I get extremely bad periods, to the point where it severely impacts my day-to-day activities. According to the American Academy of Physicians, I fall into a category of 20 percent of women who experience period pains so severe they impact daily activities.
One study suggests yoga can have a positive effect on your cycle. The study found regular yoga practice can actually decrease the symptoms of premenstrual distress, reducing associated pain like cramps and bloating, and improving overall mood. When you’re approaching that time of the month, and not feeling quite yourself, try a restful practice with calm, restorative poses.
Here’s a go-to list of some poses you should try, and others you should avoid, during your period.
Setting the Scene for a Period Friendly Practice
Go ahead, take some ‘me’ time and spoil yourself with this practice. Prep your space with your coziest yoga mat, feel free to add a thick blanket for extra comfort, and have a bolster, pillow or towels on hand for extra support if needed. If you’re experiencing cramps or bloat, try a heating pad or hot water bottle to compliment your practice. Oh, yes, and a cup of hot tea for sipping in between restorative poses.
Try These Yoga Poses During Your Cycle
Just as specific yoga poses can aid in the relief of stress or back pain, some poses can also target your reproductive organs and lady parts. To alleviate the symptoms of your cycle like PMS, heavy bleeding, bloating, cramps and fatigue, try these yoga poses thatstimulate your core and increase blood flow to your reproductive organs. Additionally, these poses offer a light massage to the pelvic and abdomen, without collapsing the uterine veins.
1. Child’s Pose
This pose is a traditional yoga pose that is practiced in all levels of yoga. Child’s Pose is great for relaxing as it naturally relieves back pain, offers a nice, light stretch through the hips and thighs, and lowers stress and anxiety.
2. Seated Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
Similarly, Seated Head-to-Knee Forward Bend is typically part of a Yin practice and encourages long holds that stretch throughout the lower body into the lower back. You can also incorporate this pose if you are experiencing stomach pains or discomfort as it massages the core and digestive organs.
3. Standing Half Forward Bend
Often practiced throughout a sun salutation, Standing Half Forward Bend lengthens the spine, improving posture, and also stretches the neck, shoulders and chest. The movement stimulates the abdomen, offering a gentle massage that can help menstrual cramps and bloating.
4. Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose is a go-to yoga move for both physical fitness and the mind. The alignment of the body and engagement of the muscles, from the core to the glutes and hamstrings ignites mental clarity and focus. This pose reduces stress and anxiety, while lengthening and opening the abdominal area and alleviating any pelvic discomfort, allowing your organs to find their natural placement.
5. Corpse Pose
The final resting pose of most practices, Corpse Pose serves many purposes, but primarily it calms the nervous system and balances the mood. Turn your attention to your body and self during a long hold of this pose and you’ll feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
Poses to Avoid During Your Period
While there are poses that you should definitely include in your practice during your period, there are also poses that should be avoided, and for good reason too. During your period, the pelvic vascular bed becomes more saturated with blood than usual. A quick anatomy lesson on the uterus: uterine blood supply enters the uterus from either side of the pelvis via thick, muscular uterine arteries. These arteries are located within broad, strong ligaments that suspend the uterus in the middle of the pelvis. Also inside the uterus are uterine veins. These veins are much less heavy duty, and their walls are much thinner. Because these veins are more delicate, they can collapse when excessive pressure is applied – thus leading to heavier bleeding.
Inversions put extra strain on the uterus as the organs fall towards the earth with gravity, putting extra strain on the ligaments that hold the uterus in place, therefore adding extra pressure to the arteries and veins that carry blood to the uterus. Inversions have a tendency to increase bleeding during menstruation, oftentimes adding to the discomfort of your cycle.