Can yoga help women manage menstrual pain?

A practice that extends from sport to meditation, yoga can be a great help when coping with period pain. (Rawpixel pic)

PARIS: Yoga, which has many benefits for the body and the mind, is notably useful for the prevention and relief of menstrual pain. But what are the postures that are helpful during menstruation? And which ones should be avoided?

ETX Studio spoke to Jacinthe Jyothirmayi, a specialist yoga teacher for women in Paris.

Initially developed by men and for men in India, today yoga is popular all over the world and, in some cases, has been specially adapted for women.

A case in point is prenatal yoga, but this is not the only specific practice for women.

The discipline, which extends from sport to meditation, can also be of immense help to women seeking to better manage their menstrual cycles.

In internet searches about yoga, one question that is often posed is: “Is it possible to practice yoga when menstruating?”

The answer to this is quite simple. “Not only is it possible, but there are even yoga classes that have been specially designed to help women cope with pain that occurs before, during and after menstruation,” explains Jyothirmayi, a Paris yogi who teaches a practice that has been designed with women’s bodies in mind.

Often recommended for women suffering from endometriosis, yoga stretching can also help women develop their pelvic muscles and increase their bust at any time during their menstrual cycles.

Twisting poses (notably the triangle and warrior poses) can help stimulate the lower abdomen and release tension in the back and shoulders, two areas of the body that are often associated with menstrual pain.

And let’s not forget breathing exercises (pranayama) that can relieve stress throughout the body.

“Poses that allow the tummy to gently rest on the thighs are recommended during menstruation. I also always recommend floor poses, like the reclined goddess, the child and the reclining pigeon poses, which are aligned with blood flow and do not solicit areas of the body that might be already in pain,” explains Jyothirmayi.

For the yoga teacher, meditation can also play a key role in the bid to alleviate menstrual pain: “In my classes, I speak of moons rather than periods to encourage awareness that women are in a cycle.

“Ever since we were children, we have been told that it is normal to experience pain during moons. But this is obviously not the case.

“During our sessions, I try to make women understand that they are a moment for introspection that will help us understand why we experience pain,” she explains.

To optimise the prevention of menstrual pain, Jyothirmayi recommends practising yoga for at least 90 minutes a week.