One of the first things we're taught in yoga teacher training is that yoga instructors are not doctors. Studies have shown that there are some very real health benefits to practicing yoga and there's no denying the full-bodied euphoria that comes from walking out of a particularly hard vinyasa class, but if you're struggling with something like endometriosis, you better get your little booty over to a real doctor. If you're just suffering from the monthly hell that's known as your period and want help easing some common period symptoms, these poses will hopefully get you back on your feet as a functioning member of society.
You're sleepy enough during your cycle without trying to do a bunch of high-energy exercises, so it's a good thing most yoga poses that help with cramps are done while sitting down. Bound Angle Pose opens your hips, and according to Yoga Journal, it stimulates your abdominal organs and ovaries to sooth menstrual discomfort.
From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet to touch and send your knees out wide. That's it. Literally, that's the whole pose. Like, try to keep decent posture because that's always the mood and don't try to force your knees closer to the ground than they wanna go, but this one's a bit of a no-brainer.
If your menstrual pain is coming more from your back than your vag, this resting pose will stretch out those tightened lower back muscles while still opening your hips to ease your cramps and flex your reproductive organs. The release throughout your shoulders and neck will stop general muscle aches, and it's a great place to do some deep, calm thinking.
Start by sitting on your knees. Bring your big toes to touch and send your knees out wide (sound familiar?). Exhale, drape your torso in between your legs, and stretch your arms out long in front of you. Draw your tailbone back and down while reaching forward with your fingertips to create a long body stretch.
It's generally agreed upon that inversions aren't great for your period, but no one really seems to be able to agree upon *why* they're not great for your period. Even if you're a diehard believer that inversions need to be avoided at all costs during your period, periodt, there are some exceptions to the rule. Because Legs Up The Wall is only inverting your legs, it relieves pelvic aches and improves the circulation in your legs by switching up your blood flow without inverting your pelvis.
While you can practice this pose using a block on your sacrum, I feel like it's a safe assumption that most people don't just casually have a yoga block chilling in their home. Instead, just scootch as close to a wall as possible and, like the name says, send your legs up the wall. Lie down on your back, then just let your legs relax. There should be a weightlessness in your lower body. Remember that this pose isn't about how straight you can get your legs or (if you're using a block) how high they go. It's about the sensation of your legs sinking into your hip sockets and just chilling.
This forward fold variation is specifically helpful to our sisters with major headaches during their cycle. Ragdoll pose increased blood flow to the brain while releasing tension in your upper back, shoulders, and neck. It's like instant Advil but without all of the liver damage.
Tip-toe your feet to a hips-width distance apart, place a generous bend in your knees, and exhale as you fold your torso over your thighs. Grab for opposite elbows overhead, and let your head and neck hang heavy towards your mat. Rock your weight into the ball mounds of your feet, and fully release any tension from your upper body.
Another inversion that's honestly fine is Downward Facing Dog, but TBH, I like Dolphin Pose better for headache relief. If you can naturally do a perfect Down Dog good for you, but it's a little harder to achieve the desired stretch through your back and your hamstrings if you're not super warmed up, and even then there's a good chance putting that much pressure in your hands is just going to make you slip. I'm just being real here. Dolphin pose, however, make it much easier to find the right shape, and if you support your head, it can provide similar tension relief to Ragdoll Pose while also removing the spinal compression that can cause cramps.
The easiest way to get into this pose is to start from a forearm plank, then exhale as you use your abs to lift your pelvis up and back without shifting your feet. Sink your heels into the ground, even if it means you have to bend your legs a bit to keep a straight line through your back. Press the floor away from you with your forearms, which has the added bonus of strengthening your biceps and triceps.
For bloating, constipation, or any of the other gross digestive issues that come with your period, twists in yoga massage your digestive organs to stimulate your colon. Like, it's gross, but it's true. Begin by twisting to the right to widen your ascending colon and move literal sh*t across your transverse colon, then twist left to get it to move down your descending colon and into the sigmoid colon. Once again, super gross, but better than having gas pains and never pooping.
This child's pose variation twists your tummy while also compressing your chest and opening your shoulders, so it basically feels great everywhere. From a table top position, inhale as you twist open by reaching your left arm to the sky and stacking your shoulders so they're in one line, then exhale and dive back down, threading your left arm under your right arm and reaching towards the left. Repeat on the other side.
It was honestly a toss-up between this and supine twist since they're basically the same, but I decided on spinal twist because it's easier. Like all twists, Seated Spinal Twist helps your digestive system, but because you're twisting pretty intensely at your core, this will be more intense than Thread The Needle.
Sit on your mat with your legs long in front of you. Bend your right knee and cross it over your left leg, with your foot landing on the outside of your left thigh. Next, bend your left knee and place your left foot next to your right glute. Keep your hips square. Place your right arm behind you near your glutes, and raise your left arm up. Hook your left elbow onto your right thigh. With each inhale, lengthen your spine, and with each exhale, twist a little deeper. Repeat on the other side.
I stan cat/cow. It always feels great, it opens up your shoulders, it warms up your body, and apparently, it's great for period cramp relief. The process also stretch your back and abdominal muscles, which honestly explains how it helps with cramps, and the release of your neck in cat should do some good on headaches as well.
Start in a tabletop position. Drop into cow pose by arching your back so your head and booty point towards the sky and your torso goes towards the floor. Shine your chest forward, lift your gaze, and kiss your shoulder blades together behind you. Transition into cat by doing the literal exact opposite of this. Arch your upper back to the sky, release your head and neck towards the ground, and send your tailbone down. Really spread through your upper back to find a release in your shoulders. Slowly alternate between cow and cat using your breath as a guide. Inhale to find cow, exhale to find cat.