Sometimes our periods make us want to do nothing but sit immobile on the couch with a heating pad and a full Netflix queue. But moving around a bit — and working on your yoga moves, specifically — can actually alleviate some of your symptoms. According to Alyssa Pfennig, Certified Yoga Therapist and owner of Wild Wisdom Collective, “The best yoga poses for PMS and during your period are restful and restorative, focusing on alleviating symptoms and going inward. There are variations depending on what specific issues you might be struggling with. However, in general, poses to open the hips and forward folds to bring energy to the pelvic bowl and uterus are recommended.”
With that in mind, we went straight to some yoga pros for their favorite mid-period poses. Here’s what’s on the top of their list, so you can spend a little more time in class on these — or do them at home whenever you need some relief.
Child’s Pose / Balasana
“Do Child’s Pose and do it often. Even if this means sitting in Child’s Pose for the entire hour-long class,” says certified yoga practitioner Brianna Petrauskas. “This pose can be super restorative by spreading your hip bones out wide to relieve any pressure from your lower back.”
Reclining Bound Angle Pose / Supta Buddha Konasana
You had us at “reclining.” But there’s a lot more to this pose, the pros say. “Reclining Bound Angle Pose activates the groin and allows for deep relaxation. Let gravity take over in this pose as it naturally eases symptoms of menstruation discomfort and recharges the mind,” recommends Brooke Blocker of Blocker Yoga. She’s not the only fan of the relaxing pose. Melissa Okabe, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles, agrees. “Not only does this supportive yoga pose replenish low energy and opens the hips, but also encourages circulation to the pelvic region,” Okabe says. “It helps to relieve menstrual cramps because it calms the nervous system and promotes the downward flow of energy naturally occurring in the body during a woman’s cycle. “
Cobra Pose / Bhujangasana
If you deal with PMS (and mid-MS) headaches, Cobra Pose is a good one for you. “Cobra Pose is a mild backbend that strengthens . . . your back and hips while while reducing stiffness [in those spots]. Headaches are often a side effect of PMS and Cobra Pose helps increase circulation thereby reducing those aches and associated fatigue,” says Blocker.
Cat and Cow Poses / Marjaryasana and Bitilasana
Think of these as the yoga version of a heating pad. “Transitioning between Cat and Cow Poses will warm up the body, specifically the back and abdomen which can help to alleviate cramps,” says Blocker. “These poses also encourage mindful breathing, helping to soothe the body and mind with a slow inhalation into Cow Pose and deep exhalation into Cat Pose.”
Head to Knee Pose / Janu Sirsasana
Not only does this pose help calm the mind and relieve stress any time of the month, Pfenning says it’s a great one specifically during your period. “Forward folds to bring energy to the pelvic bowl and uterus,” she explains.
Whatever poses you do, listen to your body and make adjustments if needed. “Often times during your period, your practice won’t be flawless. Embrace this and let nature take its course by listening to what your body needs,” says Blocker. “Sometimes, this means Savasana the whole way through to focus on breath.” Savasana, aka corpse pose, in which lie on your back, arms and legs are spread at 45 degrees, isn’t a fancy word for a nap — it’s a great opportunity to release tension and calm your mind.
Yoga during your period can also be a great time for self-reflection, says Aliksandra Keller, Kundali yoga teacher. “I find that slower more introspective and heart nourishing postures help me tap into my feminine power of receptivity.” Your period represents a cleansing time, she says — aka a great time to release what you don’t need in your life and reflect on what you do want.