9 Yoga Poses for Period Cramp Relief

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credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

For some women, the first few days of their period can be so painful and exhausting that it’s enough to take a sick day at work or cancel plans. While some discomfort is to be expected (thanks a lot, biology), severe cramps that have you lying in bed all afternoon are not. If that’s you, talk to your OB-GYN to make sure it’s not a more serious condition like endometriosis.

If you experience menstrual cramps, fatigue, aches and pains, breast tenderness, cravings and other side effects of PMS and menstruation, take note: Your body may be asking for recovery from a month of intense workouts and a go-go-go lifestyle. Unwind and relax for at least a day or two in the beginning of your cycle with this grounding yoga sequence.

Exercising on Your Period

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A quick note about exercising while on your period: The most important thing is to listen to your body and the signals it is giving you. “Menstruation and exercise varies by a woman’s age, constitution and comfort during her cycle,” says Prana Gogia, a doctor of acupuncture and herbal medicine and Ayurveda teacher in Encinitas, California.

He recommends skipping inversions as well as strenuous ab workouts at this time of the month. Grounding and calming exercises, such as taking a walk or doing the following yoga sequence, can help you feel your best, maximize your intuitive and creative potential during menstruation and prepare for a new cycle of life.

Read more: The Best Workout for Every Phase of Your Monthly Cycle

1

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

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With your head planted on the earth, arms outstretched and abdomen compressed against your thighs, Child’s pose can offer a sense of centering and comfort.

HOW TO DO IT: Kneeling on the floor, bring your big toes together and separate your knees to about hip-width apart. Sink your hips toward your heels as you create length in your spine, particularly your lumbar spine. Stretch your arms out in front of you shoulder-distance apart and allow your forehead to gently press into the floor. Breathe with ease while remaining in this pose for two to five minutes.

2

Yogi’s Squat (Malasana)

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If you travel to countries like India and China, you’ll often see people sitting in a deep squat for ordinary activities like eating meals, working with their hands or simply resting. That’s because this grounding pose not only assists with feelings of calmness (great for that time of the month) but also helps maintain mobility in the ankles, knees and hips and lengthens through the lower back.

HOW TO DO IT: With your knees hip-distance apart and your feet turned slightly outward, bend your knees and sink your hips down toward the earth. Maintain length in your spine as you lift the sternum, open the chest and relax the shoulders away from your ears. Bring your hands into a prayer position, gently pressing your elbows against your inner thighs. Modification: Roll your mat up and place it under your heels. Keep breathing and stay in this pose as long as is comfortable.

Read more: 11 Essential Yoga Poses Everyone Should Practice

3

Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

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Bringing your head below your heart and bowing to the ground can generate a feeling of calmness in mind and body, which is exactly what you need when it feels like your hormones are out of control.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor (or on a folded blanket) with your legs together and outstretched in front of you. Exhale as you fold forward at the hips. Keep your spine long, quadriceps engaged and feet flexed to stretch your hamstrings. Place your hands on the floor, grab ahold of your feet or wrap a strap around the arches of your feet and pull yourself forward, keeping a bend in the elbows so you can relax your shoulders. Breathe with ease and remain in this pose for two to three minutes.

4

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)

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This is another grounding pose that can help ease abdominal pain, headaches and fatigue. Essentially, most of the worst things about getting your period.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor (or on a folded blanket) with your legs together and outstretched in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring the heel in toward your left inner thigh. Slightly rotate your torso toward the left leg. Exhale as you fold forward, hinging at the hips. Keep your quadriceps engaged and foot flexed to feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Place your hands down on the floor on either side of the foot, grab your feet or wrap a strap around the arch of your foot and pull yourself forward. Stay in this pose for two to three minutes, and then change sides.

5

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

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Seated twists help stimulate the inner organs (like your uterus) and aid in digestion. This is especially useful if you’re prone to constipation during your cycle. Twists also provide a nice release for your lower back, which can also be a source of pain during menstruation.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor with your legs together and outstretched in front of you. Bend your left leg in toward your body, bringing your heel to the outside of the right hip or knee. Bring your right foot over to your left hip. Place your left hand slightly out to the side and behind you and your right elbow across your body and on your left knee. On the exhale, twist toward your left, looking over your shoulder. Stay in the pose for five to 10 breaths, and then switch sides.

6

Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)

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This pose can be intense on the ankles and knees, so be gentle and listen to your body. Never go to or past the point of pain. But if your knees and hips are healthy and ready for the pose, it’s a great stretch for your ankles, quadriceps, abdominals and obliques.

HOW TO DO IT: Start in a kneeling position and separate your ankles so you can sit back between your legs. Keep your knees together. Either stay upright here and place a block or blanket under your seat or recline and transition to Supta Virasana. Place a bolster against your tailbone with a folded blanket on top to support your head. Lean back and stretch your arms over your head. grabbing your elbows to open up around the lungs and heart.

Read more: 10 Yoga Poses to Speed Up Your Workout Recovery

7

Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

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If you’re feeling fatigued, achy and stressed, this pose will help you kick back and relax. Reclining Bound Angle pose helps to calm the nervous system and brings blood flow to the abdomen.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit up tall with the soles of your feet together and your knees splayed out to the side. Place a bolster against your tailbone with a folded blanket on top to support your head. Lean back and place your arms out to the sides with your palms facing up. Cover your eyes with an eye mask if you want and relax in this pose for 10 to 20 minutes.

8

Supported Corpse Pose (Savasana)

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Your menstrual cycle can be a time for letting go of what no longer serves you and creating space for what comes next. By taking the time to relax more during this time — especially when experiencing cramps, fatigue or backaches — you can rejuvenate yourself and prepare to go full steam ahead in the following weeks.

HOW TO DO IT: Place a small pillow or rolled-up blanket under your head if you want. Place a bolster under your knees. Find length through your lower back and relax the pelvis and hips. Let your arms rest by your sides with your palms facing up. Place an eye mask over your eyes if you want. Breathe with ease and relax every part of your body. Stay in this pose for five to 20 minutes.

Read more: 10 Yoga Poses for a Better Night’s Sleep

What Do YOU Think?

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Do you get cramps along with your period? What do you do to relieve the pain? Have you ever tried yoga? What are you go-to poses for period cramp relief? Were any of them on the list? Are there others you would add? Share your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comments below!

11 Yoga Poses to Eliminate Stress From Your Day

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Overview

For some women, the first few days of their period can be so painful and exhausting that it’s enough to take a sick day at work or cancel plans. While some discomfort is to be expected (thanks a lot, biology), severe cramps that have you lying in bed all afternoon are not. If that’s you, talk to your OB-GYN to make sure it’s not a more serious condition like endometriosis.

If you experience menstrual cramps, fatigue, aches and pains, breast tenderness, cravings and other side effects of PMS and menstruation, take note: Your body may be asking for recovery from a month of intense workouts and a go-go-go lifestyle. Unwind and relax for at least a day or two in the beginning of your cycle with this grounding yoga sequence.

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