Yoga Poses and Advice For Period Relief

Katherine Smith
By  | 

It’s 3am. I feel like I might die.
 
I am doubled over in pain. The pills I took a few hours before are a distant memory and have done nothing to ease my discomfort.
 
In the past few hours I have tried panting, puking and praying, but nothing has worked. I am tortured by the most unbearable stomach cramps, I’m beginning to think that child birth cannot be worse than this and I’m considering calling an ambulance.
 
I feel myself slipping out of consciousness as hot flashes turn to cold sweats and I lay there shaking, wishing this was over…for another month at least!
 
This article is for anyone who has ever suffered like this before or during their period.
 
For our ancient ancestors, this would have been the time to retreat, when women gathered together and looked after themselves and one another, in order to honor the days when their bodies bled.
 
Not anymore.
 
In recent years, us women have been awarded positions of power previously denied to us. Science has developed methods of birth control so we’re able to chose when and if to have children. Technology has given us off-the-shelf products for our period pains so we can go about our daily business unencumbered, as if nothing was happening.
 

 
While I’m all for progress and the empowerment of women, I worry how this “show must go on” mindstate impacts us on those days. Whatever happened to self-nurturing?
 
During our time of the month, it’s important to allow our bodies to surrender and soften. Our bodies are going through a hefty natural detox process and we’re not helping ourselves by keeping calm and carrying on. This is a time when we don’t have to be so strong!
 
Over the years, I’ve learned to tune into my monthly cycle more and adapt my lifestyle accordingly in an attempt to ease the discomfort. Yes, I could look upon it as an inconvenience, but the reality is I’m all woman so why should I try to act like a man?
 
Do not deny this very natural process to yourself. Know that honoring the process doesn’t mean you have to suffer! If you want solutions rather than bandaids, I humbly offer you the following suggestions:
 
 
Clock watch
Keep an eye on your calendar, so you know where you are in your cycle. Whether you suffer from PMS or not, it is wise to slow down a little in the few days before your period.
 
Be antisocial
You may feel less social than usual just prior and during your period, so honor that! Give yourself permission to do less.
 
Skip the gym
Some women feel a big surge of energy ahead of their period, so channel it in positive ways. You might find the gym to be too claustrophobic, so head to the park for a walk where you can surround yourself with nature instead. If your energy is low, that’s ok too! Be content with sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea – it will soothe your cramps and your soul.
 
Get creative
Channel your feminine energy by getting creative. You might like to paint, doodle, draw, write, read, or dance (especially dance that brings your awareness into your pelvis and hips. Belly dance or Bollywood style is perfect – and it’s fun).
 
Cut out the caffeine
As much as we love our coffee, just one mug of the stuff can have a devastating impact on our hormones, especially during that special time of the month. So cut coffee out and opt for calming teas instead.
 
Pay attention to your intuition
Being ‘on’ your period is a powerful time for all women. It isn’t unusual to receive inspiration and insights at this time, so pay attention and keep a notebook handy. Some people like to journal to help them tune in.
 
 
If you suffer from period hell and your cramps suddenly hit you like a hurricane, try these 4 yoga poses for pain relief:
 
 
Janu Sirsasana A: Head-To-Knee Forward Bend
This posture is great for bringing relief to the lower back and hips, which can become stiff and achy during your period. You can make it more restorative by adding a folded blanket beneath the bent knee and resting a bolster over the extended leg to rest your head on.
Janu Sirsasana A

 

Supta Virasana: Reclined hero
This posture will open the front of the thighs, the uterus and lower abdomen to assist the free flow of energy and aid the release of any stagnation that could be contributing to your pain. You can bring blankets or a bolster beneath the back for support or remain sitting if reclining is too much for you.

*If you have a heavy flow, this may not be the best option for you.

Supta Virasana

Ustrasana: Camel
Personally I find Ustrasana enormously helpful when I’m in pain.

Like Hero posture it will gently open the energy channels running through the front of the body that are associated with our reproductive organs. It brings relief to a heavy belly and a sore lower back. It also opens the chest and heart space which will help to release anxiety and promote relaxation.
Ustrasana
 
 
The soul soother

If all of these feel too much, something simpler and more soothing may be better for you.

Set yourself on your back with the feet against the edge of a chair, your sofa or perhaps your bed.
 
Put 1-2 layers of blankets on the floor beneath your back. Then, place a pillow beneath your head.
 
You want to feel as comfortable as possible.
 
Raise your legs, shuffle your buttocks a little closer to your prop and rest your calf muscles on the chair/sofa/bed so the knees are bent and the thighs are at a 90 degree angle to the rest of the body.
 
Place an eye pillow (or similar) over the eyes. Bring an extra blanket or spare cushion on top of your lower belly to help ground you further. Then close your eyes and let go. Focus on your breath and allow any tension to release as you melt into the floor.
 
Finally, I know we’re all encouraged to be big and tough and strong but seriously, on the days around your period let it go. Don’t try to be a hero. Give in to your body. It feels good to surrender. I have found the less we struggle against our period-induced suffering, the smoother we sail through our cycle.

 

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Katherine Smith

I am a yoga teacher and writer filled with wanderlust. I have a finely tuned appetite for adventure and a healthy thirst for cocktails and coffee. I am inspired by simple pleasures. I am passionate about all things wellbeing, making people happy and standing on my hands. I love shoes, feeding friends and snuggles. I host yoga retreats across the globe intended to uplift, nourish and stir the soul.

katherinesmithyoga.com

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