Years ago, when I first started practicing yoga, I got a few books from my local Barnes and Noble to help me understand the practice a little better.
I bought the Bhagavad Gita, the Heart of Yoga, and the Women’s Book of Yoga and Health. I wasn’t teaching yet but I wanted a few books to give me a bit more background on the practice, which for the most part so far, was entirely physical.
Each book had a different impact on me, but the most practical of the 3 was the Women’s Book of Yoga.
Before this book, I didn’t realize that you could tailor your practice to certain needs your body might have.
Pregnancy and postpartum, yes…but yoga for cramps and PMS? At that point in my life, when I got my period, all I wanted to do was curl up in the fetal position and sleep until the pain went away.
If you get cramps or PMS, you know firsthand how uncomfortable your body feels. If you bleed or used to bleed, you know there is a wide range of physical experiences for pre-menstruation and menstruation.
Some people have very mild discomfort, while others are in such severe pain they can’t even function.
Some people bleed very little, while others practically hemorrhage each month.
Personally, I’ve experienced this range personally over the course of my life with a monthly hormonal cycle.
Lately, I tend to feel achey, tender, tired, and sore before and during the first 24 hours of my period. I’m also cranky and irritable, but that doesn’t radically impact my physical body.
The conventional wisdom for cramps and PMS relief is usually:
These are great but I am someone who also responds really well to movement. So when I’m in pain, the first thing I do is try to stretch or move or massage the area of my body that feels tight, tense, or sore.
There are a few poses I love to do when I have cramps or PMS-related discomfort.
In my experience, these are the 5 best yoga poses for cramps and PMS relief.
While certainly you could swap one out for a different one, each of these targets the primary areas your body might feel discomfort before or during your period.
1. Wall sit chair pose: My mom taught me this one when I was a teenager. Basically, you slide down the wall, pressing your low back against the wall gently. You could even do a little cat/cow in your wall sit chair pose. It gives almost instant relief which is why it’s one of the 5 best yoga poses for cramps and PMS.
2. Chair Dog (with single leg option): Holding onto the back of a chair, walk your feet back until your upper body is nearly parallel to the floor. Give your knees a bend and stretch your butt away from the chair. This gives wonderful movement and space to your low back.
You can also add a single leg option, which will offer more of the low back stretching that feels so nice during your period.
3. Half moon pose, with or without chair: Half moon is one of the poses suggested as a great pose for cramps or pms relief in the Women’s Book of Yoga. I remember trying it out when I was 21 and thinking, “oh yeah….this is good stuff” when my back was feeling particularly achey. This one opens up space in your hips and belly, while giving your outer hips some stretch.
4. Supported Bridge pose: This pose is magical when you are feeling sore and tense before or during your period. Place a block under your sacrum — not your low back, but the flat triangular fused vertebrae above your butt crack. Your butt cheeks should hang off the edge. This pose is one of the best poses for cramps and pms relief because it gives your low back support while allowing your belly to be soft. You could stay here for a few minutes.
5. Broken skier/Windshield wipers: After your supported bridge, take your feet wider apart and drop your knees to one side, then the other. This gives a fantastic stretch to your belly and the front of your thigh, as well as that typically tight spot in your low back. Hold on each side for a few breaths to really enjoy.
These are my 5 best yoga poses for cramps and PMS relief. Do you have any favorites? Let me know in the comments!