When your dreaded Aunt Flow makes her monthly appearance, it can be tempting to hibernate under your doona and watch Gossip Girl reruns while inhaling chocolate. And hey, if that’s what you need to do to cope, then you do you! But according to new research, there may be a more effective way to manage your PMS symptoms.
In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, a London researcher revisited 15 existing studies on yoga’s effects on menstrual symptoms on women aged 13 to 45. Across the board, it was found that women who began practicing yoga for as few as 10 minutes per day experienced less discomfort and moodiness when their period arrived. Scientists believe that this is because yoga impacts the body’s stress response, which changes the way pain is interpreted and experienced.
Now, if you’re a diehard yogi, you’ll know that it’s traditionally recommended that women take a break from yoga during their period. This is because in yogic culture, there’s a natural downward force called apana vayu, which helps the stagnant blood exit our bodies during a period. Ayurvedic teachers say it’s best for women to avoid yoga during their cycle as it may disrupt this detoxifying system. Not only that, but there are certain asanas which may feel quite uncomfortable and make your cramps and bloating worse, including shoulder stands and handstands.
The good news is, according to the study author Jennifer Oates you don’t actually have to practice yoga during your period to experience the pain relief benefits. Simply practicing once or twice a week for a few months may make a difference when that time of the month arrives. And hey, if that doesn’t work, you can always try Flo Living founder Alisa Vitta’s ‘cycle sync’ technique for reducing PMS symptoms, as detailed here.