Ah, the joys of being a woman are many. But there is a moment each month where we might drop to our knees or throw our head in our hands and ask, okay scream, “WHY GOD WHYYYY!?” The world seems to be against beautiful you, the walls feel crumbly and all you want is for someone (everyone) to understand and tend to you, beautiful you – all day. But, alas, we get dressed and tend our jobs. We might have a little challenge but we do our jobs – cramps included, like an uphill climb – all day. NBD
CUE: Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now
Every woman is different. So SO SO SO different. But we can all have a little connectivity over this one thing. Notice I did not say sympathy.
By request – here is the first video of the Yoga for Women series: Yoga Poses for Menstrual Cramps. A special ladies only yoga and forum that can CONNECT us and assist you in tending to the body during your time of the month. It is so important to take the time to feel supported, listen to the wisdom of the body and counteract any toxicity brought by PMS or other heightened stress.
This video invites you to slow it down. Set it up and feel the support. Then… breathe lady, you deserve this time.
As my friend (not in person friends yet- but one can dream, right?) Ru Paul would say,
“If you can’t love yourself, then how in the hell are you going to love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”
In This Section
- What can I do about cramps and PMS?
- How do I know if my menstrual cycle is normal?
- How do I use tampons, pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups?
- What is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)?
Many people get emotional and have cramps before and during their periods. This is sometimes called PMS. Cramps and PMS are normal and can be treated.
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- What causes cramps?
- What helps with cramps?
- What’s PMS?
- What I can do to relieve PMS?
- 7 Ways to Cope with Period Pain — Fast
- 1. Bound Angle Pose – Baddha Konasana
- 2. Reclined Bound Angle – Supta Baddha Konasana
- 3. Child’s Pose – Balasana
- 4. Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend – Upavistha Konasana
- 5. Reclining Twist – Bharadvaja
- 6. Inverted leg pose – Viparita Karani
- 6. Head to Knee Forward Bend – Janu Sirsasana
- How Yoga Makes Menstrual Cramps A History!
- Pain-free tips to beat pain!
- Downward Facing Dog
- The Child’s Pose
- The Camel
- The Bow
- The Reclined Goddess
Problems with your period?
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What causes cramps?
Menstrual cramps can be really uncomfortable and painful, but they do happen for a reason. During your period, your uterus contracts — meaning it squeezes or cramps up. This makes the lining come off the walls of your uterus and leave your body. When your uterus cramps up, it’s helping the period blood flow out of your vagina.
Most people get cramps during their periods at some point in their lives. They usually feel like throbbing pains in your lower belly. They can start a couple of days before your period comes, and sometimes continue throughout your period. Cramps are usually worse during the first few days of your period, when your flow is the heaviest.
You can get cramps as soon as you get your first period. Your periods may get more or less painful throughout your life. For many people, cramps become less painful as they grow older.
Menstrual cramps can be painful and irritating, but they’re super common and there are lots of ways to treat them.
What helps with cramps?
Here are a some things that can help ease cramps:
Over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Always follow the instructions on the bottle. Talk with your doctor before taking pain medication if you have an allergy to aspirin or severe asthma.
Putting a heating pad on your belly or lower back.
Taking a hot bath.
Having an orgasm (by yourself or with a partner).
Hormonal birth control (like the pill, patch, ring, implant, and hormonal IUD).
Acupuncture and acupressure.
Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) — therapy that uses mild electric currents to stimulate your nerves to relieve pain.
Certain vitamins and herbs like vitamin B1, fish oil, fenugreek, ginger, valerian, zataria, and zinc sulfate.
Cramps are a pretty normal part of getting your period, but sometimes people have period cramps that are so painful it’s hard to do everyday things (like go to school or work). If your period pain is really bad, and over-the-counter medicine doesn’t help, talk with your doctor. They can help with other ways to manage the pain, or they may want to check to see if there’s something more serious going on.
Cramps that are really bad may be a sign of:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease — an infection in your reproductive organs.
Endometriosis — a condition where the lining of your uterus grows outside of your uterus.
Adenomyosis — when the tissue that lines your uterus grows into the muscle wall of your uterus.
Uterine fibroids — non-cancerous tumors that grow inside your uterus, in the walls of your uterus, or on the outside of your uterus.
