Menstrual Cramps: Yoga for Pelvic Floor Muscles
When you got your first heartbreak at age 14, you drenched your pillow in a tsunami of tears—and then you moved on. At age 20, you didn’t get that dream job you were eyeing, so you drowned your sorrows in tubs of ice cream—and then you went back to googling “The Easiest Highest-paying Jobs in the World.” In whatever situation you found yourself in, you’d own it, and then you’d adapt. Because you’re a woman, and that’s what you do. After all, you’ve made it this far by rolling in with the punches.
And yet, when those punches happen along with your most consistently ardent visitor (your menstruation, of course!), then perhaps there may be a better strategy than just “rolling in.” We’re talking about menstrual cramps—that throbbing, cramping pain in your lower abdomen that, for most women, regularly appears just like clockwork with every period. And they can be very annoying, to say the least. What exactly is the point of having menstrual cramps?
Why do menstrual cramps have to happen at all?
Before you set up shop on your couch and bemoan the futility of your “painful existence” in the coming days, know that everything in life has a purpose—including your menstrual cramps.
During your monthly cycle, your body preps up in anticipation of pregnancy: an egg is produced, the wall of your uterus thickens, and hormones work up your vagina and cervix into a sperm-welcoming committee. When pregnancy doesn’t happen, the unfertilized egg and the thick lining which was supposed to support the uterus in carrying the baby both become useless. The body now needs to expel them, and this can only happen if the muscles of the uterus contract. Enter prostaglandins, the pain and inflammation triggers that induce contraction. The more of these hormone-like substances you have, the more severe your cramps will be.
You’ll of course need to see a doctor if you’re in a lot of pain, if the symptoms grow worse, or if you experience severe pain after the age of 25. But in most cases, menstrual cramps are as common as a celebrity sighting in Hollywood. They aren’t caused by any other condition and just keep on coming back. The pain can vary from a barely-there feeling to a dull and prolonged ache to one that is more intense and disruptive. Though the pain tends to lessen over time or after childbirth, do you really want to wait that long for some relief? There is definitely something you can do now to stop menstrual cramps from, well, cramping your style every time you have your period. You can do it—with the power of yoga for pelvic floor muscles.
The one-two punch: yoga and your pelvic floor
This is a different kind of “punch,” one that can effectively help you deal with your period pain. Your pelvic floor is a bunch of muscles found on your pelvic floor. Your pelvis is the bottom part of your torso and is "home" to several organs, like the bladder and uterus. It’s the pelvic floor that supports this "home" and keeps everything in its place. A strong pelvic floor can relax the uterus and reduce the pain from contractions.
Yoga, the same kind of exercise that helps you relax and control your breathing with low-impact physical activity, can help take your pelvic floor from zero to hero. Yoga helps use the power of the mind to strengthen, stretch, and relax pelvic floor muscles to reduce pelvic pain from menstrual cramps.
The deep breathing techniques of yoga allow your muscles to “stretch passively” (don’t we just love that stretch). Yoga also improves pelvic floor coordination and decreases the body’s stress response. A more relaxed pelvic floor can lead to a reduced heart rate and muscle tension. Yoga can even increase your core strength to make your pelvic muscles more stable, allowing them to stay relaxed as you go about your daily activities.
Awesome yoga for pelvic floor muscles
Why don’t you take a moment to tune in with yourself and, of course, reduce the pain from your menstrual cramps by doing yoga for pelvic floor muscles? We’ve listed down a few top yoga poses that are simple to do and yet can be uber effective in relieving menstrual pain.
But before you go, just a few reminders:
- Don’t go on a full stomach— unless you want to pass embarrassing gas.
- Have your basic props handy (a towel, yoga mat, yoga bricks, your water bottle, etc.) A blanket can also make you comfier.
- There may be some chanting. You don’t have to join in if you’re uncomfortable. Simply relax and focus on the breathing exercises instead.
- Wear reliable period wear, like Ruby Love period apparel which has built-in leak-proof protection, so you don't get caught “in the red.”
- Listen and learn, but don’t force it. Relax. The more chill you are, the better you can breathe and hold your poses, the more effective your yoga routine will be.
Get in the zone with these great yoga poses
1. Adapted Child’s pose
The Adapted Child’s pose is a basic yoga pose that is easy even for beginners. Yet, it is highly effective in relieving period pain found in the back.
Start with your knees on the floor. It’s called the “adapted” child’s pose because you may want to bring your knees further apart to bring more relief. Stretch your arms forward and have them touch the floor. Bend down as far as you can comfortably go.
Gently make your forehead touch the mat in front of you as you breathe slowly up to five breaths from your belly. Slowly turn your head from side to side, counting up to five breaths before making each turn.
2. Mountain pose
The Mountain pose is the foundational standing pose in yoga. In a standing position, keep your feet hip-width apart, and rest your hands at your sides. In between your thighs, put a yoga brick. With your inner thighs, try to move the yoga brick upwards.
3. Chair pose
The chair pose is a particularly helpful yoga stance for the pelvic floor. As you “sit,” your pelvic floor is stretched. When you “rise,” it gets lifted.
From the Mountain pose, bring your arms up high, in front of you, and parallel to the floor. Then sit on the invisible chair by bending your knees and pushing your hips back in a squat. Remember to keep your hips higher than your knees.
4. Bridge pose
Lie flat with your back flat. Draw your knees up towards you as you bring your feet down (your knees should be facing up, and your heels should be as close to your bottom as they can get).
As you inhale, lift your hips while pressing your heels into the mat. When you exhale, draw the belly, lift your hips a bit higher and bring your shins forward. Hold the pose for five to ten breaths.
5. Corpse pose
This is obviously one of the most popular poses because, like a corpse, you don’t have to move. The Corpse pose is a frequent ending pose in many yoga routines. In this pose, you use the power of the mind to reduce menstrual pain. It is all about relaxing and focusing.
With your back flat on the mat, rest the palms of your hands facing up. Then relax and deeply breathe as you gently focus on each of your body parts. Start with your head, then your neck, shoulders, spine, arms, and hands, down to your thighs, calves, ankles, and then finally, your feet. Remember to breathe from your belly in long, deep, and controlled breaths. Relax a few more moments before getting up.
Ruby Love offers the perfect period activewear that can help you be more relaxed while doing yoga for pelvic floor muscles. Our period bodysuits and leggings can be worn with or without a pad for complete leak protection. You can move whichever way you want in different yoga poses with our Dri-Tech Mesh technology designed to collect your flow immediately and from all angles. What’s more, you get up to 2.5 tampons worth of absorbency depending on your flow. There are no leaks, no accidents, no stress. All you get is complete confidence and peace of mind. Shop here to have the time of your month with Ruby Love period apparel!