Crohn's and Pregnancy
crohn's disease, Uncategorized

Patient Behind the Plant: A Mother’s Story of Survival

When I sat down to interview Lauren Leiva, I knew right away that I was going to connect with her. We’re both Florida girls, yoga teachers, health advocates, and most importantly, we both have Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn's and Pregnancy

Our journeys couldn’t be more different, yet our struggles, fears, anxieties, and strengths are exactly the same.

This is Lauren’s story and she wants you to keep an open mind.

“I try not to judge others and what they don’t know,” said 34-year-old Lauren Leiva of Tampa, Florida.

Lauren has Crohn’s Disease and like we all know, there is no cure. The 1.6 million patients in the United States with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can only manage their symptoms, usually with risky medications.

“My Crohn’s was controlled, but not in a good way under all these medications. I was losing my hair, I got osteoporosis, I got pseudo rheumatoid arthritis,” said Lauren.

When she got pregnant for the second time in July of 2016, she was cautious. Her first pregnancy with her now 10-year-old son was difficult. Women with Crohn’s Disease have to be heavily monitored as they are usually considered high risk.

“I was told I could never have children with my severe Crohn’s because I was on all this biologic medication. When I got pregnant I took a chance and had my hope. And then my health declined.”

To see the full video of this story, visit my Facebook page

Crohn's and PregnancyShe was in the hospital for 9 months from July 2016 to April 2017. It was all haze for her because she was put on opioids during her pregnancy.

“Dilauded, morphine, oxy, Ambien, Benadryl. These are all the things they would prescribe me. It’s a vicious cycle of lying in bed taking pills.”

Lauren told herself that once she got out of the hospital, she would find another way. She consulted with Dr. David Berger, her 10-year-old son’s pediatrician and a doctor with Wholistic ReLeaf in Tampa, Florida. He prescribes medical cannabis to his patients which is an approved treatment for Crohn’s Disease in the state of Florida.

“There’s both long and short term benefits from it. So, from a pain perspective we know that the first dose out can bring reduction in pain because of how it calms down the nerves,” said Dr. Berger. “We also know in a longer picture, because of the way it maintains balance and homeostasis in the body, it also can serve as a longer term anti-inflammatory.”

Lauren’s pregnancy was taking a turn for the worse. Her doctors recommended she get an abortion or she and the baby could die.

“I just kept saying the baby is okay. I knew that no matter what pain I was in as long as the baby was OK, I can handle it,” said Lauren.

Miraculously, on September 5, 2016, a healthy baby boy named Alexander Joseph was born. Lauren’s health continued to decline. She was in and out of the hospital for six more months. Her doctor told her that this was her new normal: living on opioids with an unfixable disease.

“For me to hear that was just terrible because I wanted to go home with my family,” said Lauren as tears streamed down her face.” That’s the worst pain in my life when you’re burning alive. Feces just spilling out.”

Lauren eventually found a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic who was able to perform a life-changing colostomy surgery. But, she was put back on pain medicines while trying to be a mom to two young boys and getting her PhD in physical therapy. Finally, she decided to take Dr. Berger’s advice and started taking medical cannabis. Everything changed.

“Immediately it was the best thing ever. It helped me eat, digest, sleep wake up.”

Lauren was able to get off all of her pain medicines and use medical cannabis as a way to relieve pain, stress, and anxiety.

IMG_1992“Left and right I am having people reducing their inflammatory medicines for colitis. I have seen people who are significantly lowering their Valium and other Benzodiazepines and Prozacs and all other medications,” said Dr. Berger.

“It’s not like ‘That ‘70s Show’ where you’re like smoking a joint and laying on the couch eating. I am trying to be an advocate and pave the way that people who have scholarships and doctorate degrees also have conditions they might require medical marijuana,” said Lauren.

“There are occasional cases of addiction, but relative to the opiates, the benzos, relative to any street drug, alcohol, or nicotine, it has much less addictive potential than with all those other things. That’s part of what the re-education needs to happen. This isn’t cocaine. This isn’t LSD. This isn’t heroine. We’re taking care of really sick people,” said Dr. Berger.

IMG_2250Lauren is now on only two medicines. She takes Humira, a common biologic drug used to treat Crohn’s Disease, and medical cannabis. She’s a yoga teacher, personal trainer, nutrition specialist and most importantly, a mom.

