It is often a topic of great discussion whether to rest completely or keep our body moving during periods!
As you all know, during periods there are several psychological issues such as mood swings, stress, anxiety, depression as well as physical issues like back pain, legs pain, headaches, body ache, stomach cramps, excessive gas and bloating, pimples, ulcers and what not!
During periods (menstruation) it is necessary to keep our body active, with a simple walk, or carry out everyday activities and of course a few yoga asanas and meditation!
I have always wondered about which exercises to do during periods to soothe the pain and discomfort and not exhaust my body.
Yoga plays an important role in regulating our monthly cycle and also reducing menstrual pain and discomfort.
I have been practising Yoga for several years now and it has helped in resolving several problems of mine, both physical and mental.
Yoga should be an integral part of our lives, there is no second thought about it.
But there are few poses you should avoid during periods as they may cause discomfort.
So, which asanas to perform and which asanas to avoid during menstruation?
Also, what should we eat and what should we avoid eating during menstruation to keep our body healthy and energised?
I have answered all these questions in this article!
Let’s take a look at some yoga asanas that will help you feel better during periods.
Shashankasana also is known as Child’s pose:
Sit in vajrasana by folding your legs below your buttock and with an erect spine.
Now spread your legs apart around 1 ft.
Take a deep breath raising your hands up and slowly breathe out and lower down your upper body giving a complete stretch to your back.
Your forehead should touch the floor.
Stay in this position for 10 deep breaths.
Make sure you don’t hunch your back while bending down.
Take a breath and slowly come back to the base position.
Variation: You can also place your hands by your sides like this
*To make it more comfortable you can place a pillow under your torso like this and hug your pillow.
It is a relaxation pose in many yoga sequences.
It gives a nice stretch to our lower back, hips, thighs and ankles.
It also reduces stress, fatigue and anxiety caused during menstruation.
It also aids indigestion.
Ardha Pawanmuktasana followed by Pawanmuktasana, also known as Wind Releasing pose
Lie down on your back in Savasana.
Now slowly fold your right leg by knee and bring it as close to your chest as possible.
Make sure your other leg is straight.
Take 4 to 5 deep breaths and release the leg and push it on your right side resting your feet on the thighs of the other leg.
Be in this position for 3 to 4 breaths.
Now, push your leg from knee to your left side and extend your right hand on your right side and look at your fingertips giving a nice stretch to your spine and leg.
Come back to savasana.
Repeat the same steps with the other leg.
Place your legs together from savasana and fold them from your knees.
Raise your knees and try to bring them as close to your chest as possible.
Take a deep breath and slowly raise your head trying to touch your knees.
Stay in this position for 4 to 5 deep breaths or as long as you feel like and come back to savasana.
It is an excellent pose to cure back pain.
Also, this pose helps with gastric problems, constipation and bloating caused by menstruation.
It gives relief from stomach cramps.
This asana is a good stretching exercise as it engages our core, legs, entire back, neck and arms.
It also massages the abdominal organs and boosts blood circulation in that region.
Supta Baddha Konasana also known as Reclining Bound Angle pose
From savasana fold both the legs and place your feet approximately 1 ft apart.
Now bring your feet together like this (making a clamp). Your knees should be facing the opposite direction.
Try to bring your feet as close to your groin area as possible.
Put your arms by your thighs, palms facing upwards or place both your hands stretched out on either side or above your head like this.
Stay In this position as long as you can!
*To Make it more comfortable you can place a folded towel under your lower back or a cushion below your spine.
It is an excellent pose to cure back pain.
It gives a nice stretch to your entire back, leg area, and arms.
It reduces muscle tension and releases fatigue and insomnia.
This asana activates our ovaries, prostate glands, kidneys and bladder.
Staying in this pose soothes our menstrual discomfort and relaxes our mind.
It also relieves headache.
Vakrasana also known as Simple Spinal Twist
Sit erect with your legs stretched out.
Now fold your right leg by knee and place your feet on the floor.
Place your right hand behind your back giving your spine a twist.
Now, raise your left hand and twist it through the knee of your right leg and try to touch the left knee. And slowly turn your head to your right side keeping your neck straight.
Try to stay in this position as long as you can and return to the base position by bringing your head in neutral position first then your left hand, then right hand and in the end straighten your folded leg.
Repeat the other side.
Vakrasana gives a complete stretch to our spine and increases its elasticity.
This asana massages our abdominal organs and aids bloating, stomach ache and cramps.
It also improves digestion.
Kativakrasana also known as Spinal Twist
From savasana bend both your legs from the knees, feet placing on the ground.
There should be at least 1 ft distance between both your feet.
