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Blog Mental Health Yoga Yoga For Period Cramps: Does It Work?

Yoga For Period Cramps: Does It Work?

Menstrual cramps (also called dysmenorrhea) are painful feelings you get when you’re on your period. These usually happen before or during a girl’s monthly period and can last for several hours or days. Most girls have menstrual cramps at some point in their lives, and because of this, they look for effective pain management. Painkillers, hot baths, relaxation, exercise, and dietary changes are all common treatments for menstrual cramps. But what about yoga? This alternative therapy has been gaining popularity around the world because it’s supposed to help ease a wide range of health concerns, from stress to muscle pains. But does it work against painful periods too?

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Does Yoga Help Relieve Period Cramps?

Yes it does. Yoga helps reduce period cramps because it promotes relaxation and eases tension (3) (4) .

The muscles in your uterus are in a constant state of contraction to help the blood flow out of your body. This tension can be quite uncomfortable, which is why period cramps are so painful (2).

Yoga can help relieve this muscular tension by encouraging the blood flow within your uterus to normalize.

The gentle movements and controlled breathing involved in a yoga session helps reduce overall tension throughout your body, which then reduces the pain from period cramps. 

Furthermore, this practice may also relieve other symptoms of PMS, such as cramping in the legs and bloating. It can help you destress too and improve your mood (5). 

Which Are The Best Yoga Poses For Period Cramps?

There are several poses that may help you relax and overcome period pain. They include:

Child’s Pose – Balasana

This pose is simple yet good enough to release the tension in your abdomen, back, shoulders, and neck.

To do the child’s pose:

  1. Rest on your knees. Kneel on your yoga mat, resting your buttocks against your heels. Place your palms on your thighs and bring your feet close together. Inhale and exhale slowly, allowing your shoulders to relax.
  2. Bow forward. In your own time, lower your upper body onto your thighs on an exhale. Extend your arms out in front of you with your palms face down on the mat. Keep your big toes touching and spread your knees wide enough for your torso to lower between your thighs. 
  3. Lower your forehead. Rest your forehead on your yoga mat and relax your neck. Close your eyes and relax your jaw.

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Seated Straddle (Upavistha Konasana)

This pose will stretch the inner thighs and hips, which can help release muscle tension in this area. You should feel a gentle pull on your abdominals too as you hold this pose for several minutes.

To do the seated straddle:

  1. Sit down and open your legs as wide as you comfortably can without straining your groin muscles.
  2. Keep your spine straight. If you find it difficult to sit on the floor, prop yourself up with a pillow or cushion.
  3. Exhale as you lean forward from the hips and clasp your feet. Reach out for the outer edges of your feet and press them towards each other to feel a deeper stretch in your inner thighs
  4. Hold the position for 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Repeat 3 times.

Read More: Aerial Yoga Benefits: 10 Ways This Practice Will Elevate Your Workouts

Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)

This pose opens up the hips and stretches the inner thighs, groin muscles, and lower back. It can help ease menstrual cramps caused by tension in these areas.

To do the cobbler’s pose:

  1. Sit down and open your legs as wide as you comfortably can without straining your groin muscles.
  2. Place a pillow or cushion under your buttocks to help you maintain the position
  3. Exhale as you lean forward from the hips and clasp your feet. Reach out for the outer edges of your feet and press them towards each other 
  4. Hold the position for 4 to 5 minutes.

yoga for period cramps

Cat/Cow Stretch

This stretch eases tension in your lower back, which can help relieve pelvic pain. It also stretches the muscles in your abdomen, making it a good yoga pose for period cramps.

To do this stretch:

  1. Get on all fours with the palms of your hands over your shoulders and the knees directly under the hips. Make sure that your spine is straight.
  2. As you inhale and move into cow pose, lift your sit bones upward, press your chest forward and allow your belly to sink.
  3. As you exhale, come into cat pose while rounding your spine outward, tucking in your tailbone, and drawing your pubic bone forward.
  4. Repeat the sequence several times.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

This pose helps stretch the backs of your legs and releases tension in your lower back and abdomen.

To do this stretch:

  1. Sit down on a mat with your spine straight. Bend forward from the hips and reach out for the floor as you exhale slowly.
  2. Let your hands rest just beside your feet or wherever you can comfortably reach. Keep your back straight and let your head and neck relax downwards.
  3. Hold the position for 4 to 5 minutes.

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See also  Aerial Yoga Benefits: 10 Ways This Practice Will Elevate Your Workouts

yoga for period cramps

Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

This pose allows you to stretch all muscles in the lower body, including legs, hips, and lower back. It also helps release emotional stress that can aggravate period cramps.

