Dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps can be quite a bummer. They can literally cramp your style by restricting your movements, prevent you from doing the usual activities you find enjoyable, and in worse-case scenarios, place you under “house arrest.” for the duration of your period.
A number of ways have been devised to enable women to survive the annoying, even painful, PMS ordeal of Auntie Flo’s visits. From menstrual extraction that helps women control period schedules to bedtime rituals that ensure the kind of rest that reduces fatigue and discomfort, there is always something you can do to make your period more comfortable. And among the most effective are yoga poses to help with menstrual cramps.
Yoga Positions that Relieve Menstrual Cramps
Yoga is an exercise that involves mind and body coordination. It encompasses breathing techniques, meditation, and movements that improve muscle strength and tone, increase balance and flexibility, and reduce chronic pain. Thus, yoga can be a beneficial physical activity that can help us better manage the pain associated with PMS symptoms, such as muscle spasms.
Before you jump into your session, first seek the green light with your doctor. Once you are cleared by your physician, get your props ready, such as your water bottle, a comfy yoga mat, and some towels. Note that you shouldn’t be taking your class on a full stomach. Be aware, too, that there may be some chanting involved. In such cases, you need not participate in the chanting if you are uncomfortable. Finally, because you will most likely do a lot of stretching, wearing loose clothes for yoga is a must if you want to reap the full benefits of the exercise.
Now, here are some highly recommended pain-alleviating poses that can carry you through those heavy red-letter days.
#1. Staff Pose
Muscle spasms are primarily triggered by the release of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce uterine contraction and the shedding of the uterine lining during the monthly cycle. This is why someone who is menstruating may feel pain in the lower back and in the abdominal and pelvic areas. The Staff pose or Seated Yoga pose helps strengthen the back to minimize the aches and pains from menstrual cramps.
The Staff pose is pretty easy to do. Simply sit on the floor and stretch out your legs in front of you. Next, hold your back in an erect but not rigid position. Place your hands beside your hips, palms facing downwards, and use them to gently keep you steady. Next, press down the lower part of your pelvis or your “sit bones.” It’s the part of your bottom that carries most of your weight when you’re sitting down.
Then, imagine where the crown of your head is and align it towards the ceiling. A quick tip is to think of a thread slowly pulling up your head and straightening and elongating your spine. Keep this pose for about 20 to 30 seconds while breathing normally. Then, resume your starting lotus position.
#2. Corpse Pose
This yoga pose can enhance rest and sleep by inducing deep relaxation. With your body fully rested, your cells can self-repair and deal with oxidative stress that may worsen the severity of PMS symptoms.
Begin by lying on your back with your arms and legs stretched out just like a corpse. Make the palms of your hands face upwards. While in this position, inhale and exhale deeply. Focus on your breathing while clearing your mind of all the stress-causing mental clutter. Don’t be pressured if your thoughts come and go. Just relax and gently nudge them back to focus on the rise and fall of your chest. Hold this pose for at least 5 to 15 minutes.
#3. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose
Menstrual cramps can also be aggravated by poor blood flow. With the Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose,
you can enhance your circulation and help oxygen and nutrients reach those muscles and tissues that need to be repaired and restored. Note that you will need to work with your doctor if you have uncontrolled blood pressure or other medical conditions that can be impacted by the increase in blood flow from this exercise.
Begin by lying on your side, then slowly lie flat on your back, and ease your legs up onto the wall. Try to keep your hips as close to the wall as possible while ensuring that no body part is strained. S L O W is the keyword here as you don’t want to risk injury.
You may bend your knees for as long as you want but keep them from locking. You may also use whatever props are necessary, such as a cushion or folded blanket under your head or neck, to keep you comfortable. Stay in this position for up to 20 minutes.
Return to starting position by gently pushing yourself away from the wall. Next, pull your knees to your chest and roll onto your right side. Relax for a few more minutes before slowly getting into an upright stance.