Ahh, our monthly friend. It’s something we’ve learned to tolerate, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. So we teamed up with Katie Richey, an instructor at Lyons Den Power Yoga in New York City, to bring you five yoga poses to help you feel better in ten minutes. (And maybe follow your practice with some chocolate ice cream. Namaste.)
How to Relieve Period Cramps in 10 Minutes
Stand with your feet hip's width apart. Bend your knees until your lower ribs are resting on your thighs (it’s totally OK if you have to take a big bend). Bend your arms so your left hand is holding your right elbow and your right hand is holding your left elbow. Breathe deeply into your belly and let yourself hang. Continue to inhale and exhale for several breaths. If you have a yoga blanket (or a rolled up towel), place it between your thighs and your lower abdomen.
Why it helps: The pressure of your thighs against your lower abdomen, along with the motion of your breath, will massage your organs from the inside and help relieve back pain.
With your feet together, bend your knees and send your hips back like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Squeeze your knees and thighs together. Bring your hands to your heart and press your palms together. Take your left elbow to your right knee to create an upper body twist. Breathe in to lengthen, breathe out to twist deeper. Send the breath to your lower abdominals and let every twist massage your internal organs. Repeat on the other side.
Why it helps: The twisting relaxes your uterus and soothes cramping. The fire in your legs and twist through the spine will help relieve back pain and make you feel invigorated.
Mermaid Lunge Twist
Place your right foot forward and your left foot back, then bend your right knee to lower yourself into a long, low lunge. (If you’re feeling tired, bring your left knee down to the mat.) Put your right hand on the top of your right thigh. Place your left hand on the ground under your left shoulder and twist gently to the right. Breathe into your sides, kidneys and lower abdominals. Repeat on the other side.
Why it helps: This pose is a psoas (aka groin muscle) and front-body opener. The detoxing twist through the lower abdominals helps alleviate cramps, and the hip opener helps relieve low back pain during your cycle.
Bring your right knee to the mat and extend your left leg straight out behind you. Position your right shin so that it’s almost parallel to the front of your mat and your right foot is in line with the left side of your body. Sink your right hip toward the back of your mat until your hips are squared. Then lower your body over your right leg and rest your head onto a block or towel. Extend your arms in front of you. You can tuck your back toes under for extra support. Repeat on the other side.
Why it helps: Half pigeon is a deep hip opener. Opening the hips relieves pressure on the lower spine and breathing in this pose will send new blood to your internal organs.
Lie on your back with your right knee drawn into your chest and your left leg extended. Pull your right knee across your body until it touches the left side of the mat. Extend your right arm to the right and send your gaze over your right thumb. Breathe and then repeat on the other side.
Why it helps: A supine twist stabilizes and neutralizes your pelvis while subtly releasing your internal organs, which helps with cramping. The stretching may also reduce lower back tension.