Menstrual cramps are a painful experience for many women. Yoga can be helpful in dealing with menstrual cramps. For some women, menstrual cramps can be painful and discomforting. Menstrual pain is associated with back pain, abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, bloating, etc. Along with the menstrual cramps, some women also experience nausea, dizziness, headaches.
Most women prefer a day off to themselves, sipping on a hot herbal tea (chamomile or peppermint), some of us prefer to binge on ice creams and chocolates, or even sleep it out! However, one of the best ways to bid goodbye to menstrual cramps is a light aerobics exercise or practice yoga. Any form of physical activity can help ease the pain. Usually during this time of the month, practicing rigorous exercise can become difficult for women. This is where yoga comes to aid, so skip the pills and let’s get moving!
Remember, this is not an exercise, this is to help you relax and to release any body ache. If you feel like resting, by all means do so; it’s important to listen to your body.
1. CAT COW (MARJARIASANA/BITILASANA)
Cat/cow pose is great for strengthening your spine. During cow stretch activates the tailbone, the spin’s root, while the cat stretch releases the tension of neck and upper back. The pose will also improve the blood flow in your spine. This asana not only stretches your back but also your abdomen, hips, lungs and chest. This will improve the flexibility and relieve tension in these areas.
2. SETUBANDHASANA (GLUTE BRIDGES)
This asana provides a good stretch to the chest, neck and spine, thus relieving any lower back discomfort. It also helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual pain; calms the brain, reducing anxiety, stress and depression.
3. PAWANMUKTASANA (KNEES TO CHEST POSE)
This pose can help you relax the muscle in your lower back region and the abdominal muscles. It also increases blood flow in your abdominal region. With the increased blood blow, your internal organs function properly. This relaxes and calms the body.
4. SUPINE TWIST
This pose is supposed to stimulate, detox and sooth the body. This exercise stretches your spine, thus releasing the lower back, it also compresses the abdomen thus improving digestion. Holding this position for a few minutes can help you ease the nerves during the menstruation which can help you relieve the pain.
5. RECLINED BUTTERFLY or SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA
From fatigue and insomnia to anxiety to headaches, your period doesn’t stand a chance against this relaxing post. Since this is a reclined pose, your abdominal muscles relax which can help ease cramping.
6. BHADRASANA to BADDHA KONASANA
This pose soothes your digestive system but it can also provide relief from painful menstrual cramps..
7. PADMASANA SIDE BENDS
They stretch the obliques and shoulder muscles, thus providing a minor relief to the back muscles, since it is a minor side bend in sitting, it calms the mind and relieves a mild headache.
Sit in any meditative posture- Sukhasana or Padmasana, close your eyes, keep your spine erect and chin parallel to the ground. Gently close your eyes and inahale and exhale, take deep inhalations and try and observe your breathing. Doing this will calm your mind and make you feel energized and refreshed. To make this experience better, you can add a few drops of peppermint oil/Eucalyptus oil in hot water and allow it to penetrate in the room.
Other relaxation poses include:
- SAVASANA or CORPSE POSE– which is a conscious relaxation pose, relaxes your body and mind. It equalizes your breathing and helps your mind get distracted from the menstrual pain thus, relieving you of the menstrual cramps.
- BALASANA or CHILD’S POSE– is an extremely relaxing pose which can help to relieve the menstrual pains. The child pose helps in the alignment on your back. It helps in relieving the pain in the back region. This pose massages the internal organs and releases the tension in your back, shoulders and neck. Along with that, it helps in relaxing the mind too.
ASANAS TO SKIP WHEN MENSTRUATING/AVOID CRAMPS:
In a yoga practice there are certain asanas that should be avoided during menstruation. The main type of asanas are inversions. Any extraordinarily strong asanas particularly strong backbends, handstands, twists, arm balances and standing positions that put a lot of stress on the abdominal and pelvic region should be avoided, especially if the woman is going through a lot of pain at the time. These asanas are:
Shirshasana, Sarvangasana, Dhanurasana, Halasana, Karnapeedasana, and Bakasana.
The reasoning for this is very logical. If the pelvic region is causing spasm and pain, why cause more contraction and pressure to the area. Also, these positions need more physical strength and exertion which can be lacking during this time and can be depleted further by the practice. Strong vinyasa and power yoga should be avoided for the same reasons. Surya namaskar, when done slowly and gently, can be useful, however it should be avoided if there is a lot of pain or heavy bleeding.
OTHER NATURAL REMEDIES TO RELIEVE MENSTRUAL CRAMPS
- HYDRATE – Drink lots of water, at least 8 glasses of warm water. Herbal teas like chamomile tea or peppermint tea provides a cooling effect on the body. Reducing your sodium intake also helps reduce the bloating.
- DIET– As much as we crave sugary foods and junk a lot more at that time of the month, these don’t really help, since it elevates your mood at that moment, but makes you feel worse, makes you bloated, it increases the inflammation and actually encourages the period pain.
- VITAMIN D– The sunshine vitamin supports the immune system and fights inflammation, brightens your mood, calms the mind.
- AT HOME TREATMENT– Applying a heating pad, heat wrap, or hot water bottle to your abdomen works wonders for relieving menstrual cramps.
- ESSENTIAL OILS– Steam inhalation with Peppermint oil can relieve a headache and calm the nerves. To aid sleep, you can also put 2-3 drops of lavender oil on your pillow, this will not only help you sleep well, but also cure a migraine. To relieve abdominal pains, apply a few drops of coconut oil in your navel, this will also help in bloating.
- UNWIND: Avoid TV, your smartphone, computer, and other screens before bed to help you wind down. You may feel more comfortable sleeping in different positions during your period. Pay extra attention to sleep hygiene in the days leading up to your period.