For many women, that time of the month brings with it a host of uncomfortable symptoms. With over 80% of women suffering from menstrual-related pain, it’s important to understand how to treat cramping effectively. While painkillers have their place, many people prefer to treat their pain holistically. Studies have shown that yoga can be a helpful tool in managing period-related pain. So instead of self-medicating, put on your yoga top and ease your symptoms naturally. In this article, we explore the best yoga poses to relieve cramps.
In many active yoga classes, Child’s Pose is a popular resting pose. With a number of benefits, this asana is great for those suffering from period cramps – particularly ones that stem from the lower back. By gently stretching the muscles, Child’s Pose can soothe pain and discomfort in the lower back.
To practice Child’s Pose, start by kneeling on your mat. Next, take a deep breath in and sit back on your heels. As you exhale, walk your hands out in front of you until your chest is touching the mat. If it’s comfortable to do so, rest your forehead on the mat and relax your arms by your sides. You are in Child’s Pose. Hold the asana for around 1 minute, remembering to breathe deeply throughout.
By lengthening the spine, Forward Fold counteracts the compression caused by the menstrual cycle. As it stretches the hips, hamstrings, and back, it can also soothe pain the radiates around the back and down the legs. When menstruating, many of us choose to stay snuggled up with a hot water bottle. Although heat can be beneficial, it’s important to stand up after sitting for long periods of time. Helping to get your circulation moving, Forward Fold is a great option.
To practice the asana, stand tall with your feet underneath your hips. Next, bend at the waist and lower your torso toward the mat. To minimise pressure on your lower back, make sure to bend your knees throughout the pose. When you can, grab your ankles and let your upper body hang toward the ground. You are in Forward Fold. Hold the asana for around 30 seconds whilst breathing deeply. To take the posture to the next level, slowly sway your torso from side to side to increase the stretch.
Another effective pose for menstrual pain is Knees to Chest Pose. As this asana relaxes the abdominal muscles and lower back, it works to relieve tension and reduce cramps. Also increasing circulation to the abdomen, the pose aids the reproductive system.
To practice the asana, lay down on your back. Once comfortable, gently draw your knees into your chest and slowly rock from side to side to massage your lower back. After a couple of seconds, extend your left leg while keeping your right leg tucked into your chest. Move your right thigh to rest gently on the ground. You are in Wind Relieving Pose. Hold the posture for 8-10 breaths before switching sides.
This posture works to stimulate and refresh the organs by “wringing out” the abdomen. Practising Supine Twist for a few minutes will help to ease abdominal pain during menstruation, as well as reducing anxiety.
To practice Supine Twist, begin by lying on your back. Bring your arms out into a T position with your palms facing down. Next, bend your right knee and place your right foot on the left knee. As you exhale, move your right knee over to the left side of your body by twisting the spine and lower back. Move your head to look at your right fingertips and keep your shoulders flat on the floor. You are in Supine Twist. Hold the asana for around 10 breaths before repeating on the opposite side.
The slow movement achieved through Cat-Cow pose helps to warm up the body and relieve cramps. Additionally, the asana targets the back and abdominal muscles to relieve tightness associated with your period.
To practice Cat-Cow Pose, begin on all fours, keeping your hands aligned with your shoulders and your knees aligned with your hips. Next, slowly dome your back, drawing your belly button toward the ceiling. You are in Cat Pose. After a couple of seconds bring your belly button down towards the mat, bending your back in the opposite direction. You are in Cow Pose. Continue switching between the 2 for a couple of minutes, remembering to breathe properly throughout.
Savasana is the final resting pose used at the end of a yoga class. Also known as Corpse Pose, the asana helps to relax the muscles and quiet the mind. During menstruation, this can relieve cramping and soothe the nerves.
To practice Savasana, start by lying on your back. Relax your arms by your sides while keeping both legs stretched out. Finally, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. You are in Savasana. Take this time to relax your body and mind for as long as you feel comfortable.
If you prefer to steer clear of painkillers, try using yoga to relieve your menstrual pain naturally. When practised correctly, you’ll be surprised how effective the holistic practice is. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to attend a class before practising independently. This way, an instructor can show you how to perform each pose to minimise the risk of injury. Additionally, using the poses correctly will ensure you reap maximum benefit from each one. Before your first session, be sure to pick up a cosy yoga sweater and some flexible bottoms.