yoga3I recently reported on how yoga can ease premenstrual moodiness, sadness and lethargy. Now, right in time for International Yoga Day, a new study has come out about another benefit of this ancient practice: It may help ease menstrual cramps.

If you’re new to yoga, then you may be conjuring an image of being twisted up like a giant pretzel and wondering how in the world that could possibly help ease the painful the uterine spasming you experience.

But, in truth, past research shows that some of the easiest yoga postures–such as the cat, cobra and fish–are powerful enough to ease your menstrual discomfort.

Even better: You don’t have to commit a whole lot of time to it to experience the benefits. Volunteers in the latest study did just 60 minutes once per week. Within 12 weeks (three menstrual cycles), their menstrual cramp pain decreased significantly compared to a group of women who did not practice yoga.

So, how does yoga work its cramp-easing magic? Adopting the gentle postures and slowing your breathing decrease stress, which may reduce pain sensitivity. Yoga also helps muscles relax, which can curb uncomfortable uterine spasms. On top of that, one 2013 study suggests that yoga can reduce inflammation in blood vessels that contribute to menstrual pain.

If you’re new to yoga, as always, I recommend you start with a qualified teacher to ensure you’re doing the postures correctly and don’t injure yourself.

If you try yoga for your menstrual cramps, let me know how it works!

[Photo: Edson Hong]