By Toni Brannagan
I believe there are two types of people with periods — those who subscribe to the myth that exercising through your PMS symptoms makes you *feel better* and those who would rather lie around watching Riverdale. Okay, so I'm obviously firmly in the latter group of those people, but I've actually found that practicing yoga while you're PMS-ing is a happy medium between those two.
There are many reported benefits to hitting the mat, including reducing stress, boosting your mood, and best of all — natural period pain relief!
I’m not equipped with the knowledge to lead this journey, so I recruited some help from two yoga goddesses: our VP of PR and Community, CJ, and her pal, Lindsay. These two yoginis put together a ~flow~ that connects 4 PMS bustin' poses (+ 1 bonus pose!).
While the flow is very beginner-friendly, it’s important to relax into positions that are comfortable for *your* body, as you should with any yoga practice. Don’t push yourself past your limits — especially during an already vulnerable period (lol) like menstruation.
For example, I personally cannot drop into Sleeping Pigeon (3) on command, and when I’m looking for a quick cramp-buster, it’s safe to say that I’m usually not in the mood to warm-up for 20 minutes beforehand. However, positioning myself in Reclining Goddess Pose (4), especially while using blocks as props, provides my body instant relief. Find what works for you!
1. Child’s Pose
Child's Pose is a natural stress-relieving posture that also gently stretches your hips, thighs, and ankles, which is why it's often the position you're told to fall into when you need a break during a tough yoga class.
You can adopt Child's Pose with your knees together or wide, whichever is more comfortable for you — Lindsay's variation, which combats bloat and cramping, also has you curling your arms over your stomach.
2. Wide-Legged Straddle
Safely go into this pose by first standing up straight, then step your feet a comfortable distance apart, and slowly bend forward while propping yourself up with your hands flat on the floor. As a variation, you can place a block under your head.
Practicing inversions (when your heart is above your head) can reap many benefits, including helping you feel energized and refreshed, soothing an ache-y lower back (my PMS nemesis), and even lowering your blood pressure.
3. Sleeping Pigeon Pose
Ever feel so stressed while you're on your period that your whole body tightens up? Pigeon Pose, or Sleeping Pigeon Pose if it's in your practice, is perfect for you.
Start from a plank position or on all fours, then carefully bring one knee behind your wrists (be mindful of your ankle!). Slowly lower your pelvis to the floor — if you find that your hips are not aligned when you settle down, you can place a block or a blanket under the hip that is raised. Once you're comfortable, walk your hands forward until you can rest your forehead down on the floor (or a block) and chill out for a bit.
To pick yourself back up, place your hands flat on the floor and (carefully!!) push yourself back into a plank position. Don't forget to repeat on the other side!
4. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Goddess Pose)
First, lie down gently on your back, with your knees bent. Release your knees out to your sides, down toward your mat, then bring the soles of your feet together. As demonstrated by CJ above, you can prop up your knees with blocks, and/or place a blanket under your back if that makes you more comfortable.
You can breathe into this pose for several minutes, especially if this is how you're ending your practice — it’s perfect for releasing tension in your hips and groin.
Bonus: Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose)
This one's pretty straightforward — sit yourself in front of a wall, chair, or anywhere you can prop up your feet.
Not only does this pose combat bloat and any tummy issues you might be having, but it is also great for relaxing mentally and regaining some focus, especially when you're feeling your angstiest.
Do you have any favorite stretches or other yoga poses you practice while you're PMS-ing? Let us know how you ~flow~ in the comments!