So many of us suffer from terrible symptoms around our periods. We suffer from really painful bloating, from pre-menstrual tension and agonising period pain. We are offered over the counter pharmaceutical drugs to deal with the symptoms (all of which have so-called side effects), but none address the reasons for all this pain. I’m often asked to give yoga pose recommendations to ease these symptoms.
There are, of course things that we can do with our bodies which will help us to ease the pain. I love to do a ‘puppy dog’ pose on my knees, with my chest towards the ground but supported on a bolster. I also love to practice very slow restorative or Yin poses to help ease cramps, and I use a hot water bottle over my kidney area to help.
But there is one thing that all girls should be taught as teenagers, and nobody is. And that is the vital importance of rest. Learning how to take constructive rest, and learning how to manage the stress levels that we all think are normal these days are actually the things that will completely change your experience of menstruation.
The trouble is, in our society we live in a way where busyness is over-valued. People say that they ‘work hard, play hard’ as a badge of honour. But this lifestyle, repeated day in day out is causing illness in so many of us, and especially hitting women in symptoms around cycles and fertility. The sheer pace of life and the stresses so many of us feel through feeling not good enough, or not feeling like we’re accomplishing enough, is harming us and causing us to experience painful PMT, painful periods, fertility issues and debilitating menopause symptoms.
Our society relentlessly gives us the message that we’re not good enough.The brightest and the best work on advertising campaigns solely with the purpose of getting you to believe that without their product you’re not worth it. This extreme damage to self-worth, felt most acutely in teenagers, but is normalised to us all, causes deep-rooted stress. This stress comes out once a month in PMT which can be a rage of deep rooted tension and in painful periods.
The one yogic position that we should be taught, from our teen years, is that of constructive REST.
Yoga nidra is the perfect kind of constructive rest. It is the space between sleep and wakefulness, where we can be guided by a practitioner (or by video or audio) to take us into a space of deep relaxation. It is said that yoga nidra is more restful than sleep. We urgently need to take the time and space to rest. When we rest deeply, and constructively, we can learn to acquaint ourselves with our bodies and its needs. We can learn to accept our bodies, and be kind to this beautiful vehicle for life that we are blessed with. We can learn to be kind to each other, to listen deeply, as we listen to ourselves. All from a deep rest.
We must learn to cultivate the ground on which our gardens will bloom. It takes time, it takes small steps. But if there is one thing that we can all do today is to start to say ‘no’ to diary appointments and yes to constructive rest.
You can find yoga nidra practices and practices which are helpful for women’s health at https://movementformodernlife.com/yoga-classes/women-health
Our classes especially curated for women in the period before their period and during their period can be found here: