Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea refers to severe lower abdominal pain during periods. Menstrual cramps are caused by the uterus contracting forcefully to expel the uterine lining. This leads to abdominal cramps. The blood and tissue eliminated from the vagina throughout the menstrual cycle is the uterine lining. Usually, the pain starts a day or two before the actual start of the menstruation. The common symptoms of dysmenorrhea are abdominal discomfort due to throbbing pain, aches in the inner thighs, lower back, and hips, and additional signs including headaches, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, and diarrhea. Many poses of yoga for period cramps are therapeutic, which helps the body adjust to comfort and relaxation. It also stretches the abdominal muscles, which creates a soothing effect on the mind and body.
How Yoga Helps with Period Cramps
It’s typical to have mild to moderate period cramps. However, some people have pain so intense that it interferes with their daily lives and keeps them from engaging in enjoyable activities during their menstrual cycle. Anxiety and stress may naturally rise during these periods due to fluctuating hormone levels. Yoga encourages deep breathing, which helps to relieve unpleasant cramps or dysmenorrhea. Mild poses help to stretch the lower back muscles, which will relieve tension in the abdominal region. Yoga encourages you to move at your speed and re-energize during the cycle.
But it might happen that during heavy bleeding, one might not feel like even performing the mild stretches. The core principle of yoga is concentration. Hence, pain perception is managed with restorative postures, deep breathing, and meditation techniques, and the body and mind are directed toward relaxation. Holding the yoga positions for period cramps longer with the help of props ensures body support and comfort.
Yoga Poses for Period Cramps
Lower-intensity exercises like gentle stretching lower the prostaglandin levels, which soothe chronic back pain and abdominal pain. Check out the best yoga poses for period cramps below.
- Place your knees together on the ground.
- Gently sit on your heels. Ensure your weight is spread equally on the foot and heels.
- Lengthen your spine and let your shoulders come down.
- Place your hands on your thighs and relax them.
- Take calm, deep breaths in and out.
- Raise your head and gaze straight.
Read more about Vajrasana
- Sit in Vajrasana. Place your knees slightly apart on the ground.
- Place a bolster lengthwise on the mat in front of you.
- Exhale and bend forward so that the stomach and chest are supported on the bolster.
- Extend the arms on the ground in front of you or extend them back toward the feet, palms up.
- Let the weight of the shoulders stretch the shoulder blades widely across the back.
- Breathe in gently and deeply for 30 seconds.
- Come to a seated position. Pull your feet’ soles together, letting your knees fall to the sides.
- Hold onto the outsides of the feet. Bend slightly forward from the hips and lengthen the spine.
- Now, flap the thighs like the wings of the butterfly. Perform the butterfly pose for 30 seconds.
Knees to Chest
- Lie down on the back.
- Bend both knees and draw them towards the chest. Hug the knees with both arms.
- Hold for a few breaths and release.
- Lie down on the back. Bend the knees with feet flat on the floor.
- Draw your knees towards the chest.
- Bring the knees to the left and shift the hips slightly to the right.
- To make it comfortable, use a bolster or pillow between the legs to support the knees.
- Extend the hands outwards so that the body is in a ‘T’ shape.
- Ensure the right shoulder is pinned down to the mat.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Bring the knees to the center, turn them to the right, and shift the hips towards the left.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Come to the center and release.
Reclining Angle Bound Pose
- Position a bolster vertically in the middle of the mat.
- Take a seat at the end of the bolster and lie down on your back.
- Bent your knees sideways so that the soles of the feet touch each other. Try to bring the feet closer to your buttocks.
- Feel the muscles in the groin stretching as you lower your knees toward the floor.
- You may also put two yoga blocks or pillows beneath each outer thigh.
- Take a deep breath and stay in this posture for 30 seconds.
- Sit with the legs extended in front.
- Contract the belly inward.
- Bend the right knee and press the right foot onto your left inner thigh.
- Inhale and extend the back
- Exhale and bend forward from the hips slightly towards the left leg.
- Hold your foot or ankle as you glide across.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths.
- Release the feet gradually, and take a breath to exit the pose.
- Repeat the same with the other side.
Forward Fold Pose
- Sit on the mat with your legs extended.
- Lay a bolster over the thighs in a perpendicular position. Place a block on top.
- Gently lean forward to place your forehead on the prop.
- Rest the arms beside the body.
- Hold the posture for 30 seconds.
Breathing Exercises in Yoga for Period Cramps
One of the main factors of yoga is that it teaches us how to breathe and relax even while we’re in pain. Mindful deep breathing has a relaxing impact on the neurological system and can help to stretch muscles that are cramping gently.
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes
- Breathe gently through both nostrils.
- Now, bring the awareness to the throat.
- Slightly tighten the back of the neck for the practice.
- As you inhale, try to constrict the throat.
- The air making contact with the throat produces a hissing sound.
- Now, release the breath through the nostrils, producing the same hissing sound.
- Perform form 8-10 rounds.
- Select a pleasant, quiet area and sit comfortably
- Close your eyes, lengthen the spine, and relax your shoulders.
- Press the index fingers on the ear cartilage slightly above the earlobes.
- Inhale deeply through the nose
- Exhale and make a soft humming sound in your throat.
- Pay attention to the sound and the sensations it elicits.
Read more about – Bhramari Pranayama
Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Establish a connection with your breath.
- Make the Vishnu mudra. Fold the index and middle fingers inward until they make contact with the palm. You will seal the right nostril with your right thumb and the left nostril with your right ring finger.
- Inhale from the left nostril. To shut the right nostril, use your thumb.
- Take a moment to pause at the top of your head.
- Exhale from the right nostril. At the bottom of the exhale, pause slightly.
- Inhale through the right nostril.
- Exhale from the left nostril.
- This is one round. Continue for 10-15 minutes.
- Sit comfortably on the mat.
- Put one hand on the chest and one hand on the abdomen.
- Breathe in softly through the nose. Ensure the chest is still.
- Exhale with the mouth as you lightly press both lips.
- Feel the abdominal muscles contract as you exhale.
- This completes one round.