PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is a common condition that affects many women in the 12-14 days leading up to their period.
Common symptoms can range from physical discomfort to emotional stress, and can have a significant impact on daily life. Fortunately, Yoga for PMS can be an effective tool for managing these symptoms. In this article, we’ll explore
- The hormonal changes you experience during PMS
- Challenges and symptoms you might face during PMS
- Yoga for PMS: How to practice Yoga to feel best before and during PMS
- 7 Yoga for PMS poses that can help alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation
Hormonal changes during PMS
During PMS, which is also known as the luteal phase, progesterone levels produced by the corpus luteum (the empty follicle left in the ovary after an egg has been released) rise, peak and plateau.
This helps thicken your uterus lining in anticipation of a fertilized egg. If a fertilized egg is not implanted, the lining then begins to shed, cueing the beginning of your next menses.
Challenges and symptoms during PMS
Because of the hormonal changes outlined above, many women report some or even all of the following symptoms during PMS according to NHS:
- Feeling low in energy, easily tired out
- Feeling irritable, short-tempered or moody
- Having food cravings, and / or engaging in binge eating
- Experiencing swollen breasts and/or water retention
- Suffering from insomnia or disrupted sleep
- Feeling self-critical, and / or critical towards others
Yoga for PMS: How Yoga can help
Practicing Gentle Yoga for PMS regularly can help prevent PMS symptoms in various ways.
First, it releases mood-boosting endorphins, says Linda Sparrowe, coauthor of Yoga for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle.
Second, Yoga for PMS increases the flow of oxygenated blood to the reproductive organs and calms the central nervous system.
Furthermore, some poses help to release contractions of the muscles and relaxes the pelvic floor.
Lastly, Yoga for PMS relieves stress and supports deep relaxation, soothing PMS symptoms.
Guidelines for practicing yoga for pMS
Before beginning, follow these guidelines as you move through PMS:
- Go slowly / pace yourself. In the first days of PMS, if you feel energetic, continue your regular physical routine.
- Once PMS symptoms kick in, slow down and continue at moderate intensity. You can mix things up with strength training, weights, or low-impact cardio. It’s important to do what feels good for you during this time.
- 3-4 days before your the anticipated start of your period, focus on resting and restoring. A Yin or restorative Yoga for PMS practice is very helpful at this time.
Here are some guidelines for practicing these 7 Yoga for PMS poses:
- Feel free to practice each of these poses separately, or all of these as a sequence, whichever best suits you.
- When practicing you may wish to have a notebook or journal and writing materials nearby to jot down any threads of thought or insights as they come to you.
- When practicing these poses as a sequence, leave 5-15 minutes at the end for savasana, ideally with a Yoga bolster under your knees.
7 Powerful Yoga Poses For PMS Relief
Here are 7 Yoga for PMS poses to try when you’re struggling with PMS.
1. Feeling angry or frustrated: Try Qigong Shaking
Feeling angry, irritated or frustrated during PMS? To release pent-up anger or frustration, try 3-5 rounds of Sun salutations or 5-10 minutes of Standing Qigong shaking followed by a standing meditation, or follow the PMS Qigong Yoga practice below.
Pent-up anger, frustration, and irritation is bottled up energy that needs to move. By moving this stagnant energy you release this negativity from your system.
2. Feeling anxious: Ground with Dangling Forward fold & Garland pose
Many women report feeling more easily anxious or feeling stressed out during PMS. To dissolve anxiety, try a dangling forward fold. Then transition to Garland Pose to ground your energy if you’re feeling anxious or unsettled.
Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with your hands on your hips. Exhale as you fold forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso. Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand.
Let the crown of your head hang down. anchor your heels into the floor as you let your sit bones lengthen toward the ceiling. Avoid locking your knees.
Bring your weight to the balls of your feet while you keep your hips aligned over your ankles as much as possible. Inhale to lengthen your torso and exhale to release deeper into the pose. Stay for several breaths.
To transition to Garland pose from here, step your feet wider than hip distance and slowly bend your knees to sit into a yogic squat position. Bring your upper arms inside your knees and bend your elbows to bring your palms together in prayer or Anjali mudra, if that is accessible to you.
Keep pressing upper arms into thighs and thighs into upper arms. Inhaling, grow your spine tall and connect with Prana Vayu, exhaling, release your tailbone down and allow spaciousness in your hips with Apana Vayu. Stay for several breaths, then slowly release either by standing up, or slowly coming to sit on the floor.
3. PMS cramping: Soothe with Sleeping pigeon with rolled blanket
A common symptom of PMS is cramps. To prevent and alleviate PMS cramping, try Reclining Pigeon Pose. For this, you’ll need a blanket or towel, which you can either fold or roll up.
