You’ve finally committed to a healthy lifestyle and you’re feeling great. For the past three weeks you’ve been working out regularly and maintaining a balanced and healthy diet. Each day you feel stronger and more energized. Keeping a daily schedule is easy until mother nature comes knocking and suddenly you’re wavering on the edge of the wagon as the chocolate cravings hit and it hurts to move.
Menstrual cramps, which are caused by the uterus contracting to increase blood flow, can discourage you from hitting the gym. But even on your worst days, it’s important to maintain your workout schedule while on your period. Staying active by doing light exercise like yoga can help relieve menstrual cramps, but avoid inverted yoga poses because they can increase blood flow. Here are some yoga postures that can help alleviate menstrual cramps while maintaining an active schedule.
Child’s Pose – Balasana
This relaxing posture is a good way to start any yoga routine. Kneel on your mat and then sit on your heals. Bend forward so that your forehead rests on your mat and extend your arms in front of you. If this is difficult or painful in any way, you can spread your knees apart until you’re more comfortable. You can also place your arms alongside your body rather than extending them.
Cat Stretch – Marjaryasana
This pose allows you to connect your breath to the movement as you stretch your back. Start in kneeling position on your mat with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. On an inhale, press your navel down and your hips and shoulders up so that your back is bowed; look up. On an exhale, press your navel towards the sky so that your whole back contributes to an even curve; look down. Repeat this for five breaths.
Cobra – Bhujangasana
Cobra pose is a nice stretch for the front of your body and a good strengthening exercise for your back. Start by lying on your stomach and place your hands on the floor on either side of your chest. On an inhale, lift your chest off the ground as high as you can. If you want your back to do a little more work, you can lift your hands off the ground so that only your back muscles are holding you up. Hold for three or more breaths.
Bow – Dhanurasana
Bow allows you to stretch the entire front of your body while laying on your mat. Begin by lying on your stomach and bend your knees so that you can reach behind and grab your ankles. Press your ankles into your hands so that your chest and knees lift off the ground. Hold for three or more breaths.
Seated Spinal Twist – Ardha Matsyendrasana
A flexible spine is key to a healthy body, and this move will gently massage your uterus. Start in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you. Bend one knee to your chest and cross your foot over your extended leg so that your foot is firmly on the floor. Then, bend the extended leg away from the grounded foot. Rest the opposite elbow on the grounded leg and begin twisting on an inhale. Place your other hand on the ground behind your for extra support. Hold for five breaths, twisting with each inhale.
Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana
Seated forward bend can be uncomfortable at first, so it is important to modify this pose as needed. Start in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you. Sit up tall and inhale so that your spine is long and straight. As you exhale, bend forward and try to grab your feet, keeping your knees straight. If you can’t reach your feet with straight knees, just reach forward as far as you can. You can also use a towel or strap around the balls of your feet to help pull you forward. Hold for three or more breaths.
Fish Pose – Matsyasana
This is another posture which stretches the front of your body while strengthening your arms. Start in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you. Place your hands on the floor by your hips and lean back onto your elbows. From here, point your toes and lift your hips into the air. Hold for three breaths.
Camel Pose – Ustrasana
Camel pose has many variations depending on your back flexibility. Begin by kneeling on your mat with your hands resting on your back. Slowly begin to press your hips forward and let your head fall back. For some, this might be as far as you want to go. If you feel comfortable in this position, you can transition your hands from you back to your ankles or feet. Keep pressing your hips forward and hold this position for three or more breaths.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose – Supta Baddha Koasana
Near the end of your yoga routine, it is important to take more relaxing poses that let gravity do the work. Start by lying on the ground with your knees bent and your feet resting on the ground. Let your knees fall open so that the balls of your feet press together as your knees get closer and closer to the floor. Let your arms rest at your side as you relax for five breaths.
Corpse Pose – Savasana
This meditative, introspective, and restful pose should end all yoga sequences. Lie flat on your back with your legs and arms extended. Then start relaxing every muscle in your body. Start by softening your eyes, then your jaw, followed by your shoulders, arms, and fingers. Then relax your stomach and hips, continuing down your legs until you have released the muscles in your toes. Stay in this position for as long as you like. Namaste.
Remember as you practice yoga to breathe deeply and to be mindful of the limitations of your body. Don’t push too hard so that you end up injuring yourself, listen to your body and work with it. By doing these yoga poses you will remain active and maintain a healthy lifestyle during menstruation.