Cramps caused by these conditions may start when you’re older. And they might get worse as time passes. They can also last longer than other cramps or last longer than the last day of your period.
If you have super bad cramps that you can’t treat, or other period symptoms that are hard to deal with, call your doctor or local Planned Parenthood health center.
PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome — the emotional and physical symptoms that some people feel right before and during their periods. PMS is caused by the hormonal changes that your body goes through during your menstrual cycle.
Some people get PMS every time they have their periods. Others only get PMS every once in a while. You may have all or just some of the common PMS symptoms. And some people don’t get PMS at all.
There are two main kinds of PMS symptoms: the ones that affect you physically and the ones that affect you emotionally.
Physical symptoms of PMS include:
Craving certain foods or being more hungry than usual
Tender, swollen, or sore breasts
Feeling bloated (puffy or full in your stomach)
Gaining a little weight
Swelling in your hands or feet
Aches and pains in your joints or muscles
Feeling more tired than usual or needing more naps
Skin problems, like pimples
Cramps or pain in your belly
Emotional symptoms of PMS include:
Feeling sad, depressed, tense, or anxious
Feeling more irritable or angry than normal
Not feeling very social or wanting to be around people
Having trouble concentrating
Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Changes in your desire to have sex
It’s common to have some of these symptoms and not others. For example, you might have bloating and sore breasts, but not mood swings or skin problems. It may also change from month to month: you could be tired and cranky one month but not the next, or have cramps one month but not the next. It’s different for every person.
In order for a doctor to officially diagnose you with PMS, you need to have PMS symptoms for at least 3 months in a row. They must start in the 5 days before your period and interfere with some of your normal activities, like school, work, or exercise. If you think you may have PMS, keep a record of your period and symptoms each day for at least 2-3 months. You can use a calendar or our app to track your PMS symptoms.
Other conditions, like depression and anxiety, perimenopause, and thyroid disease can act like PMS, so visiting a doctor is the only way to know for sure what’s going on.
Some people have really severe PMS that’s called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). PMDD symptoms can be really scary and may include feeling out of control, depressed, having panic attacks, or even feeling suicidal. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of PMDD, see a doctor as soon as possible.
What I can do to relieve PMS?
Many of the things that help ease cramps can also help with PMS. Here are some different ways to relieve PMS symptoms:
Take over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Always follow the instructions on the bottle. Talk with your doctor before taking pain medication if you have an allergy to aspirin or severe asthma.
Do aerobic exercise, like walking, running, riding a bike, swimming, or any activity that gets your heart rate up. Regular exercise (at least 30 minutes most days of the week) is ideal.
Do breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
Get plenty of rest. Sleeping regularly every night can help with stress, mood changes, and feeling tired or fatigued.
Eat healthy foods like fruits, veggies (especially the leafy green ones), whole grains, and yogurt.
Limit fat, salt, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
Make sure you get enough vitamins in your diet, or take vitamin supplements. If you don’t get enough calcium, take a supplement of 1200 mg of calcium daily. Magnesium and Vitamin E might also help.
Use hormonal birth control (like the pill, patch, ring, implant, and hormonal IUD). Your doctor can help you find a birth control method that can help with PMS.
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7 Ways to Cope with Period Pain — Fast
If you’re sensitive to NSAIDs or just don’t like taking over-the-counter pills, you still have options for relief.
If you want to avoid medication completely, a heat treatment may be your best option.
Whether you use a hot water bottle, heating pad, or dip into a warm bath, the heat helps your muscles relax and eases pain. Laying down with something warm on your aching stomach or relaxing in the tub can also reduce your general stress.
Though there aren’t a lot of studies about why heated patches work, there’s no downside to doing something that feels nice and relaxing — especially during the worst of your period.
“When I have cramps, I love going for a run,” said no one — probably ever. For most of us, exercise is last on the list of things to do when you have period pain — but, it can really help.
“Working out helps reduce the level of prostaglandins and regulate digestion,” says Elizabeth Trattner, licensed acupuncturist. Since prostaglandins cause much of the pain in the first place, anything that reduces prostaglandins will make you feel better. Plus, the workout releases endorphins in the body, which improves your mood.
