Yoga for Periods, Body and Soul
Do you remember that time at school when your physical education teacher would announce that you would have yoga classes instead of track? To many the news had come as a welcome relief, because as kids yoga was considered a fun physical activity in a relaxed environment. It in fact dates back to nearly five thousand years and has been long practised as a self maintaining discipline.
Yoga is an ancient practice which focuses on breathing exercises, body movement, flexibility and strength to boost physical stamina and mental power. Its origin dates back to nearly five thousand years and is mentioned in the Rig Veda. The yoga asanas that we know today, as described by the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali, are a part of the eight-fold path called Ashtanga Yoga.
Conventionally, when we think of Yogis we think of male ascetics. However, another set of lesser known practitioners were the Yoginis of the ancient times. Known for practicing yoga and rituals, they were said to have possessed magical powers and mystical control over their senses and being. Maybe what we imagine to be their mystical powers were in fact their ability to stay fit, mentally strong and to have a healthy menstrual cycle and fertility. Now, imagine being a woman in these times, being educated, hardworking and successful in your own terms, but also having control over your mind, body and periods! Such a woman could become a force to be reckoned with.
Irregular periods, abnormalities, cramps
Menstruation is almost an all-encompassing part of your femalehood. It is quite understandable that with your hectic schedules, running from one spot to the other, giving your level best, you might often let your mental and physical health priorities slide away. But these stress levels and physical strain could take a drastic toll over you and your menstrual health.
Here are certain statistics to make you understand the percentage of the women population facing menstrual problems . If you are someone facing any of these conditions, you are certainly not alone
- According to one of the findings shared in the National Institutes of Health, nearly 14% to 25% of American women have irregular menstrual cycles.
- According to the 6th annual Menstrual Hygiene Survey by Everteen, more than 41 per cent of Indian women experienced an unusually irregular gap in their periods.
- Statistics show that 1 in 10 women of childbearing age are affected by PCOS; many of whom show signs of hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems.
- A number of other women face conditions such as light or excessive bleeding, infrequent periods, unbearable cramps or pain, etc.
Menstrual irregularities could be caused due to a family history of the same, physical or psychological stress, smoking or medication side effects. If you face any of these conditions you are advised to seek immediate professional checkup. Although, practising yoga can help relieve your pains and improve your mental health.
However, you need not worry as increasing stress levels or hormonal imbalances in women can be brought down to a manageable level through yoga.
Practicing yoga can have many benefits:
- Habitually doing yoga has proven to reduce menstrual imbalances.
- For those affected by serious mood swings, regular yoga can minimize the effect of hormones on your mood.
- Strengthen and relax the muscles of your lower abdomen and back.
- It can help relieve fatigue and depression.
- It helps with bettering the sleep cycle that can help maintain a good hormonal balance.
Thus, the yoga asanas that seemed like child’s play when you were younger, could be the solution, as well as an excellent start to your journey to reduce the symptoms of irregular periods, cramps or abnormalities.
Yoga asanas for the rescue
Some of the yoga asanas that are tried, tested, and recommended are:
- Makarasana (Downward Dog)
- Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Malasana (Garland Pose)
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
When you regularly do the yoga asanas your lower abdomen and back muscles shall lengthen and shall gain flexibility. These asanas also keep your ovaries and the surrounding organs in good condition and improve their functionality.
Another form of yoga that you ought to try is ‘Pranayama’. It can help improve your brain, lungs and gut functioning if you diligently keep at it. The practice of pranayama, or what we know as breathing exercises, will soothe you when you are mentally or emotionally down.
Breathing exercises like (deep breathing) or kapalbhati are known to have wonderful benefits for periods. They have even been tested to help with period irregularities and syndromes such as PCOS. Cramps or other irregularities could be a cause of stress and may condition one to take shorter breaths. Relearning deep breathing can help profoundly in unraveling the tensions of the mind and body.
It's never too late to begin a routine that includes yoga, but for you to see proper results, it will take time and discipline; and maybe a bit of self-love. As a side note, to see best results it is good to do yoga for all other days of your cycle and focus on light to moderate yoga asanas and breathing exercises during your flow-y days.
In a collaboration with Mindhouse yoga, we were able to present a demonstration of the yoga asanas and breathing exercises for women with the symptoms of PCOS. The asanas are very simple and imitable, yet effective.
We encourage you to take up Yoga as a fun hobby that will take care of you mentally and physically and make you feel light and happy!
Yoga not only has many benefits but also adds to our themes of body, community and environment. It not only benefits menstruating women and health-conscious individuals but is also a sustainable and effective solution to health and wellness. So the next time, try a few simple asanas for healthier and more wholesome periods and let us know how you felt in the comment section below.
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