A ‘normal’, healthy period should be a pain-free event that comes around every 28 days and lasts three days. But statistics suggest that more than 70 per cent of all menstruating women experience menstrual problems including dysmenorrhea (period pain). Contrary to popular belief, period pain comes from stagnation in the back, so the trick is to release the sides of the body and work the back to relieve symptoms.
- For short-term, symptomatic relief fill a bath to hip level and add 2 cups (or 1 cup for milder pain) of good quality sea salt. Sit in the bath with the upper body dry and warm for as long as possible.
A note on breathing: For dynamic (repetitive poses) breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. For holding poses, breathe in and out through your nose. See how to do the poses here.
Balances the hips, tones the internal organs, and re-positions the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Also very good for treating anger and fatigue.
Sit with your left leg in front of you and your left foot pressing against the right knee. Bend the right leg behind you and sit as evenly as possibly on both buttocks. Interlace your hands behind your head and pull your elbows back and inhale. Exhale, bend at the waist taking your right elbow towards your right foot (the back foot). Push down through the left knee. Inhale, come back to the start position. Repeat 10 times on this side. Swap to the other leg and repeat. Do more 5 more on the harder side.
- Hara pounding
Brings energy to the lower body and helps break up stagnation in the abdomen. Also helps break old, repetitive and negative thinking patterns and is very good for preventing nerves – great for that big presentation, job interview or first date!
Kneel with your hands pressed against your belly, one hand on top of the other. Inhale, lift your hips so you are standing on your knees and stretch your arms out in front of you. Exhale with a ‘hah!’ sound as you slap your hands onto your lower belly. At the same time sit back down on your heels. Repeat 10 times.
Tones the buttocks and upper thighs and balances the left-right tension in the lower back to release the lower back.
Lie on your belly with your legs together. Prop yourself up onto your forearms with your elbows straight below your shoulders. Push down through your forearms and lift your collarbone. Inhale. Exhale, lift your right leg off the ground (keep the back of the knee straight). Hold, breath in again and extend the leg out towards the right. Inhale come back to centre. Do 3 slow repetitions on each side, and then three more on the hard side.
Corrects the positioning of the hips, pelvis and uterus.
Lie facedown with your forehead on the floor. Bend your right knee and hold your right ankle with your right hand. Stretch your left arm out along the ground in front of you. Inhale. Exhale, lift your right (bent) leg, torso and left arm off the ground. Inhale, come back down. Do two more repetitions and on the third, stay lifted, inhale and as you exhale open your right knee wide. Inhale back to the centre. Repeat twice more and swap legs. Do two more on repetitions on the harder side.
- Up/down dog
Improves digestion, elimination, circulation and energy levels.
Kneel with your hands in line with your shoulders and your feet shoulder-width apart. Straighten your legs and push your hips towards the ceiling to come into a ‘down dog’. Inhale.
Exhale strongly, as you swing your hips through into an ‘up dog’ position. Keep your knees and hips off the ground, tighten your buttocks and thighs. Inhale as you swing your hips back to ‘down dog’. Repeat 10-30 times and then rest in child’s pose with your buttocks on your heels and your arms resting beside you until your breath returns to normal.
- Child’s pose
Stretches the sacrum and improves blood flow to the lower back.
From a kneeling position, take your knees out wide but keep your big toes touching each other. Fold forward with your chest on your thighs, your forehead on the ground (or a pillow), and your arms beside you. Rest in this pose for as long as you feel comfortable.
This article first appeared in body+soul (NewsLifeMedia).