Menstrual cramps, period pains, dysmenorrhea, whatever you want to call it – it all describes one terrible condition most women experience every month for most of their lives. Some women experience severely painful menstrual cramps and for others, it’s only an annoying spasm.
Some women don’t even get them at all. It’s unique for each person. Nevertheless, this article is for all the ladies who do experience them on the more painful side and want a natural solution.
Pharmaceuticals are the most common solution and I too have given in to them in the past. However, I try to steer clear from painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs because they are extremely addictive.
I believe in natural remedies and yoga is probably the best one out there for menstrual cramps. Find out which postures target your lower abdomen to relieve pain and gently soothe the muscles.
First, what are menstrual cramps exactly and why do we get them?
Menstruation is the result of your uterus trying to discharge it’s lining also known as the endometrium. Every month female hormones cause the endometrium to thicken in preparation for pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, the thickened lining expels out of your body over a period of 5-7 days.
The reason why this process is painful, is because the uterus needs to contract to be able to shed off the lining. Prostaglandins are a group of lipids that are involved with tissue damage and help the body handle injury and pain.
These lipids trigger the muscles in the uterus to contract and excrete the lining. If you have high levels of prostaglandins, you might experience more severe period cramps.
These painful contractions can start a few days before your period, usually reaches its peak the same day you start and can last a few days after your period begins.
Other causes can be things like Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Cervical stenosis etc.
Indicators of menstrual cramps are:
- Throbbing pain in your lower abdomen that can be either manageable or severe
- Continuous aches and cramps in abdomen
- Pain in the lower back and/or upper legs
- Pain in breasts
- Loss of appetite
10 Yoga Postures to relieve menstrual cramps
The following yoga postures will soothe your lower abdomen and bring gentle movement to the muscles to alleviate pain and contractions. You can do these on your yoga mat with a nice big pillow for support or if you feel like it, you can even do some of these postures on your bed.
1. Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold
This posture is great for when you feel bloated and stressed. The folding sensation gives the abdominal muscles and organs light pressure to relieve pain. It also tones the stomach. Being halfway upside down sends a nice calming wave over your mind and increases blood flow to your brain.
You also get an added stretch of the hamstrings and spine for if your cramps are severe and you can feel it in your upper legs and lower back. Make sure your legs are open wide so you can comfortably stand and bend from your hips. Keep you back straight. You can keep your hands on your hips, or you can grab both ankles.
Stay here for 15 to 30 seconds, take a few deep breaths, and come up slowly one vertebra at a time once you’re done.
2. Child’s Pose
You probably guessed it; child’s pose is an all-time favourite for any type of tummy pain. Same as the previous posture, the folding sensation comforts the aching muscles and organs. Rapping yourself tightly, yet gently, around your abdomen relieves the painful contractions.
You can place a pillow between your tummy and thighs to make it more comfortable. Place your hands in front of you to gently stretch your back or swing them around to your sides to release tension from your shoulders.
You can stay here for as long as you wish. Remember to breathe healing oxygen into the areas that hold tension.
3. Downward Facing Dog
This posture is unusual when it comes to soothing pain, nonetheless, it can be good to give your body some gentle movement. This yoga posture is good for menstrual cramps because it targets most areas of your body. It stretches your spine, shoulders, calves, and hamstrings while allowing some movement for your abdominal muscles and organs. It also gets your blood flowing to all areas of your body and provides oxygen to painful parts.
Don’t stay here too long. I would recommend keeping this for about 20 seconds. Remember to breathe. Come down slowly afterwards and feel free to retreat to child’s pose again if you feel the need.
The movement of cat-cow will gently massage your abdominal organs and the slow, wave-like sensation will relieve some of the tension. Not only is this posture great to relax your tummy, it also stimulates your spine and lower back to get the blood flowing and the muscles working.
You can shift between cat and cow as many times as you please. I enjoy doing it between 10 and 15 times each. The movement feels really good on the lower belly and you can feel the tension get worked out from your back.
5. Butterfly Pose
Butterfly pose is also an awesome yoga posture for menstrual cramps because of the opening of the hip flexors. Your hip muscles are close to your uterus and a lot of tension can get trapped in that area. Butterfly releases tension and gently stretches the groin.
You can place a pillow on top of your open legs and fold from your hips to lie down on the pillow. The folding sensation of the abdomen combined with the opening of the hips can release pain after a period of time. Bonus: you also get a gentle lower back stretch.
This yoga posture for menstrual cramps might be one of my favorites. It’s beneficial and very relaxing. You might fall asleep!
6. Seated Forward Fold
Seated forward fold is more focused on stretching out the lower back and hamstrings. So, it’s perfect for those more serious cramps that spread to your lumbar and upper legs. You also benefit from the folding sensation in your stomach.
I like to keep it here for about 30 to 60 seconds to really focus on the back and legs and release built-up tension from stress and pain. You can also place a pillow on your legs and fold over that if it feels good.
7. Knees-to-Chest Pose
This is the ultimate yoga posture for menstrual cramps. It’s the best one for getting that nice folding sensation because you’re on your back and you can fold your legs over your tummy as tight as you want.
You can grab both legs or just one leg at a time. If you grab both legs, you can gently sway from side to side to massage your lower back. It feels really good and helps release pain. Another option is to place a pillow underneath your hips for extra support and comfort.
Close your eyes, breathe nice and deep and stay here for as long as you like.
8. Reclined Spinal Twist
Spinal twists are another favourite of mine. It targets the lower back and stretches muscles that often don’t get affected by other postures. Folding your leg higher over your tummy gives a different kind of sensation. It helps soothe painful contractions and release tension from your glutes and spine.
Do both legs a few times and keep each one for about 15 seconds. You can use your pillow underneath your hips.
9. Reclined Butterfly Pose
Like the normal butterfly pose, this posture helps with opening the hips and stretching out the groin muscles which release a lot of tension. By lying on your back, you feel a deep relaxation and it aids in calming your mind.
You can place a pillow (or yoga blocks) underneath your lower back or head. Take a few deep breaths and relax. Stay here for a minute or two.
10. Inverted Leg Pose
The grand finale. You’ll need a wall for this one. Feel free to stay here for longer than 1 or 2 minutes. This is a highly beneficial posture, not only for menstrual cramps but for your overall health. Grab a pillow and place it underneath your hips. Lengthen your legs up against the wall while lying flat on the ground or on top of your pillow.
This yoga posture for menstrual cramps reverses the blood flow and other fluids from your legs. Refreshing your ankles, knees, and legs. It helps clear congested pelvic muscles, organs, and the entire reproductive area.
After a minute or two you’ll feel tension released from your lower body while your upper body relaxes. You can stay here with your feet together or you can slowly open your legs to feel a nice stretch in your hip flexors and groin area.
There you have it, easy, natural and super relaxing remedies for menstrual cramps. Do these yoga postures at your own pace and keep it for as long as you want. Skip what doesn’t feel good and repeat the poses that help you relieve pain. Remember every person is unique and we need to listen to our bodies in order to heal. Drink lots of fluids and get good rest. You’ll be just fine!