Yoga and Menstrual Cramps
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Yoga and Menstrual Cramps

Originating in ancient India, yoga is a comprehensive system of physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. Yoga is a popular alternative form of mind-body therapy. Yoga long has been used to reduce the physical symptoms of chronic pain; meditation and yoga also may help individuals deal with the emotional aspects of chronic pain, reducing anxiety and depression. Studies have shown significant improvements in their sleep, appetite, and general well-being, as well as a decrease in physiological arousal. In fact, yoga has been shown to have positive therapeutic results in a wide range of scenarios/disorders such as stress, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, carpel tunnel syndrome, back pain, arthritis, and even cancer.

The practice of yoga, with its emphasis on harmonizing the mind, body, and spirit, has found its way into contemporary life as a tool to combat a plethora of health issues. Its gentle, soothing nature and inherent focus on promoting holistic well-being make yoga a compelling practice to explore, especially for those dealing with menstrual discomfort. This article aims to delve into the relationship between yoga and menstrual cramps, offering insights into how this ancient discipline can provide relief during menstruation.

Understanding Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps, medically known as dysmenorrhea, are throbbing or cramping pains experienced in the lower abdomen during menstruation. The primary culprit behind this discomfort is the release of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which induce contractions in the uterus to expel its lining during a menstrual cycle. The intensity of these cramps can vary significantly from woman to woman. While some might find them mildly uncomfortable, others may experience severe pain that hampers their daily activities. Moreover, conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can also exacerbate the severity of menstrual cramps.

The Art and Science of Yoga

The primary aim of yoga is to establish a state of balance and harmony within the practitioner, thereby promoting physical health, mental clarity, and emotional tranquility. The yoga therapy has been regarded as safe for most population with no adverse events due to yoga reported.

From a scientific perspective, practicing yoga has been linked to lower stress levels, improved mood, better flexibility and strength, and enhanced overall well-being. The calming effect of yoga can be attributed to its ability to lower cortisol levels, the body's primary stress hormone. Moreover, yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the "rest and digest" system, promoting relaxation and healing.

Unraveling the Connection: Menstrual Cramps and Yoga

The link between yoga and menstrual cramps can be understood by considering the physiological and psychological impacts of yoga practice. In general terms, researchers think that yoga may decrease functional disability, pain intensity, and depression. Trend toward lower pain medication after yoga. On a physical level, yoga postures can gently stretch and relax the muscles in the lower abdomen, thereby alleviating the tension and cramping associated with menstruation.

Moreover, the deep, rhythmic breathing inherent in yoga practice can help mitigate pain. It stimulates the body's relaxation response, causing a drop in the heart rate and blood pressure, relaxing tense muscles, and promoting a sense of calm. This effect is incredibly beneficial for those suffering from painful menstrual cramps. Research also substantiates the positive effects of yoga on menstrual discomfort: for example, in a blinded, randomized clinical trial, researchers demonstrated that yoga interventions may reduce menstrual cramps and menstrual distress in female undergraduate students with primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps). 

Yoga Poses to Ease Menstrual Cramps

There are various of yoga postures, most of which focus mainly on stretching of neck, shoulder, back muscles followed by relaxation, toning, strengthening, and flexibility. Certain yoga poses are particularly beneficial for easing menstrual cramps. Here are a few you can incorporate into your routine:

  • Child's Pose (Balasana): This restful pose gently stretches the lower back and hips, areas often affected during menstruation.
  • Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): This pose helps to soothe the mind while stretching the lower back and easing menstrual discomfort.
  • Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana): This restorative pose helps to open the hips and stimulate the abdominal organs, providing relief from menstrual cramps.
  • Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana): By gently stretching the abdominal muscles, this pose helps alleviate cramps.

Remember that while performing these poses, your primary focus should be on maintaining a sense of ease and relaxation. Pushing your body into positions that cause discomfort can exacerbate menstrual pain instead of relieving it. Always listen to your body and adjust as necessary.

Please note that the examples provided above are just a few of the many yoga poses you can try. There are a wide range of yoga poses worth exploring, which are not included in this list. For additional information on yoga poses, we encourage you to refer to our program, app, or other available resources.