To do this stretch: 

  1. Lie down on your back and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms to either side, palms facing up.
  2. Exhale as you move both knees into one side and bring that arm overhead and towards the opposite knee. Look in the same direction as your bent knee.
  3. Inhale and return to the starting position. Move your knees to the other side, this time bringing the opposite arm overhead towards the bent knee. Look in the same direction as your bent knee.
  4. Repeat several times on each side, maintaining a slow and relaxed pace for a total of 3 times on each side.

Quarter Forward Bend (Hasta Uttanasana)

This pose helps stretch the back of your legs and releases tension in your lower back and abdomen.

To do this stretch: 

  1. Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart. Keep your knees straight but not locked, and keep your spine straight without arching or rounding your back.
  2. Inhale as you raise your arms overhead and take a big step backwards with your right foot. Your heel should be on the floor while the rest of your foot is flat on the floor.
  3. Exhale as you bend forward from the hips towards the floor, moving into a quarter forward bend. Keep your front knee straight but not locked.
  4. Hold the position for 4 to 5 minutes. 

Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

This pose opens up the hips and stretches the inner thighs, groin muscles, and lower back. It can help ease menstrual cramps caused by tension in these areas.

  1. Lie down on your back and spread your legs apart, keeping the feet flexed.
  2. Bend your knees and bring them towards your chest as you inhale.
  3. As you exhale, let both knees fall to the right side and rest the soles of both feet against each other.
  4. Inhale and return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Read More: Yoga For Menopause: 7 Easy Poses To Ease Menopausal Symptoms

yoga for period cramps

What Else Can You Do To Ease Period Cramps?

Most women agree that yoga practice during their period when they’re doubled over in pain from menstrual cramps may not be at the best time of the month, but practicing yoga can ease the discomfort and get you back to feeling yourself again.

Along with this practice, you may wish to try the following relaxation and pain relief strategies.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are extracts from plants that can help alleviate menstrual cramps (1). While some women prefer to inhale the aromas of these oils, others affect the body more when applied topically or ingested orally.

  • Try massaging or applying lavender oil over your abdomen to reduce muscle tension and relieve pain.
  • Peppermint oil may be massaged over the abdomen to help relieve cramps. Peppermint oil capsules have also been found effective for the relief of menstrual pain (7).
  • Try drinking peppermint tea or adding a few drops of peppermint oil in your bathtub during your period for added pain relief. 

Get Plenty Of Rest And Drink Lots Of Fluids

Doing this may ease painful cramps, reduce fatigue, and keep headaches at bay.

yoga for period cramps

Eat Right

Many menstrual cramps are caused by poor eating habits, so make sure you’re getting enough potassium, calcium, magnesium and vitamins A-C in your diet.

Some foods that may help ease menstrual cramps include: bananas, leafy greens such as kale and spinach, soybeans and other legumes, dairy products, and whole grains.

It’s also a good idea to avoid eating processed foods and junk food as much as possible, since these can make your cramps worse (10).

Exercise Regularly

Getting regular exercise may help ease menstrual cramps caused by muscle tension and backache (9). It can also boost circulation and speed up the rate at which your body rids itself of toxins that can cause cramps.

Some exercises you can do to help ease menstrual cramps include: walking, yoga, swimming, low-impact aerobics, riding a stationary bicycle, and weight training.

Aerobic exercise may also help reduce the severity of PMS symptoms.

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See also  Relax Yoga Poses To Calm Your Body

yoga for period cramps

Try Acupuncture

Some women say that acupuncture helps them cope with menstrual cramps by helping to ease muscle tension and treat the root cause of their discomfort (6). If this is something you’re interested in, make sure you consult a qualified practitioner before trying it.

Talk With Your Doctor About The Pill

While taking birth control pills to relieve cramps may not be for everyone, it can benefit certain women by reducing the severity of cramps and alleviating other PMS symptoms (8).

The Bottom Line

Yoga is an effective way for women to reduce the intensity and frequency of period cramps, especially when combined with other exercises and relaxation techniques.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Aromatherapy for Managing Pain in Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review of Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials (2018, mdpi.com)
  2. Dysmenorrhea (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  3. Effect of Yoga Exercise on Premenstrual Symptoms among Female Employees in Taiwan (2016, mdpi.com)
  4. Effect of yoga on the menstrual pain, physical fitness, and quality of life of young women with primary dysmenorrhea (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  5. Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study (2010, lieberman)
  6. Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Management of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial (2018, sciencedirect.com)
  7. Evaluation of mint efficacy regarding dysmenorrhea in comparison with mefenamic acid: A double blinded randomized crossover study (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  8. Oral contraceptive pill for primary dysmenorrhoea (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  9. The Effect of aerobic exercise on primary dysmenorrhea: A clinical trial study (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  10. The effect of diet on primary dysmenorrhea in university students: A randomized controlled clinical trial (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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