This week’s blog comes from Melissa Vranjes, yoga teacher and a passionate women’s health and hormone advocate.
"I’ve found myself in all sorts of positions come day 1 of my cycle. From a fetal position holding my lower belly, to lying in a cloud of pillows propping me into poses to ease the pain.
With over 80% of women suffering from period-related pain at some point in their lives, it’s important for us to understand how to treat our cramping holistically.
As our hormones are so closely linked to our stress levels, along with yoga I started to address the stressors in my life and minimising them where I could. I made changes to my daily yoga practice and chose classes that reflected what was internally happening in my body: softer yoga when approaching menstruation when energy is lower, and flow yoga when my energy is higher coming up to ovulation.
I chose to swap out my painkillers and go-go-go mentality for yoga and body awareness. I’ve found yoga to be such a helpful tool in managing menstruation discomfort.
Along with deep breathing, the poses below are the ones I’ve found most effective in helping clear to clear my mind, relieving discomfort and assisting in promoting blood flow.
These poses are considered to be Yin Yoga poses (held passively for 3-5 minutes). The relaxing and restorative benefits are enhanced through a deep stretch while getting in touch with the sensations of the body and mind.
So without further ado, here are my 5 most nourishing and loving poses to ease period discomfort. All can be done with or without a mat or props, on the carpet or your bed.
Wide knee child’s pose with bolster (4 mins)
Helps calm the central nervous system, relieve lower back tension and menstrual cramps.
It’s nice to have a bolster (or pillow) under your torso to make it a cosier space for holding longer.
Kneeling, sit back on your heels and separate your knees about mat width apart. Take a bolster/pillow and place one of the narrower ends near your groin. Fold forward and sprawl yourself out over the cushion.
You can lay your arms along side your body or stretched out in front. This posture is super restorative, so allow yourself to sink in to it for at least 3 minutes. Enjoy long, deep breaths into your lower belly.
Supine Twist Right/Left with bolster (4 mins each)
A gentle compression to the organs help stimulate, detoxify, and create circulation, like a ‘wringing out’ for the inner organs.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Take your bent legs over to one side. Extend your arms out in a T-shape and turn your head to send your gaze in the opposite direction to your knees. For extra nourishment place a bolster/pillow under or between your knees. Relax the legs, shoulders, and hips, letting gravity take over the twisting process. Stay on one side for up to 4 minutes then swap sides.
Seated Figure 4 Stretch, Forward Fold Right/Left with bolster (3 mins each)
Releases tension in the hips and lower back. Promotes healthy ovaries and helps to alleviate menstrual pain.
Sitting upright, pull the flesh out from underneath each buttock, extending your legs out in front of you. Bend one leg, sole of the foot to the inner thigh of the straight leg. Place a bolster/pillow (or two) on top of your legs, then lengthen the spine up, maintaining the long spine while you fold forward over your legs. Rest your head and torso on the pillow. Relax your arms down, palms facing up. Stay on one side for up to 3 minutes then swap sides.
Restorative Reclined Butterfly with strap & 2 bolsters (5 mins)
Releases tension in the hips, opens up pelvis region creating space.
Sitting upright, set up 2 bolsters (or pillows) in a T-position directly behind your buttocks. Place the soles of your feet together, letting your knees fall out to the sides. For more support, you could place an extra cushion under each knee. Wrap your strap around your waist, down over the tops of your feet then underneath, clip in (this is optional if you have a strap - it’s nice for extra support but not required).
Lie back over the bolsters or pillows. If you want an extra restorative feel pull a blankie over you. Put one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Breathe long and deep. With each exhalation, let your inner thighs release and relax.
Seated Wide Angle Pose with a bolster (3 mins)
Massages reproductive organs, releases hips and groin, relieves lower back pain.
Extend legs wide into a straddle. Set up a bolster (or pillow) for your chest and head to rest on - you may need to create a small pillow fort depending on your flexibility!
Lengthen the spine up long and fold forward over your bolster/pillow. Rest your head to one side, turning it to the other side when you are halfway through the pose. Allow your feet to relax and turn in slightly.
If your hamstrings are tight you may want to add an extra cushion or some padding under each knee, bending them slightly. This eases the pressure on your legs while still allowing for a deep stretch."
By Melissa Vranjes Yoga - follow her @melissavranjesyoga
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