Finally, the proof we need: yoga makes period cramps go away
You have your own myriad of reasons for going to yoga on the regular. Perhaps you like the feeling of relaxation in final savasana, or maybe you like the challenge of nailing a handstand. There’s yet another proven benefit that might get you on your mat: yoga reduces period cramps and PMS.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine just published the findings of 15 different studies on the subject matter. Research found that yoga can relieve the symptoms of PMS, such as bloating, cramping, breast tenderness, and mood swings. Yoga can also reduce the severity of the side effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
The studies even showed that yoga can relieve mental symptoms just as much as physical symptoms. Jennifer Oates, review author and lecturer in mental health nursing at King’s College London, told TIME.com that yoga can help you concentrate better and think more positively.
“The authors of these studies suggest that yoga works on the autonomic stress response and also on how pain is experienced and interpreted, perhaps by stimulating the release of the body’s natural painkillers," Oates said.
Research didn’t determine what kind of yoga would be best for your period or how often you have to go in order to reap the positive benefits, but it’s safe to say that however much yoga you feel comfortable doing while you’re PMSing and on your period will likely make you feel better.
It’s probably best to stay away from inversions when you’re on your period, but just about everything else that comes along in a yoga class—warrior poses, balancing postures, breathing exercises—will probably do you some good.