Integrating Yoga into Your Daily Routine

Incorporating yoga into your daily routine can bring numerous benefits to your physical and mental well-being. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced practitioner, here are some practical tips on how to seamlessly integrate yoga into your everyday life:

  • Establish a Consistent Practice Time: Choose a specific time of day that works best for you and commit to it. It could be early morning to energize your day or evening to unwind and relax. Consistency will help make yoga a regular part of your routine.
  • Start with Short Sessions: If you're new to yoga or have limited time, begin with shorter sessions. Even 10-15 minutes of practice can provide noticeable benefits. As you become more comfortable, gradually increase the duration of your sessions.
  • Create a Sacred Space: Designate a quiet and clutter-free area in your home as your yoga space. It could be a spare room, a corner of your living room, or even just a small spot with a yoga mat. This dedicated space will help you focus and create a sense of sacredness for your practice.
  • Set Clear Intentions: Before each practice, take a moment to set clear intentions. Reflect on what you hope to achieve through your yoga practice, whether it's building strength, increasing flexibility, finding inner peace, or reducing stress. These intentions will guide your practice and keep you motivated.
  • Incorporate Yoga into Daily Activities: Find opportunities to incorporate yoga into your daily activities. You can practice mindful breathing while commuting, do a few stretches during work breaks, or incorporate gentle yoga poses into household chores. Small doses of yoga throughout the day can make a significant difference.
  • Explore Different Styles: Yoga offers a variety of styles and approaches. Experiment with different types of yoga, such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Yin, to find what resonates with you. Exploring various styles will keep your practice fresh and prevent boredom.
  • Utilize Online Resources: Take advantage of the wealth of online resources available. There are numerous yoga websites, apps, and video platforms that offer guided classes and tutorials. These resources can provide structure, guidance, and inspiration for your practice.
  • Find an Accountable Partner: Practicing yoga with a friend or family member can be motivating and enjoyable. Encourage someone close to you to join your yoga journey or consider joining a local yoga community. Being accountable to someone else can help you stay committed to your practice.

Remember, the key to integrating yoga into your daily routine is consistency and finding what works best for you. As you make yoga a part of your daily life, you'll experience the transformative effects it can have on your overall well-being.

Caution and Considerations

While yoga can provide significant relief from menstrual cramps, it should not replace medical treatment, especially in severe cases or when the cramps are symptomatic of underlying health conditions. Always consult with a healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen, particularly if you have pre-existing medical conditions. Further, when practicing yoga during menstruation, some poses are best avoided, like inversions and intense backbends, as they can potentially cause discomfort or strain the body. A trained yoga instructor can provide guidance on modifying poses to suit your comfort level during your period.


The relationship between yoga and menstrual cramps underlines the power of this ancient practice in addressing modern-day health concerns. By practicing yoga regularly, you can manage the menstrual discomfort in a natural, non-pharmacological way, fostering a greater sense of body awareness and well-being in the process.

However, the journey of yoga is a deeply personal one. What works for one individual may not work for another. It's essential to respect your body's limitations and not push yourself beyond your comfort zone, especially during your menstrual cycle. At its core, yoga offers more than just physical relief; it fosters a sense of inner peace and resilience that can transform our approach to health and wellness, even during the most challenging times of our menstrual cycle.

  • John, P. J., et al. "Effectiveness of yoga therapy in the treatment of migraine without aura: a randomized controlled trial." Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 47.5 (2007): 654-661.
  • Williams K, Abildso C, Steinberg L, Doyle E, Epstein B, Smith D, Hobbs G, Gross R, Kelley G, Cooper L. Evaluation of the effectiveness and efficacy of Iyengar yoga therapy on chronic low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009 Sep 1;34(19):2066-76.
  • Yang NY, Kim SD. Effects of a Yoga Program on Menstrual Cramps and Menstrual Distress in Undergraduate Students with Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Single-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Sep;22(9):732-8.
1.Understanding Menstrual Cramps
2.The Art and Science of Yoga
3.Unraveling the Connection: Menstrual Cramps and Yoga
4.Yoga Poses to Ease Menstrual Cramps
5.Integrating Yoga into Your Daily Routine
6.Caution and Considerations