Cramps come in so many shapes and sizes and for some fortunate women, not at all. They can be sharp or dull, they can be experienced in the lower back or the lower abdomen. Some women may get migraines, nausea, extreme tiredness or bloating. Generally the symptoms last only a day or two and are experienced at the beginning of the period. For some women the symptoms are so severe that they can hardly function and life is very miserable those two days every month.
It is commonly thought that menstrual pain is caused by too much of the hormone prostaglandin. This hormone causes smooth muscles of the uterus to spasm and the characteristic cramping pain results. An overabundance of prostaglandin can be caused by a diet high in animal protein and dairy products and a life filled with too much stress.
If the prostaglandin problem is addressed and the pain is extremely severe and accompanied by excessive bleeding there could be a more serious problem and a health practitioner should be consulted.
For the common old menstrual cramps however yoga can be of great help in reducing stress and relaxing the cramping muscles. Supported Supine Cobbler is considered to be the most beneficial pose because it is calming for the mind and encourages relaxation of the uterus. It also feels great for lower back and leg ache during menstruation. However everyone is different and what works for some will not work for others. Some women like the compression of forward bends on their abdomens while others like to stretch and open in Supported Bridge Pose. The general rule for poses while experiencing the discomfort of menstruation is to relax. The more you can support different parts of your body the more you can relax. So in the Supported Supine Cobbler if your legs don’t reach the ground put cushions or blankets under them so your inner thighs and hips can release. The practice of meditation and deep relaxation is also very helpful not only for reducing stress but also for handling pain.
Ayurvedic wisdom explains that if great care is taken on the first day of the period to avoid all stress and relax as much as possible then the health of the reproductive system will greatly improve. Generally, most women benefit from staying away from strong and demanding asanas in the first few days of their period and those who experience painful cramps should stay away altogether. The rest of the month however is the time to engage in the health giving yoga asanas. In fact, researchers have found that women who exercise on a regular basis have less trouble with their periods than their sedentary sisters.