Yoga for period pain Part 2: Four asanas to reduce menstrual pain and improve digestion
Regular exercise, even during your period, is very important because it improves blood circulation, stretches the muscles and can relieve inflammation.
Menstruation is a biological process and a part of almost every woman’s life. It usually starts when you hit puberty and ends with menopause. And while there isn’t much you can do about your period, you do have a few options when it comes to dealing with period pain.
A study published by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, Germany in 2008 explains how menstrual pain is usually not taken very seriously by people close to you, and even doctors sometimes, because it’s considered to be a normal part of a woman’s life. However, living with pain, even for four to six days in a month, can affect your functionality and efficiency.
A lot of women are told to take things a little easier during their period, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t exercise. Regular exercise, even during your period, is very important because it improves blood circulation, stretches the muscles and can relieve inflammation.
Yoga is one of the most effective ways to deal with menstrual pain, and not just because it’s a natural form of exercise that improves your flow and flexibility. Many yoga asanas also improve digestion, which usually goes for a toss during periods. So here are four yoga asanas you should practise regularly, and especially when your next period arrives.
1. Ustrasana or camel pose
This asana stretches the entire body and relieves backache and menstrual pain. It can also help with respiratory diseases. Don’t try this asana if you have a back or neck injury.
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and thighs perpendicular to the floor.
- Place the upper part of your feet flat on the ground.
- Place your hands on your hips and slowly lean backwards.
- Reach for the right heel with your right hand, and the left heel with your left hand.
- Push your hip and chest forward and your head backwards, gazing at the sky.
- Be careful not to strain your back, arms, shoulders or neck.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- To release this position, place your hands on your pelvis one by one. Inhale, move your head forward and gradually bring your upper torso into the starting position. Relax and repeat.
2. Baddha konasana or butterfly pose
This hip-opening yoga asana stimulates the abdominal organs and improves blood circulation and digestion. You should not try this pose if you have any groin or knee injuries.
- Sit with your legs straightened in front of you.
- Exhale, bend your knees and pull your heels towards your pelvis.
- Move the outer side of your legs towards the floor as you press the soles of your feet together, right in front of your pelvis.
- Bring the heels as close to your pelvis as you can, then use your index finger, middle finger and thumb to grasp each toe.
- If you can’t hold the toe, hold the ankle firmly with your hand.
- Make sure your spine is perpendicular to the floor and not bent.
- Don’t force your knees down, but gently push your thighs downwards.
- Breathe normally and hold this position for as long as you can or up to 5 minutes.
- Inhale, remove your hands and gently straighten your legs.
3. Adho-mukha svanasana or downward dog pose
This asana has the reputation of being the ultimate stretching exercise and helps energize the body, relieve pain and improve digestion. This pose should not be practised if you have diarrhoea, carpal tunnel syndrome or high blood pressure.
- Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Your thighs and arms should be perpendicular to the floor, and in line with your hips and shoulders respectively.
- Exhale, shift some of your weight and lift your knees away from the floor while balancing on your toes.
- Keep your knees slightly bent and push your hips towards the ceiling.
- Exhale and straighten your knees and shift the weight onto your feet. Your heels should now be firmly placed on the ground if possible.
- Activate your palms and use them to push your upper torso and head inwards, towards the knees.
- Keep the head between your upper arms and hold this position for 1 to 3 minutes or as long as possible.
- Release this position gradually and come down to your original position, then sit up slowly.
4. Marjaryasana-bitilasana or cat-cow pose
This combination of two poses gently stretches the back, neck and torso. This pose relieves back and neck pain and improves blood circulation. Do not try this if you have a back or neck injury.
- Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Your thighs and arms should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Place your shins and knees hip-width apart, centre your head in a neutral position and softly gaze downwards.
- Begin with the cow pose: Inhale and drop your belly towards the floor. Move your chin and chest out and upwards and slowly shift your gaze towards the ceiling.
- Broaden your shoulders and move them away from your ears.
- Now move to the cat pose: exhale and move your belly towards your spine while slowly rounding your back towards the ceiling.
- Slowly move your head towards the ground without pressing your chin to the chest.
- Inhale as you go into cow pose and exhale as you move into cat pose.
- Repeat this movement 5-20 times.
For more information, read our article on Yoga: Benefits, Types, Importance and Rules.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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