“I feel blessed. Being able to have an open mind and do your own research and have faith; it can take you a long way. It’s not like [we’re] sitting at home getting high. [We’re] sitting home getting healthy.”


For resources on Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, visit Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

To join or donate to my Take Steps Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis team, click here.

xoxo Hilary

crohn's disease, Uncategorized

5 Positive Affirmations To Get You Through A Crohn’s Disease Flare-Up


Our minds like to play tricks on us when we’re going through a Crohn’s Disease flare-up. Every patient has their own irrational thoughts, but we all tend to reach the same conclusion: I am doomed and will never get better.

Let me start by noting that this form of thinking is very common, but people don’t talk about it. This is why it is easy to feel alone during a flare-up. While these thoughts may be common, it is also important to identify irrational thinking before it spirals out of control. Our minds can conjure up a whole island of negative feelings like guilt, anger, low confidence, helplessness, and anxiety. The goal is to stop these negative feelings before they take over.

When I am going through a flare-up, I get stuck in the same negative thinking each time. In order to stop myself from burrowing into a deep whole, I follow these 3 steps:

  1. Do a reality check by recalling your past flare-up experiences. Remind yourself how you got through the last one.
  2. Talk to someone, or multiple people, about how you are feeling. Allow your friends and family to remind you of your strength.
  3. Recite positive affirmations every day and/or each time you feel the negative thinking start to creep in.


5 Positive Affirmations For A Crohn’s Disease Flare-Up

I am not a sick person. During flare-ups my mind conjures up images of me living in a hospital gown eating ice chips for the rest of my life. This irrational thinking is just that: irrational. I always heal from each flare-up and get back to normal life. You will do the same. The nature of a chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease is that flare-ups happen every so often. You are not a sick person. You are just sick right now.

This is not my fault. What did I eat? How stressed have I been? Am I taking all the right supplements? Every time I start to have Crohn’s Disease symptoms, I play the blame game. What did I do to make this happen? This thought process is dangerous. It causes guilt, anger, and self-loathing. Remember, you have a chronic auto-immune disease. Even if you did everything right, you could still have a flare-up because that is the nature of Crohn’s Disease.

I deserve love. Your mind will play so many tricks on your during a flare-up. It will say you are not good enough; your body is failing you; you would be better off alone so you don’t hurt anybody. These thoughts are irrational and simply not true. They stem from common flare-up feelings of low confidence and helplessness. It is important to remember these universal truths about yourself: You are healthy. You are whole. You are enough. Always and forever.

I am not a burden. It is vital to have a support system during a flare-up. You will need to lean on family and friends for emotional support, transportation, pharmacy runs, cooking, cleaning, and the list goes on and on. However, after one week of symptoms, I usually start to feel like I need to mask the pain with a smile so I don’t overwhelm my friends and family. Well, that is just silly! Your loved ones exist for these very times. They want to help you, so let them help you. If anyone makes you feel like a burden, they are not worthy enough to be in your life.

This too shall pass. It can be difficult to see the end of a Crohn’s Disease flare-up. You may start to feel like the pain is your new normal; you will never go back to your normal routine; you will never be able to eat your favorite foods again. This irrational thinking is usually the result of fear. It is important to do reality checks whenever you start to feel hopeless. Have you had a Crohn’s Disease flare-up before? Did you get through it? How long did it take? If this is your first flare-up, seek advice from someone who has been through it before. Remember, the symptoms are temporary. You will overcome this flare-up and get back to your normal routine.

For patient support, reach out to your local Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation chapter.

Related articles: 8 Yoga Poses for Bloating, Cramping, & Gas and How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy and What to Expect 

chocolate zucchini muffins
crohn's disease, Food, Uncategorized

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

If you are trying to avoid nuts, dairy, grain and/or gluten, these muffins are for you! The chocolate-y delights are also a sweet option if you are looking to cut down on sugar. I am trying to avoid all of the above because I am having some Crohn’s Disease symptoms. In fact, I am writing this blog as I come off a 5-day liquid diet (I now fully understand the feeling of being “hangry”).

As always, there is a positive that comes out of every bout of inflammation. This current flare-up has encouraged me to take my gluten-free diet to the next level by also avoiding grain, starch, sugar, and processed foods. Yes, I am basically going to be eating like a cave man (Eh-em, cave woman). Even though I am already avoiding most processed foods, this is going to be a challenge. I love sugar, rice, potatoes, and tofu, all of which I will have to give up.

chocolate zucchini muffins

The chocolate zucchini muffins are my way of slowly learning to bake within the parameters of my new diet. This recipe comes from a cookbook called Against All Grain by Danielle Walker. The muffins have cacao powder and dairy-free chocolate chips, so they are not completely free of processed foods. However, it is a good start if you want to slowly start cutting out grain, gluten, and dairy. Baby steps.


Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This recipe is from Against All Grain by Danielle Walker.
SERVES: 1 dozen

PREP TIME: 15 mins

COOK TIME: 25 mins TOTAL TIME: 40 mins


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, for greasing
  • 3/4 cup zucchini, shredded
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with baking cups or grease with coconut oil.
  2. Place the shredded zucchini on a tray lined with a paper towel to drain some of the moisture while you prepare the batter.
  3. Place the eggs, maple syrup, and applesauce in the stand-mixer and mix on medium speed until combined.
  4. Add the coconut flour, cacao powder, arrowroot powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt and mix again on medium speed until combined.
  5. Wrap the paper towel around the zucchini and give it a light squeeze to remove excess moisture and fold it into the batter along with 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips on top. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then on a wire rack until completely cool.

You may also be interested in “Less Lactose, More Probiotics: How to Make Homemade Yogurt” and “7 Indian Spices With Incredible Digestive Benefits.”

crohn's disease, Food, Uncategorized

Less Lactose, More Probiotics: How to Make Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the oldest foods known to man. Derived from milk, the creamy substance is packed with proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats, and probiotics (live bacteria and yeasts that help keep your gut healthy). Without a doubt, yogurt is a super food for anyone with digestive issues. The problem is many of us with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can’t eat commercialized yogurt because of the presence of lactose. Even commercialized Greek yogurt that has been strained multiple times still has some lactose left in it.

Have no fear! You can make yogurt at home that is virtually lactose-free. It’s called “true yogurt” because the lactose is digested by the bacterial culture and further lactose digestion is not required by intestinal cells (Breaking the Vicious Cycle). This pure form of yogurt comes out tart and tasty. Homemade yogurt can be an extremely beneficial food to help heal inflammation associated with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Making yogurt at home is super simple and requires only a few ingredients and products. The fermentation process takes 24 hours, so be sure you have the time before starting this recipe. In this blog I will be making the 24 Hour SCD™ yogurt. In just one cup of this yogurt, you’ll get 708 billion beneficial bacteria which is about 50 times more than a typical probiotic supplement.

Homemade Yogurt Ingredients

  1.  Whole milk, 2%, or skim. Whole milk makes the tastiest yogurt. If you’re on the SCD diet, you will need to get a 100% grass-fed, no grain milk.


2. Large pot 

yogurt 2

3. Electric Yogurt Making Kit. This recipe calls for a Yogourmet kit which includes a yogurt maker, yogurt starter,  and thermometer. Any electric yogurt maker will work, though.

Homemade yogurt

How to Make Homemade Yogurt

This recipe comes from the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall. I encourage you to buy this book if you’re interested in learning about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). This diet has shown to drastically reduce inflammation in the gut and improve the quality of life for Crohn’s Disease patients.

  1.  In a large pot, bring one quart (or liter) of milk to a simmer (180 F) and remove from heat. Stir often to prevent scorching and sticking.
  2. Cover and cool until milk reaches 120 F. You can speed up this process by placing the pot in ice water.
  3. Remove about one-half cup of cooled milk and mix in the yogurt starter powder to make a paste. Stir until there are no clumps.
  4. Mix the paste into the cooled milk and stir thoroughly.
  5. Pour the milk into the Yogourmet container and close the lid tightly.
  6. Fill the Yogourmet yogurt maker with water and place the closed container inside the yogurt maker. The water should come to just about an inch from the top of the yogurt maker once the container is placed inside.
  7. Make sure the yogurt maker is on and allow the fermentation process to begin! Set a timer for 24 hours. This time frame allows all lactose to be completely digested.
  8. After 24 hours, remove the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
  9. Scoop into a bowl and serve with honey drizzle or fresh fruit.


The yogurt won’t be as thick as commercial yogurt because all the lactose has been digested by the bacteria. This yogurt should be much easier to digest for IBD patients, however it isn’t for everyone. It is a good idea to experiment by eating just a spoonful of it to see how your gut reacts.


