03 May Is yoga a cycling woman’s best friend?
Want a healthier, happier and easier monthly cycle? You may want to grab your yoga mat and head to the nearest yoga class or log onto a favorite online yoga channel (such as Gaia.com).
A new analysis of 15 studies examining yoga’s effects on the menstrual cycle in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine confirms that regularly practicing yoga has a wide range of beneficial effects on your cycle—from the first day of your period through your premenstrual week.
The many ways yoga improves your monthly cycle
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced yoga student, the results of this study found that this ancient practice reduces pain (such as menstrual cramps and premenstrual back aches), decreases hormone-related negativity, increases well-being, helps regulate an irregular cycle and makes you generally happier with your cycle overall.
What’s more, all this holds true regardless of which school of yoga you follow, for instance, iyengar, kripalu or purna yoga—each of which focuses on certain types of postures, breathing or meditation.
How yoga works
The study authors believe a key factor behind yoga’s many cycle-improving powers is its ability to reduce stress. It does this by calming overactive systems in your body and brain, which helps you relax, and teaching you positive coping mechanisms (such as slow breathing and mindfulness), which keeps stress in check.
If reining in stress seems too simple to exert so many benefits, consider this: Decades of research prove that an unhealthy amount of stress plays a critical role in triggering or worsening many conditions. That’s because it can cause an imbalance in hormones, increase inflammation that worsens pain and leads to down moods, disrupt sleep and trigger anxiety. And that’s just for starters.
What you can do now
Whether you have a monthly cycle that’s totally out of whack and needs serious tweaking or you simply want to see what life would be like with an even happier cycle, consider trying yoga.
If you’re a beginner, I recommend you attend a few yoga classes with a trained instructor so you can be sure you’re doing the postures and techniques correctly. You can usually find low-cost yoga classes at local community centers.
If you try yoga to improve your cycle, let me know how it works for you!