yoga for period cramps

It’s that time of the month….again!

I don’t know about you but my periods are painful!!! I get bloated, menstrual cramps, back pain, lethargic, and the list could go on. I learned at a young age that physical activity is great for alleviating some of these symptoms. But what I learned as I got older is that by practicing yoga I can put myself in yoga poses to target those period pains! Who wouldn’t want that right?! So I just had to share some of these yoga poses with you.

Best Types of Yoga for Period Cramps

One of the best things about yoga is that it has calming effects. It is known that feelings of stress increase tension and in turn can increase pain. So in an overall effort to relieve stress we can also achieve pain relief. In addition, moving our bodies and doing movements to stretch and relax the nervous system are great ways to help with those pesky period pains and pms symptoms. 

I mean think about it, when your back starts to feel achy doesn’t folding over into a nice juicy stretch help relax you and make it feel better? It certainly does for me!

If you aren’t sure what style you want to try to help with menstrual pain here are three that I suggest:

  • Vinyasa: Generally the more active we are the greater our pain threshold will be. Vinyasa is a more active style of yoga practice, increasing strength and flexibility. Each movement is synced with the breath making this a great activity for physical health and pain management to do outside of our menstrual cycle in preparation for its arrival. 
  • Restorative: Increased muscle tension increases pain. Restorative yoga puts us in the most relaxed state to decrease tension not only in the body but the mind as well.
  • Yin: Yin gets deep into the connective tissue and makes us really slow down in long holds. Super slow movements are perfect for our bodies during this time as it is a time of rest for cleansing and rebirth.

Here are TEN of the best yoga positions to help you ease your period symptoms and feel refreshed!

Want to practice some of these yoga poses with me? Click below to see the yoga poses listed below and more in my favorite yoga class for period cramps. Guess what… It’s FREE!!

Top Yoga Poses for Period Cramps

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Balasana child's pose
  • Step 1: Beginning on all fours take your hips back to your heels. Knees can be touching or as wide as the mat.
  • Step 2: Let the forehead rest down to the ground, close the eyes.
  • Step 3: Soften the upper back and experiment with where you want your hands/arms: index fingers touching, elbows wide in a diamond shape, or arms down with hands next to the feet.
  • Step 4: Inhale rising back to all fours to come out of the pose.

Variations: Take the knees wide. Fold a towel or ball the hands to fists and place them in the crease of the hips to apply a little pressure in the pelvic region for extra relief.

Benefits: Child’s pose opens up the low back and hips working well in relieving cramps during those period days. Taking one of the variations above for child’s pose also helps to move stagnant energy giving an even greater release.

2. Cat Pose(Marjaryasana)

cat pose marjaryasana
  • Step 1: Start in a tabletop position(on all fours) with knees hip width apart and wrists under elbows, under shoulders.
  • Step 2: On an exhale press palms into the mat, pulling the navel towards the ceiling.
  • Step 3: Let the head drop and upper body round as the tailbone lengthens down to the space between the knees.
  • Step 4: Inhale bringing the spine back to a neutral table top position.

Variations: This pose can be done on hands and knees or a seated position. You can pad the hands or knees if you need to with a blanket or come to the forearms.

Benefits: This move in conjunction with cow pose is great for relieving tension and increasing circulation in the pelvis helping to decrease the pain from menstrual cramps.

3. Cow Pose(Bitalasana)

  • Step 1: From all fours with knees hip width apart and wrists under elbows, under shoulders.
  • Step 2: On an inhale open across the chest moving the collarbones back in space. Keep the belly engaged as it slightly drops down, drawing the shoulder blades down the spine, gaze forward.
  • Step 3: Gently stretch along the front side of the body as the heart yearns forward.
  • Step 4: Exhale bringing the spine back to a neutral table top position.

Variations: Do this sitting up in a chair if it’s too hard on the knees or wrists. You can also pad those areas with blankets or blocks, or turn the hands to fists.

Benefits: Combined with the former these poses help the digestive system move better which can create pain relief from bloating or constipation during menses. 

4. Seated Forward Bend(Paschimottanasa)

seated forward bend Paschimottanasana
  • Step 1: Start in Dandasana. Ensure a straight spine.
  • Step 2: Heels touching or hip width, flex the feet as you inhale the arms up getting tall.
  • Step 3: As you breathe out, draw the belly in, hinge from the hips, fold forward keeping the spine straight.
  • Step 4: Place hands on shins or wherever you can comfortably keep the integrity of the low spine. Neck stays long. Hold for several breaths.
  • Step 5: When ready, inhale pressing the palms into the floor to gently lift yourself back to your starting position.

Variations: Place a blanket or pillow under the seat if the back needs a little extra love.

Benefits: A forward bend stretches the backline of the body. It opens up the hamstrings and low back easing discomfort in those areas, making it another great option for when you have painful cramps.

