your hips above your knees. Inhale, and on the exhale, arch your back while contracting your abdominal muscles. Let your head hang down between your arms. As you take your next inhale, cave your back in and soften your belly while lifting your buttocks toward the ceiling. Raise your head and gaze forward. Push into the floor with your hands to straighten your arms. Continue exhaling and arching your back and inhaling and caving your back in a smooth fashion for up to one minute.
Seated Forward Bend
Sit on the floor with a folded blanket under your hips and stretch your legs in front of you. Point your feet toward the ceiling, with the sides of your heels and big toes touching. Lengthen your spine by stretching your upper torso away from your waist. On your next exhale, fold forward with a flat back and grasp your toes with the first two fingers of each hand. Gaze forward as you breathe deeply and evenly in seated forward bend for up to two minutes.