We all wish we could do without the pain and discomfort that stalks during those days of the month.
Here is a Yoga sequence to practice during periods. These poses stretch the back and leg muscles relieving the pain we usually feel during those days. The poses also help with eliminating the cramps and ensuring healthy blood flow.
As a general rule, do not do any exercises that involve lifting your legs up while lying down or bending backwards. Most front bending exercises are ok to do during this time.
- Start with Uttanasana – This is basically bending forward and touching your feet without bending your knees. If you cannot reach your toes, place a few hard books on the floor and rest your hands at that height.
- Downward Dog – From Uttanasana, move your legs back and get into the Downward dog pose (Adho Mukha svanasana). You should be like an inverted V, with your palms and feet on the floor and pelvis lifted up. Focus on pushing your hip up and letting your spine fall down. Pull your stomach in. You should feel a stretch on your lower back and calf muscles.
- Stand up and relax in Tadasana – Mountain pose. Stand with your feet hip width apart and align your knees to be on top of your ankles, hips in line with your knees, straight spine, tummy pulled in, thigh muscles pulled up, shoulder on top of your hips, neck and shoulders relaxed and head in the centre of your shoulders.
- Now widen your legs to upto four feet and bend down keeping the spine straight. This is Prasarita Padottasana or wide legged forward bend. You can easily touch the floor in this pose. Drop your head down as much as possible. This pose relieves stress we usually feel during this time.
- Come up. Turn right foot outward. Turn your body right. Bend down and touch your right knee with your right forehead. If you cannot touch the knee, bend down as much as possible. Rest the hands on alternate sides of the right leg on the floor or on some hard books. This is Parsvottasana. This is one of my favourites during this time. The entire leg feels stretched, especially the knees. Repeat using the left leg.
- Come back to Tadasana. Now bend the right leg and hold the right toe with your right hand. Slowly extend the right leg and bring it up to be straight and parallel to the ground. Now slowly rotate the leg outwards. This is called the Extended Hand-to-big-toe pose. Try to hold for 10 seconds. Switch legs.
- Next is Ardha Chandrasana, my favourite among the standing poses. Move into Downward Dog, lift right leg and right hand up and turn your hip to the front. Your leg should be parallel to the ground and hand should go vertically up. Your body is balanced on left leg and left hand. This is great for the spine and lower back. Hold a table or chair if you find it difficult to balance.
- That brings us to the end of standing poses. Now sit down on your mat and get into Padmasana if you can. If Padmasana does not work, you can do Artha Padmasana, where you bring only one leg on top of the thigh. From Padmasana, bend down and touch the floor in front of you with your head.
- Come up and slowly bend backward into the Fish pose. Lie down while still in Padmasana and slowly life your chest up balancing on your hands, and bend backwards placing the crown of your head on the mat. This asana is excellent for relaxing all the organs inside the abdomen which is exactly what we need at this point. For beginners to Yoga, place a firm pillow behind you and lie back on the pillow instead of bending backward and arching your back to let your head drop.
- The above two – forward bending and going back to rest on the head can also be done from Vajrasana. This is slightly easier than Padmasana.
- Now to my most favourite pose in this sequence – the Supta Virasana. Sit on your buttocks with your legs bent outside. Your feet should be near your thighs and bent outwards from your knees. If you are able to sit like this and then slowly lie backward. If you are a beginner, keep a firm pillow or a few folded blankets and lie on that. This pose pulls the chest up and hip down, creating a lot of space in the tummy. This is excellent for relieving cramps. I used to lie down in this position for even up to 5 minutes because it feels so relaxing.
- Sit up, bring the soles of your feet together and drop your knees down into what kids call the Butterfly pose or Badhakonasana. This is the most recommended pose for women of any age as it opens up the pelvis like no other.
- Finally the Bridge pose or Sethubandanasana. Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Now lift your hips putting weight on your feet. Life the hips as high as you can. Your entire back should be in a straight line.
- You did it! Now lie down and relax in Savasana.
Stay in every pose for a minimum of 10 seconds and maximum of 30. The entire sequence takes me 15 – 20 minutes to complete.
If you are pressed for time, just do the following:
- Downward Dog
- Artha Chandrasana
- Supta Virasana
- Badha Konasana
- Bridge pose
I will try and post pictures shortly. For now, the links should help. One word of caution – move slowly. You might hurt yourself by rushing into poses or trying to do more than what your body is used to. As you practice, the final poses will automatically come. Just stay with it.