Huge thank you to Michelle and John Burtch for teaching me this recipe and introducing me to the SCD diet.


You may also be interested in: “5 Ways to Use Indian Digestive Spices in Your Kitchen” and “8 Yoga poses for Bloating, Cramping, and Gas.”

crohn's disease, Uncategorized

Pro-Golfer Hank Lebioda Talks Triumphs Despite Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis

Positive. Humble. Fearless. These three words perfectly describe 24-year-old Hank Lebioda, Web.Com tour professional golf player and Crohn’s Disease patient. When I interviewed him at Golf Fore Guts in Florida, I was so impressed by his outlook on living with a chronic disease. I couldn’t wait to share his story with my readers.

Lebioda was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2012 during his freshman year of college at Florida State University. Like many of us, he didn’t know much about the disease. One thing he did know was that he wanted to play golf.

hank 1

“I had three and a half years [in college] to test the waters. To see if I can actually play golf at a high enough level and make a living out of it. It was an adjustment,” said Lebioda.

He had a full team of people at the university helping him from a strength coach to a nutritionist. As Lebioda juggled treatment options, he continued traveling to golf tournaments.

“We would travel with a box of Ensure. We would go to restaurants that would be comfortable for me to eat at where I wouldn’t have issues on the course the next day. It even got to the point where I would map out the golf course and see where the closest bathrooms were,” said Lebioda.

hank 3We can all relate to this. We’ve all had to make adjustments in our daily lives as we deal with uncomfortable symptoms. As a news anchor, I use commercial breaks to go to the bathroom. I also work to keep my emotions in check. It is easy to get sucked into the competitiveness of my industry, but Crohn’s Disease helps keep me grounded. Lebioda also believes his diagnosis helps keep him humble. He remembers a specific tournament against the University of Florida where he stood out like a sore thumb.

Lebioda wears a purple ribbon on his cap while he plays at the Golf Fore Guts Tournament in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

“If you watch college golfers, they will be carrying their own bags. Well, I wasn’t allowed to do that and it was a little bit of an ego shock for me. But I said, ‘This is what I have to do’, and I ended up finishing 12th in my first event after I got back from my diagnosis. My assistant coach walked with me that entire tournament. I had a push cart and made a bathroom stop every 4-5 holes,” said Lebioda. His team ended up winning that event for the first time in 20 years.

After graduating from Florida State University, Lebioda joined the Web.Com Tour where he has been playing now for almost 2 years. He is using his platform to raise awareness about Crohn’s Disease and is now a spokesman for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Lebioda wants to show kids the power of being fearless.

“One thing my dad taught me growing up is that there are two options: You can be part of the solution or part of the problem. Was I going to go, ‘Oh woe is me. No one understands what I am going through. No one else my age is going through this.’ Or, was I going to say, ‘I could bring awareness and show people you don’t have to live within this boundary of Crohn’s. It’s not something that will hold me back,'” said Lebioda.

Lebioda posing with two young golfers at the Golf Fore Guts Tournament in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

We all have this choice to make everyday. When we wake up, we have to decide whether Crohn’s Disease is going to defeat us or motivate us to be better. I know it can be hard when we’re going through a flare-up; when the pain takes over and we just want it to all go away; when we think we’ve found the right medicine, but then the symptoms creep back in. I know it’s easy to feel defeated. But everyday we get the chance to fight back. We get the chance to be proactive, do something to help ourselves, and put it all into perspective.

“It’s something I can live through and show people it’s not the end of the world. You can be a high level professional athlete with this disease and it’s not something I am going to be afraid of. It’s possible to live with it and live a great life,” said Lebioda.

Mind Body Spring Cleaning

Mind-Body Spring Cleaning: Cleanse the Body and Mind

I absolutely love springtime. When I was younger, it meant summer break was just around the corner. As an adult, it means spring cleaning. Families around the world take time to micro-clean their homes and purge their closets. They clean out their refrigerators and detail their cars. I hope you do all of these things, but the type of spring cleaning I am talking about doesn’t involve a toilet bowl cleaner and duster. This type of spring cleaning is much more interesting.

