Restorative Yoga has been shown to help with many of the symptoms encountered during PMS and menstruation. Chief among them are: back pain, water retention, irritability, fatigue, moody fluctuations, pelvic and back pain, and headaches. If you choose to do all of the poses or just choose one when you have time, the point is to nurture yourself with support and quiet (as much as you can get) These poses can be done on the floor or in bed, and you don’t need bolsters or other “official” yoga props. A blanket rolled firmly serves well as a bolster, firm pillows, books for blocks, sofa cushions, work well for support and even small stuffed animals can be used as eye pillows or to relax the hands. Be creative and use what will give you comfort.
Pose 1: Supported Child’s Pose
If you’re on the floor, begin by placing a blanket down to pad your knees and provide warmth and cushioning. Place a block on its side and bolster on top so that it is up at an angle with enough space underneath to slide your forearms through. Place enough folded blanket on the bolster so that when you lean forward you are fully supported from your lower belly to the top of your head. You can place an eyebag or loosely wrap your eyes and ears to help mute your sense and deeply relax. Headaches can be eased by chilling the headwrap or eyebag first. Sit down with your knees spread wide enough to move forward so that you can rest your abdomen entirely into the blankets and bolster. Slide your arms underneath and hug the bolster as you lean forward. It can be challenging to place sandbags on your sacrum yourself, but you can ask someone to place them for you or to press down with their palms on your sacrum. Rest here between 5-10 minutes or until you feel it would be good to move. Move very slowly as you come out of this pose to allow your nervous system to adjust back from restoring.
Pose 2: Supported Cobbler’s Pose
For this pose begin on your spread blanket, placing two blocks on their sides: one long ways, one short ways to form a higher angle for the bolster. Lay the bolster across the blocks like the back of a reclining chair. Fold a blanket at the top of the bolster as a head rest, so that your head will be positioned slightly in front of your spine with chin slightly down. Place another bolster or rolled blanket for underneath your knees and several pillows or blankets for armrests. Take time to fiddle with the armrests until you find a setup that relaxes with support from the shoulders to the fingertips. As you lean back, allow your knees to open to the side, this will allow the pelvis to open and release tension-so long as the outsides of your knees are fully supported. The point is to release the pelvis, not to stretch the inner thighs. Place a loose headwrap or eyebag over the head to relax the head. Rest here between 5-10 minutes or until you feel it would be good to move. Move very slowly as you come out of this pose to allow your nervous system to adjust back from restoring.
Pose 3: Supported Corpse Pose
This is the final pose where you integrate any previous poses or experiences. If you can only do one pose, I suggest this one as it is the one our bodies most often associate with relaxation and release. You can practice this pose in bed without any props, or anytime you need to renew yourself. In this supported version, begin with your spread blanket. Place a bolster or rolled blanket under your knees with a smaller or partially rolled blanket placed just underneath the backs of the ankles and lower calves such that the bottoms of your feet are not touching the floor but you feel relaxed without tension in the fronts of your shins, thighs and lower belly. Place two folded blankets under your lower arms and hands so that your elbows have a subtle bend. You can hold eye wraps, eye bags, or small stuffed animals in your palms, without gripping them to give your hands a little reminder that they can relax from the curved position we use all day in our lives. Place a folded blanket under your head and the very tops of the shoulders so that the chin is slightly dipped and there is no tension across the collar bones. A chilled eyebag or headwrap is very useful here to aid in relaxing. Rest here between 10-15 minutes or until you feel it would be good to move. Move very slowly as you come out of this pose to allow your nervous system to adjust back from restoring.
Is there something you do every month to help with your cycle? Are there other activities you use to relax and restore your spirit? I’d love to hear from you.
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Disclaimer: This sequence is not claiming to treat any symptoms or conditions of any type. Please do not practice any of these poses without advice from your care provider.
Special thanks to A for modeling the poses for me. I don’t think she minded too much 😉