What would you like to do to ease period cramps? If you ask me, I prefer to lay down, put on a heating pad all over the painful area until it feels slightly better and then I push myself to sleep.
My mum used to say, sleeping is the best medicine. However, this period pain relief method no longer works for me ever since I turned 25.
I started having irregular periods, acne, and breakouts. Don’t get me started with the cramps though. At one point, I even considered taking birth control pills just to stop my period. Before I tried pills, I decided to try working out or at least yoga, and only if it didn’t work, then I’ll go for the birth control pill treatment.
So the following round when I had cramps, I worked out. Honestly, it was hard especially for someone who has never done it before. Since working out was not working out (pun intended) for me, I decided I should try yoga instead. To my surprise, yoga actually suited me quite well. Most of the yoga poses that I tried did provide the much-needed relief to my period cramps.
The best part was most of the yoga pose that I tried did not require me to stand up. That way, I could lay down and do the exercise. Who doesn’t like that, right? For the record, here are my top 5 favorite poses.
Wide Child Pose
The Wide Child’s Pose (Prasarita Balasana) helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue. It gently relaxes the muscles on the front of the body while softly and passively stretching the muscles of the back torso. In other words, it is a good yoga pose for period cramps.
How to do it :
1. Spread your knees wide apart while having your big toes touch each other. Rest your buttocks on your heels.
2. Sit up straight and lengthen your spine up through the crown of your head.
3. Upon exhalation, bow forward, draping your torso between your thighs. Your heart and chest should rest between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to come to the floor.
4. Keep your arms long and extended, palms facing down. Press back slightly with your hands to keep your buttocks in contact with your heels. Lengthen from your hips to your armpits, and then extend even further through your fingertips.
5. Keep your gaze drawn inward with your eyes closed.
6. Hold for up to a minute or longer, breathing softly.
7. To release the pose, gently use your hands to walk your torso upright to sit back on your heels.
If you are not sure how to do it, refer to our picture above. Plus, if you have a recent knee injury, this pose is not suitable for you. Perhaps, you can try the next pose?
Reclining Twist Pose
This Reclining Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana) gives a good release for the lower back and is a great opener for the muscles around your ribs. If you tend to have back pain during period cramps, try doing this yoga pose. It helps.
How to do it:
1. Lie down on your back, arms and legs straight.
2. Lift both knees into your chest. Hold either the knee or outside of your foot with your hand.
3. Keep your shoulders flat to the floor, close your eyes, and relax into the posture. Let gravity pull the knee down, so you do not have to use any effort in this posture.
4. Breathe and hold for 6-10 breaths.
5. To release: inhale and roll the hips back to the floor, and exhale the leg back down to the floor.
6. Repeat on another side.
The Knees-To-Chest Pose (Apanasana) is similar to the Reclining Twist except that you don’t need to twist. If you have knee or spine injury, try this pose. Plus, this is great for beginners.
How to do it:
1. Begin by laying on your back, with your legs and arms extended.
2. As you exhale, draw both of your knees to your chest. Clasp your hands around them. If it’s possible, wrap your forearms over your shins and clasp each elbow with the opposite hand.
3. Keep your back flat on the mat.
4. Tuck your chin slightly and gaze down the centerline of your body.
5. Hold for up to one minute. Keep your breathing smooth and even.
6. When you exhale, release and extend both legs along the floor and rest. Repeat up to six times.
There are many physical benefits of Cat/Cow Pose (Marjariasana), including toning the gastrointestinal tract and female reproductive system. This pose also helps relieve stress from menstrual cramps, lower back pain, and sciatica. Cat/Cow Pose increases the flexibility of the neck, shoulders, and spine. The movement also stretches the muscles of the hips, back, abdomen, chest, and lungs.
How to do it:
1. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.
2. Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling.
3. Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
4. Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
5. Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
6. Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
7. Repeat 5-20 times, and then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.
The Camel Pose (Ustrasana) stretches the front of the body, particularly the chest, abdomen, quadriceps, and hip flexors. It improves spinal flexibility, while also strengthening the back muscles and improving posture. This pose creates space in the chest and lungs, increasing breathing capacity and helping to relieve respiratory ailments. Ustrasana also stimulates the kidneys, which improves digestion. This pose energizes the body and helps to reduce anxiety and fatigue mostly caused by menstruation
How to do it:
1. Begin by kneeling upright with your knees distance apart. Rotate your thighs inward and press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. Do not squeeze your buttocks.
2. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, with your fingers pointing to the floor.
3. Lengthen your tailbone down toward the floor and widen the back of your pelvis.
4. Lean back, with your chin, slightly tucked toward your chest.
5. Beginners (like me) can stay here, keeping their hands on their back pelvis.
6. But if you are comfortable doing this, you can take the pose even deeper. Reach back and hold onto each heel.
7. Your palms should rest on your heels with your fingers pointing toward your toes and your thumbs holding the outside of each foot.
8. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
9. To release, bring your hands back to your front hips. Inhale, lead with your heart, and lift your torso by pushing your hips down toward the floor.
10. Your head should come up last. Rest in Child’s Pose (step 1)