6 Yoga Poses That Help Reduce Period Pain
Every person who’s experienced menstrual cramps can tell you how horrible they can be. That being said, every person’s period is different, and the pain can range from barely there to absolutely debilitating. For those who fall on the latter end of the scale, going about their day-to-day business while suffering from cramps can be difficult, if not entirely impossible.
When yoga first began, people experiencing period pain were often told to forgo their practice for rest instead. In the Ashtanga practice, this avoidance of yoga was referred to as “ladies’ holiday.” Today’s yoga teachings don’t abide by the same rules and are much more in tune with a person’s right to choose what kind of practice they can tolerate while on their period. But is it safe to do yoga on your period? And are there specific yoga poses that help reduce period pain?
Is it OK to do yoga during periods?
The old belief that rest is the only thing a person can do to cope with their period pain is long gone! Many yogis now know that not only is it OK to do yoga during their period, it can actually be beneficial. Of course, choosing the right type of practice is vital to making sure that you reap the benefits and don’t put too much pressure on the body while it’s already undergoing stress.
Does yoga reduce menstrual pain?
Yoga has been shown to help relieve painful cramps in people who practice the right type of poses. When you consider the areas of the body that are most affected (e.g. the pelvis, hips, lower back, and lower stomach), it’s easy to see why some poses would be better than others. Studies have shown that along with pain relief, yoga may also help to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
What positions soothe period cramps?
To help relieve menstrual cramps, you will want to practice a restorative type of yoga. Below, we’ve listed six poses that can help you manage your pain and get some relief every time the period train rolls back into town.
The lower half of the body is the most affected when it comes to period cramps and menstrual pain. This is why many of the poses below are done in seated positions. You can stay in each pose for several minutes, as long as it’s comfortable.
1. Cobbler’s Pose
To get into cobbler’s pose, you will start seated with your legs stretched out in front of you. Then you will bend your knees, bringing the soles of your feet together, with your legs falling out to the side of your body. Once your feet are together, you can draw them in towards your body as close or as far as you’d like. As long as you feel no pain in the knees, you are in the right position.
You will want to press the outer edges of your feet firmly together while holding onto your big toes. While in the pose, make sure that you’re sitting tall with a straight spine and that you’re keeping your shoulders away from your ears.
2. Head to Knee Pose
Head to knee pose helps to stretch out the body by focusing on one leg at a time. To get into the pose, you will start seated and extend your left leg out in front of you with the sole of your right foot on your left inner thigh. Shift your body so that your torso is center over your left leg and fold gently forward. You will want to ease into the stretch slowly. Once you have sat in the pose for a few minutes, you can switch to the other leg.
3. Seated Straddle
While comfortably balanced on your sit bones, open both legs wide. Once your legs are as wide as is comfortable for you, begin bending slowly forward with your spine and shoulders down away from the ears. Once you reach a good stretching position, you can hold there for several minutes. If the initial straddling without the forward bend feels good to you, you can refrain from bending and remain sitting upright.
4. Seated Forward Bend
This pose also stretches out the legs, but has a bonus back stretch as well. To get into this pose, stretch your legs out in front of you and lengthen your spine straight up. Once you are comfortable, you can then begin to slowly bend forward. Follow your breath as you ease into the pose. It’s important to not round your spine during the pose so you can get the best stretch possible.
5. Supported Bridge Pose
This pose requires the use of a yoga block. Start by lying down on your back with your knees bent, pressing your feet firmly into the mat. Then lift your hips lightly and slide the yoga block underneath your lower back. This provides a good stretch of the hips without the added effort of keeping yourself upright. After staying for several minutes, lift the hips again and remove the block. This pose gives a gentle backbend that can help with the pain that is often experienced in the lower back during periods.
6. Goddess Pose
Goddess pose is designed to help strengthen the lower body while opening up the hips. To get into goddess pose, start on your back with your knees bent. Then, let your knees fall out to the sides and down to the mat, bringing the soles of your feet together while you do so. Stay for several minutes to enjoy the pain relief.
Dealing with painful periods is something that many people can’t escape. The good news is that using these six poses as a restorative practice while you’re on your period can help to relieve pain, promote relaxation, and alleviate symptoms of PMS.