Introduction To Yoga

Yoga is a series of poses used to bring together physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Yoga became very popular in the United States in the 1980s as an addition to a complete physical exercise regimen.

Benefits of yoga

Yoga encourages a person to relax and focus on the present. It is calming, lowering breathing and heart rates, decreasing blood pressure, and increasing blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs.  There are many benefits to the practice of yoga which include:

  • Increased flexbility
  • Spine health
  • Improved digestion
  • Relieves mild back, shoulder and neck tension
  • Alleviates indigestion, flatulence and menstrual discomfort

The pain of menstrual cramps can make any physical activity difficult so suggesting the possibility of moving one’s body into different positions may not sound inviting. However, it is possible that this holistic treatment of cramps is an alternative to taking pain relievers.  Eating fruits and vegetables and exercising to relieve stress will help with the pain that accompanies menstruation but yoga poses can assist the nervous system.

Specific yoga poses

There are six yoga poses that are prescribed for the relief of menstrual cramps. They are also good for soothing the mind and should be a part of a regular yoga practice.

  1. Child’s pose: Balasana is a beginner pose. Stretches the low back muscles, soothes backaches
  2. Forward fold: Uttansana lengthens the spine and stretches the hips.  This pose helps ease the pain that radiates down the legs and around the back by stretching the hamstrings, calves, and back.
  3. Knees to chest pose: Apanasana relaxes the lower back and abdominal muscles, relieving tension and reducing pain. This pose also increases circulation to the abdomen, aids the internal organs, softens the mind, and reduces anxiety.
  4. Supine twist: Supta Matsyendrasana stimulates, detoxes, and refreshes the inner organs by “wringing out” the body.
  5. Cat/Cow: Chakravakasana warms up the body, targets the back and abdominal muscles—stretching and toning them. This gentle flow will also help with coordination and emotional balance that may be altered during the menstrual cycle.
  6. Corpse pose: Savasana brings attention to the breath. By controlling the breath with deep and meaningful inhalation and exhalation, the mind has space to quietly focus and redirect attention away from pain.

The key in each pose is to relax and allow the stretching of the muscles to help alleviate the pain. Breathing slowly and deeply through the nose will help relax the body further releasing tension causing cramps.