Menstrual cramps can be uncomfortable, painful and sometimes debilitating. In fact, the same prostaglandins which cause period pain are also involved in contractions during birth! For some women, menstrual cramps can be equivalent to early labour. Research shows that yoga is effective in relieving painful periods. Today I want to share some of the best restorative yoga poses for period pain that I practice myself and with my clients.
Why practice yoga for painful periods?
In today’s society we have a tendency to “push through” everything. As modern women we juggle so many responsibilities from busy careers and family duties to keeping fit and maintaining an active social life. This constant striving and accountability can lead to imbalances in our hormonal system. It’s no wonder that over 80% of women experience painful periods on a regular basis!
Practicing yoga for painful periods is one way to support your body during your monthly bleed. Yoga can help reduce the intensity of menstrual cramps and improve other period related symptoms such as fatigue and anxiety. Not all yoga is equal though! Some yoga poses can actually increase period pain and leave you feeling more exhausted. On the other hand, certain restorative yoga poses are an excellent way to relieve period pain.
How can yoga poses reduce period pain?
Menstrual yoga poses help to reduce period pain by:
- Reducing tension held in the pelvic muscles which contributes to menstrual cramps
- Decreasing aches and pains in the lower belly and back
- Softening the abdomen and pelvic floor to improve blood flow
- Triggering the relaxation nervous system response
- Restoring energy or prana to reduce fatigue
Top restorative yoga poses for period pain
There are many yoga poses which can be supportive for painful periods. In general, a restorative yoga practice using lots of props is the most beneficial during menstruation. A gentle practice gives your body the chance to rest while your uterus works hard to releasing menstrual blood. The following are my three favourite yoga poses for period pain relief.
This is a great pose for anytime you need grounding and to restore energy. During painful menstruation, try resting your upper body on a cushion or bolster. You can also place a hot water bottle on your lower back in this pose to help relieve menstrual cramps. Rest your forehead and breathe deeply into your belly and lower back.
- Stretches the lower back and hips
- Applies a soothing pressure to the lower belly
- Belly breath acts as a gentle massage for the reproductive organs
- Reduces fatigue and restores energy
- Creates a safe space to release emotions
Reclined butterfly pose
This is my overall favourite yoga pose for easing painful periods and connecting with my womb space. The foundation is creating a diamond shape with the legs, soles of the feet together and knees apart to open the groin and pelvis. The upper body then rests back on the mat or supported by a bolster or 2 blocks. Placing blocks or rolled up blanket under the knees can relieve any residual tension in the lower back.
- Opens the hips and groin area
- Release tension from the hips and lower back
- Brings awareness into the pelvic bowl and sacral chakra
- Restores energy and vitality
- Opens the heart space
Luxurious rest pose
All variations of savasana aka “corpse pose” are great yoga poses for painful periods. Taking time to be still and present with anything that arises in your experience is a gift to yourself during menstruation. You can make this basic pose more luxurious by lying back on cushions, placing a small pillow over your eyes our draping a blanket over yourself.
- Deep rest and relaxation
- Reduce tension and find ease and support throughout the whole body
- Opens the front body and allows deep belly breathing
- Triggers the relaxation nervous system reponse
- Creates space for reflection and emotional processing
How to practice yoga for painful periods?
Practicing these and other menstruation supportive yoga poses daily for the first 1-3 days of your period can transform your monthly experience. It doesn’t have to take up too much of your day, although if you do have the time to treat yourself to a long practice then why not! Add some candles and relaxing music for a true menstrual yoga ritual.
If you don’t have time time for that, don’t worry! A short practice of 20 minutes is usually enough to restore energy and take the edge of painful periods. And the great news is that the benefits accumulate month by month as you take time to rest and nourish your body during menstruation. This yoga practice also goes hand in hand with hormone supportive nutrition to reduce period pain and other menstrual symptoms.
Over to you…
If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.
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