In nature, spring is a time for new beginnings and transformations. Flowers bloom, trees grow new leaves, mammals come out of hibernation, and new animals are born. As mammals,  it is only natural that we should go through some sort of transformation, too. This springtime, I invite you to join me in “mind-body spring cleaning.” Purging what no longer serves you and cultivating what you want to see grow.


Mind-body spring cleaning could be anything from improving your diet to learning to quiet negative self-talk. Whatever you choose to clean up, make it something manageable. Self cleansing takes conscious effort and dedication, but it shouldn’t be stressful or overwhelming.

My 5 Favorite Mind-Body Spring Cleaning Ideas

mind and body spring cleaning1. Unfollow social media pages that don’t serve you. We spend over two hours on social media every day. Make that time nourishing and valuable. Consider unfollowing family, friends, influencers, or brand pages that don’t make you feel happy or good about yourself. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about doing this. Protecting your peace on social media is vital for personal growth. You may not be ready to follow certain people and that is okay.

2. Learn to breath more. How often do you check in on your breath during the day? Start doing this and you’ll realize how often you are holding your breath or breathing high in the chest and shoulders. The breath is our life force and we need to be more aware of it. A steady breath can relive anxiety, stress, and nervousness. It can make us more attentive and energetic. Consider taking 5 minutes before bed to do breath work.

mind and body spring cleaning

Breath Exercise:  Sit in a comfortable seated position with your spine straight. Hands can lay comfortably in the lap or on the knees. Close your eyes and check in on your breath. What’s it like? Where are you breathing from? Now, set a timer for 5 minutes. Begin by inhaling on a count of 5, then exhaling on a count of 5. Extend the breath by a 1 count halfway through. You can take do this breath exercise any time during the day.  

capture3. Detox from sugar. I eat an obscene amount of sugar. Guys, I really need an intervention. Sugar in all its forms can worsen chronic disease like Crohn’s Disease, so I’ve got to make some changes. For this year’s spring cleaning, I am making a conscious decision to detox from sugar. This means avoiding artificial sugar, choosing the right carbs, eating more natural sugars from fruit and honey, and drinking more water with lemon (helps curb the cravings).

4.  Go to the spa. Give yourself permission to be pampered. We do not do this enough. A massage, steam room, sauna, or hot tub can do wonders for our mental health. Recently, I was feeling anxious and happened to be near a hot tub. As soon I got into the water my body relaxed which allowed my mind to calm down. A hot bath will do the same trick.

mind and body spring cleaning

5. Change up your exercise routine. What made you initially fall in love with your current workout? Are you still feeling that excitement about it or is it time to spice things up for a fresh start? Consider checking out a local yoga or pilates studio. Join a running or cycling group. I recently started lifting weights once a week and walking outside every evening, in addition to my daily yoga practice. Move your body in a different way and you’ll feel the incredible benefits.

You may also be interested in: “8 Yoga Poses for Bloating, Cramping, and Gas” and “5 Ways to Use Indian Digestive Spices in Your Kitchen.”

Yoga Poses for Digestive Discomfort
Uncategorized, Yoga

8 Yoga Poses for Bloating, Cramping, and Gas

Yoga is a natural and easy way to relieve common PMS symptoms and digestive discomfort. I have been adding these eight poses into my daily flow to give love to my lower abdomen, lower back, and side body. I am used to dealing with PMS-related bloating and cramping. It is never comfortable, but at least it is predictable. What’s not so predictable is bloating, cramping, and gas from Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed 13 years ago and the sensations in my gut still come as a surprise to me. Usually the symptoms come after eating a big meal or dairy, but sometimes I feel digestive discomfort without any warning.

These eight poses have several benefits, but I am going to concentrate on how each eases bloating, cramping, and gas. I have labeled each of them with both the Sanskrit and English term.

The instruction for each pose is a rough explanation. I recommend taking a few yoga classes at a local studio to familiarize yourself with basic alignment and modifications. Also, most of the pictures shown illustrate a deep variation. Please know that your body may not be ready for some of these, so do not push yourself. These poses are not in any particular order and can be done within a vinyasa flow or as individual stretches. If you deal with any physical issues like lower back pain or knee pain, consult with a doctor before practicing. 

Bound Angle Pose

Yoga Poses for Digestive Discomfort

Instruction: Sit down. Bring soles of the feet together, knees open wide. Use your hands to open your feet out like a book. Elbows hug in towards lower belly. INHALE, prepare by straightening the spine. EXHALE, round forward encouraging head towards feet. Elbows can lightly massage abdominal organs.