Trattner says that doesn’t mean you head to a bootcamp class when you’re in extreme pain. Instead, she recommends adding exercise before your period to help alleviate cramps before they start. During your period (when you’re not in pain), try to take a walk or do some light activity, just to thwart those prostaglandins before they wreak havoc.
“In my clinical practice, I recommend women aim for 300 mg nightly of magnesium bysglicinate to help alleviate menstrual cramps,” says Brighten. She says that magnesium can be effective in lowering prostaglandins and reducing pain.
Unfortunately, you can’t just take magnesium and feel better in a few minutes. But a nightly dose often minimizes cramps over the course of your period.
My dream period diet is a complete cliché — nothing but pizza, chocolate, and ice cream for a full five days. Sadly, this is the worst way to eat if you want to alleviate period pain. Processed and fried foods are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which isn’t good.
“When our diet is high in omega-6s we create stronger prostaglandins,” says Brighten. “To counteract that, you should include anti-inflammatory omega-3 rich foods like salmon, sardines, walnuts and flaxseeds.” These help reduce inflammation, which in turn reduces those dreaded prostaglandins, which then reduces pain.
Trattner recommends keeping a healthy, fiber-rich diet for the last two weeks of your cycle. Sure, that means avoiding junk food when you’re craving it the most, but it can reduce the severity of cramping and pain once your period finally comes to town.
There are some people who rock their Lululemon’s and actually go to yoga. And there are other people who are sporting yoga pants and laying in savasana…in their bed while they watch Netflix. Hey, no judgment. But if you’ve been thinking about doing yoga and lacking the motivation to actually roll out your mat at home or head to a class, you might be interested in this: yoga can actually help ease cramps, headache, anxiety, and other period-related symptoms. If you practice yoga for a long time, these benefits will be even more likely but even doing period yoga for 5 minutes can help even your most stubborn period pains disappear. Different poses have different benefits but we’ve rounded up 7 easy poses that will have you saying “ommmm” and “ahhhh”.
1. Bound Angle Pose – Baddha Konasana
Diarrhea and constipation are par for the course when it comes to periods, thanks to the release of prostaglandins that cause your uterus to contract. Not super fun but, thankfully, bound angle pose can help. Not only does it soothe your digestive system but it can also provide relief from painful menstrual cramps. Oh, and it stimulates your ovaries making it a reproductive health power pose. If you’re feeling fatigued, spend some time in bound angle—it’ll revive your energy, too.
2. Reclined Bound Angle – Supta Baddha Konasana
Period-induced anxiety making you feel a bit cray? You need this pose. Reclined bound angle is similar to bound angle but you’re leaning back instead of forward. And the list of PMS symptoms that this pose helps is extensive—from fatigue and insomnia to anxiety to headaches, your period doesn’t stand a chance against this relaxing post. Since you’re leaning back into the pose, your abdominal muscles relax which can help ease cramping.
3. Child’s Pose – Balasana
Yoga isn’t just about external flexibility. The impact of many poses also benefits your organs, acting as a sort of internal massage. Child’s pose does this by flexing your reproductive organs, as well as releasing tension in your back, shoulders, and neck. If you’re among the masses of uterus owners who feel achy in the muscles and joints during menstruation, you’ll love this simple pose. Stay in it as long as you want—the calming effects it has on your mind are just as beneficial as the relaxation your body will feel.
4. Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend – Upavistha Konasana
Speaking of mind-calming poses, wide angle seated forward bend (that’s a mouthful) is where it’s at. On your period or not, stretch into this pose when the stress of life is getting to you. Like with every other pose, the benefits aren’t singular. This forward bend helps to stimulate your abdominal organs, leading to less painful cramps (both in the short and long-term).
5. Reclining Twist – Bharadvaja
One of the most popular poses for dealing with menstrual pain is the reclining twist. Why? Because it feels good and has massive health benefits. For starters, your back and hips will get a great stretch (much-needed if you’re dealing with aches and pains from your period). But your digestive organs are getting just as much stimulation due to the fresh blood flow from this pose. Win-win!
6. Inverted leg pose – Viparita Karani
Physical, mental, and emotional benefits abound in this pose. Like with many of the other poses we’ve talked about, 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 (super helpful if you’re in the stage of menstruation where you feel like you can’t focus!). Emotionally, inverted leg pose can help you keep your chill, even in the midst of angsty mood swings.
