When you have your period, doing anything that remotely resembles exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. No matter how hard tampon commercials try to tell us otherwise, going for a long run or doing a backflip off the diving board during your period just isn’t gonna happen for most of us. Even if we believed fervently in the power of our tampons to withstand that sort of activity, cramps have a way of making ordinary daily activities seem insurmountable, let alone intense physical exercise.
But, there is one form of exercise that really can help you feel better during your period. Better yet, you don’t need to get out of your yoga pants or even stand up to get the benefits.
Here are six powerful yoga poses that can help you get rid of period cramps so you can get on with your day. Move through this sequence to gently relieve your cramps and help your body relax.
Child’s pose is our favorite pose for stretching our backs and arms and taking a deep inhale to get rid of stress. It’s also super easy to do. Start by sitting on your knees. Open your knees slightly and lean your entire upper body forward until you’re lying on the ground. Take deep inhales and exhales. As you exhale, try to extend your arms further and further to really feel the stretch. Stay here for at least 5 – 10 breaths.
You can transition to Locust from Child’s Pose relatively easily. This pose gently massages your abdomen and reproductive organs. Start by lying face down with your big toes together. Reach both arms out long on the sides of your body. Inhale deeply and lift your chest and feet off the ground. Stay here and breathe in and out for five breaths before lowering. Repeat if it feels good.
Reclined Goddess pose
Now that you’re feeling a little warmed up, you can turn onto your back for this position. This restorative pose will open your groin and release tension in your hips. Lie flat on your back. Then, bend your knees and put your feet on the ground. Put your feet together and spread your knees apart as your arms relax at your sides. Breathe in this position for at least 10 breaths before moving back to your starting position. Repeat if it feels good.
This pose is one of the most effective for painful cramps, and it can also ease lower back pain. It increases circulation while gently massaging your internal organs. Stay on your back and gently bring your knees to your chest. Wrap your arms around your shins, giving yourself a hug. Now, inhale and roll your shoulders away from your ears. As you exhale, use your arm strength to press your thighs into your core. Breathe in and out deeply and stay here for at least 10 breaths. For an added bonus, slowly rock your back side-to-side to give your back a much-needed massage.
Twists are great for massaging your organs and can help ease painful cramps. Stay on your back for this one. Bend your knees to your chest and hold your arms out in a “T” shape at your sides. Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale and bring both of your knees to the right side. Look to the left side. Hold here for 5 – 10 breaths. Inhale, come back to center, and repeat on the other side. If the stretch is too intense, you can lengthen the bottom leg. If your bent knee(s) can’t touch the floor, place a cushion or bolster underneath for support for one of the optimal yoga poses for period cramps.
We’ll end our menstrual cramp yoga session with the same gentle pose that most yoga classes end with—Savasana. By now you should be feeling calm, and, hopefully, your pain is going away. In Savasana, you’ll allow your body to fully relax, and you might even settle into sleep. Lay on your back and find a comfortable position. That could mean lying flat on your back with your arms open, facing up. You may be more comfortable setting a couch cushion or pillow under your knees to elevate your legs, or you might want a pillow under your head.
Lay in Savasana for at least 10 breaths, focusing on connecting your body to the earth below you and trying to clear your mind. If you want, you can listen to a guided meditation while in this position to fully relax and release your mental and physical stress.