Yoga For Menstruation
The first time I heard about yoga for menstruation was at a supper club. We had got into the subject of my site and had begun opening up about our periods. One friend was excitedly telling us about a yoga class where the teacher asked if anyone was on their period, my friend raised her hand and the teacher gave her a different and tailored set of yoga poses to follow. She said the experience felt amazing and it has been one of the most powerful yoga sessions she'd ever done.
I've done yoga on and off for the past ten or so years, but I've not heard much about yoga for period pain. Indeed, I only heard about physiotherapy as a treatment option for endometriosis this year and in the past few months I've been introduced to Womb Yoga (though I've not yet been able to attend).
Yet, for quite some time now, I have been using stretches in bed when endometriosis has me in its grip (for some reason it's usually at its worst when I'm trying to sleep). I just move with what instinctively feels right, usually cat cow, child's pose and pigeon pose. More recently, I've been getting up out of bed and doing a few yoga moves and stretches, mainly ones that pull my hips back and stretch out my legs and abdomen. Whenever I do these, as small as these movements are, I experience temporary relief. In those moments, I would say the pain is reduced by 50% - 90%, depending on the levels. Somehow, the pain of the endometriosis and the sensation of my body stretching becomes blurred, especially in pigeon pose, and I can no longer solely focus on the pain.
If you've been reading my Instagram, you'll know that last week I had a very, very bad period. I woke up in a level of pain I don't think I've experienced since my operations six months ago, I'm pretty certain it was brought on by my diet over the holidays (more of that in This EndoLetter). It became quite obvious that I wasn't going to sleep and I was writhing in pain next to my boyfriend and didn't want to keep him up. I started stretching in bed and then decided I needed something more powerful and surrendered to being awake.
So at 3am, I rolled out the yoga mat in my living room, lit some candles, made myself a soothing ginger and turmeric tea, and put on Yoga with Adrienne. I had started her 31 day yoga challenge literally two days before, so luckily I had something to work with straight away. The yoga session was just under 40 minutes long, but somewhere along the way, the pain lost its intensity. It was still there, in the background, but instead of focusing on each and every wave of it as I would have done in bed, I was focusing on the movement of my body and the relief the poses gave me. By the time I was finished, I felt sleepy, much calmer, and much more like my body and I were on the same side. Usually, once I finish stretching, I find my pain levels creep up again, often if I've only done a couple in bed, but this prolonged session had a much more lasting effect and helped lift my emotions.
Strangely enough, the next day, I found an old book I bought in a charity shop a few years back called 'Natural Superwoman'. I'd never paid much attention to it (annoyingly I have a habit of collecting books and not doing much with them) and discovered a series of yoga stretches for period pain! So I have taken pictures of all these poses so you can try them yourself and follow the instructions. I of course take no credit for these, they are the property of Rosamond Richardson, but I just had to share these with you in hope that you'll experience the same relief that I've been having using stretches and yoga poses. I haven't tried these specific ones yet, so I'm intrigued to find out how they support me next month!