For years women have always asked what can I do to help banish menstrual pains? Relying on Midol or other pain killers can get costly and sometimes doesn’t always help. As we’ve discussed at length this past month yoga has a whole host of benefits!
It’s not a quick fix but the more often you practice, the more the pain will decrease over time. From my own personal experience I’ve learned my body does not like back bends at that time of the month, so I tend to favor forward folds and gentle twists in my practice. If I practice a back bend it’s only my upper thoracic spine rather than lower (i.e. a low Cobra or Fish Pose). Remember every body is different, so do what feels comfortable to you.
To Battle Against Menstrual Cramps
Warm up your body with a few slow sun salutations. Don’t go too deep into some backbends though. Keep it gentle on your low abdomen and organs. After your salutations, have a seat on your mat. You may prop yourself up on a blanket or bolster if needed.
1. Comfortable Seat with Twist (Sukhāsana with Twist)
- Begin seated, and cross one leg in front of the other, bringing your heels under your knees and keeping your feet flexed. Root into your hips to lift your chest and keep your spine tall. Bring your arms overhead and gently rotate to your left. Rest your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on the floor behind you. Lift your chest and draw your navel into the spine.
- Hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side. Switch the cross of the legs and repeat the twists again.
Modification: Grab a block for your hand if you cannot reach the flooor.
2. Forward Fold (Uttānāsana)
- Stand in Tādāsana, keep the legs tight. Bend forward at the hips and place the fingers on the floor. Try to relax the crown of the head to the floor and stretch the spine. Move your weight forward to the balls of the feet to bring the legs perpendicular to the floor. Draw the navel to the spine.
- Hold for five breaths.
Modification: Place blocks underneath your hands for support. Place a block in between the thighs for activation of the inner thighs. Bend your knees to find a straighter low back.
3. Triangle Pose (Trikonāsana)
- Begin with your feet parallel and one leg-length apart. Rotate your left foot out to a 90-degree angle and your right foot in to a 45-degree angle, keeping your heels aligned. Lift your arms parallel to the floor, extend your left arm and that side of your waist forward, and move your left hand to the floor outside your left ankle.
- Extend your right arm straight up, so your right shoulder is directly over your left. Revolve your torso to open it and lengthen evenly through the sides of torso. Keep your lower belly engaged with only a slight bend in the legs.
- Hold for 3 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
Modifications: Use a block underneath the hand for additional support.
4. Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonāsana)
- Start in Tādāsana. Step your left foot back one leg length turn it outward 45 degrees, aligning your heels. Square your hips forward and place your right hand on your hip. Lift your left arm up into full extension and lean forward, keeping your back flat and arm reaching straight out in front of you. Place your left hand on the floor at the outer edge of your front foot. Extend your chest, then press your left hand into the floor to spiral your chest open. Extend your right arm straight toward the ceiling. Stack your shoulders and gaze upward.
- Hold for three to five breaths. Repeat on the opposite side
Modification: Use a block underneath the hand for additional support.
5. Wide Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanāsana)
- Start with your feet parallel and one leg-length apart. Put your hands on your hips and engage your quads. Keep rooting yourself in the outer edges of your feet as you hinge forward from your hips, moving your hands to the floor shoulder-width apart.
- Inhale as you extend your chest and straighten your arms. Exhale as you walk the heels of your hands in line with the heels of your feet, bending your elbows to 90 degrees and placing the crown of your head on the floor (or as close to it as you can get). Keep your elbows over your wrists and your shoulders lifted.
- Hold for three breaths and slowly come up to standing. You can bend your knees before you stand up to prevent a head rush.
6. Head to Knee Pose (Jānu Sīrsāsana)
- Begin seated, with your left leg straight and your right knee bent. Bring the sole of your right foot to rest against the inside of your left upper thigh. Inhale and extend your spine. Exhale, spin your chest over your left knee.
- Either grab the outer edge of your left foot, or clasp your right wrist with your left hand. Inhale and extend your spine again. Exhale and fold your torso over your straight leg, bending your elbows wide and relaxing the base of your neck.
- Hold for five breaths then repeat on the other side.
Modifcation: Use a blanket or bolster underneath the bottom. If you can’t reach for your foot use a strap to work your way there.
7. Corpse Pose (Śavāsana)
- Relax into a peaceful 5-10 minute Śavāsana and let your body absorb the practice. Feel free to use all the comfy props you need to help you fully relax and ease the pain.
- Slowly come up to a seated position and stay seated for a few moments reflecting and breathing slow, deep breaths.
How do you feel after this yoga sequence? What poses do you add in to ease menstrual pain? Do you like to do inversions and can you do them on your period? Let me know your thoughts!