Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She is also a fitness enthusiast who enjoys yoga, and has an interest in health and wellness.
Yoga: A Natural, Drug-Free Way to Manage Menstrual Pain
That time of the month can be a painful experience for many women. If you experience painful periods, you have probably tried everything to reduce your menstrual cramps, from over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin to heating pads, or even portable TENS machines. These things may offer some relief, but what if there was a way to naturally reduce your period pain while also exercising and having fun? Paired with other all-natural period pain relief methods, such as drinking rose tea, you may be able to get through your period without having to resort to any medical intervention.
Yoga has been shown to have numerous health benefits for seasoned yogis and beginners alike. One benefit of yoga that you can utilize every month is its ability to help you to reduce menstrual pain. Certain yoga poses have been found to be particularly effective at helping to reduce cramping and pain associated with menstruation.
Why it Helps: Child’s pose is an ideal pose for reducing back pain associated with your menstrual period, as well as abdominal pain caused by menstrual cramps. Child’s pose helps to relieve period cramps and back pain by putting pressure on your stomach muscles, which encourages the uterine contractions to stop while also stretching out your spine to reduce lower back pain. This pose is great for relaxing your body, as well as your mind.
How to Do It: To do child’s pose, start by kneeling on your mat. Your knees should be separated about hip-width apart, or wherever is comfortable. From a kneeling position, lean forward and stretch your arms out in front of you on the mat. Feel the stretch throughout your spine. Rest your head on the mat if it can reach. You may also use a cushion if you can’t reach your forehead to the mat. Hold this pose for at least five breaths, and up to five minutes to experience the full benefits of this relaxing pose.
Standing Forward Fold Pose
Why it Helps: Standing forward fold pose, also sometimes known as standing forward bend pose, or ragdoll pose, is another excellent yoga pose for reducing menstrual pain. While in the standing forward fold pose, your thighs create pressure against your lower abdomen, counteracting uterine contractions. This, along with the motion of your breath, massages your organs from the inside, which helps to relieve stomach cramping during the most painful part of your menstrual cycle. This pose also helps to lengthen your spine, reducing back pain.
How to Do It: Forward fold is a fairly easy pose, even for beginners. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward at the waist until your lower ribs are resting on your thighs. Bend your arms and hold your elbows with the opposite hands. Inhale deeply as you let your arms hang loosely. Let your body relax as you inhale and exhale for several breaths.
Why it Helps: This pose helps to reduce cramping associated with your menstrual period by stretching out the abdomen. You will feel a pull in your groin and uterine muscles, which will help to stop the contractions that cause painful cramps. This pose will also stretch your low back muscles and may help to improve mild lower back pain caused by your menstrual period. This pose may also help to relieve anxiety and fatigue associated with your cycle.
How to Do It: Camel pose, or Ustrasana, is a bit more difficult for yoga beginners, but, with practice, it is obtainable. As you gain strength and flexibility from a regular yoga practice, you will be able to do this pose.
Supine Twist Pose
Why it Helps: Supine twist pose, also known as reclining twist pose, is one of the best yoga poses for reducing period pain. This pose helps to stretch and relax all of the muscles in your body, including the muscles of your uterus, which contract during the first days of your period, causing potentially painful cramps. Some believe that twist poses, such as the supine twist pose, may help to detox, stimulate, and refresh the internal organs by “wringing out” the body. This pose helps to relax the body during menstruation, easing abdominal pain associated with cramping, as well as potentially reducing lower back pain.
How to Do It: To get into the supine twist pose, start by laying on your back. Pull one knee up to your chest, then gently pull it across your body until your knee touches the opposite side of the mat. Press the hand that is now closest to your bent knee against your knee, pushing it toward the ground. Extend the other hand to you side, turning your head away from your bent leg, allowing your gaze to follow this hand. Relax your legs, shoulders, and hips, allowing gravity take over. If you have trouble relaxing into the twist, you may use a yoga block or cushion to prop up your knee.
Why it Helps: Knees-to-chest pose, also known by its Sanskrit name Apanasana, is another highly effective pose for reducing menstrual pain. This pose relaxes the lower back and abdominal muscles, which helps to relieve tension and reduce pain in the stomach and lower back. Knees-to-chest pose also helps to increase circulation to the abdomen and the internal organs and helps to relieve bloating. It can also help to relax the mind, and reduce anxiety associated with your cycle.