5. Bound Angle Pose(Baddha Konasana)

bound angle pose
  • Step 1: From Dandasana: bring the soles of your feet to touch creating a diamond shape.
  • Step 2: Root the sits bones down, hold the soles of the feet as you inhale getting tall.
  • Step 3: Exhale as you fold over the legs keeping the spine long. Hold for several breaths and round: rest.
  • Step 4: Breathe in as you slowly rise up to sit tall. Take the legs back out in front of you.

Variations: Knees up high? Place blocks or blankets underneath them. You can also make this more restorative by reclining back on a bolster or some cushions.

Benefits: This is a great hip opener to relieve menstrual cramps and low back pain in addition to stimulating the gut to help when you feel bloated. Bound angle is one of my favorite yoga poses for when experiencing menstrual pain.

6. Bridge Pose(Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

bridge pose
  • Step 1: Start lying on your back, bringing the soles of your feet to the mat hip width apart, ankles under knees. Keep arms by your sides.
  • Step 2: Inhale as you squeeze through the glutes lifting the hips up. Scooch the shoulders together, interlacing the hands underneath you.
  • Step 3: Exhale here and hold for several breaths. When you are ready to come out slowly release the hands and exhale as you send the hips back to the ground. 

Variations: Keep the palms on the floor by the sides if interlacing the hands feels uncomfortable. Place a block between the inner thighs to activate the legs and find better internal rotation. 

Benefits:  Bridge  stretches the front line of the body and opens the breath allowing us to stretch those front muscles that may be contracting due to period pain. It also allows us to breathe easier and relax which helps relieve period pain.

7. Supported Bridge Pose

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana modified
  • Step 1: Lying on your back, bring the soles of your feet to the mat hip width apart, ankles under knees. Arms by your sides.
  • Step 2: Inhale as you lift the hips up. Place a block beneath the hips to support your weight and relax onto it.
  • Step 3: Place hands by your sides or on the belly. Exhale here and hold for several breaths. When you are ready to come out slowly release the hands, lift to remove the block and exhale as you send the hips back to the ground. 

Variations: Play with the height placement of your block. Use a bolster or a blanket to support your low back too and make this a much more comfortable position. 

Benefits: This yoga pose allows the hips, pelvis, and abdomen to fully relax. Relieving any pressure and allowing your body to perform its natural functions with more ease. It also takes pressure off the low back which eases cramping in that area.

8. Happy Baby Pose(Ananda Balasana)

happy baby pose
  • Step 1: Lie flat on your back. Bring the knees to the chest.
  • Step 2: Point the soles of your feet to the sky and grab the feet(inside or outside whichever is more comfortable for you) as you spread the knees apart and toward your underarms.
  • Step 3: Flex the feet. You can either be still here or gently rock back and forth and breathe.
  • Step 4: When ready, release the feet and hug the knees back to the chest.
  • Step 5: Extend one leg to the ground, and then the other.

Variations: If holding both feet is a super intense stretch to you then don’t! Hold one foot at a time keeping the opposite leg extended and after a few breaths switch sides.

Benefits: This yoga pose elongates the lower back and opens the hips getting a deep stretch. Personally, I get pretty bad menstrual cramps and back pain. This stretch makes that whole general area feel more at ease and bonus it boosts the mood too, and who doesn’t need that when they’re menstruating?

9. Reclining Twist(Supta Matsyendrasana)

  • Step 1: Laying on your back. Pull one leg into the chest. Breathe in.
  • Step 2: As you breathe out gently let the knee cross the body floating to the ground on the opposite side.
  • Step 3: You can gently place the opposite hand of the leg onto the knee keeping the shoulders to the mat and the other arm extended to the side. Deep breaths.
  • Step 4: Inhale as you untwist the body hugging that knee back to the chest.
  • Step 5: Exhale release the leg long laying back completely flat. 
  • Step 6: Repeat on the other side.

Variations: Place a block or pillow under the knee if it doesn’t meet the ground. Play with the position of your arm to see what is most comfortable. Or if you don’t like having one leg extended you can always bring the knees together and twist them both to one side, then the other.

Benefits: Twisting yoga poses help with stagnant energy in the body. This yoga pose will increase blood circulation in addition to stretching the abdominal muscles, hip and spinal muscles. All of these great benefits will help relieve pain caused by your period.

10. Corpse Pose(Savasana)

corpse pose savasana
  • Step 1: Start by lying down on your back. Feet as wide as the mat, arms by your sides. Close your eyes and breathe.
  • Step 2: To release the pose take small movements in the hands and feet then the rest of the body.

Variations: To help ease period pain make this as comfortable as possible. Put a bolster under the knees, Try placing a heating pad on the lower abdomen to ease period cramps. 

Benefits: This is an awesome yoga pose to get all of those internal organs, even the reproductive organs, to relax, especially when having major menstrual symptoms. Corpse pose puts us in just the right position to aid in full body relaxation, releasing tension, which we need more than ever during our periods.

The week of our period is the ultimate opportunity to practice self-care. What better practice is there to teach us self-care than yoga? Yoga shows you how to slow things down and teaches you to indulge in what you want so that you can get what you need.

Want to know how to go beyond the physical poses and bring the yummy goodness of yoga into your everyday life? Check out my new course Yoga for Self Mastery.

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