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Friday, July 20, 2012
Yoga Teacher Training: Menstrual Cramps
By Sangeetha Saran
During your yoga teacher training course, you start to research many ailments. This is only the beginning of your research as teaching yoga is a lifelong marathon of intellectual proportions. Among the many ailments humans have is menses. Every month, women are blessed with the gift of a new menstrual cycle. Although it truly is a gift to be able to bring life into the world, many see it as more of an inconvenient, annoying or even painful curse. The severity of menstrual cramps varies greatly from woman to woman. Some women hardly experience discomfort while others cannot go about a normal routine without some type of remedy. These women are likely to reach for medication to help ease pain and discomfort of menstrual cramps. Yoga poses can provide a natural way to help relieve the cramping and bloating brought on each month.
As a result of the hormones surging through the body, many women feel tired, irritable, hungry and uneasy during their menstrual cycles. Sometimes the cravings for salty, fatty and generally unhealthy foods are too strong to resist, but indulging on the couch with a bag of potato chips can actually make the cramps worse. Eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water and releasing stress and anxiety will help ease menstrual cramps. Yoga is a gentle way to stretch and tone the entire body, relieve stress, and take quiet time for yourself. There are several specific asanas that I learned during my yoga teacher training at Aura Wellness Center can prevent or lessen the discomfort of menstrual cramps.
Sit on your knees, with your feet tucked under your bottom. Slide your inner knees together and allow the feet to rest on the sides of your hips with the tops of the feet resting on the floor. Keep the upper body tall with a straight spine. Place the hands on top of the thighs. Breathe and relax for several minutes.
You can transition from the hero pose into camel pose by coming up onto the knees. Place your palms on your lower back with your fingers pointing down. Lean your upper body back, allowing the head and neck to fall back. Rest your hands on your ankles. Hold for about 30 seconds or longer.
Release the camel pose by bringing your bottom back down to rest on your heels. Fold your upper body down, resting it on the mat in front of you. Rest your forehead on the mat. Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms flat, or rest them at your sides with your fingers pointing behind you.
In each of the yoga postures, take deep breaths that fill up the entire abdomen and chest cavity. Slowly release the air before inhaling again through the nose. Allow the breath to calm the mind and reenergize your spirit.
Yoga Teacher Notes
Rapid or forceful pranayama is not suggested during menses, but Viloma and Ujjayi are recommended. During yoga teacher training, you may have asked why inversions are not recommended. Suffice to say: Let gravity handle the natural flow. There is a strong belief in Ayurvedic circles that inversions during one’s period contribute to fibroids or worse. Some female teachers have taken an extremist stance, and told male teachers to mind their own business about this issue. As a female yoga teacher, I am all for women’s rights, but some of us have alienated most of the male yoga instructors who could have presented valuable research. In summation, I feel you can do what you like, but until I see medical research that says inversions are 100% fine during menstruation, I’ll avoid the risk.
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