6. Head to Knee Forward Bend – Janu Sirsasana
Another forward bend? Yes. And for good reason. The stimulating effect that forward bends have on the abdominal and reproductive muscles are unparalleled. The head to knee forward bend is another pose that can be modified to your experience level. No matter how you modify it, head to knee forward bend supports your reproductive and digestive system, relieves anxiety, fatigue, headaches, menstrual cramps, and can even help soothe mild depression.
Even if you just can’t bring yourself to head to a yoga class, doing one, some, or all of these yoga poses at home will help you to manage your period pains. Because let’s be real—soothing your cramps and headaches with sugary snacks and Netflix binges is only a temporary fix. Practicing yoga for even a few minutes a day will help you feel better, longer.
How Yoga Makes Menstrual Cramps A History!
Menstrual cycles can be a painful affair for any woman. During their periods, women around the world put up with abdominal and pelvic pain which may also spread to the lower back and thighs. Vomiting, headache, dizziness, fatigue, constipation and bloating are a few other things that women may have to endure during those painful days. Extreme pain or menstrual cramps caused during a woman’s period are clinically known as Dysmenorrhea.
“The first two days of my periods are the most painful. The body ache disturbs me emotionally and I feel stressed out,” says Kiran, a business executive in her mid-20’s. Swati, a 28 year old dentist, adds “The pain is usually restricted to the stomach and lower back. I haven’t really ever had to resort to painkillers. Just a hot water bottle for the back helps reduce the pain.”
Studies suggest that menstrual cramps are more common in adolescent girls and its occurrence may reduce as the age progresses. Experts believe that one of the major contributing factors to menstrual cramps can be lack of exercise. Unhealthy dietary habits have also been known to add to the woe.
Bid pain goodbye!
Popping painkillers during periods helps suppress the pain but is not a permanent solution. Also, the body gets used to such painkillers and may require you to increase the dosage with time, possibly inviting further problems. Also, it may not always be feasible to use hot-water bag every time your periods trouble you. Adoption of wholesome and nutritious food can help reduce the pain. Yoga, a time-tested natural technique is one of the rare side-effect free options available out there that can make your periods pain-free. Yoga strengthens the body physically and aids in alleviating pain caused due to menstrual cramps. It also calms the mind and empowers you to put up a stronger resistance against giving in to the pain.
These simple yoga poses for menstrual cramps work effectively to limit the pain from distracting your routine life:
The Pigeon pose stretches the entire lower part of the body, stimulates the abdominal organs and relieves the body of menstrual discomfort.
The Fish pose is a back-bend that stretches and stimulates the belly muscles. It is also known to relieve the body of menstrual pain.
The One-legged Forward bend is yet another yoga pose that massages the abdominal organs, thus relieving you of pain caused by menstrual cramps.
The Bow pose strengthens the abdominal muscles and stimulates the reproductive organs. It alleviates menstrual discomfort and constipation.
The Cobra pose stretches and tones the abdomen, relieving the body of menstrual pain. It also reduces fatigue and stress.
The Camel pose stretches and opens the front of the body, relieves the body of lower back ache and helps overcome menstrual discomfort.
These asanas need to be practiced throughout the month till the periods begin. Once the periods start, do pranayamas, meditation and practice simple poses like Badhakonasana, Shishuasana, Natarajasana and Yoga Nidra. Avoid any kind of leg lifts or rigorous physical and mental activity during your periods.
Pain-free tips to beat pain!
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat healthy
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol
- Exercise regularly
Don’t let the menstrual cramps throw your life off track! Take control by practicing yoga regularly, eating healthy and above all, staying positive about life. Emotional stress is known to increase menstrual discomfort and thus should be done away with. Yoga helps you understand your body’s capabilities and helps you unlock its potential. It also helps uplift your mood and adds charisma to your personality!
Yoga: The only alternative?
Yoga is a holistic approach towards a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. When practiced regularly over a period of time, it can have the desired effects on the body. However, it is strongly advised that if you are on any sort of medication, please consult your doctor before giving up the prescribed medication. Yoga should be adopted to help reach your goal of a pain-free period, but should not be used as the only means to get there.
