You may have heard that yoga can be good for period pain.
But which kind of yoga?
At what point in the cycle is it most beneficial?
And why is it good?
Here we break down a few of these questions so as your next cycle rolls around, you feel armed with a few more tools in your tool belt than just your hot water bottle!
Why yoga for periods?
On a physical level, no matter what kind of yoga you are practicing, it is known to help increase both lymphatic and blood flow around the body. Getting our bodies moving, especially on the run up to the period, is not only great for our circulation but also builds warmth from inside, potentially making for a more ease-full period.
And on a deeper level, our yoga practice guides us to connecting back to our bodies. It helps us drop out of the mind and our busy schedules, and into how we feel. Your period can be an emotional and physically depleting time of the month, yoga can provide us with the opportunity to slow down, take rest, and show our selves some kindness and compassion.
How yoga can help with period cramps
In addition to increasing our circulation and inner warmth, the simple act of connecting to our breath during our yoga practice to calm our nervous systems can help with all kinds of pain. Don’t get me wrong, the pain you are feeling is very real, it’s just that the more we can soothe our stress response here, the better chance you have of easing some of that pain, similarly to tension headaches.
Most yoga practices also include quite a bit of twisting. Even small and supported twists provide a gentle massage for the internal organs, and also further increase blood flow to the area through the process of gently compressing and releasing.
Here are a few a poses to massage, circulate, and connect to our womb space during this tender time of the month.
Which yoga poses for period pain?
Cat Cow with an emphasis on the hip and lower back movement, or even seated cat cow, can be a gentle way to connect us back to our pelvic bowl and increase circulation.
For a little more stimulation try rolling and wedging a hand towel in at the front of the hip in low lunge and gentled folding over the front thigh for at least one minute. Take deep slow breaths. Follow this by releasing out into Supta padagustasana, lying flat on the back and drawing the opposite knee into chest. Repeat both sides.
Supported malasana or yogi squat, using a stack of cushions underneath the sit bones can be a beautiful way of tapping into some downward flowing energy, and also provides gentle compression around the pelvis. If kapalabhati breath is part of your practice you could bring that in here for more release.
And of course not forgetting the old period favourite - happy baby! This is a nice pose to drop into if you’re feeling sensitive, as it massages both the lower back and groin and can feel like a much needed cuddle from yourself!
How yoga can help with heavy periods
Movement, especially the full body experience we receive from yoga, can help with what is described in Traditional Chinese Medicine as stagnation. The belief is, the more mindful movement and warmth we can bring into the body the week before our bleed, the less stagnation or clotting (and therefore pain) we may experience in the shedding of the lining of the womb.
Pranayama and meditation to promote calm during the week before your period (or potential pre menstrual tension territory!) can also be beneficial. You may have noticed some months your bleed is heavier than others. If you cast your mind back to the month that proceeded it, was it perhaps a particularly stressful or emotional month for you?
There are many factors that affect the flow and feel of our periods, and like most things in life, stress is one of the main contributors.
The poses mentioned here could be great for those few days pre period and at the start of your bleed, but having a regular yoga practice will not only aid the physical flow of the lining, but can also help regulate our mood, process our emotions, and ensure we take rest when we need.
If you know where you are in your cycle, try bringing some circulation, movement and joy into your routine with yoga pre period. Then perhaps explore some tenderness and softness with more restorative yoga and plenty of cushions during your bleed.
We are cyclical creatures and we require different kinds of self-care and movement throughout the month. Approach with kindness, always.
Keen to Dive Deeper?
If you would like to be lead through some of the techniques for period pain, as well as pranayama for pre menstrual stress, when and where to take rest in your cycle, and a deeper understanding of it's power - you have two options on the platform.
If you would like to be part of a safe container of 6 and flow through a 90 minute workshop exploring pranayama, gentle compression, movement, meditation and self-kindness, with space for a Q and A - check out dates HERE.
If you would prefer to explore this on your own, in your own time, perhaps with the motions of your cycle, you can purchase a 6 part pre recorded series HERE.