Can Yoga Help Ease Menstrual Cramps? (Poses & Guidelines)
Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea in medical terms, are cramping pains in your lower belly or back, hips or inner thighs. They happen due to the lack of supply of oxygen to the uterus. Women usually have menstrual cramps 2-3 days before and during their periods.
According to Mayo Clinic, the possible grounds for causing the period cramps are some tissues lining the uterus, the growth of the noncancerous fibroid in uterus and sometimes the infection of the reproductive organs.
Not every woman has the same painful periods. But if you suffer from moderate to severe cramps, you have possibly tried almost everything to ease them as other women do. Some women choose to take full bed rest, some try to change the diet and some use the hot water bag to relieve the pain.
Taking pills and syrups is also another favorite thing that women do for a quick solution. If you also take pills for temporary relief, let me tell you it’s not a good solution. And the regular usage of the pain killers can also harm your body as well in the longer run. It is more like suppressing the pain rather than eradicating it from the body naturally and permanently.
So, what’s the natural treatment for period cramps? Here yoga comes in picture and seems to be more reliable than any other treatment going around.
Let’s find out whether yoga can help to ease menstrual cramps or not. If yes, how it can help and what researchers are saying about this.
Effect of yoga on menstrual cramps
Performing yoga during menstruation is a debatable issue. Some people are entirely against doing yoga during periods while others advocate yoga practice to lessen the effect of menstrual cramps. Some say practicing gentle poses like child pose can help.
The thing which most people agree on is that a woman must not practice inverted poses during menstrual periods.
Let’s see what science says about this:
According to a new review of studies, regular yoga practice is linked to reducing the symptoms of menstrual cramps and the severity of pain in women suffering from the heavy flow and excessive pain.
Certain Yoga poses like Bhadrasana (The Gracious Pose) have been found to help the ovaries to function properly. They can help the blood to circulate properly in the pelvic region, widen the pelvic opening and alleviate back pain and cramping.
Some other poses like Savasana (Corpse Pose) help to soothe brain cells and empower you to put up a stronger resistance against giving in to the pain. They help you control your mood swings, irritation, anger and anxiety caused by menstruation.
Guidelines on practicing yoga during periods
- Women often feel irritated during their periods so it’s a good practice to do Anulom Vilom for 5 minutes before practicing yoga poses. It will stabilize your mind.
- Cleanliness is an important prerequisite for Yogic practice. You can use feminine hygiene products available in the market. They include tampons, menstrual cups, and discs. Please use only if you are comfortable. Make sure they don’t distract you during your yoga session.
- Bladder and bowels should be empty before starting Yogic practices. Else bloating or any other type of congestion may cause unrest to your body in this condition. It may also aggravate your pain.
- Put a soft cushion beside you. You may need it during the practice because it is difficult to perform full yoga poses during periods.
- Wear light and comfortable cotton clothes. Choose dark color clothes. They may save you in case there is leaking.
- Don’t perform yoga in a state of pain.
- Do not hold the body tightly, or jerk the body at any point in time.
Yoga poses to ease menstrual pain
- Pada-Hastasana (The Hands to Feet Posture)
Pada refers to feet and hasta refers to hands. Therefore, Pada Hasta means making your hands reach down under your feet and toes and palm facing up. This is a variant of Uttanasana and falls under the category of inverted postures.
Note: This is a variant of Uttanasana and falls under the category of inverted postures. Therefore, don’t practice it during your periods. Performing this pose after and before periods can reduce the severity of menstrual cramps.
- Stand straight with an erect spine.
- Breathe in slowly and raise your arms upward.
- Breathe out and bend your trunk from the hips.
- Keep bending forward until your hands reach under your feet.
- Your trunk should be parallel to the ground.
- Take deep breaths.
- Maintain this final posture for 10-15 minutes.
- Or as long as you feel comfortable remaining in this posture.
- Release the hands out of your feet.
- Slowly return to your starting position in reverse order.
- Bloating is a common problem women face during periods. This pose improves digestion and prevents constipation. This helps prevents menstrual problems.
- It also makes your spine flexible.
- Bhadrasana (The Firm/Auspicious Posture)
Bhadra is a Sanskrit word which means firm, gracious or auspicious. It is a long sitting posture. This pose is a blessing to women.
- Sit straight on a mat.
