When your uterus is screeching in rage, it’s pretty normal to feel like doing anything but exercising. For most of us, it’s actually best to not do strenuous workouts during our periods. However, there is plenty of science to support the idea that you should try to get up and add some movement to your day if you can.
Walking is a good way to do this, but yoga is another great option for low-intensity period exercise. In fact, I prefer yoga because it can help with issues like cramps, bloating, and PMS.
I’m going to suggest a few poses to try next time you’re on your period, but the most important thing that you should remember is to only do what’s comfortable. Add props like blocks and blankets if you need to, or skip a pose altogether if it’s making you feel worse.
For each pose, I’m going to include the Sanskrit name in parentheses just so you don’t get confused if you decide to Google any of these poses for yourself. You don’t need to know those names or how to pronounce them.
Yoga is a great option for low-intensity period exercise. In fact, I prefer yoga because it can help with issues like cramps, bloating, and PMS.
Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)
This is sometimes also called Cobbler’s Pose, and kids do a similar thing that we often call sitting “butterfly style.”
You’ll simply sit with the soles of your feet touching as best as you can. If this feels too difficult, try placing a blanket, towel, or pillow under each knee. This pose is great for opening your pelvis and gently stretching your hips. It’s also good for lengthening your lower back (I tend to get bad cramps there, so this feels extra nice).
You can learn more about it here.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
This is exactly what it sounds like. You’ll stretch your legs in front of you, grab your knees, shins, ankles, or feet, and gently fold toward your thighs. It’s important to keep your back as straight as you can, even if that means that you don’t bend over super far.
The point of this pose is to stretch your back, thighs, and hamstrings. Be sure to keep gently breathing in and out during this stretch. As you lean back up, you can round your spine a bit. That always feels good for me, so feel free to experiment!
You can find step-by-step instructions here.
Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
There are several ways to do bridge pose, and each has its own level of difficulty. Since we’re focusing on period-friendly yoga, we’re going to stick with the simplest, most restorative version. This should help to open up your chest and help you relax overall.
Instead of using your legs and core to lift, you’ll grab a bolster, some pillows, or a couple of yoga blocks. Position your props under your lower back until you get a backbend that gives you a gentle stretch (it should feel good and not strenuous or twinge-y). You can raise your supported backbend as high as you’d like, but if you want a higher bend, then I recommend placing a small pillow or rolled towel under your neck for support.
You can read more about various ways to get into supported bridge pose here.
Legs-up-the-wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This is one of my favorite relaxing poses! It feels great on my back, and you can add extra support for your butt and pelvis by using a foam block, bolster, or some combination of pillows, blocks, and blankets. (Basically, just whatever you have on hand. We’re not trying to be fancy.)
The most important part of this pose is to find a position relative to the wall that’s comfortable for your legs. This can mean that your hips are touching the wall, or you can be a little further away if that feels better. You should also make sure that you’re supporting your hips and lower back evenly, otherwise, you might feel like your legs are slipping to one side or another.
You can let your arms rest out wide, or place your hands on your chest or belly. Again, do what feels comfortable for your body! Don’t forget that you can also place a rolled towel or thin blanket under your neck and shoulders to get a little extra chest opening.
Also, I highly recommend putting on non-slip socks or slippers before you settle into this pose so that your feet don’t get cold. Nothing takes you out of relaxing like getting chilly halfway through a pose! You might want to keep an extra blanket nearby too because this pose can be seriously comfy, and you won’t want to move if you get a chill.
The Right Yoga Can Help You Feel Better, Period
(I know, that’s a terrible joke. I couldn’t help myself.)
Dealing with cramping, bleeding, bloating, PMS, and sudden bouts of hangry mood swings is the worst, and sometimes it can feel like nothing will help to ease these symptoms. Period yoga isn’t a magical cure-all, but adding some gentle movement into your day can go a long way towards helping you feel better!