Nearly everyone across the globe has heard about the many benefits of yoga, but some may not be aware of the benefits of practicing yoga to ease menstrual cramps. Think about it. If yoga has already been proven to alleviate other symptoms, including debilitating muscle and joint pain and pain that is caused by any variety of chronic conditions, then, why wouldn’t it work for the dreaded menstrual cramps that can essentially render a woman doubled-over in excruciating pain or leave them unable to function properly for days, if not weeks, at a time.

Let’s face it, for most women, whether we want it to or not, are forced to face that dreaded monthly visitor—the kind that you hate to have visited, but often panic when it doesn’t. What we dislike more are the cramps that can sometimes accompany the uncomfortable, inconvenient, and painful side effect of having a functioning uterus.

Medical experts report that over eighty percent of women suffer from period pain at some point in their lives. For some, that pain is short-lived and manageable. For others, that pain is akin to labor pains.

Yoga may be one of the very few tools that can actually manage the negative side effects associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. The days of self-medicating with ibuprofen or other mild to severe pain medications may be over for you. Wouldn’t you love to be able to resume your everyday activities?

So, how does it work? What’s the plan?
As yoga often does, it helps clear your mind by employing soothing breath work. In so doing—clearing your mind—you’re also relieving pain and discomfort. That’s the basic premise of yoga overall. Holding yoga posture, specifically passive poses, for three or more minutes give the body a deep stretch while ‘getting in touch’ with the pain sensors in the mind and body, thus, easing pain symptoms.

You’ll find many websites and books pointing to specific poses that benefit cramping. We’ve spelled them out here to save you the trouble of having to search.

1) The Child’s Pose – This is what yogis have dubbed ‘the resting pose.’ It gently stretches the lower back muscles and soothes back pain while also easing your mind. Since menstrual pain tends to originate in the back, this is the perfect starting stretch for anyone suffering from cramps. As with all poses, you should focus on a deep breath into the back and watch the rise and fall of that breath in your body. Kneel down. Bend forward at the hips. Relax them and bend forward until your torso rests on your thighs.

2) The Forward Fold – This pose counteracts compression in your back and abdomen. It also lengthens the spine and stretches crucial hip muscles and promoting circulation in your lower extremities. Stand up straight, bend forward at the waist as far as you can go, and hold.

3) The Knees to Chest Pose – This pose relaxes your lower back and abdominal muscles relieving tension and pain. You lie on your back, fold your knees to your chest, hold that pose with your hands holding your knees, focus on your breathing, hold and release.

Try these simple moves and marvel at how quickly they can help ease period discomfort.