Nov 11, 2021

Regulate Your Menstrual Health the Yoga Way

While yoga cannot serve as a replacement for timely medical help, it is widely known for enabling the regulation of our endocrine system and helping restore hormonal balance

Of late, yoga has wiggled its way everywhere. From nation-wide celebrations and education programs to exclusive retreats and the wellness industry. It is easy to be skeptical and find it all confusing. Does yoga really work? Will it improve my menstrual health?

✨ The Many Benefits of Yoga

Let’s start with looking at what yoga really means. Drawn from the Sanskrit word ‘yug’ (union), yoga emphasizes harmony between the mind, the body, and the soul. Combining postures and movement (asanas), breathing exercises and techniques (pranayama), a healthy lifestyle and mindful living and meditation (dhyana), yoga ties together all aspects of our well-being.

The relationship between yoga and your period isn’t a surprising one. The menstrual cycle is usually 28-31 days and is easily affected by changes in our dietary habits, exercise (or lack thereof), stress and lifestyle. Enter the centuries-old practice of yoga.

Yoga as a regular practice has many research-backed benefits, including:

  • Improved cardiovascular, joint, and muscle health 
  • Boosted immunity 
  • Psychological well-being or stress-management and anxiety-reduction
  • Enhanced neuroplasticity, i.e., the reorganization of nerve cell networks in the brain
  • Regulated sleep cycle
  • Relief from back and arthritic pain 

Now, let’s dig deeper to examine yoga and menstrual health. 


👋🏻 Bye Bye Hormonal Imbalance?

Do you inexplicably feel moody, irritable, hungry, bloated (the list goes on and on), five to seven days before your period? Well, inexplicably no more. Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, affects 80% of menstruating women, and comes with symptoms such as cramps, back ache, headache, anxiety, among others.

While these symptoms are uncomfortable yet temporary, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD, is a severe and chronic form of PMS. It requires lifestyle changes and in some cases, medical intervention. The exact cause of PMDD is not known and researchers speculate the condition has a basis in hormonal imbalance. Its symptoms include bloating, cramps, nausea, acne, fatigue, depression, insomnia, and more.

Although yoga is not a substitute for timely medical help, it is widely known for enabling the regulation of our endocrine system and helping restore hormonal balance. The endocrine system consists of the adrenal cortex, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, pancreas, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands and the ovaries (or testes). The hormones produced by the endocrine system are responsible for our energy level, metabolic function, sexual and reproductive health, and overall positive headspace.


Yoga doesn’t alter our hormones but it regulates our stress response, thus, positively impacting hormone secretion. In fact, multiple studies show that yoga reduces the symptoms of PMS in women, including anxiety, pain and irritability.


🧘🏻 Five Asanas To Regulate Hormones

Here are five asanas that you can try to have your endocrine system function smoothly and effectively: 

  1. Cobra pose: first, place your palms flat on the ground directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows and press them to your sides. Next, look down at your mat, steadying your public bone to the floor. Now, lift your chest off the floor as you inhale. Push your shoulders back while your ribs touch the floor. Keep looking at the mat. 
  1. Rabbit pose: start in a high kneeling position, knees hip-distance apart. Then, Inhale as you stretch back and cup your heels or hold your calves/ankles. Exhale while dropping down your chin towards the middle-part of your collarbones. Now, bend forwards and place the top of your head on the floor, in front of your knees. Next, press your chin to your chest and raise your buttocks. Don’t put too much weight on your head! Expand your shoulders and hold the position for five minutes. 
  1. Camel pose: first, kneel at the front of your mat. Keep your knees hip-distance apart and the top of your feet on the mat. Then, sit up straight and tall and push your tailbone towards the floor. Now, support your spinal base with your palms. Next, look up, back, and bend backwards slowly as you inhale. Clasp your heels and push your glutes forwards as you exhale. 
  1. Garland pose: start by squatting with your feet close to each other. Next, move your thighs apart, wider than your torso. Now, press your elbows against the inner part of your knees and bring your palms together. 
  1. Fish pose: first, lay on the floor on your back. Keep your knees bent and plant your feet on the floor. Now, slowly lift your pelvis up while inhaling and bring your hands, palms facing down, under your buttocks, and your forearms against your sides. Now, come down on your hands. Then, lower the top of your head and onto the floor. 

🧘‍♀️ Join Girlmantra's 4 Week Yoga Challenge, alleviate PMS symptoms and workout alongside a world-class instructor. Next cohort starts December 5th. 🎯 Sign up here.


Yoga underlines balance, and as you practice these asanas and a yoga way of life regularly, you’ll see positive changes in your menstrual health! 


References:

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/9-benefits-of-yoga

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder-pmdd 

https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/yoga-by-benefit/menstruation/ 


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