To do sleeping pigeon, come to all fours with your hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Bring your left knee to touch your left wrist. Keep your left thigh parallel to the side of your mat and inch your left foot forward until it’s just in front of your right hip.
If your hips allow, walk your left foot closer to the front of your mat to create a more intense stretch. Adjust the position of your foot so you feel a stretch in your outer bum and thigh area, without any pain in the joints, especially your left knee and ankle.
Slot rolled up blanket wedged between your front thigh and pelvis to massage your uterus and hip area.
Then slide your right leg toward the back of your mat and lower both hips toward the floor. As you lower your pelvis, be sure that your hips don’t spill to the left. Slowly, walk your hands forward to fold forward over your left leg. If accessible for you, come on to your forearms or even all the way to the ground.
Stay for up to 2-3 minutes, focusing on Ujjayi breathing, then slowly come back onto your hands for support, transition back to all fours, and pause for a few moments repeating on the other side. This enhances blood circulation in the pelvic area, releasing pain.
4. Low on energy: Refill with Child’s pose (Balasana)
Another option for relieving cramps is Child’s Pose with your knees wide. Balasana, or Child’s Pose, is a gentle and restorative pose that can help alleviate cramps and promote relaxation.
To practice this pose, start on your hands and knees, and then lower your hips back towards your heels. Extend your arms forward and rest your forehead on the mat. Stay here for several breaths and then slowly release.
If you’re feeling stuck, try a crescent moon stretch in a child’s pose. From a wide-legged child’s pose, with your arms by the sides of your head, walk your arms over to one side so your upper body forms a crescent moon-like shape. Stay for several breaths, then slowly return to the center, then repeat on the other side.
This version adds a side stretch through your waist, ribs and upper body that can give a feeling of spaciousness and freedom.
If you’re feeling low on energy, try a restorative child’s pose with a bolster between your legs, under your chest, and either turn your head to rest one cheek on the bolster, or let your forehead rest on the bolster.
5. PMS bloating / water retention: Try Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
To combat bloating, or water retention, try a Yoga pose like Legs Up the Wall, or Viparita Karani. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is a restorative pose that can help alleviate tension and promote relaxation. This pose is great before bedtime.
To practice this pose, sit on the floor with your feet on the ground and your left side against a flat wall. Slowly lower your back to the floor and put your feet flat against the wall. Gently wiggle your body closer to the wall until your sit bones are against the wall and your legs are vertically above you with both legs above your hips.
Stay here for 3 – 5 minutes, and then slowly release. You can also try this with a bolster under your pelvis.
6. Feeling low: Open your heart with Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Supta Baddha Konasana, or Reclining Bound Angle Pose, is a restorative pose that can help alleviate cramps and promote relaxation.
In this variation, with a backbend included through Supported Fish pose in the upper body, it opens up the chest, shoulder and neck area, creating spaciousness and allowing you to connect with giving and receiving love through your heart chakra.
You’ll need 2 Yoga blocks for this pose. Place one so it is the tallest, the second so it is long. Bend both knees, and gently, back facing the blocks, lower yourself using the support of your hands so the back of your chest and shoulders rest on the second block and the back of your head rests on the first. Make sure it is not your waist that is resting on the blocks.
Bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to fall open to the sides, coming into a butterfly position in your lower body. Stay here for several breaths, and then slowly release.
7. Rest & Restore: Restorative Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is a pose that promotes relaxation and helps reduce stress and soothe the nervous system.
In the restorative variation, this is typically practiced with your feet elevated (optional) using cushions, blocks or a chair, and a bolster under your knees to release your lower back.
Lie on your back with the bolster under your knees and rest your arms by your sides. The bolster helps to release the lower back and sacrum area. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, allowing your body to completely relax. Stay here for several minutes, and then slowly release.
If lying on your back is not accessible for you, try lying on your side with the bolster between your legs or even on your belly with your arms folded, palms stacked and your forehead resting on your palms. The most important thing is that this closing pose feels restful for you.
Yoga for PMS: Concluding thoughts and tips
Yoga for PMS can be a powerful tool for managing PMS symptoms. The 7 Yoga for PMS poses outlined in this article can help alleviate PMS symptoms like insomnia, bloating, cramps, and promote relaxation, and reduce stress and tension.
However, it’s important to remember that every woman’s experience with PMS is unique, and what works for someone else may not work for another.
If you’re experiencing severe or persistent PMS symptoms, it’s always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider.
With that said, practicing Yoga for PMS regularly can help promote overall health and well-being, and can be a valuable addition to any self-care routine.