Now place both your hands stretched out on either side at 180 degrees palms facing down.
Twist your lower body and let both your knees fall on your right side while turning your head towards your left side giving a complete stretch to your spine and torso.
Stretch as much as you are comfortable.
Hold for 4 to 5 breaths and slowly come back to the centre position.
Repeat on the other side the same way.
*For modification, you can place pillows on either side of your legs and rest your lower leg on this pillow.
This pose gives a complete stretch to our entire body.
It helps with reducing the fat from our sides (Love handles)
It reduces back pain.
It gives a nice stretch to our spine and relaxes our nerves.
Marjaryasana & bitilasana also known as Cat and Cow pose
From padmasana place your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders.
Knees on the floor directly under your hips approximately your hip-distance apart.
Keep your head in a central position gazing straight.
Now slowly take a deep breath stretching your spine downwards so that it makes a concave curve.
Drop your belly towards your mat and lift your chest and chin and gaze up towards the ceiling.
Now slowly exhale and draw your belly inwards and spine towards the ceiling making a convex curve.
Your gaze, neck and face should be downwards towards the mat.
Inhale coming back to the cow pose and exhale into the cat pose.
Repeat this 4-5 times in the beginning and slowly increase the number.
Come back to centre position and sit in vajrasana.
*For modification, you can also place a pillow below your knees
This pose gently warms up our body giving a nice stretch to our spine.
Practising the breathing technique with this movement calms down our mind and relieves stress.
This asana stimulates and strengthens the abdominal region relieving the abdominal pain.
It opens the chest and encourages fresh oxygen flow to our lungs.
It stretches our back torso and neck relieving tension from the back and neck area.
7. Setu bandhasana or Sarvangasana also known as Bridge pose
Lie on your back.
Fold your knees and place your feet on the floor hip-distance apart with ankles and the knees in a straight line.
Slowly bring your feet as close to your buttock as possible and try to anchor your right ankle with your right hand and left ankle with your left hand.
Now slowly lift your hips, lower back and upper back from the ground breathing in and try to stretch it towards the ceiling as much as you can.
Gently roll your shoulders in and try to touch your chest to your chin.
Your entire weight should be on your shoulders, arms and feet.
Hold this position and hold your breath for 3 to 5 counts.
Make sure your thighs are parallel to each other and to the floor your hips tucked in.
Breathe out and slowly bring back your hips to the floor.
Repeat this for 4 to 5 times in the beginning and slowly raise the hold count and total count.
Instead of anchoring your ankles by your hands, you can place your hands beside your feet parallel to the legs, palms facing down.
Or you can interlock the fingers of your hands exactly below your buttock.
Modification – During periods, to make this pose easier, you can place 1 or two pillows below your lower back like this and rest your back on the pillows.
- Relieves the back pain and strengthens our back muscles.
- Gives a good stretch to the chest, neck and spine
- This asana opens up our chest and lungs and is very beneficial for thyroid problems.
- Calms down our brain and reduces stress, depression and anxiety.
- Aids digestion.
- Helps to relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual pain
8. Ustrasana also known as Camel pose
Sit in vajrasana by folding your legs below your buttock and with an erect spine.
Now, kneel down on your mat and place your hands by your side.
Your knees should be in line with your shoulders and sole of your feet should be facing the ceiling.
Slowly, breath in and raise your right arm and bend it towards your right ankle arching your back. Breathe out and hold your right ankle with your right hand.
Now, slowly raise your left hand and anchor your left ankle with it in a similar manner.
Hold in this position as long as you are comfortable and slowly come back to the base position in a reverse sequence.
*To make it more comfortable you can place a cushion below your knees.
This asana boosts our mood and energy.
Strengthens our back and neck
Relieves body ache and backache.
Also, this asana relieves menstrual pain and anxiety.
It gives a complete stretch to our back, chest, and arms.
9. Dandasana also known as the Staff pose
Fold your legs in a comfortable position like this and sit down in sukhasana (also known as the easy pose)
Now, slowly stretch your legs on the ground one by one. Make sure both the legs are touching the ground completely and parallel to each other.
Your toes should be pointing upwards.
The back should be straight.
Your gaze should be straight in front of you while the crown of your head should be facing the ceiling.
Palms should be touching the ground beside your hips to support your soldiers and erected spine.
Hold this asana for as long as you are comfortable.
*To make it easier support your back by the wall.
This asana releases stress enhances our concentration and calms down our mind.
It gives a nice stretch to the back muscles, spine and chest.
Our abdominal also stretches which releases the pain and cramps.
10. Savasana also known as the Corpse pose
Lie down flat on your back.
