6 Yoga Poses for Your Period

Stretching to the max
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While the basics of menstruation are shared in common, each person experiences their period differently. Though most would agree that it's not the most enjoyable time of each month, responses vary from feeling appreciative of one's fertility to getting annoyed, to being curled up in pain, to not really caring.

People stretching in a yoga class
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Many societies, including the Brahmins in India, have segregated people who are menstruating and encouraged them to rest during this time. When women began doing yoga, they were likewise told to refrain from practice while menstruating.

Ashtanga yoga suggests a "ladies' holiday" for the length of one to three days. Most contemporary yoga methods acknowledge each person's right to make a choice about what kind of practice to do. This includes whether or not to practice inversions.

The following poses are intended for a restorative home practice and can help alleviate cramps. If you'd rather cuddle up with a heating pad during your period, that can be considered your yoga too.

Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Baddha Konasana for Period Cramps
Cobbler's Pose - Baddha Konasana. pkline/E+/Getty Images

Since the lower half of the body often feels heavy during menstruation, seated poses will be our focus. You may stay in each pose for up to several minutes, as is common in restorative classes.

Baddha Konasana—the Cobbler's Pose—opens the pelvic region. For a more restorative version, come into a forward bend using a bolster or several folded blankets to support your torso so you can relax more.

Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

Janu Sirsasana for Period Cramps
Janu Sirsasana. Ann Pizer

To do the pose:

  1. Extend your right leg and place the sole of your left foot on your right inner thigh.
  2. Center your torso over the right leg and fold forward.
  3. Come back through Baddha Konasana to set up for the other side.

Continuing to take it nice and easy, Janu Sirsasana—Head to Knee Pose—stretches the hamstrings in a simple forward bend. It's an easy stretch that allows you to focus on one leg at a time and gently extend and lengthen your hips and groin.

Seated Straddle (Upavistha Konasana)

Upavistha Konasana for Period Cramps
Seated Wide Legged Straddle - Upavistha Konasana. Ann Pizer

Open both your legs wide into Upavistha Konasana—Seated Straddle. Again, a supported forward fold with a bolster or blankets is a great option. We're concentrating on those hamstrings again, but are also stretching the inner thighs and lengthening the spine. 

You can go as deep as you like here or remain sitting upright. While you're menstruating, you might not reach your optimum depth in the bend and that's perfectly fine.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Paschimottanasana for Period Cramps
Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana. Ann Pizer

To do the pose:

  1. Bring both legs outstretched for a forward bend.
  2. Lengthen the spine in a seated position before coming forward. Imagine the pelvis as a bowl that is tipping forward as you come down.

The Seated Forward Bend—Paschimottanasana—goes deeper still in opening the hamstrings and calves. It also gives your back a nice stretch.

Be sure to follow your breath as you ease into this bend. Your period may be a good excuse to round your spine a little because it gives you a place to relax. Just remember that your teacher may have an opinion against this.

Supported Bridge Pose

yoga bridge pose
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To do the pose:

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Press into your feet to lift the hips slightly and slide a yoga block under them for support.
  3. To come out, press into the feet to lift the hips again and slide the block out.

This very gentle backbend can help relieve back pain associated with menstruation. ​Even if you typically use a higher level, it may be a good idea to stick with the shorter option on your yoga block right now as well.

Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Goddess Pose - Supta Baddha Konasana. © Barry Stone

To do the pose:

  1. Stay in a reclined position with your knees bent.
  2. Release your knees out to the sides and down to your mat.
  3. Bring the soles of your feet together for Goddess Pose. Placing a bolster under the length of your spine can feel great here.

You may notice that this is a reclined version of Cobbler's Pose, so we're back where we started. Supta Baddha Konasana—Goddess Pose—is all about opening your groin and hips and relaxing.

If you can stay in this one for several minutes, it's a fabulous way to end your session. Five to 10 minutes in a meditative state in Goddess Pose will leave you completely relaxed for the day ahead.

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  1. YogaRose. YogaRose.net Explainer: What is it ashtangis talk about when they talk about ‘ladies’ holiday’?. ASHTANGA (online). 2012.