Respect your body, understand its limits and have patience in overcoming them. In the meanwhile, dress up, enjoy life and overpower your periods with a smile!
Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Sri Sri Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor and an Sri Sri Yoga teacher. Find an Sri Sri Yoga program at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information on programs or share feedback? Write to us at [email protected]
Yoga practice is well known to calm, center and strengthen both body and mind. So when it comes to yoga for menstruation, practising it can offer enormous benefits to balance your mood and ease menstrual cramps. You may not always feel like rushing to take part in physical activity on your time of the month, but exercise can really help with period pain. Yoga especially has been tried and tested to be beneficial for muscles and mentality. Here are some of the most effective yoga positions to do during your period.
We have carefully chosen poses that are not too strenuous so should work for all ability levels. These poses will help you relax, and are perfect to try if you aren’t able to find time for a full practise or yoga class. Try them the next time you have your period and let us know how helpful you found it.
Downward Facing Dog
A classic pose amongst yogis, the downward facing dog has many many benefits – it strengthens and stretches, as well as calms your mind. Downward dog also helps to relieve menstrual pain. Stand on your hands and knees and lift your knees on the exhale. Lift your hip towards the sky and stretch your heels and shoulders (don’t worry if your heels don’t touch the floor). Stay in this position for several full breaths and let your cramping tummy relax, focussing on deep breaths (and not falling over). Downward dog is a great pose during yoga, but don’t worry if it feels quite intense to begin with! Practise will soon help. It is easy to move into this position as part of the sun salutation if you have slightly longer time to practise, and is great in the morning to set you up for the day.
The Child’s Pose
The child’s pose is a nice resting pose that can follow the downward facing dog. It relaxes and helps especially with lower back pain. Kneel on the floor so that your big toes touch, with your knees widened and sit your bum on your heels. Exhale deeply and lay down your torso, with your arms stretched in front. Rest your forehead on the ground so it stretches your neck and stay in this position. This pose does not require much strength and can easily be done in between a busy routine or for few minutes between Netflix episodes. Remember to breathe deeply and relax into the pose.
The Camel is slightly more demanding, this is an effective cramp-relieving stretching pose which engages the lower stomach and pelvic muscles. The pose also works to reduce anxiety and re-energise. Kneel on the floor with your knees hip wide, lean back and try to reach your feet (don’t worry, if you cannot reach them at first – just start with your palms on your lower back, fingers towards your bum, and work your way down over time). Inhale and lift your chest, leaning against your shoulder blades. If you want you can carefully drop your head and stay in this position for up to one minute. After this you can go back to the child’s pose to counteract the intense back bend.
The bow is another back-bend position that can help with period pain. It stimulates the reproductive organs and gives you a good stretch whilst strengthening your back. Lie on your belly and bend your knees so you can reach your ankles, whilst keeping the knees no more than hip-width apart. If you can’t reach them, you can use a strap and ensure you keep your arms straight. On the inhale lift your thighs and chest, paying attention to lifting them the same height to stay level. Remember to keep breathing (it’s easy to forget when concentrating) and stay in this position for up to 30 seconds before you slowly release and exhale. This is an energising pose, and can be good boost during the day if you are feeling lethargic or uncomfortable at work or home.
The Reclined Goddess
Aah, The Reclined Goddess, perfect for what you are getting calm and comfortable ready for bed. A relaxing favourite amongst the Natracare team, this is a restorative pose which opens the groin and stimulates your ovaries. It can easily be done in bed, and even better with a hot water bottle on your belly. Lying on your back, angle your knees and put your feet together, knees falling to either side. Place your arms next to your body, palms facing upwards and breathe. You can stay like this from anything to 1 minute to 10. It is important to be comfortable so support your head from underneath if needed, and don’t force your knees towards the floor. This way you can relax your body and soul like the menstruating goddess you truly are.
We hope these few simple poses can help you find relief and let you get through shark week just more comfortably. If any pose gives you discomfort or doesn’t quite feel right, stop and if in any doubt ask a yoga instructor. Yoga especially is beneficial for relaxing your muscles and helping calm your thoughts. These top 5 period exercises and movements can really help with period pain. Let us know if you have any preferred poses specifically to help during the various stages of your menstrual cycle.
For more Yoga tips visit: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/fitness/everything-need-know-yoga