Periods suck. (The only sugarcoating we’ll tolerate for periods is dark chocolate for our PMS.) No matter how many alternative tampons, high-tech absorbent panties and menstrual cups we try, it’s still literally a huge pain. Some months you might even be tempted to lobby your boss for paid period leave.
But cramping and bloating don’t mean you have to disrupt your normal routine, including your gym schedule. (Let’s be real: For most of us, claiming “feminine troubles” back in high school PE was just a crafty excuse to get out of dodgeball.) Here are some yoga poses that will ease your period cramps as you work out, so you can go from “owww” to “ommm” in no time.
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This pose opens your back, stretches your hamstrings and massages your crampy lower abs. Sit tall on your mat with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Bring your arms up over your head and reach as high as you can, then float your hands down in front of you to meet your legs. Reach toward your toes, or as far as you can — it’s fine if you can only get to your shins or ankles, or need to bend your knees a bit. Inhale to create space between your torso and legs, then exhale to stretch forward even deeper.
Test your ab strength and give your reproductive organs a nice yogi massage. Start in a plank position, then bend your arms, keeping your elbows alongside your body to slow yourself down onto the floor. Bring your big toes together, and clasp your hands behind your back. Take a deep breath, and lift your chest and feet off the ground simultaneously. Inhale through your nose to deepen the posture, and release after 3-5 breaths.
Similar to the locust pose, the bow pose essentially starts from lying down flat on your belly. With your arms at your sides, bend your legs at the knees and extend toward your butt. Reach your hands out to grab your feet at the heels, palms wrapped over the tops of your feet. Inhale and lift your chest at the same time as you try to bring your thighs up off the floor (but it shouldn’t feel like you’re pulling too hard on your legs to get them there). Inhale deeply to help you lift and stretch even further.
This pose will open your hips and stretch our your lower abdominal region. Get into a pigeon pose, starting on your right side: Stretch your left leg back behind you and bend your right knee out to the right side of your mat, keeping everything flat on the floor. You can use your hands to support you, and once you feel stable in the position, bring your hands to your hips and slowly arch your back. Raise your arms overhead for an extra challenge, take a few inhales and then repeat on the other side.
This move stretches your chest, abs, hips and thighs with a gentle back bend that will also give you an energy boost. Start by kneeling on the floor, with both legs behind you. Place your hands on your lower back, and carefully start to lean backward. If that feels good, reach one hand behind you and rest your palm on your heel on the same side, fingers facing down. Raise the opposite arm up and reach back behind you, or challenge yourself by bringing that hand to the corresponding foot as well. Try to lift up through your pelvis as you breathe.
Nothing brings relief to an aching body like a gentle yoga twist. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Bend your left knee and bring it up toward your chest, crossing over your right leg and landing your left foot flat on the outside of your right thigh. Place your left hand behind you, aligned with your left hip. Inhale and twist your upper body to the left, with your right elbow against the outside of your left knee.
No yoga session is complete without a relaxing child’s pose, and this one’s no different. Start on your hands and knees, and walk your knees out a little bit past shoulder width, keeping your big toes together. Lower your butt down so you’re sitting back on your heels, as you bow forward over the tops of your thighs and lower your forehead to the floor. Reach your arms out straight in front of you and place your palms on the floor.
What are your favorite exercises to deal with PMS? Tweet us your tips @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)