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While the thought of exercising as you’re writhing in pain isn’t exactly appealing, an increasing number of experts say that certain yoga moves actually help ease discomfort and cramps in the abdomen and back caused by menstrual cramps. Intense pain, often referred to as dysmenorrhea, can bring a halt to your daily activities and throw life out of gear. And if you’re among those who prefers not to pop painkillers every month, try these asanas for some relief.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Lie flat on your back with your arms on your sides. Now, move your palms (facing down) below your hips so that your elbows are close to each other. Slowly, lift you head and chest as high as you can. Once you are here, lower your head backward and try to touch the crown of the head to the floor. In case you find it difficult to touch the ground, you can use a blanket. Now place your elbows so that they support your weight. Make sure that your chest is lifted and that your thighs and legs touch the floor. Focus on your breath — inhalation and exhalation have to be slow and deep. After staying for as long as you can, take a break and repeat the pose.
How this helps: Matsyasana is a great way to stretch your neck, shoulders and chest. It is also helpful in
easing pain caused due to menstruation.
Pasasana (Noose Pose)
Sit on a folded blanket and bring your feet together in front of you. Now, slowly lift your buttocks off the floor and turn your knees towards the left side while you twist your upper body to the right. Take your arms behind your back and link the fingers so that your back gets a good stretch. Ensure that your knees touch each other and face straight ahead. Hold the post for a minute and repeat with the other side. Keep your breath normal.
How it helps: Pasasana is an excellent asana to stretch your spine and groin. It is said to aid digestion and also relieve menstrual discomfort and tension from your shoulders and neck.
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Go on your knees and keep them at a slight distance from each other. Ensure that you use a yoga mat or a blanket while performing this asana or you could hurt your knees. Place your palms on your lower back (to support yourself) and slowly lift your chest and torso, and lower your shoulders. Push your hips forward and start arching your back. Don’t feel scared about falling — you may feel slightly disoriented for the initial few seconds but the feeling will go away almost as soon as it arrives. Now, slowly move your palms and hold your heels and look towards the ceiling. Stay like this for about a minute, take a break for a few seconds and repeat the pose.
How this helps: Ustrasana stretches your torso, abdomen, chest and groin, opens up your shoulders and improves back muscles. It also lowers discomfort and alleviates fatigue.
Janu Sirsasana (Forward Bend)
Sit straight on the floor and stretch your legs in front of you. Slowly bend your right knee outward in way so that your right heel touches the inner left thigh. Start bending and try to reach the extended left leg. Stretch your back as much as you can and keep your breathing normal. Make sure that you don’t bend your left knee or round your back. In case you can’t reach your left heel, you can even hold the ankle. Your toes have to turn towards you — don’t point them outward. Hold the position for two minutes and repeat with the other leg.
How it helps: Janu Sirsasana is a great asana to stretch your back, shoulders and hamstrings. It also opens up the groin area thereby lowering discomfort caused by your period. Apart from this, it is also said to quieten the mind and lower fatigue.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Lie down on your stomach and make sure your legs are close to each other. Place your palms just below your shoulders, close to your body. Lift your head and chest upwards slowly. You can bend your elbows but make sure you aren’t leaning on any one side. Look up towards the ceiling and take normal breaths. Once you get better at this pose, you can straighten your elbows. Stay in the pose for a few moments, take a break and repeat the asana.
How it helps: Dhanurasana strengthens the abdominal muscles and opens up your chest and shoulders. It is also said to be beneficial for the reproductive organs and allays menstrual discomfort.Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Lie down on your stomach and make sure your legs are close to each other. Place your palms just below your shoulders, close to your body. Lift your head and chest upwards slowly. You can bend your elbows but make sure you aren’t leaning on any one side. Look up towards the ceiling and take normal breaths. Once you get better at this pose, you can straighten your elbows. Stay in the pose for a few moments, take a break and repeat the asana.
How it helps: Bhujangasana is a great way to tone your abdomen and strengthen your back, shoulders and neck. It eases discomfort and lowers stress and lethargy.
How stress can also affect your menstrual cycle
Studies say that stress can also make your periods painful. “Certain asanas work well in relieving stress. A combination of yogic postures, breathing techniques and meditative techniques work very well in alleviating stress. These include Surya Namaskar, Chandra Namaskar, Eka Padasan Shirsasan, Gatyatmak Paschimottanasan, Dhanurasan, Natarajasan, Mahabheda Mudra, Maha Mudra and Prana Mudra,” says yoga professional Amrapali Patil.
Adds Ankita Sood, certified yoga professional from the Government of India (Ministry of Ayush and Quality Council of India), “Yoga balances your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements. Various asanas and pranayamas open energy channels and psychic centres by a good amount of blood circulation and oxygenation. This releases blocked energy and helps lowering the stress levels.”