Seven yoga poses to stamp out everything from period pain to insomnia

Seven yoga poses to stamp out everything from period pain to insomnia

A nagging headache or grumbling tummy usually has us reaching for our pills and potions in the medicine cabinet.

But did you know holistic yoga tools can be the answer? That’s according to Hannah Barrett, a yoga and meditation teacher who has helped celebrities such as singer Ellie Goulding and newly married Made in Chelsea star Binky Felstead.

“Stress is often at the root of common health conditions, but yoga and meditation calms our nervous system and deals with the pain and discomfort,” she explains.

Here Hannah, who is also the author of Yoga Happy, shares her muscle-stretching remedies for those annoying everyday ailments…



Yoga could be the answer to our everyday aches and pains

Headaches

Move slowly and mindfully through these exercises. Skip any poses that don’t feel good. If you’re concerned about your headache or experience an aura, speak to a medical professional…

Seated neck stretch

To release neck and shoulder tension. From a seated position, inhale through the nose as you place the right hand onto the crown of the head and the left onto the floor beside the left hip. Exhale and slowly bring the right ear towards the right shoulder using the hand as a guide. Stay for three to five breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.

Supported child’s pose

To calm the mind. Kneel with toes together and knees hip-width apart. Place a pillow or two between the thighs. As you exhale, melt the torso over the pillow, keeping the spine long and eyes closed. Stay here for five to 10 breaths.



A simple yoga pose could stamp out your need for paracetamol

Legs up the wall

To help balance the nervous system. Bring your hips to the wall, with upper body flat, and sit with your bones as close to the wall as comfortable. Gently raise the legs straight up to rest against the wall. A pillow placed under the sacrum can ease discomfort. Stay like this for up to 20 minutes.

Poor digestion

Under stress, our nervous system can get stuck in “fight or flight” mode. In reaction, blood flow and energy is redirected from the digestive system to our limbs (so we can run or fight). The result? Disrupted digestion. This technique readdresses the balance and activates the “rest-and-digest” response….

Three-part breath

Place one hand on the belly, one on the heart. Inhale deeply through the nose to the base of your stomach; feel the belly expand into your hand. Send the inhale up into your ribs; feel them move to the front, sides and back.

Send the inhale to the collarbones. Exhale through the nose, gently releasing, all the way back. Try 10 rounds, daily. Notice if you tend to hold tension in the belly area, then gently let it go.



Three-part breath will teach you where your tension lies

Insomnia

Difficulty sleeping can impact our daily life. A body scan grounds you in the present using the sensations of the body as an anchor…

Body scan meditation

Close your eyes, take a few slow breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Bring your attention to your body, starting at the toes, tracing up through the feet. Notice any sensations on the skin and from within. Let your feet be soft and release.

Trace your awareness up through the body, piece by piece in the same way – the legs, pelvis, torso, shoulders, arms, hands, neck and up to the crown of the head. At each point, notice any sensations that arise. Let each part of your body be soft and release. Once at the crown of the head, soften and release the body. Focus on the sensations of the breath and drift into a peaceful sleep.

Period pain

These two postures create calm, open the hips and groin, stretch the lower back and ease tenderness. Move slowly and breathe softly into the belly to soothe the nervous system and reset.

Cobbler’s pose

From a seated position, bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, letting the knees and thighs gently open (you can use blocks to support the knees). The feet can be close to the body or further away, whatever feels better. Interlace fingers around the feet or hold on to the ankles. Inhale as you lengthen the spine. Exhale as you fold forward from the hips and gently press your thighs towards the mat. Hold for five breaths and release.



Open your hips and stretch your back to ease period tenderness

Reclined pigeon

Lie on your back, bend the right knee and place the sole of the foot on the floor. Place the left ankle over the right thigh, just below the knee, keeping the foot flexed. Take your hands around the right thigh and gently pull the leg towards you as you reach the left knee away. Hold for five slow breaths. Release and repeat on the other side.

  • Sign up to the Hannah Barrett yoga app, which will create a lasting yoga habit. All new subscribers get a two-week free trial of yoga and meditation classes with options for all levels. Yoga Happy by Hannah Barrett (Quadrille, £20) is out now.

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