Being a woman is full of both fun and horrific surprises. One moment you could be walking down the street enjoying a beautiful day or finally having that productive afternoon at work and the next minute you are blasted out of your smugness with a cringing pain in the stomach. To be a menstruating person with cramps is simultaneously a rite of passage and a nuisance.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more than half of women who menstruate experience some pain for one to two days each month. This pain can be severe enough to interfere with daily activities. But no matter what is the intensity or statistics surrounding menstrual cramps, the truth is that what goes on inside a woman's body during a period is intense and manifests itself as more than just a mild discomfort.
It would not be entirely wrong to assume that talking about menstrual cramps makes many of us feel weak and vulnerable. And even when we do indulge in some cathartic complaining, it is often misconstrued as petulant whining. While curling up in a bed is the only comforting activity that we can think of during the onslaught of cramps, here are three simple and gentle Yoga postures that can ease your pain:
- Child’s Pose: It is the perfect pose to start at or rest in at any given point throughout a yoga routine. With its endless calming and nurturing benefits, it is a favorite of mine. To get into a child’s pose, begin by kneeling on a yoga mat. Bring your knees together and your hips to your feet. Exhale and slowly rest your torso over your thighs so that your forehead touches the mat. Breathe deeply to relax your body and quiet your mind. When performed, the child’s pose gently stretches your lower back while massaging and toning the abdominal organs. It is sure to induce you with a great sense of physical and mental relief.
- Reclining Twist: Twisting postures are my go-to poses to stimulate, detox and refresh the inner organs. Reclining Twist offers an opportunity to feel the power of wringing out the body from its core. Begin by lying comfortably on your back. Bend your knees in to your chest and extend your arms out alongside the body making a ‘T’ formation, with your palms facing up. As you inhale, lengthen your tailbone down towards the ground. When you exhale, drop both of your bent knees to the right while looking over to your left. Breathe deeply a couple of times and come back to the centre. On your next exhale, drop your knees to the left, and send your gaze to the right. Calming and conducive, it will rejuvenate you to appease that stubborn pain.
- Bound Angle Pose: If you don’t already have this wonderful pose as part of your yoga practice, here is why you should adopt it now. Bound angle pose is one of the most widely used techniques to alleviate menstrual cramps and helps you gather some major stress busting benefits. Start in an easy, sitting position. Bend your legs and point your knees outwards, placing the soles of your feet against each other. Try bringing your feet close to your pelvis as much as possible. Now breathe in to straighten your spine, exhale and bend forward. Hold the pose to feel the stretch in your back and on the inside of your thighs. Feel happier, grounded and more connected as you practice the bound angle pose.
The best part about practicing Yoga during menstruation is that you don’t have to worry about toning arms, sculpting legs or holding the postures longer. Some restorative and healing poses done according to the comfort of your body is all you need to soothe those frazzled nerves. Give yourself enough support to relax, refresh and turn your attention inwards. In the end, whether you decide to snuggle comfortably in your bed or sport your yoga pants, you don’t have to grimace through period pain in silence
Anushka Bhatia (Yoga Enthusiast)