Article: Yoga Poses For Menstruation

When I’m feeling at my worst in life yoga helps.

And this is tricky too, because when I feel overworked, ill, or stressed yoga is usually the first thing I ditch from my schedule even though what the late yogi master BKS Iyengar is so true: ‘The pose begins when you want to leave it’.

That quote, to me, cuts to the essence of yoga and it also speaks of why yoga is just so grateful for periods.

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is a group of disciplines and teachings which are physical, mental, and spiritual in practice which seek to ‘yoke’ (meaning to unite or control) the body, mind, and spirit. In this effort, the physical poses, known as Hatha Yoga, often accompanied with breathing exercises are mostly intended to calm the energy of the body and mind and to make one’s self capable of long bouts of still meditation.

When it comes to modern Western practices, though, this aspect of yoga has become the primary focus.

This isn’t bad, by any means, but it sometimes helps to remember the roots of all modern yoga, which does try to provide a comprehensive, personal, and mindful experience rather than just a good physical workout.

The Benefits Of Yoga

There have been many, many studies on the health benefits of yoga, but quite a few of them aren’t rigorous or comprehensive enough to provide definitive answers on the full physical or mental benefits of hatha yoga.

Still, the UK National Health Service does consider yoga as capable of doing the following:

Increasing physical activity.

Improving strength.

Promoting flexibility.

Improving balance.

Lowering blood pressure.

Mitigating heart disease.

Alleviating aches and pains.

Decreasing depression, stress, and anxiety.

Yoga can also contribute to the recommended weekly guidelines for muscle-strengthening activities which is a bonus.

But, if you’ve read the title of this article then you already know why we’re here: Yoga and menstruation. Are there any benefits there?

Yoga And Period Pains

One of the benefits you’ll notice from the above list is the alleviation of aches and pains which, if you’re anything like me, means that yoga can be a very important tool in you period self-care roster.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you go and sweat your pains out in an hour-long heated class, nor that you even power through a fast-flowing, dynamic practice (because there really is a yoga out there for almost everyone and anything).

But, if you’re back is killing you, your energy is low, and your uterus feels like it’s trying to stage a violent rebellion then there are a few gentle poses which can massively help lessen some of your struggles.

Here are just a few of my favourites.

Cobbler’s Pose/Bound Ankle Pose

Day 🔟 of the #BlissfulYogiFlows challenge. . ✨ Today’s Asana is Baddha Konasana or Butterfly or Bound Angle or Cobbler Pose ✨ Chakra Association: Svadhisthana or Sacral (2nd) Chakra ✨ Benefits: This Asana opens and lubricates the hip joints, increases overall flexibility, and promotes digestion 🙏🏾 ✨ Lovely Hosts @yogajosey @freckledyogi @moonyogini . GREAT and Generous Sponsors @liforme @shaktiactivewear @heal_meow @in_the_weeds_apothecary . #yoga #yogachallenge #yogi #yogisofinstagram #noperfectyogis #yogastretch #practicenotperfection #curvyyogis #yogamom #yogaforgrowth #yogaforbalance #healthymindhealthybody #mindbodyspirit #corestrength #healthandwellness #herwellness411 #wellness #wellnessjourney #namaste #chakrayoga #baddhakonasana #boundanglepose #cobblerpose #svadhisthana #butterflypose

A post shared by Naj Y. (@herwellness411) on

Most people feel heavy in the lower part of their body during menstruation. Instead of fighting this feeling it pays to listen to your body and practice poses that stay low to the group (and low in intensity).

To get in to the Cobbler’s Pose you’ll want to sit down, grounding your booty bones into the floor/mat and moving any fleshy parts as is necessary.

From there you spread your legs (as if about to go cross-legged) and bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you find comfortable.

Simultaneously, you’ll want to bring your feet together and allow your knees to grow heavy – naturally driving towards the ground with each motion. From here it’s just a case of breathing and relaxing as you open your torso and sit tall.

Modifications: If sitting on the ground is too painful right now use pillows (or a bolster/block) as needed to elevate your hips and reduce pain.

Pillows can also be used under each knee if you find they hover uncomfortably off the ground.

Child’s Pose

Get on your knees and begin to sit on the back of your legs.

From this position lean forward so that your torso is on top of your thighs and then stretch your arms out in front of you, allowing your forehead to touch the ground/mat.

Take deep breaths in your little cocoon. Every time you breath in visualise yourself expanding. Every time you breathe out imagine a release. See if you can’t make that release physical by relaxing in to the posture just a little bit more. You might be surprised by the results.

Period pains often involve the lower back. Child’s Pose stretches this area gently, creating the right conditions to lessen pain in the long term.

While resting your tummy on your knees you’ll also be putting some pressure on your stomach, which encourages the release of menstrual cramping.

Plus, all those deep breaths are great for any feels that are occurring mid-period.

Modifications: If the position is awkward or painful, try widening your knees a bit, widening the arms, or bringing them around and to your sides.

One thing I find useful just before bending/exhaling down in to my fold is to take a deep breath in and hold and lift my tummy so that, when I Iean down, that area doesn’t feel uncomfortably or awkwardly folded.

Knee-To-Chest Pose

Ever had such horrible cramps that all you want to do is just huddle up into a giant ball and rock from side-to-side?

Well, congratulations! Because that’s a totally valid thing to do.

Knee-to-chest post is self-explanatory and great for massaging the abdomen and releasing tension in the lower back. It is, to put it simply, the got-to pose if your period is kicking your ass hard.

To do this pose simply lie down and lift your hips for a moment so that you really feel your lower back firmly touching the ground/mat. Lower your shoulders, tuck your chin gently, relax your breathing: Check in with yourself.

From there lift both of your knees up towards your chest as much as is comfortable and either wrap your arms around your legs, rest them on the knees, or place them wherever else is comfortable and stable.

Rock gently from side-to-side, back-and-fourth, in little circles or any other way you want to. Your back will soon tell you what it likes and it will most likely enjoy this pose quite a bit.

Stay doing this (or being still in this pose) for as long as it serves you. Embrace the natural cadence of your breath and feel the ground supporting you. Hug yourself if you want and, when you release, do so gently and mindfully.

Be there for yourself. You deserve it!

A Little More?

If you’re doing a more advanced practice, or simply want a full practice, then I highly recommend this video from my favourite teacher, Yoga With Adriene.

Whatever you chose please do remember Iyengar’s words.

Yoga may not be the obvious go-to for period pain. Heck, it may not even feel beneficial at first. But, over time, yoga gives you greater insights in to your body and mind.

It also teaches that, sometimes, being uncomfortable or feeling where your tension lies is necessary in order to address it and consider how best to work through the pain.

Yoga is a person’s monthly reminder that life isn’t a bed of roses and that, sometimes, we will feel pain. But by deciding to meet that pain, rather than avoid it, we might just learn a little more about ourselves, and that’s a pretty rad concept.