It’s hard to feel like the empowered goddess that you are when you just ate the contents of your freezer in its entirety (you hit the fridge yesterday, snack cabinet the day before…), the Bounty commercial is making you cry, you’re cramping all over the place, wouldn’t get out of bed if you didn’t have to and there’s no way that top button on your jeans is coming anywhere near closed. Why, it’s almost enough to curse the woman race – almost.
Sure, amidst all this, the last thing you want to do is roll out a yoga mat and get to it, but a few asanas (yoga poses) have proven to relieve the symptoms of PMS. And you don’t have to stand on your head or do anything too complicated… unless you want to. Check out these postures the next time your four-day agony starts to kick in.
For mood swings The crocodile (makarasana) is particularly helpful in relieving anxiety and nervous irritability. For makarasan, lie on your abdomen with your forehead resting on your folded forearms, your legs apart with the feet and toes pointing out, away from one another. Breathe fully, feeling the abdomen expanding downward with each inhalation and your hips and buttocks rising slightly upward with the exhalation. Allow the gentle movement to soothe premenstrual cramping and massage the uterine muscles. It’s that simple! Make it a meditation, concentrating on your breathe and allowing all the chatter to drain from your mind.
For cravings While this one may take a little more energy, bow (dhanurasana) will stimulate blood flow to the abdominal and pelvic areas and help regulate sugar metabolism, leaving you feeling invigorated and a little less ravenous. For dhanurasana, lie on your belly. Bend through both legs, your hands reaching back to grab your feet or your ankles. Inhale, press the feet into the hands, lifting up your torso. Your feet should be reaching strongly both up and back. Make sure you breathe, and you can rock on the belly a bit. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then slowly release down. Repeat 3-5 times.
For fatigue Upward-facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana) – which is also a back-bending pose – stimulates both the back and front of the body, especially the lumbar and pelvic regions. The upward gaze and sweeping movement skyward not only counteracts the downward pull of gravity, but also helps relieve depression. Lie on your belly, bringing your hands beside your chest. Press into your hands, extending them long, peeling up your head and shoulders. Lift the thighs, so that the tops of the feet and the hands are the only part of you touching the ground. Lift your gaze.
For bloating Gentle inversion postures are most helpful for the weight gain, bloating and tender breasts associated with this time of the month. Modified wide-leg fold (upavistha konasana) and plow (halasana) are two gentle-ish, effective postures. For this version of upavistha konasana, sit on a folded blanket as close to the wall as you can get and then swing your legs up the wall, your back, head and shoulders resting on the ground. Let your legs come wide apart, as much as they will. For halasana, lay on your back, and send your legs up overhead; your toes may or may not come to the ground over your head. You can use your hands to support your back.
All this said, many schools of thought agree that lifestyle – such as stress, bad eating habits, traveling, overwork, unhealthy relationships and lack of exercise – all contribute to the pattern of emotional instability, anxiety, irritability, depression and mood swings that are characteristic of pre-menstrual syndrome. So, you may want to consider taking a look at where you can get healthier in your day-to-day too.