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5 Yoga Poses To Help Reduce Period Pain

About 80% of women experience period pain at some point in their lives.1 This may include cramping, pain in the lower abdomen, headaches and back pain. The discomfort associated with period pain can affect some women to the extent to prevent them from carrying out daily activities.

Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with period pain. Over the counter pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory food can be effective. There are also many effective complementary therapies available including acupuncture, heat therapy, lifestyle changes and yoga.

How will yoga relieve period pain?

Before we explain how yoga can help relieve period pain, we’ll quickly review the cause of period pain, which is known as dysmenorrhea.

Dysmenorrhoea is triggered by the strong contractions that affect the uterus during menstruation. These contractions occur so the body can dislodge the thickened lining of the uterus, which is then discharged through the vagina. The uterine muscle, called the myometrium, may begin to ache or cramp because of these repeated contractions.

A group of compounds called prostaglandins help determine how strong your uterine contractions are.  Having very high levels of prostaglandins can cause adverse symptoms during your period, including headaches and back pain.2

Yoga can be used to reduce the physical discomfort and emotional stress that you are experiencing during a painful period in a number of ways:

Relieve lower back pain

Yoga is very effective for aligning the back, strengthening muscles, and lengthening the spine.  It is also useful for reducing back pain associated with your period by stimulating then relaxing the back muscles.3

Clears the mind

A yoga session will help clear your mind, relieving you of any stress you are experiencing.  The change in your mental state can also change how your brain perceives the pain you are experiencing.  The end result? You brain won’t notice period pain as much after a yoga session.4

Relaxes the nervous system

Scientists have discovered that yoga positively affects many parts of the body.  It shifts the balance from the sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic system and the relaxation response.  This can help reduce pain levels.5

Releases feel-good hormones

When you exercise and work up a sweat the brain will release endorphins and serotonin.  They are powerful hormones that make you feel great!6 They are one of the reasons why you feel fantastic after a workout.  These hormones also relieve pain, making your period pain less noticeable.

Relieve cramping

Certain yoga positions can relieve cramping during your period. These positions help the body relax and can temporarily reduce the severity of uterine muscle contractions.

The 5 best poses to relieve period pain

Here are 5 fantastic yoga poses that can reduce period pain and any stress that you are experiencing.

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Fish Pose is useful for restoring energy levels and reducing menstrual pain. It will stretch out the muscles in your legs, chest, and back which can relieve any muscle pain you are experiencing.  Traditionally, Fish Pose is performed with the legs in Padmasana (crossed legs position), however, it can also be performed with straight legs or bent knees, which may be easier for beginners.

  • Step 1: Start by lying on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent.  Lift your pelvis off the floor and slide your hands (palms down) below your buttocks. Rest your buttocks on the backs of your hands.
  • Step 2: Inhale as you press your forearms and elbows into the floor. Pull your shoulder blades back while lifting your upper torso and head off the ground. If you are flexible, you may be able to rest the top of your head on the ground.  Avoid placing any pressure on your neck, as this can cause unwanted injuries. Keep your legs straight or bend your knees if you find that more comfortable.
  • Step 3: Remain in this position for up to 30 seconds, breathing in and out as smoothly as possible.

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

The bow pose can relieve lower back pain and headaches associated with period pain. It is named Bow Pose because it looks like an archer’s bow.

  • Step 1: Begin by lying on your stomach with your hands parallel to your torso, palms up. While exhaling, bend your knees and bring your heels close to your buttocks. Hold your ankles with your hands. Keep your knees aligned with your hips.
  • Step 2: Take a breath and lift your heels away from your buttocks. Simultaneously, lift your thighs off the ground.  This will cause your upper torso and head to lift from the floor. Keep your back muscles soft and push your tailbone towards the floor. Press your shoulder blades back and open your chest while looking forward.
  • Step 3: Hold this pose for 20 to 30 seconds.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

The Camel Pose stretches the hip flexors, strengthens back muscles, improves posture, and opens the abdomen.  It relieves mild back pain and menstrual discomfort.

  • Step 1: Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-width apart. Press your shins firmly into the floor with your thighs turned slightly inwards. Inhale while lifting your chest and pressing your shoulder towards your ribs.
  • Step 2: As you exhale, push your hips forward and arch your back. Place your hands on the back of your heels or hips.  Use your hands to stabilise your pose while lifting your chest. You can then drop your head back and gaze upwards while breathing.  Perform this pose between 30 to 60 seconds.

Noose Pose (Pasasana)

This pose will help improve your digestion and relieve back pain associated with your period. This pose is a little difficult to understand from a written description, so if you are struggling, please look at the video underneath steps 1-3.

  • Step 1: Begin by squatting with your feet together and lower your buttocks towards your heels.
  • Step 2: Inhale and turn your knees to the left while turning your torso to the right. Exhale and reach your upper left arm around the outside of your right leg and the left forearm in front of the legs and behind the left leg.
  • Step 3: Take a breath and move your right hand behind your body to link up with your left hand. Exhale then gaze over your right shoulder while opening your chest. Hold this position for between 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides.

Head to knee forward bend

This pose stretches the hamstrings, groin, spine and shoulders. It helps to relieve headaches, stress, and menstrual discomfort.

  • Step 1: Sit on the floor with your legs extended forward. Bend your right knee at a 90 degree angle so the foot is against the inner thigh of the left leg.
  • Step 2: Grab the left shin or left foot, exhale and lean forwards towards the left foot.  Concentrate on lengthening your spine and chest. Pull your toes towards you and keep your heel firmly planted on the ground. Hold this pose for 60 seconds, then switch sides.

Please remember that yoga may not relieve period pain as well as other methods, so if you are looking for some alternatives, see our article on alternative methods of reducing period pain.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional