Mother Nature’s monthly visit can also bring about those not-so-fun set of aches and pains. While reaching for chocolate or OTC meds to combat cramps may seem to be the best course of action, put the pills and sweets aside and instead ease the pain with a gentle yoga flow.
After sipping on a glass of lemon water and moving from the couch to the mat, slip into these five soothing asanas. Not only will the poses support achy quads and thighs, open the hips, and relieve the body of menstrual discomfort, they’ll also calm the mind and open the heart.
1) Sufi Grind
From a cross-legged seated position, hold onto your knees with your hands and rotate your torso in large circles clockwise. Come forward, to the side, back, and around, making full circles with the body, rotating the spine. Do for 1 minute clockwise and then 1 minute counter-clockwise position.
2) Camel Pose
Come onto the knees, making sure they’re hip distance apart and the hip bones are directly facing forward and above the knees. The feet can lie flat on the ground. Place the palms onto the lower back and roll the shoulders back, bringing the elbows together. Keep the hips facing forward and directly above the knees. Inhale and lift the chest, opening it up, and bring the hips forward to gently move into a backbend. After holding for several breaths, slowly come up, dropping the chin down to the chest and rolling the spine down. Drop the palms to the ground and bring the head to the palms, keeping the spine rounded. Hold the forward bend for several breaths to allow the spine to relax.
After lying face down, move your feet hip width apart and rest your arms along your sides, with the palms facing up. Connect your pubic bone to the ground and lengthen your tailbone toward your heels. On an inhale, draw your chest, shoulders, arms, and hands up and away from the floor. Upon lengthening the neck and lifting the head so it’s in alignment with the spine, gaze down. Rotate the arms so the tips of the thumbs face the ground. Draw your legs up so that only your pelvis, abdomen, and bottom ribs are touching the earth. Continue to draw your chest forward, draw your shoulder blades away from your head, lengthen your legs, and rotate the front of your thighs toward each other. Hold for several breaths.
4) Chair Pose
Standing with your feet together in Mountain Pose, bend your knees forward. Make sure that you can see your toes and then lift your arms up by your ears, creating a diagonal line with your torso and arms. Draw your navel in and up and move your weight to the front of your heels. Breathe and hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
5) Arching Pigeon
From Downward Facing Dog, lift the right leg, bend at the knee, and bring it forward. Lower both legs down to the ground. Move the back leg toward the center of the mat, placing the foot down. Backbend, then gently fall forward. From there, bend the back knee, taking hold of the foot with your left hand. Keeping the front foot flexed, you’ll push the pinky edge of the foot into the ground. Either stay here or reach back with your right arm, holding the foot with both hands. Breath for several breaths. Repeat on the other side.