It’s no secret that menstruation can come with some pretty uncomfortable symptoms. You might feel hotter than usual, get PMS, and of course, deal with painful period cramps.
Yoga, pranayama, and self-care practices can help ease period pain if not get rid of it completely.
I personally experience all of the above, since going off birth control about 8 years ago. After being on the pill for over a decade and having issues with my period, I know all too well the ups and downs of the monthly cycle/moon cycle/menstruation cycle (whatever you call it).
While I personally do not subscribe to using medication to ad the pain, I have had to figure out how to help myself while going through this every-single-month.
Heating pads, lots of water and just relaxing are usually on my schedule when my moon cycle arrives, however Yoga and breathwork have been proven to aid in pain reduction, mainly due to the relaxing effects and increased circulation. When you practice yoga consistently, it improves your vagus tone and allows you to handle the stress response from pain and increases your pain tolerance. While this will differ per person, I have found that over my many years of practicing Yoga and breathwork, my pain tolerance has increased, but I am only sharing my personal experience and not what I believe You should do or not do.
When you’re practicing yoga on your period, it’s important to avoid inversions that reverse the blood flow of your body. You want to keep the blood flowing towards your feet rather than towards your head; also, you want to focus on poses that gently stimulate, stretch, and massage the abdominal organs. Hold your headstands till another day!
Here are 10 Yoga Poses that I do when my Moon Cycle starts.
While practicing any poses in this sequence, make sure you opt for a gentle and comfortable version of any pose. While these poses can be active, you can make them more restorative by moving slowly and deliberately. And as always, move with the breath!
Child’s Pose is incredible for quieting your mind and bringing your heart rate down. There is a reason why it is the go-to resting pose in almost any yoga class! This pose is excellent at re-aligning and stretching the spine, as well as bringing relief to your hips. I prefer a wide-legged child's pose, but the traditional pose, with legs just as wide as your torso, puts gentle pressure on your stomach, which can ease cramps and signal the relaxation response in your nervous system. For a more restorative pose, put a bolster or rolled-up blanket the length of your torso between your legs and fold your upper body over. This will help to reduce the production of cortisol, which can cause period cramps or make them worse.
1. To get into the pose, get on all fours and spread your knees wide with your big toes touching. 2. On your exhale, gently lay forward and place your torso between your legs. 3. Arms can be by your side or extended over your head. 4. Hold for 5-10 breaths. If you are practicing on a bolster, you can hold this pose for up to 20 minutes. Just be sure to switch the position of your head to avoid neck cramps.
Kundalini Circles target the spine and activate all back muscles as well as the chest, hips, knees, and psoas. Activating the hips and psoas during menstruation can be particularly pain relieving.
1. To begin, sit cross-legged with your hips elevated on a pillow or blanket. 2. Place your hands on your knees and feel a solid connection between your sit bones and the surface you’re sitting on. 3. Close your eyes, if you feel comfortable and focus your eyes towards the center of your eyebrows, your Third Eye Chakra. This will help to balance your hormones. 4. In sync with your natural breath, move your torso around in a circle while keeping your hips grounded. 5. After a few breaths, switch directions and move your torso in the opposite direction. 6. Repeat for 10 circles on each side, or more if it feels comfortable.
Cat & Cow
To begin your practice, start on all fours in Cat-Cow. The main action of the Cat-Cow pose is to lengthen the lower back muscles and stretch and strengthen the abdominal muscles. Pairing your breath with the movement will also stimulate hormonal balance. Move very slowly through these, allowing your body to open.
1. While on all fours, make sure your shoulders are in line with your wrists, and your hips are in line with your knees. You can practice with your toes flat or tucked under. 2. From a natural back, inhale to rise and arch your back upwards into Cat pose. Push into your hands and drop your head. 3. On the exhale, drop the lower belly towards the mat as you broaden through your chest, bringing a nice arch to your low back, coming into Cow pose. 4. Repeat the cycle for 5-10 breaths.
The Garland Pose is also called the “yogic squat.” This pose is perhaps one of the most special poses for women because it genuinely evokes the divine goddess! For centuries, women around the world spent much of their day in this pose, whether cooking, cleaning, caring for children, and even giving birth. Garland Pose actually massages the uterus and intestines, which can dramatically help with period cramps. It also aids in digestion, which can help if your cramps are caused by constipation or inflammation.
1. To come into your powerful yogic squat, stand with your feet slightly turned out, heels shoulder-width apart. 2. Drop down into a low squat and bring your elbows to the insides of your legs and push your elbows into your legs and legs into elbows. You can place your hands in prayer position in front of your chest. 3. While in the pose, focus on drawing your pelvic muscles in and up – don’t dump your weight into the pelvic area. Your lower body should feel engaged and active.
4. If you can not hold this pose for long or your heels are off the mat, place a block under your tailbone for a more restorative pose. 5. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes (HLotF) pose is terrific for period pain! Cramps can be caused by many factors, which is why they are so hard to treat. Sometimes period cramps are a byproduct of other period symptoms like PMS, constipation, and trapped gas. They can also be caused by stress hormones in general. HLotF helps to stimulate the digestive organs and massage the uterus, which can encourage blood flow and lessen cramps. It also releases trapped gas in the intestines.
