Got cramps? You're not alone. Many women suffer from severe menstrual pain (known as dysmenorrhea) with sharp, throbbing, burning, or nauseating cramps in their lower abdomen and back. The cramps may come right before you get your period or during, but thankfully they go away when your period is over. These crippling, can't-get-through-your-normal-day kind of cramps are caused by uterine contractions and can be aggravated by emotional stress.
They tend to cause headaches and a really heavy flow — twice the fun. Some women take pain meds to deal, but you may want to give these yoga poses a try, since getting your body moving (and out of fetal position on the couch) can really help with cramps.
Half Bound Squat
Hip pain can be part of the whole cramp scene, so stretching them out feels really good. Here's how to do Half Bound Squat.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hips-width-distance apart. Bend your knees, and lower your hips all the way down. Take a peek at your feet, and see if you can press your heels out, bringing your feet parallel.
- Press your elbows against your inner knees, and lengthen through your torso. Hold like this in a Wide Squat for five breaths.
- Then bring your right arm between your knees. Lower your right shoulder as far under your right knee as possible, so you hug your knee with your armpit as you reach your right forearm around your back with your palm facing away from your body.
- Reach your left arm up as high as you can, bend your elbow, and bring the back of your left palm to your lower back. Try to have the right fingers through the left. If they're close enough, then hold your left wrist with your right hand, with the left palm facing behind you.
- Stay here for five deep breaths. Come back to Wide Squat for one complete breath to release the pose, and repeat on the left side.
Pigeon Pose also opens your hips, but sometimes it feels better to work one side at a time. This variation will also stretch out the lower belly.
- Sit on the floor with your right knee bent and your left leg extended behind you.
- Place your hands on your hips, and gently arch your back. You should feel a nice stretch in the front of your left hip, but if this variation is painful, then lean forward, placing your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Hold for five or more breaths, and then repeat this pose on the other side.
Keep reading to learn other yoga poses to relieve cramps.
Stretching out your abs and the front of the hips can also relieve cramps. Here's how to do One-Armed Camel.
- Reach your right hand back, placing it on your right heel or on the mat behind your right toes. Extend your left arm in the air.
- Shift weight forward onto your knees to increase the stretch in your quads, belly, and chest. Lower your head behind you, and stay here for five breaths.
- Switch sides, holding for another five breaths, and then lift the torso up to release.
- Rest your forehead on the mat or turn your head to one side, holding for five breaths. Turn your head to the other side for another five relaxing breaths.
Here's a relaxing way to increase side-to-side spinal flexibility, which can also help relieve pain in the lower belly and lower back.
- Lie on your back, and cross your right knee in front of your left knee. Wrap your left toes around the back of your right ankle, just like in Eagle Pose.
- Extend your arms out in cactus position with your elbows at right angles, palms facing up.
- Slowly lower both knees to the left. Rest them on the ground, and turn your head to the right.
- Hold here for at least five breaths, feeling your spine lengthen and twist. You may even hear some "cracks."
- Use your abs to lift your knees back to center. Uncross your legs, and cross them the opposite way, with your left knee on top. Slowly lower both knees to the right, and look over your left shoulder for another five breaths.