Whether they’re an unpleasant niggle or enough to send you back to bed, period cramps are a pain.
When you menstruate, your body releases prostaglandins that cause your uterus to contract, and this can cause cramps, mood changes, and even an upset stomach.
But it’s not all bad news.
Doing yoga can help to ease these period-related symptoms. It’s not another myth, not only can you get rid of period cramps, but you can also feel fit and zen while doing so. And it’s science-backed too.
A study on the subject found that there was a significant improvement in pain levels and quality of life after a yoga session. It was also determined that yoga is potentially even more effective at alleviating menstrual-related symptoms than general exercise.
So, roll out your mat and follow these easy 8 yoga poses (asanas in Sanskrit) to ease your period cramps.
8 Asanas That Really Help1. Bound Angle Pose - Baddha Konasana
This pose soothes your digestive system and gives your relief from painful period cramps. It’s also a restful pose if you're feeling tired and anxious.
Sit upright with your chest up and legs out in front of you. As you exhale, bring your legs toward your body, keeping your feet soles together in the middle. Your knees are wide apart. Lengthen your spine, push your shoulders back and inhale. As you exhale, slowly bend forward.2. Reclined Bound Angle - Supta Baddha Konasana
This pose is a great one for relaxing your abdominal muscles (remember, the uterus is a muscle) and provides relief from cramping.
Reclined bound angle is similar to bound angle, except you lie flat on your back with a towel or rolled blanket placed vertically on your mat. Your legs are inverted in a V like a frog with your knees spread wide and the soles of your feet together. Relax your arms outwards at a 45-degree angle.
Hold the pose for a few minutes and breathe deeply.3. Child’s Pose - Balasana
Yoga internally massages many of your organs. The Child’s pose flexes and massages your reproductive organs, together with releasing tension in your back, shoulders, and neck. It opens up your hips and lower back, so it’s great for anyone suffering from lower back period pain. It’s also very calming and relaxing.
Start at your hands and knees a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Flex your feet onto their top, toes together and slowly lower your buttocks between your spread knees. Extend your arms above your head with your palms facing downwards and relax your shoulders towards the mat.
Take three or four deep breaths, or stay as long as it feels good. Slowly shift your weight from side to side to softly stretch out your side body at the same time.4. Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend - Upavistha Konasana
This pose is good for calming the mind and it stimulates your abdominal organs, leading to less painful cramps.
Press your legs and sitting bones down, and lengthen your spine upwards. Your legs are spread wide with your toes pointing upwards. Keeping your spine lengthened, slowly bend forward from your hips. Don’t round your spine. Place your elbows on the floor (if you can) and slowly walk your hands together into the prayer position. Try to keep the front of your body leaning forward as you bend forward. Hold the pose for as long as comfortable and breathe deeply.5. Reclining Twist - Bharadvaja
This is a very popular pose for providing relief from period cramps and pain. The reclining twist is an excellent stretch and it stimulates your pelvic floor, abdominal, and digestive organs. Twists are also good for flushing toxins and introducing fresh blood flow as you come out of the pose.
Lie on your back with your arms in a T-shape. Move your hips a little to the right while bringing your knees up to the left. You can support your knees with a rolled-up towel or blanket. Hold for a few minutes, then swap to the other side by bringing your knees over your hips to the other side.6. Inverted Leg Pose - Viparita Karani
This is a pose that benefits the body and mind. It also improves circulation and digestion, lowers blood pressure, boosts energy levels, and soothes the nervous system. It’s an excellent pose for focusing the mind or mood when period cramps have left you frazzled. This pose will regenerate your circulation and essentially gives your brain a reboot.
Sit on the floor facing the wall, lie back and move your legs up against the wall so your body makes a 90-degree-angle. Your buttocks should be right against the wall. Stretch your arms out and place them at an angle comfortable to you. Hold the pose for a good 5 minutes while breathing deeply.7. Goddess Pose - Utkata Konasana
Utkata konasana really does make you feel powerful like a goddess. It opens up and stimulates the pelvic region so it’s good for your bladder, and it’s the most active pose on this list.
Stand with your feet 3 feet apart. Lift your arms to shoulder height and bend the elbows turning the palms to face each other. Turn your feet out to 45 degrees so they are facing the corners of the room. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, bend your knees over the toes to squat down.
Keep your arms active, as if they were holding a big ball over your head. Look straight ahead with the chin parallel to the floor. Breathe deeply and hold for as long as you can.8. Corpse Pose - Savasana
This is a good way to end your yoga session as it's one of the most restful, restorative poses and it’s ideal for quietening the mind.
Lie on your back, separate your legs slightly and relax your feet letting them fall apart. Your arms should be alongside your body at a comfortable angle to your torso. Turn your palms to face upwards and let your fingers curl in naturally.
Once you have set up your limbs, relax them by letting go. Relax your whole body, including your face. Let your body feel heavy and breathe naturally. Bring your attention to your breathing to help quieten the mind. After 5 minutes reawaken your body by wiggling your toes and fingers, stretching your arms overhead for a full body stretch. Bring your knees to your chest and roll over to one side, keeping your eyes closed. Then open your eyes and slowly return to a seated position.
Whether you’re using birth control or not, period cramps are often an unavoidable part of your cycle. If these cramps plague you month after month, give these poses a try. Just remember, yoga is ultimately about listening to your body. Go gently and don't overdo it.