When it’s that time of the month, it can be tempting to just curl up with a warm blanket and an IV-size dose of Advil and call it a day. But while being on your period may not always be comfortable, there are actually some period tools and tricks to make it suck less. One of the most effective techniques? Exercise! Exercise releases endorphins — natural painkillers that can actually help make your period more manageable (not unlike period-proof panties). We’re not saying you need to go all out, though: Some calming, restorative yoga can totally do the trick. So put down the chocolates, get on up out of bed, and try four of the best yoga poses for relieving cramps, releasing endorphins, and chilling out.
Malasana is a traditional squatting pose that can be modified in a few different ways. This pose feels absolutely FABULOUS when you’re on your period, especially if you add a twist. To get into malasana, stand with your feet about hip-width apart and squat down, keeping your spine pointed toward the floor. Your knees shouldn’t go past your toes, and if your knees tend to splay out, keep your toes facing in the same direction as your knees — even if that means your feet are at an angle.
Fold your hands together in a prayer position at the center of your chest, and use your elbows to gently press your knees further apart. This will stretch out your hips. If this is easy enough, add a twist by turning your head to your right side and wrapping your left arm around your left leg. Your right arm will go around the back of the leg, and you’ll clasp your hands together underneath it.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Child’s pose is one of the most relaxing poses in yoga, and it’s *ah-mazing* for relieving period cramps. Start by kneeling, bringing your knees a few inches apart and resting your bum on your ankles. Bend forward and stretch your arms out in front of you. You can keep your knees as wide as you like, provided you don’t feel any pain in your knees. To make it SUPER yummy and restorative, place a large pillow in front of you and rest your chest and belly on it. Then just breathe and enjoy.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Twist)
Twists are absolutely incredible for any kind of tummy trouble. They promote good digestion (which we all know can be iffy during your period), relieve pressure in the low back (HELLO, period cramps!), and nourish the spine. To get into a seated twist, start by sitting cross-legged. Bring your left leg up so that your knee is pointing toward the ceiling and your foot is planted squarely on the floor.
Keeping your spine straight and your posture upright, bring your right arm across your left leg, touching your elbow to the left side of your knee. Use your elbow to twist your upper body. With each inhale, see if you can straighten up and press the tip of your head toward the ceiling. With each exhale, try to twist a little more deeply. Don’t be surprised if you hear a few gentle cracks coming from your spine.
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
One type of pose you should try to avoid while on your period is any kind of inversion (think headstand, handstand, shoulderstand, etc.). While the idea that inversion during menstruation leads to endometriosis (a painful and serious gynecological problem in which the uterine lining begins to grow outside of the uterus) is pretty unlikely and mostly disproved, there’s no reason to risk it. And if you follow yogic traditions about energy flows, the downward pranic force of apana helps your menstruation, so you don’t want to interfere with that. Besides, when you’re on your period, it’s good to be gentle with your body. Instead of going upside down, sit with your legs up the wall, keeping your butt as close to the wall as you can. Do this while breathing deeply, savoring the tingly feeling of weightlessness that your feet so rarely get the chance to experience during day-to-day life.
What are some of your favorite workouts to do while on your period? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty and Brit + Co)