Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Menstrual problems, Ugh! the monthly quota of torture for being a woman. But you are not alone, 75% of all women experience severe to mild menstrual problems including Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). About 30 to 40% of women experience PMS symptoms severe enough to disrupt their lifestyle (1). Consequently, should you be feeling better, since so many other women are experiencing these problems with you? Period problems obviously exist from the beginning of times, so are there any cures to it other than popping painkillers or birth control? Are period problems truly incurable, irremediable and inherent part of womanhood?
Let us see what the ancient Yogic knowledge has to offer regarding this topic. And remember these Asanas mentioned below have to be practised regularly (if possible daily) before your period and NOT during your period. Last-minute fire fighting will not help.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” - B.K.S. Iyengar
WARNING: It is recommended to avoid Yoga Asanas during the menstrual period. But if you decide to be active during your menstrual period, on NO account you should perform Sirsasana (Headstand) and Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) or any Asana that requires you to stand on your head or be upside-down or inverted (2).
Goodbye To Painful Menstrual Cramps (dysmenorrhea)
Pain is the most common problem women have with their periods and more than 50% of the women experience it. This pain is usually caused by contractions of the uterus. Popping painkillers is the usual solution to this. But this is not a permanent solution (think about the eventual increase in dosage and side-effects!). Most women hope that the pain eventually reduces with age or childbirth. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't.
Studies have proven that Yoga Nidra and some specific Asanas such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Baddha Konasana (Cobbler Pose), Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) and Balasana (Child Pose) can reduce and in some cases even eliminate period cramps. It is important to remember that the change does not happen in a day. These Asanas have to be practised regularly (if possible daily) for at least 3 to 6 months to notice any change.
TIPS: Drink plenty of water, eat healthily, avoid tobacco and exercise regularly!
In more severe cases, the pain can also be caused by other health issues such as Endometriosis, Uterine fibroids or Ovarian cysts. Please visit a doctor if the pain is severe and your condition does not improve over time. (3)
Heavy Bleeding To Normal Bleeding
It's difficult to define exactly what a heavy period is because it varies from woman to woman. The average loss of blood during the period is around 6 to 8 teaspoons (40ml) Heavy menstrual bleeding is defined as losing 16 teaspoons (80ml) or more in each period, having periods that last longer than 7 days, or both. (4)
Practice Sirsasana and Salamba Sarvangasana improve blood circulation and haemoglobin content. Sarvangasana is called the mother of Asanas and a boon to humanity due to its numerous health benefits. If you can not perform Sirsasana and Salamba Sarvangasana then you can practice Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose), Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose) and if possible Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall Pose), which are beginner-level easy Asanas. Upavistha Konasana (wide-angle seated forward bend) and Baddha Konasana activates your core, stimulates your abdominal organs and keep your uterus healthy and strong.
TIP: A person with a heavy period is losing a lot of blood, and with it, a lot of iron. The body uses iron to create new blood cells. Include iron-rich food in your diet such as Dark-green leafy vegetables, soya, nuts, seeds dried fruits, such as prunes, figs, and apricots (If you are nonvegetarian then liver, lean red meat, chicken and seafood). The body does not absorb iron easily, but vitamin C can help. So add broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange juice, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes to your diet. Also, stay hydrated during your period.
Fix Irregular Periods
A menstrual cycle is the number of days between the first day of each period. On average, this is 28 days. Irregular periods are when periods happen more or less often than every 21 to 35 days, or when a period is very variable or unpredictable. The menstrual cycle is very delicate. If you are stressed, travel; change your diet and so on then your cycle can change. The state of your menstrual cycle reflects the state of your physical and mental health.
Here again, Salamba Sarvangasana, Baddha Konasana and Upavistha Konasana are Asanas to be practised. These Asanas not only help you the keep your uterus healthy and strong but also help you to calm and clear your mind. If you can not perform Salamba Sarvangasana then you can practice Adho Mukha Svanasana and Urdhva Prasarita Padasana.
TIP: Top up your Vitamin D by getting some sunshine, exercise regularly and most importantly meditate.
Kick Menstrual Migraine Out Of Your Life
Many factors can trigger a migraine, including stress, anxiety, and bright lights. Also, hormones that control the menstrual cycle may trigger a migraine around the time of your period.
Yoga is a side-effect-free method to fight migraine. Practising these simple yoga postures for a few minutes every day will help prepare you better for the next migraine attack. Asanas to fight against migraine are Sirsasana, Salamba Sarvangasana, Uttanasana, Baddha Konasana and Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend). If you can not perform Salamba Sarvangasana then you can practice Adho Mukha Svanasana and Urdhva Prasarita Padasana. Meditate daily in Virasana (Hero Pose) and Padmasana (Lotus Pose) positions for at least 10-20 minutes. Practice Nadi Sodhana and Sitali Pranayama regularly.
TIP: Meditation during early morning hours is recommended for beginners.
I hope all the above guidelines and tips help you to say goodbye to your period problems. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any special queries. Or even better book a 60mins Live-Online Yoga trial session for FREE!
(1) Menstrual Disorders (https://www.healthywomen.org/condition/menstrual-disorders)
(2) Light on Yoga, by BKS Iyengar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_on_Yoga)
(3) American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/gynecologic-problems/dysmenorrhea-painful-periods)
(5) Period problems (https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/period-problems)