Raise your hand if you’ve tried everything from seed cycling to tracking your period on your Fitbit to get those pesky period symptoms under control. Despite best-laid plans, when that time of the month rolls around, many of us are left feeling cranky, bloated, and just plain blah.
Sure, we know that exercise can help ease PMS symptoms, but TBH, when the cramps come and force us to curl up on the couch and clue Netflix into the fact that we are still watching for the umpteenth time, the last thing on many of our minds is hitting the gym. But hitting the yoga mat? Well, that we can handle.
Because with a simple sequence, we can not only detox the bod, but also move through poses that feel like massage. However, as many of us know, there are poses that yoga instructors tell us to avoid when on our periods because they’re not so great for our bodies. “Almost all bridge poses are not a good idea during your period (full wheel, bridge, etc). They add extra pressure to your back and tilt your uterus which can actually bring on more cramping,” explains yogi Melissa Eckman.
And inversions have their own set of risks, too. Eckman says that you should avoid all inversions, including headstand, shoulder stand, and handstand. “Being upside down while you have your period will tilt your uterus and could have an adverse effect on your flow, which can cause so much discomfort and is just overall not healthy for your cycle. Try to stay as upright as possible during your period,” Eckman advises.
Yet, despite the fact that there are yoga poses we have to sit out when that time of the month rolls around, good news afoot: There are also simple moves that can help us more easily flow through our flows. Here, Eckman advises five that she recommends for that time of the month, and they’re just a scroll away.
“When I am feeling crampy in my abdominals I love to transition between cat and cow to stretch out the front and back side of my body. This is super gentle and can get your blood flow circulating to help soothe cramps,” Eckman says. “I recommend transitioning from cat to cow about 6-10 times. Remember to inhale into your cat and exhale into your cow. Move with your breath.”
“This pose has so many benefits for when you have your period. It can make you feel more balanced (for those of you who get moody like me!) and also stretches out your spine to relieve pain and pressure,” Eckman says. “This one is an overall amazing pose to relieve period symptoms. I recommend holding each side for about 1 minute.”
“One of the worst symptoms I get during my period is lower back cramps. Child’s pose is an amazing stretch to help relieve pressure from your lower back and stretch it out. I recommend holding this for 5 long breaths (about 30 seconds),” Eckman tells me.
“Finish off with a gentle supine twist to relax your entire body. I love twists because they help you to relax and feel more calm, which is something that is so needed during that time of the month,” she says. “Additionally, this pose can help with bloat and cramps by gently ‘wringing out’ the front side of your body. I recommend holding each side for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.”
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