Yoga poses during your Period

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.



Natural foods rich in Calcium and Vitamin D

A few days we had an active discussion on Whatsapp on Calcium and Vitamin D requirements, thanks to Raji and her knee treatment.
And, why not?! Let’s face it – While we are kids at heart, we are pushing 40 physically.
So our able Dr. Santana recommended we all ensure we take the necessary calcium and Vit D supplements and Porchelvi and Sweety chimed in.

I, personally, am wary of supplements. My crooked imagination thinks of all the chemicals and preservatives the nutrients must have bathed in, to be transformed into a magic pill. So, I have been researching on natural sources of Calcium and Vitamin D and my dear friends, here is the list.

Ladies – remember that women of our age need 1000 mg of Calcium and 600 IU of Vitamin D every day for strong bones and healthy hair and nails. While calcium is available more readily, Vit D is a tough cookie and not an easily available via daily food.

Milk.jpg 1. Milk
I did not want to put Milk on top of the list.
Milk still feels like a childish drink, a habit I outgrew years ago. But every nutritional data points to milk being one of the best sources of calcium.
250ml of milk can give you about 300 mg of Calcium and 106 IU of Vitamin D.
So do the math – 3 glasses of milk a day and you have got the calcium and Vit D you need, pretty much.
Due to my paranoia about artificial processing, I don’t drink slim milk any more.
But don’t listen to me and enjoy fat free or toned milk.
Add palm sugar and cinnamon to your milk for that additional flavour and better health.
2. Curd
What are we without our customary curd rice?! So it’s I a relief that our beloved curd is a wonderful source of calcium.
3/4 cup of curd can give you 320 mg of Calcium. It is not a significant source of Vitamin D.

But so what?!!
Flaunt your love for curd. Make raithas, buttermilk, curd rice, morkuzhambu (and please share your recipes here).

But remember your grandmother’s advice and don’t eat too much curd at night.

2015/02/img_0546.jpg 3. Sesame Seeds
This is my newest discovery. This tiny little seed is a powerhouse of nutrition. Did you know that 100g of Ellu can give you all the calcium you need in one day?!
How I wish this did not have the side effects of excess body heat and all the other troubles that come with it!
Nevertheless, have sesame seeds everyday. Black ones have slightly more calcium than the white ones. The key is to have them in moderation, may be a table spoon every day. That is still 150 mg if calcium which is a big deal.
To keep it easy, I go for 2 Ellu urundai-s every day and savour the goodness of jaggery.
4. Spinach
Spinach or any dark leafy vegetable is another wonder food rich in calcium and iron.
The lucky ones among you who live in Tamilnadu can pick their choice of Agathi keerai, murunga keerai and other varieties. If you are living abroad eat salad leaves which are darker in colour like kale.
The other miracle of Spinach is that it is low calorie, no fat option.
(I can just imagine every one of you sitting with that big bowl of keerai masiyal which of course is not a problem for Sweety who drinks murunga I keerai soup every week)
2015/02/img_0550.jpg 5. Orange
I was actually surprised to find out about this one. But a medium size orange has 50 mg of Calcium and lots of Vitamin C. Vitamin C actually helps in absorption of calcium by the bones.
So I would say this is a good package deal. And it feels hep to have fresh squeezed orange juice with breakfast.
6. Fish
I have listed down lot of calcium rich foods, but not many with Vitamin D. Of course there are not many but here is one half of us won’t touch but is loaded with that killer combination of calcium and Vitamin D.
All oily fishes, salmon, sardines and locally, Mathi meen and Keluthi meen pack a punch. 75g of cooked fish contain anywhere from 180 to 400 IU of Vitamin D and 200 to 300 mg Calcium.
My dear “Naan” vegetarians, you don’t have to miss out on this wonder food. If you are not finicky, go ahead and pick up a bottle of fish oil capsules. You will get the same benefits (may be minus the calcium) without the gore.
2015/02/img_0553.png 7. Beans, nuts and dry fruits
Butter beans and Rajma, Almonds and dried figs are other great sources of calcium.
Ask Porchi for great recipes with Rajma. 3/4 cups do cooked butter beans contains 100 mg of calcium and same amount of rajma provides 58 mg of calcium.
Or, put figs and almonds in a milk shake and replace a whole meal, Sudha style.
Either way these are easy options to add to daily food intake.
8. Chocolates
Ok – actually, chocolates are not a real source of calcium or vitamin D. But I added them because every girl must have chocolate every day. (Priya, you will agree..)
If nothing else, chocolates reduce the stress and transport you to that world which is full of magic and has no worries.
That should count for some thing, right?