Menu
Yoga

9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)

When I regularly did yoga years ago (read: 90 minutes every day), I noticed one amazing benefit of the practice that trumped the rest: My dysmenorrhea completely disappeared. I was in awe—I hadn’t heard from anywhere before that yoga can relieve menstrual cramps. And because I exercised a lot, I often had a good dose of endorphins that chased away mood swings related to PMS, too.

As much as I’d like to go back to that routine, life happens. Soon, I found myself unable to practice as much as I did before. The pain came back, but at least now I know what to do.

Consistent yoga practice saved me—but it’s not an available method for everyone. Luckily, you can do yoga on your period and try certain poses to alleviate the pain.

1. Cat and Cow Pose (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana)

Moving your spine is a great way to counter back pain and get your blood circulating. Go as slow as you like, and remember to inhale when you look up and exhale as you curl. Being mindful of this is meditative and can break away some of your attention from the pain.

Also try: Slowly adding in more movement by circling your hips clockwise and counterclockwise. You can also practice seated Cat and Cow on a chair or in a cross-legged position.

2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child's Pose (Balasana) - 9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)
Pic: Verywell Fit

Balasana massages your lower abdomen and allows you to take full diaphragmatic breaths. You can choose to do either a wide stance with your knees apart, or a closed stance with your stomach resting on top of your knees.

Also try: Having pillows sandwiched in between your legs in a wide-legged child’s pose for extra comfort.

3. Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana) - 9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)
Pic: The Yoga Collective

Like Balasana, this forward folding posture creates just enough pressure on your belly for a gentle massage. Having your knee folded on one side opens your hip and releases tension from the pelvis.

Go only up to where you can reach—you’re not required to reach your toes. You can even place a pillow on top of your extended leg to rest your head on. Don’t forget to do the other side. 🙂

Also try: Do this pose with your legs apart before you fold forward. This adds a gentle spinal twist.

4. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) - 9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)
Pic: Purna Yoga 828

Baddha Konasana is a yummy hip opener that can help release tension from your pelvis. If your knees don’t touch the ground, it’s recommended to place pillows underneath your thighs. Gravity will assist in opening you up the longer you stay in the pose.

You can adjust the placement of your heels. A loose diamond shape is perfectly fine. Lie down on another pillow and line it up your spine to prop you up, so you can create a gentle backbend to relieve period back pain.

Also try: The seated version of this pose (Baddha Konasana) for a forward fold. You can have a pillow in front of you to rest on as well.

5. Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) - 9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)
Pic: YogaUOnline

Supported Viparita Karani relieves the discomfort on your pelvis and encourages the downward flow of energy and blood in the body. Adding a pillow underneath your sacrum, the area just above where your tailbone ends, is a good way to gently massage and add pressure on your lower back.

Also try: Changing the stance of your legs into a diamond shape to open the hips.

6. Reclined Spinal Twist/Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Reclined Spinal Twist/Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana) - 9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)
Pic: DOYOU

Twists offer triple benefits: it promotes a healthy digestive system, counters lower back pain, and strengthens the spine. It’s not uncommon to have an upset stomach during your period or get an achy back. Plus, lying down on your bed with a hot compress against your stomach feels extra awesome in this pose.

Also try: Having a pillow catch your knee. Alternately, you can also bend both knees and twist them to the side.

7. Knees-to-Chest Pose (Apanasana)

Knees-to-Chest Pose (Apanasana)- 9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)

Apanasana is another wonderful pose for your digestive system. Because of the gentle pressure of hugging your knees to your chest, you get to massage your internal organs, too. Think of it as hugging yourself. You’ll get through this!

Also try: Rocking gently from side to side to massage your lower back.

8. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana) - 9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)

Happy Baby Pose opens the hips and encourages the same flow of downward energy as Viparita Karani. If you can’t reach your toes, holding onto your shins or the backs of your thighs works the same way. It will create a gentle pressure on your abdominal area, similar to Apanasana.

Also try: Rocking gently from side to side to massage your lower back.

9. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Corpse Pose (Savasana) - 9 Yoga Poses that Relieve Menstrual Cramps (With Variations)
Pic: The Healthy Maven

Savasana is already a treat on a regular day but is especially a blessing when you have menstrual pain. Try sleeping in this position after doing the previous yoga poses, with a heating pad on your stomach. Turn on the AC, grab your favorite blanket, and get yourself comfortable.

Also try: Propping your pelvis with a pillow. This opens your abdominal region and creates a gentle backbend. Alternatively, you can place the pillow underneath your knees for extra comfort.

If you feel well enough to do a gentle 30-minute class, this slow flow from Yoga with Adriene has helped me a lot of times:

How Does Yoga Relieve Cramps, Anyway?

You might be wondering what makes yoga different from the other exercises out there. Here’s why it’s recommended for menstrual cramps:

  • You get to focus on your breath – Mindful belly breathing is a hallmark of yoga. Cramps are caused by strong uterine contractions, which can cut off the oxygen supply to your uterus and, in turn, cause pain. Taking slow, deep breaths can help your muscles relax and get more oxygen in your bloodstream.
  • The poses open up blockages – The yoga poses above are designed to stretch out and soothe your belly, pelvis, hips, and lower back—the body parts that hurt the most during dysmenorrhea. The poses also release tension or blockages from those areas. Blood circulation improves, muscles get massaged, and the tight regions open up.
  • Yoga encourages variations – There are several modifications you can do to make a pose fit your needs and feel comfortable. Yoga is not strict nor imposing and is gentle for anyone to follow.

Manage Menstrual Pain with Yoga

The best long-term solution to ending painful periods is a consistent yoga practice. Even 20 minutes thrice a week can spell a lot of difference.

Remember: Each body is different. The poses that work on others might not work for you, and you can always modify and experiment. If there are poses not listed here that work for you, do mention it in the comments section below. Let’s help other women discover natural remedies for their period with yoga!

Share this post to help a lady friend out. 🙂

No Comments

    Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.