Place your arms by your side, palms facing upwards.
Your legs should be apart and in a relaxed position.
This asana is the most relaxing pose as we don’t have to do anything in this but to just lie down and relax our body and mind.
Take 2-3 deep breathes in this pose and then let your breathing be normal.
Focus on each part of your body one by one from toes to head and relax each and every muscles and nerve of your body in this position.
Remain in this pose for 10-15 minutes and then gently move your body to your right side and slowly come to sitting position.
*To make it more comfortable during periods, place a pillow below your knees.
This is a relaxation pose which should be performed after every pose if you are a beginner.
This asana aligns our body and mind and brings awareness to the entire body.
This asana relaxes our entire body completely and relieves cramps.
Follow it by 15 to 20 minutes of meditation to give your mind a complete relaxation and calmness.
Prepare a soothing environment around you by diffusing a nice soothing aroma like Lavender, chamomile, or Jasmine essential oil and play some soft meditation music.
Try to find a calm spot without disturbance. And place your mat and sit in any comfortable position.
Sit erect in any comfortable position.
(*You can take back support by a wall during periods)
Now, slowly take a deep breath in on the count of 1 to 3 and fill your stomach and with air. Now Hold the air in for 3 more counts and slowly breathe out the air on the count of 1 to 4 and completely empty your stomach.
Rest and continue this for 5 more deep breaths in a similar manner.
Gradually increase the counts.
This is a preparatory technique to begin the meditation and to learn how to control your breathing.
2. Anulom Vilom:
Take your right hand or left if you are a leftie. And make a Vishnu Mudra by folding your first and middle finger like this.
Now start with blocking your left nostril by your thumb and inhale deeply with your right nostril on the count from 1 to 5.
Block the right nostril by your ring finger and hold your breath for 3 to 5 counts and release the left nostril and breathe out on the count of 1 to 6. Your left nostril should be blocked by your ring finger while exhaling.
Close both the nostrils for 1 to 3 counts and start filling the air from the left nostril this time and hold your breath and breath out from the right nostril. This is one cycle.
Continue this sequence for 5 to 6 complete cycles.
In the end, take a deep breath from the right nostril blocking the left nostril by your thumb and then hold by blocking both the nostrils and breath out from the same left nostril. Repeat with the right nostril in a similar manner.
3. Bhramari also known as Bee Humming
Sit in any comfortable position
Now, like this, make a right angle between your fingers and thumb.
Place your fingers on your eyes and cover your eyes completely. Give a gentle pressure on your eyes.
Closing your ears with your thumbs completely blocking away all the surrounding noise.
Now, take a deep breath in and as you breathe out make a humming sound like a bee.
Keep humming until you breathe out completely.
Continue this for 5 breaths.
And then just sit silently for a few minutes and feel the calmness of your mind.
4. Chanting OM
Sit in sukhasana.
Make a gyan mudra like this by touching your thumb and index finger. (*Just touching not pressing)
Place both the wrists on your knees and sit erect.
Now, take a deep breath in and when you breathe out slowly chant om and in the final few seconds recite the mmmm (Humming) through your abdomen.
Feel the energy flowing from the abdomen and rising upwards.
And from here you can start your meditation with either sitting ideal and focussing on your breathing or the surrounding sounds or you can chant mantras for a few minutes.
Yoga poses to avoid during menstruation are:
Any inversions should be avoided during menstruation like,
As these poses increase bleeding during menstruation and cause discomfort.
Food to eat and avoid during periods:
- Eat a lot of fresh seasonal watery fruits and vegetables like; watermelon, cucumber, muskmelon.
- Eat more of Iron and magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, kale, dark chocolate, etc.
- Eat green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, quinoa.
- Have a lot of fluids during periods as in summers dehydration during menstruation can cause dehydration headaches.
What to avoid?
- You should avoid too much salty food as salt retains water in our stomach and induces bloating.
- Avoid eating too spicy food as it will further increase the body heat which may cause pimple and mouth ulcers.
- Avoid sugar and sugary drinks or caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea. Instead drink fresh fruit juices or herbal teas to soothe the stomach and mind. Ginger tea is the best remedy to cure stomach cramps. Just boil 7 to 8 pieces of ginger in boiling water for 10-15 minutes and strain and drink this. You can also add a little honey for taste.
- Avoid milk and milk products.
- Avoid processed and fried foods.
After taking all these precautions if you still feel a lot of pain or strain then do hot water massage in that particular region and rest.
Be healthy and be happy during menstruation!
Have healthy periods!
If you still have any further questions regarding this feel free to ask me in the comments.