Do you experience irregular periods? Do you suffer from cramps during menstruation? Try yoga during periods with these six yoga asanas, suggested by yoga guru Suneel Singh to tackle the problem.
By Monali Bordoloi
Ever since she gave birth to her baby girl a year ago, Yogita Sreedhar has an irregular menstrual cycle. The new mom also experiences severe cramps but is reluctant to take pills. One day, she meets up with an old friend and talks about her problem. Her friend recommends yoga during periods saying that it has many benefits, including relief from irregular menstruation and associated discomfort.
ParentCircle brings you this interview with yoga guru Suneel Singh who says practising the right kind of yogasanas and yoga poses during periods can get your menstrual cycle back to normal and is also beneficial to those who experience cramps and discomfort on the first two days of the monthly cycle.
The menstrual cycle is 28 days for most women. But it can range from 21 to 38 days. It is termed as irregular, if you do not have your periods for over 35 days or if there is unexplained bleeding within 21 days of your previous cycle. Your monthly cycle can be occasionally irregular and this is normal. But, it is advisable to consult a doctor, if you have frequent irregular menstruation.
Irregular periods can be caused by changes in hormonal levels, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), excessive exercise, changing birth control pills, and using certain medications. Other reasons could include thyroid issues, pregnancy, breastfeeding, uterine fibroids, and high levels of stress.
Yoga during periods is one of the best ways to manage irregular menstruation, painful cramps, and other menstrual disorders. Yoga for comfort from menstrual pain is advisable.
Yoga guru Suneel Singh says: “It is entirely the woman's decision if she wants to practise yoga when she is menstruating. Most contemporary yoga methods acknowledge a woman's right to make a choice for herself about what kind of practice to do during menstruation. Practising asanas like tadasan, pawan muktasana, dhanurasana, etc. help to alleviate menstruation-related cramps.”
Here are six yoga asanas to help you get your menstrual cycle back on track. What's more, these asanas can be done at home.
1. Tadasana (Palm Tree) yoga pose:
How to do it: Stand erect with your heels together or about 10 cm apart. Raise the arms above the head and place your folded hands together on top of the head. As you inhale, stretch your arms, shoulders, and chest upwards. Simultaneously, raise the heels and stand on your toes. Stretch the whole body from top to bottom, without losing your balance or moving the feet. Keep the eyes open and fix your gaze at a point in front of you. Stay in the position for a few seconds depending on your capacity. Exhaling slowly, come down on the heels. This is one round. Do this five times. Breathing should be synchronised with the raising and lowering of the arms.
Benefits: The entire spine is stretched, and the spinal nerves are loosened. This asana develops physical and mental balance. This asana will also help in regularising your menstrual cycle.
2. Pawan Muktasana yoga pose:
How to do it: Lie down on the back with both ankles and toes together. Fold the knee of the left foot and lift it up towards the chest. Then with both hands, fold the knee between both elbows, push the knee towards the chin and look straight ahead. In this position, the other foot will remain straight. Similarly, repeat with the other leg. Then both the legs together. In the end, fold both legs between both arms and place the knees on the chin, and look straight ahead. Do this thrice with each leg.
Benefits: This asana massages the digestive organs and is, therefore, very effective in removing wind and helping with constipation. It also gives you relief from indigestion during menstruation.
Word of caution: If you struggle with slipped disc or sciatica, you should not attempt pawan muktasana.
3. Sarvangasana yoga pose:
How to do it: Lie down on the back and relax completely. Slowly raise the legs, hips, and trunk in a continuous movement until vertical. Raise the legs – keeping the knees and hips straight by supporting with the arms on the ground. Then bend the elbows and hold the trunk with the hands. In this posture, the chin is buried in the upper chest. Retain the position for as long as it is comfortable, then come down slowly. Do this asana only once in a day.
Benefits: This asana helps in the smooth blood supply to the organs in the upper part of the body such as eyes, heart, face, thyroid, roots of spinal nerves and brain. As a result, circulatory congestion is relieved and hormones flow freely into the blood. This asana is also used in yoga therapy for treating menstruation related pain.
Word of caution: Those with high BP, heart ailments, cervical pain and slipped disc should refrain from doing this asana.
4. Dhanurasana (Bow yoga pose):
How to do it: Lie flat on your abdomen, with the legs and feet together, and the arms and hands beside the body. Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks. Place the chin on the floor, clasp your hands around the ankles. Take a deep breath and raise your head, trunk, and legs above the ground to lift your legs, while pulling hands and legs in opposite directions. Support the entire body on the floor. Hold the posture for as long as you are comfortable. Then, slowly relax the leg muscles. Lower the legs, chest, head and trunk to the starting position. Do this for a minimum of three times daily.
Benefits: This asana helps to improve digestion by stimulating gastric secretions. The liver, abdominal organs, and muscles are massaged. This asana is recommended for the management of diabetes, menstrual disorders, and neck pain.
Word of caution: People struggling with colitis, hernia and slipped disc should avoid this asana. Also, heart and hypertension patients are advised not to do this asana.
5. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama:
How to do it: Sit in a comfortable meditative posture. Keep the head and spine upright. Relax the whole body and close the eyes. Then with help of the right-hand thumb, close the right nostril. Now breathe in through the left nostril. Then, close the left nostril with the ring finger and release thumb pressure on the right nostril while breathing out through the right nostril. Next, inhale through the right nostril. Hold and then, release the left nostril. This is one round of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. Repeat this for a minimum of 20 rounds.
Benefits: This pranayama ensures that the whole body with extra oxygen while carbon dioxide is efficiently expelled and, the blood purified of toxins. This pranayama increases vitality, alleviates anxiety and lowers stress levels. Nadi means channel or flow of energy, and shodhana means purification. Regular practice of this pranayama will leave you feeling uplifted and stress-free.
Read also: Here is how you can help your high energy child keep calm with yoga.
How to do it: Lie flat on the back with arms about 15 cm away from the body, palms facing upwards. Let the fingers of both hands curl naturally. Close the eyes. The head and spine should be in a straight line. Relax the whole body and stop all physical movements. Become aware of your natural breathing. Now, with every inhalation, chant the word 'So' and with every exhalation, say the word 'Hum'. Repeat the mantra for five to 10 minutes. Relax your body and concentrate fully on the breathing.
Benefits: This asana relaxes the body and mind. It should be practised before sleeping. This asana is also helpful in reducing discomfort during menstruation.
Word of caution: Try not to move your body while practising this asana, because the slightest movement may lead to muscular contraction.
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