engage in gentle stretches for period cramps to lessen pain
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5 Stretches for Period Cramps

If you struggle with pain before or during your period, here are our top 5 yoga poses for period pain. Whether you've tried stretches for period cramps before or not, we've pulled together simple poses to quickly relieve pain—and maybe get you started on a regular practice!
Written by Caitlin Kratz
engage in gentle stretches for period cramps to lessen pain
Exercise has long been touted as an antidote for period pain. But what about when you're doubled over with what feels like a uterus-turned-contortionist, not-so-subtle aches in your thighs and lower back, or an unrelenting sense of fatigue?

Pushing a treadmill off a cliff sounds a lot more appealing than turning one on and climbing aboard.

Instead, how about a gentler activity, one that leans into what your body is asking for?  

Practising yoga has been shown to actively improve PMS and menstrual pain. Think slow flows, mindful sequences, restorative, and yin styles.

Yoga for Period Pain

  • Gentle stretching can relax your body and have a calming effect on the nervous system, naturally decreasing cortisol, and stimulating the vagus nerve.

  • Conscious, deep breathing integrates more oxygen into the body, improving stress-related physiological manifestations like muscle tension and shallow breathing.

  • Yoga and stretching stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, discouraging the fight-or-flight response in the body.

Tailor Stretches to Your Body

Period pain localizes in different places and to varying degrees of severity for every body. Your period is unique to you. Your yoga practice should be too.

Leave the competitive spirit for your next CrossFit class. Listen to your body and how it responds to different postures. If a pose doesn't feel right, don't push it. Find what feels good for you.  

Have you heard that you’re supposed to avoid inversions that lift your hips above your heart during that time of the month? While medically safe, the goal is to work with your body and right now your reproductive organs are hard at work. Instead, choose gentle poses that support the downward flow of menstruation.

If you’re looking at releasing tension or easing cramps, generously use props, including bolsters or pillows.

Stretches for Period Cramps and Pain

1. Child’s Pose

How it Helps Period Pain:
Child's pose is nourishing, restorative, and stress-reducing. It also stretches the lower back and can provide a pelvic release.

How to Do Child's Pose:
Start on your knees. Bring the big toes to touch and spread the knees wide. Slowly fold over, reaching your arms out long in front of you.

Hug a bolster between the torso and knees for an even more restorative, relaxing variation, or if you’re suffering from severe menstrual cramps.

2. Reclined Pigeon

How it Helps Period Pain:
This posture stretches the entire lower part of your body and stimulates abdominal organs.

How to Do Reclined Pigeon:
Lie on the back with knees bent, feet planted on the floor. Bring one foot to rest across the opposite thigh and reach your arms through to take hold of the back of the thigh or shin.

The bottom leg can stay on the ground for a gentler variation or be pulled into the chest for a deeper stretch.

3. Seated Forward Fold
How it Helps Period Pain:
Tightness in one part of our body can ignite pain in another. Releasing muscle tension in the hamstrings and back of the legs can reduce lower back pain.

How to Do a Seated Forward Fold:
Sit up straight with legs extended out long in front of you, feet flexed and toes pointing upwards. Place a bolster on top of your thighs. Slowly fold over, hinging at the hips and not from the low back.
Option to take it one leg at a time. Bend one leg, bringing the sole of your foot to the opposite inner thigh. Gently fold over. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Supine Twist
How it Helps Period Pain:
This twist eases discomfort in the lower abdomen and back, stretches through the hips and stimulates circulation and blood flow.

How to Do a Supine Twist:
Lie on your back. Hug one knee into the chest with the other leg extended out straight. Cross the bent knee over the other leg into a twist. Turn your head in the opposite direction.

Keep both knees bent and stacked on top of each other for a gentler twist.

doing yoga for period pain doesn't have to be strenous

5. Supported Reclined Butterfly
How it Helps Period Pain:
This pose opens the hip and groin area to relieve lower abdominal muscle tightness.

How to Do a Supported Reclined Butterfly:
Lie on your back and bring the soles of the feet together, knees splayed out to form a diamond with the legs.

Place a bolster vertically underneath the spine. Rest the feet further from the torso for a gentler stretch.

Bonus: Set the mood by lighting some candles and putting on relaxing music. The hormone concoction brewing in your body is practically begging you for introspective 'me' time.

If you want to take it a step further, start a regular practice or sign up for a yoga class. Practising yoga regularly has been shown to ease PMS symptoms and period pain long-term.


  • Becks Shepherd. “Does Yoga Really Stimulate the Vagus Nerve? Here’s What the Science Says.” Livescience.com, 2 Nov. 2022, www.livescience.com/does-yoga-stimulate-the-vagus-nerve. Accessed 22 Aug. 2023.
  • “Exercise during a Period: What to Know.” Www.medicalnewstoday.com, 17 Sept. 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326364.
  • Simanski, Brad. “The Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems (in Daily Life & Yoga).” Beyogi, 12 Nov. 2020, beyogi.com/teach-yoga/the-sympathetic-and-parasympathetic-nervous-system-in-yoga/. Accessed 22 Aug. 2023.
  • “Yoga Makes Period Cramps Feel Better.” Time, time.com/4761733/yoga-pms-period-cramps/.