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Yoga For Period Cramps: 6 Gentle Poses for Relief 

6 min read
a woman is doing yoga, wearing blue sportswear, sitting in Easy Pose with her hands to prayer, illustration of a menstrual cycle in the background, yoga for period cramps
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Verified by Elyce Neuhauser
Yoga Expert, E-RYT 500, Certified Meditation Coach

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If you suffer from period cramps, get on your mat! Yoga for period cramps helps improve the symptoms that are associated with your menstrual cycle, such as pain, body aches, nausea, and a general feeling of lethargy. Gentle postures can be just the thing to get you up and moving into your day with more ease and joy. 

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Periods hit everyone differently, but if you suffer from them, yoga for period cramps could help ease things. Here are six gentle poses you could add to your daily routine and how they may help. 

Can Yoga Really Relieve Period Cramps?

Yes! Although resting during your period could be therapeutic, and dynamic exercise suits some menstruating bodies, research shows that gentle movement – including walking, swimming, and yoga – can relieve cramping, boost mood, and ease symptoms [1]

Yoga for period cramps should be tailored to your particular experience. If you are feeling tired, weak, or achy, consider choosing a gentle practice. 

Meditation and breathwork, the essential components of any yoga practice, are a crucial part of recovery and have been proven to reduce anxiety, aid relaxation, and improve sleep [2]

Which Yoga Is Best During Periods?

If a HIIT workout or running feels overwhelming, it’s the perfect time to hit the yoga mat, but consider alternatives to the dynamic flows, power yoga, and yoga sculpt. Perhaps the best yoga for your period cramps is restorative or yin yoga, both of which use breathwork and gentle stretching to help release tension. 

On days when you need to slow down and treat your pain, focusing on these slower practices could be the perfect antidote, as they don’t require high energy or lots of movement, and they feature postures with longer holds and stretches to maximize relaxation and restoration. 

6 Yoga Poses and Stretches for Period Cramps

Consider practicing diaphragmatic breathing – relaxed belly breaths – in all of these postures for additional relief. This slower, deeper breathing can invoke a state of calm and peace and help to manage many of life’s stressors [3]. Begin by bringing awareness to the way that breath moves the belly – you may even softly place a hand on your belly. Slow down the pace of the breath and allow any sense of effort to fall away.

Easy Pose

a woman is practicing yoga, doing easy pose_yoga for period cramps

How to Practice:

  • Sit down with your legs extended out in front of you.
  • Bend your knees, open them out to the sides, and cross your shins, placing your feet underneath the knees or thighs.
  • Sit up well with your spine long, your belly soft, and your shoulders relaxed. Soften your eyes and breathe deeply, placing both hands on your knees or your belly, relaxing your arms
  • If you have tight hips, elevate your seat on a bolster or firm cushion.

Bound Angle with Foot Massage 

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Bound Angle with foot massage_yoga for period cramps

How to Practice:

  • Start in a seated position with the soles of your feet together and your knees opened to the sides.
  • Elongate your spine and soften your shoulders down. 
  • Relax your eyes and hold your feet, massaging gently around the soles, ankles, heels, and tops of the feet.
  • Let your hips softly open, and breathe into your belly as effortlessly as possible. 

Seated Head to Knee Forward Fold (Restorative variation)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing seated head to knee forward fold_yoga for period cramps

How to Practice:

  • Sit with your legs extended out in front of you.
  • Bend your right knee, opening it out to the side and placing your right foot against the inside of your left thigh.
  • Place a bolster or pillow on top of your left leg; sit up well and inhale.
  • On the exhale, slowly fold over your left leg and allow your arms to soften alongside your legs, resting your chest and belly on the bolster. You may add an additional bolster on top of the first one if your torso doesn’t comfortably land on just one.

Cat and Cow Stretch

a woman is practicing yoga, doing cat and cow_yoga for period cramps

How to Practice:

  • Start in Tabletop Pose with a neutral spine. Stack the shoulders over the wrists and the hips over the knees. 
  • On your inhale, extend the spine, stretching the chest forward, tail back, and head up (Cow Pose).
  • On your exhale, round your spine, puffing out your back body and bowing the head down with your chin towards your chest (Cat Pose).
  • Flow gently through Cat and Cow Poses for several rounds of breath. 

Child’s Pose (Restorative variation)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing childs pose with a bolster_yoga for period cramps

How to Practice:

  • Start in Tabletop Pose. Position a bolster in front of you.
  • Bring your big toes to touch and widen your knees, gently lowering your seat back to your heels.
  • Place the bolster underneath you, resting your whole torso on top of it. Turn your head to one side.
  •  Lower your elbows to the floor and breathe softly.

Corpse Pose

a woman is practicing yoga, doing corpse pose_yoga for period cramps

How to Practice:

  • Lay on your back and soften your body into the ground.
  • Relax your arms by your sides with palms facing up or place your hands on your belly.
  • For extra support, place a bolster beneath your thighs or knees to create more space around your lower back.
  • Soften your belly, your shoulders, and the facial muscles. Let the eyes close if it’s comfortable for you, and notice your breath. 

Are There Certain Yoga Poses to Avoid During Your Period?

Some yoga asanas might be off the table. If you suffer from painful symptoms during your period, you may not want to practice intense postures due to the undue stress they may have on the pelvic region. 

Here are 6 poses that you might consider eliminating during your period:

  • Full Wheel Pose
  • Handstands 
  • Headstands
  • Boat Pose
  • Shoulder Stand
  • Forearm Stand

But because there are myriad ways a woman may experience her menstrual cycle and just as many ways (or more!) to practice yoga – even when you have your period – it’s important to customize your practice [4]. Listen to your body so that you may determine what type of movement is best for you.

Bottom Line

Here are some key takeaways for yoga poses for period cramps:

  • The best positions to help with period cramps may be gentle postures, including restorative and yin yoga. 
  • Period cramp stretches could ease tension, pain, and discomfort during your menstrual cycle.
  • The six yoga poses for period cramps are safe to do during your cycle and shouldn’t exacerbate symptoms
  • Intense variations of inversions, twists, folds, and backbends could make some period symptoms worse. Consider avoiding some poses if you experience excessive pain or discomfort during your period.

If you’d like to use your bolster beyond yoga poses for periods, here are 7 yoga poses with a bolster for a restorative practice.

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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