How yoga can ease menstrual cramps

Not only does yoga soothe your digestive system, it can also provide relief from painful menstrual cramps. / Net photos

Many women who menstruate experience period pain (dysmenorrhea) for one to two days every month. 

Menstrual cramps occur when the uterus contracts to shed the uterine lining. This can cause pain in the stomach, lower back, groin or upper thighs.


Aniket Ukey, a yoga trainer and fitness consultant in Kigali, explains that women who do yoga have higher chances of reducing or stopping menstrual cramps. He explains some of the effective yoga poses.


“Bound Angle Pose - Baddha Konasana. When it comes to periods, thanks to the release of prostaglandins that cause the uterus to contract, bound angle pose can help. Not only does it soothe one’s digestive system but it can also provide relief from painful menstrual cramps. 


“Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket if your hips are tight. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together,” he explains.

Ukey adds that this pose stimulates te ovaries making it a reproductive health power pose. If they are feeling fatigued, they can spend some time in a bound angle— it will revive their energy.

He says another pose is the Reclined Bound Angle - Supta Baddha Konasana.

This pose is similar to bound angle but it requires leaning back instead of forward. And the list of premenstrual syndrome-PMS symptoms that this pose helps in extensive—from fatigue and insomnia to anxiety to headaches. Since a person is leaning back into the pose, their abdominal muscles relax which can help ease cramping.

The yoga expert also points out the Child’s Pose – Balasana, as another pose that deals with cramps.

Yoga isn’t just about external flexibility. The impact of many poses also benefits one’s organs, acting as a sort of internal massage. Child’s pose does this by flexing a woman’s reproductive organs, as well as releasing tension in the back, shoulders, and neck. The calming effects it has on the mind are just as beneficial as the relaxation the body will feel.

He says, fold forward, extend your arms, and bend down as far as you can comfortably go. If possible lean your forehead on the mat in front of you for five slow, diaphragmatic breaths, or breaths using the belly rather than the chest. Alternatively, an individual can turn their head from one side to the other, slowly, counting five breaths before turning to the other side.

“Inverted leg pose - Viparita Karani, is as good as the above mentioned poses. Physical, mental, and emotional benefits abound in this pose. The inverted leg pose improves circulation and digestion, lowers blood pressure, boosts energy levels, and soothes the nervous system. It’s also said to increase creative thinking and problem solving. 

For Vaparita Karani pose, Healthline advises to place a cushion or bolster under your hips. Sit with your right side against the wall. Lie back and swing your legs up along the wall, bringing your hips as close to the wall as is comfortable. Place a pillow or folded blanket under your head. Bring your arms into any comfortable position. Allow your body to fall heavy as you completely relax. Remain in this pose for up to 20 minutes.

Ukey also adds that Reclining Twist pose is also very effective when it comes to reducing menstrual pain. It requires an individual to lower their back and lower belly. First and foremost, lie flat on the back. Bend the left knee, and then lower it to the right side. Look to your left, and reach your arms out wide, the palms flat against the ground. This can be done for five and more breaths. Extend your left leg back to the ground, and repeat the pose with your right leg bending to the right. This pose should relax your back, hips, and shoulders. Repeat five to ten minutes on each side.

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