Benefits: I love this pose! It stimulates the abdominal organs, improving the health of the ovaries, prostate gland, kidneys, and bladder. It’s my favorite pose for cramps. This pose also opens the lower back which can feel good if you get lower back cramps from PMS or Crohn’s Disease.

Supine Spinal Twist

pose 5

Instruction: Lay on back with feet planted. Hug knees into chest. INHALE, prepare. EXHALE, drop legs to one side, twisting the spine. Keep upper back and shoulders firmly planted. Hands can stretch out or come into a goal post position. Breath here for one minute on each side.

Benefits: I like to think of my digestive system as a wet towel in this pose. As I twist, it’s like I am wringing out my digestive system. This twist helps stimulate waste removal and gas. When you release the twist, fresh blood rushes back to your digestive organs which helps nourish them.

Wind-Relieving Pose

pose 9

Instruction: Lay on back with legs straight. INHALE, bend one knee toward chest and wrap hands around shin. EXHALE, prepare. INHALE, lift head towards knee. Hold for 5 breaths. EXHALE, release. Be sure to do both sides. You can also simple hug both knees into chest and just hang out while keeping head and shoulders down or rock forward and backward.

Benefits: Don’t be ashamed if you let out some gas. This pose massages the intestines and other organs in the abdomen. It really helps in digestion and the release of gas. I love this one!

Extended Triangle Pose

pose 2

Instruction: Stand with feet about 3 to 4 feet apart. Right foot comes to 90 degrees to front of mat. Left foot comes parallel to back of the mat and slightly turned in. INHALE, arms reach out wide, thumbs up, and gaze at left thumb. INHALE, reach towards right foot until you can’t reach anymore. EXHALE, bend from the hip. Right hand comes to thigh, shin, big toe, or block. Gaze up at left fingertips. Chest stays lifted. Hold for 5 breaths. REPEAT on left side.

Benefits: This is a powerful pose which stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion. I like it because it stretches my side body and strengthens my core which feels good when I am bloated or gassy.

Bow Pose

pose 1

Instruction: Lay flat on your belly with hands down by your sides. Bend your knees so that your feet are pointing towards the ceiling. INHALE, reach your hands back to grab ankles, big toes touching. EXHALE, prepare. INHALE, lift chest, knees, and thighs. Shoulders out of ears. Breath into your diaphragm and back of torso. Hold for 5 breaths.

Benefits: When you breathe here, you will encourage a gentle massaging of your internal organs. This can help digestion and move stuck wastes through the digestive system. I like to give my organs a nice massage here by rocking slightly forward and backward.

Upward-Facing Dog

pose 3Instruction: Lie prone on the floor, legs back, tops of feet on the floor. Bend your elbows so that palms of hands come beside floating ribs. INHALE, push hands into the floor (and slightly back as if you’re energetically pulling yourself forward), straighten arms (elbows facing forward) and simultaneously lift your torso, hips, and legs a few inches off the floor. Collar bone spreads and thighs engage. Hold for 5 breaths.

Benefits: This pose is a heart opener. The chest opens and collar bone spreads which can help with indigestion. This pose also stimulates the abdominal organs. You can feel a stretch right above your pubic bone which helps relieve cramping.

Bridge Pose

pose 6Instruction: Lay on your back with feet firmly planted. Arms come beside the body with hands reaching towards ankles. EXHALE, press feet and arms into the mat. INHALE, lift hips and slightly firm buttocks. Keep thighs and feet parallel. Clasp hands below pelvis as you stay on top of shoulders. No pressure in neck.

Benefits: This pose stimulates the abdominal organs which helps improve digestion and relieve PMS symptoms. It is really nice when you’re feeling bloated and gassy. This pose can also help relieve lower back cramping.

Seated Forward Fold

pose 7

Instruction: Come to a seated position with legs straight and feet flexed. Engage lower belly and keep spine straight with shoulders hugging down. INHALE, arms reach high. EXHALE, fold forward bringing peace fingers to big toes. I like to bend my knees here to encourage a flat back. Hold for 5 breaths.

Benefits: This pose is amazing for menstrual discomfort. The forward fold stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus. It also helps improve digestion and can relieve gas.

You may also be interested in: “How Yoga Changed My Life.”