Is the first rule of Period Cramps don’t talk about Period Cramps? Maybe we don’t talk about them enough, but, oh, they are there. Like little miniature grape stompers gleefully going to town in your uterus. Besides cramps, periods are often associated with other aches and pains, especially in the lower back and pelvic regions. If you’re like us, menstruation presents the perfect opportunity for some self-pampering and restorative yoga because we naturally feel a bit slower and heavier during this time. Here’s a fun fact: did you know your uterus weighs about 4 ounces when you’re not menstruating and can double in size to 8-10 ounces before and during your period? Yeah! Feeling bloated makes a lot more sense now, doesn’t it? As in yoga, alignment can play an important role in how comfortably we menstruate, especially when taking a trip to Bloaty Town. Barbara Loomis (aka Alignment Monkey) suggests that if your pelvis isn’t neutral then your uterus can shift out of neutral, too, which can exacerbate back pain and cause some other issues. For instance, if you’re sitting and slumping with a posterior-tilted pelvis, it can change internal abdominal pressure and the uterus can be pressed back toward the rectum, known as a retroverted uterus, which can limit lymph and blood flow and cause even more painful period symptoms. But have no fear! There are ways to help prevent this. One way is by sitting up on our sits bones as much as possible, and another is doing some restorative stretches to improve uterine neutrality (which sounds like a key to world peace, if ever we’ve heard one). To help relieve tension in your back and improve blood, lymph and nerve flow, try this feelgood double calf stretch as demonstrated by Barbara Loomis (shared via her blog with permission). The Double Calf Stretch 1. Place balls of feet on styrofoam dome or rolled up yoga mat (or begin with feet flat on the ground and transition slowly to a dome over time). 2. Keep heels on the floor. 3. Knees fully extended (not bent). 4. Allow the tailbone to float toward the sky (don’t force, but release into it) hint: stop clenching your butt! 5. Relax the spine without thrusting the ribs. 6. Hold for 1 minute. Repeat 3 to 300 times a day 🙂 Remember to tilt only as far as your pelvis allows and use a chair or table for support…and breeeeathe. ~ Barbara Loomis combines abdominal therapies and Restorative Exercise™ for pelvic floor, diastasis recti repair, reproductive and digestive health. Read more about her work on her website. Barbara is slated as one of the featured speakers at the Blood Cycle Conference, a conference focused on menstrual health, co-organized by YD sister site Cycledork. Don’t forget to support our Kickstarter. This conference can’t happen without you!