1. To get into this pose, sit on your mat with your legs out straight in front of you. 2. Bend your right knee and plant your right foot onto the outside of your left leg. Bend your left knee and bring your left foot to rest by your right glute. 3. With both sit bones grounded, twist from your waist to the right, bringing your left elbow to rest on the outside of your right knee. Bring your left hand behind you (just behind your tailbone)
4. Broaden through your chest, roll your right shoulder back. Take your gaze over your right shoulder 5. This pose is challenging, so only go as far as your body will let you. Hold for 2-3 breaths, and then repeat twisting to the right.
One-Legged Pigeon Pose
One-Legged Pigeon Pose increases blood flow and lengthens your entire lower body, so it is excellent for reducing menstrual pain. Pigeon pose also massages the digestive and reproductive organs. The hip-opening action can also lessen anxiety, balance the hormones, and promote emotional release. Please be mindful as this pose puts pressure on your hips and knee. Roll a blanket up or use a block under the hip that is raised for a more restorative pose.
1. To get in the pose, begin on all fours. 2. Bring your right knee forward to your right wrist. 3. Bend your right knee and place your right ankle near your pelvis. Slide the left foot back and make sure you keep it within the frame of your body. Turn your pinkie toe towards the mat. 4. Lower your groin as far down as is comfortable. Place a block or blanket under your raised hip for support, if needed.
5. Come up onto your fingertips, roll your shoulders back to open your chest and feel a soft backbend. 6. Breathe deeply and sink into the stretch. Lowering your upper body towards the ground intensifies the stretch.
Head-To-Knee Forward Bend
Forward bending poses stimulate the soft, fluid-filled organs like the intestines, stomach, and uterus. Forward folds also tend to stretch and lengthen the groin and spine, as well as the hamstrings, which is an excellent combination. Head-To-Knee Forward Bend is no exception – this pose is calming for menstrual discomfort and also helps with depression, headaches, and fatigue.
1. Begin the pose in a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend one knee and bring the sole to the inside of your straight leg. 2. Take a big inhale and lengthen your spin up, then on the exhale lean forward and take hold of your knee, ankle or foot. 3. Keep your feet active as if you are standing in Mountain Pose. Hold for 4-5 deep breaths and switch to stretch the other side.
Similar to other poses in this practice, Supine Twist gently rings out the reproductive and digestive organs that are subject to cramping. It also helps to reduce stress, stretch your back, and stimulate your bladder.
1. To get into the pose, lie on your back and bring one knee to your chest. 2. Revolve the bent knee to the left side of your body. 3. Keeping your torso facing upwards, and stretch your arms out to the sides or up into cactus/goal post arms. 4. Keep your shoulders square and glued to the floor. 5. After 5-10 breaths, switch and stretch the opposite leg to the opposite side.
Reclined Butterfly Pose
This is the trifecta, plus one, of poses! Reclined Butterfly Pose can help treat headaches, pelvic pain, back pain, and hormone imbalances. The key to feeling the benefits in this pose is to relax and avoid overstretching the inner thighs. Practice with a bolster and blocks under your knees for a restorative pose. Remember, the goal is to relax, not to get a deep stretch! In one part of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali speaks of sitting in a golden womb of the Universe. This pose feels amazing when held for long periods of time!
1. To get into Reclined Butterfly Pose, sit with your lower back against a blanket or bolster. Lay back on the bolster. 2. Bring the soles of your feet together so your legs spay out like butterfly wings. You can place a block under each knee to reduce the stretch sensation. 3. This pose feels wonderful when practiced for long periods of time with an eye mask on. It is easy to feel that sensation when this pose is held for 20-30 minutes.
Savasana: A Restorative Variation
No matter what, make sure you take the time to practice savasana at the end of your practice. Even though menstruation can be painful at times, it is a sign of a healthy, fertile, female body, and it is a miracle that a woman’s body can menstruate regularly. It is important to give yourself ample time for self-care, and a relaxing, peaceful savasana is part of that self-care practice.
1. Lay down and place a yoga bolster or pillow under your legs.
2. Allow your feet to flop out to the sides and your arms, palms up, on either side of your body. 3. Place a cloth, silk tie, or eye mask over your eyes, if desired. The darkness helps you sink deeper into savasana and encourages you to stay in the pose longer and more effortlessly. 4. If needed, place a thinly folded blanket under your head to support your neck. 5. Sink into the pose and allow your worries and pain to drift away. Allow your breath to come back to its natural rhyme and just breath. 6. When you are ready, take your time coming out of the pose. Option to slowly wiggle your fingers and toes to start bringing movement back in before you slowly roll up and welcome the new day ahead!
I hope this helps you in finding relief in your moon cycle. Stay hydrated, rest and take a hot relaxing bath! You deserve to take time for yourself.
Rather flow with me in a video? Check out this short flow incorporating all 10 Yoga poses mentioned above.
Yoga is YOUR practice, YOUR time, YOUR journey. Let it be what YOU need it to be. Step on your mat and Let it all Go.
Love & Light,
*Disclaimer: This Disclaimer forms a binding agreement between you and Chantal Croucher also known as Yogatation, a Sole Proprietorship operating out of Ontario, Canada. In continuing to watch this video and practicing yoga with me, you release me from any liability related to any injuries or issues which may arise from the risks of practicing yoga through this video. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS IN PARTICIPATING IN THIS YOGA CLASS. These videos are posted for educational and informational purposes only and not tailored to you specifically in any way. Please ensure you are practicing in a safe space and consult a medical professional before your practice. Lastly, please note that the techniques and approaches to yoga contained in these videos are simply my teachings and I make no representations about their efficacy nor do I promise any results.
Namaste and enjoy the practice.