- Stretch out your legs and put the toes together pointing outward.
- The soles of your feet should be together.
- Take a deep breath and put your hands together over your toes and hold firmly.
- Bring your heels close to the perineum region.
- Let the thighs touch the floor on either side.
- If you are not comfortable in your sitting position or your thighs are not touching the floor, place the cushion under your knees to balance it.
- Keep your upper body straight.
- Remain in this posture for 6-10 seconds.
- Take deep breaths and return to the starting position slowly.
- During periods, women often experience pain in the abdomen. This pose acts on the abdominal organs and releases any tension in the abdomen if done during menstruation.
- The pelvis gets plentiful supply and is stimulated.
- This pose is also practiced to relieve knee pain, keeps the body firm and soothe the brain cells.
- Upavishtha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)
Upavistha refers to seated, Kona refers to angled & Asana refers to pose.
- Sit on the floor and stretch out your legs straight in front.
- Now, extend your both legs sideways one by one such as they make a 90-degree angle with your pelvis.
- Widen the distance between them as much as it is possible for you.
- Let your legs touch the floor.
- Catch your toes with your thumb and fingers.
- Take deep breaths and let your trunk bend forward.
- Keep bending until your chin touches the floor.
- Now try to place your chest on the floor.
- Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Inhale and return to your starting position slowly.
- Regularizes the blood circulation in the pelvic region and keeps it healthy.
- It controls the menstrual flow and stimulates the ovaries.
- Balasana (Child pose)
Bala is a Sanskrit word which means child, and asana means pose. The child pose is one of the most common poses suggested for beginners.
- Sit on the mat and kneel on the floor.
- Begin with making a wide gap between your knees.
- Raise your heels and let your hips rest on them.
- Make your toes touch together.
- Sit straight and take deep breaths.
- Start bowing forward such as your trunk should reach down on the top of your thighs.
- Now allow your forehead touches the floor.
- Extend your arms and let your palms face down.
- Close your eyes and let all the tension go away.
- Remain in this pose for 30 seconds to 60 seconds.
- Gently return to your starting position.
- Child pose is a relaxing pose that stabilizes your mind and can help to relieve the menstrual pains.
- The child pose stretches the low back muscles. Therefore It can help to relieve the pain originating from your back during menstruation.
- Savasana (corpse pose)
The Sava means corpse. It is a very easy and relaxing pose.
- Lie down on a mat and close your eyes.
- Keep your palms open pointing upwards.
- Relax your body.
- Try to think nothing.
- Remain in this pose until you feel fresh.
- Pranayama can be done without exertion.
Yoga poses to avoid during the menstruation
- First of all, don’t practice, any yoga pose if you’re not comfortable. Listen to your body.
- Don’t practice hot yoga or inverted poses at this time. These poses may disturb the blood flow which may lead to serious problems later on. You may suffer from more serious adverse effects.
- If you are not sure which yoga poses you can try during menstruation, consult a yoga teacher trainer. Because, practicing wrong poses generates the risk for collapsing the veins, congestion, and increased flow.
- The poses which demand twists, sweating, strong stretching should be avoided because they put unhealthy stress on your pelvis and abdominal area.
- Poses like headstand, handstand, shoulder stand, pull wheel plow pose, boat pose must be avoided.
The bottom line is that the body of every woman is different and responds differently to menstruation. Some may not have any side effects, while some others are affected so much that they have to take leave from work due to low energy, extreme pain, mood swings, anger, bloating, fatigue they feel during periods.
And Because no woman is the same so you must listen to your body during this time. But there are some general set of rules that would always help. For example, consider adding yoga to your daily workout regimen rather than just doing it in your periods. Even studies have been found advocating yoga to ease menstrual cramps and regulate flow. Practicing yoga even 2 times per week can help a lot.
You can not stop periods from happening but you can always do something to suffer less from these conditions.
Also, OM chanting, Anulom-Vilom, and Savasana are some safe and healthy practices you can always do during your periods to make them more bearable.
Srishti Gupta has been practicing Yoga for the last 4 years. She helps people learn how to lead a healthy and happy life. Srishti also runs a blog where she shares articles about yoga, fitness, and wellness. Her tips & techniques (based on science and Ayurveda) encourage the readers to maintain a healthy lifestyle in today’s busy life.
You can check her blog here: https://trendtofit.com.
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