How to Do It: Begin this pose by laying on your back. Bring both of your knees up to your chest and wrap your arms around your legs. As you inhale, role your shoulders down away from your head. Exhale and use your arms to squeeze and gently press your thighs down towards your core. Slightly tuck in your chin to elongate the top of your spine. Stay in this pose for several breaths. You may wish to rock from side to side and from front to back to give yourself a back massage while in knees-to-chest-pose.
Chair Twist Pose
Why it Helps: Chair twist pose is another yoga pose that is beneficial for reducing period-related cramping. The twisting of this pose helps to relax your uterus and soothe cramping. This pose also helps to relieve back pain and leaves you feeling more energized.
How to Do It: To do chair twist pose, start in a standing position with your feet together. Bend your knees and push your hips back, as if you are sitting in a chair. This pose is called chair pose. Now, add the twist. Squeeze your knees and thighs together and bring your hands up to your heart, pressing your palms together. Press your left elbow to your right knee. Inhale to lengthen your body, then exhale to twist deeper. Hold this pose for several breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Why it Helps: Downward-facing dog pose, or down dog as it is sometimes known, is one of the most widely recognized yoga poses, and for good reason. This pose has many health benefits, including relieving pain from cramping associated with menstruation. Downward-facing dog also helps to relieve tension in your spinal column, helping to ease back pain.
How to Do It: Start in a standing position at the back of your mat. Kneel down onto your mat, supporting your body with your hands, knees, and the tops of your feet. Bend your feet so that the bottoms of your toes are pressed against the mat, then push back with your thighs, straightening your knees. Drop your head, elongating your neck. Press into the knuckles of your forefingers and thumbs to reduce pressure on your wrists. Your body should form a triangle shape with your arms, legs, and the mat acting as its sides. Hold this pose for several breaths.
Why it Helps: Bow pose, or dhanurasana is another great pose for relieving menstrual pain. While in this pose, your entire body is stretched from your ankles to thighs to abdomen. This relaxes your body and promotes blood flow to and from your uterus. This pose stimulates the organs in the abdomen and strengthens your back muscles, easing abdominal cramps and back pain.
How to Do It: Begin this pose by lying on your stomach with your hands alongside your hips and you palms facing up. Slowly bend your knees and grab a hold of your ankles. Now, inhale and raise your upper body and thighs up off your mat. Hold this pose for several breaths, then exhale as you release your ankles.
Seated Wide-Angle Forward Bend
Why it Helps: Seated wide-angle forward bend is another excellent pose for relieving severe menstrual cramps. This pose helps to stimulate your abdominal organs, including your uterus, to ease menstrual pain. As with many other the other poses for period cramps, this pose also helps to soothe back pain as well. This pose can also help to calm your mind, easing the psychological symptoms of your period.
How to Do It: Begin by sitting on your mat. Stretch your legs out to the side as much as possible. Raise your arms up over your head as you inhale. As you exhale, lower your arms reaching forward toward the floor as far as you can. Try to reach your head to the flood. If you are a beginner, you may not be able to do this yes, as this requires a lot of flexibility. Just do your best and bend forward as far as you can. Hold this pose for several breaths.
Arching Pigeon Pose
Why it Helps: Arching pigeon pose helps to reduce period pain by stretching the muscles of the uterus, which helps to stop uterine contractions. This pose can also help to ease back pain associated with period pain. This pose helps to relax your entire body, as well as your mind, to make your time of the month more bearable.
How to Do It: Start this pose by sitting on your mat. Bend one knee, placing the leg in front of you. Stretch your other leg out behind you. If you feel secure, you can try to stretch one hand upward, keeping the other hand on the floor for support. If you feel balanced with one hand up, you may wish to stretch the other hand toward the sky as well. Gaze upward toward your hand to stretch your stomach and neck. Hold this pose for several breaths.
Yoga Can Help Make Your Period More Bearable!
There are many yoga poses that can help you to manage period pain related to abdominal cramping and lower back pain. These ten poses are just some of the many yoga poses than can reduce menstrual pain and help you to become more comfortable during that time of the month. Yoga is an enjoyable way to get some exercise and improve your overall health.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber