Menstrual pain affects women differently. There will be some who have slight twinges that time of the month and others who can barely move because of it.
There is little understanding over why we can suffer from the pain so much. It could be due to spasms of the muscles or the blood pulling away from the lining of the uterus. For many of us, we don’t really care why it’s happening. We just want it to stop.
While heat and painkillers can help, we want other healthy options that will ease the pain. Exercise can be beneficial, especially yoga. With the right yoga poses, you can help the body deal with the menstrual pain right away.
How Exercise Eases Menstrual Pain
Exercise is known to help ease the pain in the body. The benefit is in the release of the endorphins and serotonin from the body. These happy and painkilling hormones spread around the body, protecting the nerves and stopping the pain signal reaching our brains.
Unfortunately, menstrual cramps can make it difficult to do exercises. We don’t exactly want to go for a run, and the pain can be so severe that we can barely think about exercise, let alone do it. Finding something that involves less energy and little movement is important.
This is where yoga comes into play. Yoga is all about stretching, flexibility, and muscle support. It can help to reduce the spasms in our body while supporting the release of the happy and painkilling hormones.
Most of the menstrual cramps are caused by uterus contractions. The right yoga positions can help to ease these contractions to stop the pain. The benefit is that you relax the body, which helps to relax the muscles and stop them from contracting. Using the right yoga positions can also help to minimize the other pains linked to menstrual cramps, including back and leg pain.
So, which are the right yoga positions? Which ones will help to bring an end to menstrual pain every single month? Here are nine that you should try the next time you’re in pain because of that time of the month.
The Head to Knee Lean
Let’s start with an exercise that allows you to sit on the floor. You need one leg stretched in front of you and the other bent. The bent leg should have the knee out to the side and the foot pressed against the thigh of the outstretched one. If you don’t have the flexibility for this, get the leg as close to the thigh as possible.
Lean forward over the outstretched leg. Grab the heel of your outstretched food and gently pull yourself, so the head touches the knee.
At first, you may not have the flexibility to get all the way down. Get yourself as close as possible, feeling a slight pull in the muscles. Don’t go so far that it really feels like you’re going to tear the muscles.
Hold the post for a minute or two and then sit back up. Switch your legs around and do it again.
This pose isn’t just good for getting rid of menstrual cramps. You will improve the flexibility within your legs and hips. You’ll also stretch out the back and shoulders, helping to relax your whole body and improve your posture. The stress hormones will be overpowered by the happy hormones from your brain, helping to calm your brain and relieve some depression symptoms.
By stretching forward, you’re putting pressure on your uterus muscles. This can help to relax them and stop the contractions.
The Child Pose
Move onto your knees, sitting on the back of your legs. Lean forward so that your body is across the top of your thighs and your arms are stretched out in front of you.
This position is called the child pose, and it is useful for so many health problems. It is one of the best for improving alignment and reducing head, neck, and back pain. This is also one of the easiest yoga positions—and some of the upcoming ones are going to be relatively difficult.
One of the biggest benefits for menstrual cramps is that this position puts the pressure on the stomach muscles. You encourage the contractions to stop, especially as you stretch out your spine. Your brain gets the message that you are relaxed, which sends that message to the rest of your body. The relaxation will also help to hold back on the stress hormones, leading to hormonal imbalances and muscle contractions.
You only need to hold this position for five deep breaths. However, this is one that you could hold for up to five minutes to really experience the stretch and relaxation.
Adapt the Corpse Position
The corpse position is extremely beneficial for back and neck pain, but it’s not the best for menstrual pain. You just don’t quite get the pull on the uterus muscles.
What you want to do is slightly adapt that corpse position to support the muscles around your stomach and groin area. This is what this position is perfect for.
Start by sitting up with your legs crossed. Slowly lay backward, keeping your legs crossed. You will feel the pull in your thighs as you lower yourself to a laying down position.
Place your arms straight down to the side of your hips and remain in this position for at least a minute. Just feel the stretch in your spine and groin area and allow yourself to relax into this yoga position.
You get the release of the happy and painkilling hormones. At the same time, your muscles get the message to relax, which means no more contractions around the uterus.
If you find it hard to lay all the way to the floor, opt for some support to keep your upper body slightly upright. You still get some of the pull, without actually using the stomach muscles to keep you in a slight crunch position.
The Reclining Twist Pose
Let’s move onto something a little more difficult. This pose is known as the reclining twist, and you will soon understand why.
Start by laying on your back with your whole body straight. Pull one leg over and across your body, keeping a slight bend in your knee to avoid injury and muscle pulls. Now twist your upper body in the opposite direction to the pulled over theleg, keeping the same arm as the leg stretched out in its normal direction. Turn your head to look in the direction of your hand—opposite to your leg.
You should find that your hips face the opposite direction of the outstretch hand. You’re trying to keep the upper back flat on the floor.
Your spine will fully stretch while you’re doing this exercise. If you hear what sounds like a couple of cracks, don’t be alarmed. It’s your spine getting the support and stretch that it needs. When you finish, you should feel like your spine is relaxed and ready.
The stretching will help to relax all the muscles in your body. This includes your uterus muscles to prevent them from contracting more.
The Camel Pose
This is where your yoga positions will start to get difficult. You can build up to these as you gain some flexibility and strength.
Let’s start with the easiest of the next few exercises. If you don’t have the balance for this, you can use a chair or wall for some support.
Start by kneeling up, with your body and spine straight. Bend backward and place your hands on your heels. You can put your weight here. You will feel the stretch in your stomach and chest muscles, but you should also feel some stretching in your spine. You will strengthen the muscles in the back while doing this, which is an excellent way to improve posture and spine alignment.
The benefit for your menstrual cramps is that your abdomen is completely stretched out. Your groin and uterus muscles will feel the pull to help bring the contractions to an end. You can also ease some mild lower back pain.
Do not do this exercise if you struggle with your back. You should speak to your physiotherapist or your doctor for advice on the exercises that you can do if you have a bad back.
If you want to advance this exercise, stretch one of your hands out pointing in the same direction as the top of your head. This will help to expand your chest more to improve your breathing.
The Arching Pigeon
This exercise will require some flexibility. You can build on this, especially if you do the head to knee pose regularly.
Start by sitting on the floor. Place one leg in front of you with a bend—similarly to the head to knee bend. The other leg needs to be outstretched behind you. Think of it like the splits but with your front leg bent.
Stretch upwards with one hand, keeping your other hand on the floor for some support. You will feel the stretch in your hips and up one side of your body. Make sure you look up to your outstretched hand to help stretch out the stomach and neck.
You only need to hold this position for five breaths. As you develop your strength and flexibility, you can hold for longer.
This helps by stretching out the uterus muscles to bring the contractions to an end. The deep breathing and stretching will also help to relax all your muscles and boost the happy hormones being released into your body.
The Noose Post/Half Bound Squat
This position has two names in yoga. It’s officially called the noose pose, but there are many who opt for the half-bound squat because of the way that you look while doing the exercise.
Out of all the positions, this will be the hardest yoga position to ease menstrual pain. You can build your way up to the full position.
Start by keeping your feet flat on the floor and bend right down, so the back of your thighs is against your calves. If you struggle to keep your toes facing forward, bring your heels in slightly, so your feet are slightly turned out. If your shin muscles don’t allow you to keep your feet flat on the ground, place a towel so that your heels have something to rest on.
Once in the position, bring one arm, so it sits between your knees. Hook that arm behind your leg and bring the other arm around your back. Join the two hands together and allow your upper body to twist, turning your head in the direction of the twist.
Hold this position for five breaths and then repeat on the other side.
If this exercise starts to get easier, you can improve on the stretch by placing your front arm over the leg furthest away from it.
This yoga position has been known to improve digestion. It helps to eliminate the contractions in the abdomen and uterus muscles, easing pain and discomfort and unblocking trapped wind. You can also stretch the back and neck muscles, easing the pain in these areas.
Build Your Way Up the Yoga Positions
Some of these yoga positions are hard (Don’t forget to get a yoga mat for best results ). They are going to require practice, patience, and balance. Now is the time to work on your flexibility and ability to do the positions, so when it comes to dealing with menstrual pain, you can nip it in the bud quickly.
Don’t try to do the advanced yoga positions right away if you don’t have experience. Doing the harder ones too early can lead to injury and pain afterward. You want to improve your lifestyle, right?
It’s also important not just to rely on the yoga positions to ease menstrual pain. Look at changing your diet. Eating the right nutrients can help to release the right hormones and ease muscle spasms. You can also apply heat to the muscles to help encourage them to relax to ease the pain.