Yoga for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Written By

Upama Misra

Pre menstrual syndrome-03 Loading

Nikita, a friend, was a very happy-go-lucky, exuberant girl whom anybody would love.  Yet there were days when I felt  she was not her normal self. At such times she would appear lost in thought, depressed, fatigued and short tempered. After observing this  pattern for a few months I decided to speak to her.

Nikita admitted that she goes through these mood swings every once in a while, when she feels depressed as if life has come to an end! This is followed by  a time when she cannot believe how she had been  behaving a few days before  and laughs over it.

Having dealt with other women exhibiting similar mood swings, I concluded that she had been going through Pre Menstrual Syndrome, commonly known as PMS. Any girl/woman who has started with her menstrual cycle can go through it.

More than 80% of women across the world experience it although the severity of symptoms may vary from one woman to another.

Why does it happen?

A woman’s ovary produces several follicles from which only one matures to become an egg, which passes through the fallopian tubes to enter the uterus. During the process, there’s a lot of rise and fall in hormones like progesterone, luteinizing hormone, oestrogen, etc. . The actual cause of PMS is not clear but it is believed that this rise and fall of hormones, which is at its peak 10 days prior to Periods, is responsible for it.

The mental, physical, physiological and emotional change that takes place during this period is known as Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).

Symptoms disappear after 3-4 days of the Menstrual Cycle. It should not be confused with Dysmenorrhea, which is abdominal pain in some women during periods.

Symptoms

There are more than 200 symptoms of PMS but the important ones are:

  1. Emotional – Irritability, stress, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, anger, crying at the drop of a hat, despair, memory problems, food cravings, etc.
  2. Physical– Acne, headache, joint pain, tenderness of breasts, loss of appetite, backache, bloatedness, constipation, cramps, etc.

Women with other health conditions like asthma, allergies, migraine may find their symptoms aggravating during this period. Consult a doctor or counsellor in such cases.

PMS can be brought under control by following the four PILLARS OF YOGA or practising YOGACHAR.

Ahaar (Food):

Dos

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Eat small meals 4 times/day
  3. Eat Saatvic food (easy to digest)
  4. Food rich in Vitamin B, Magnasium and Calcium (green leafy vegetables, Milk, Yoghurt, Dairy products, Tofu, seeds like Sesame, sunflower, flax, pumpkin, etc., and dry fruits)
  5. Eat complex carbs which have plenty of fibre like whole grains, cereals (ragi, wheat, jowar, brown rice) etc.
  6. Fresh seasonal fruits.

Donts

  1. Excessive salty food (can cause bloating and water retention)
  2. Coffee and tea (causes irritability), Alcohol, aerated drinks
  3. Fried, fatty, spicy, starchy and sugary food
  4. White flour preparations and refined cereals.

Vihaar (Recreation)

Yoga gives a lot of importance to ‘recreation’ in one’s life. It is the active quality time that you spend with yourself to relax and to channelize your emotions creatively.

  1. Walking
  2. Develop a hobby (dancing, painting, Singing, playing an instrument, gardening, playing with pets and kids, reading)
  3. Read and share good jokes with friends.
  4. Talking to friends and family, etc.

Achaar      (Conduct)

Certain permanent changes in the lifestyle need to be made to get rid of PMS.

  1. Make healthy routines and follow them.
  2. Early to bed and early to rise
  3. Go for an early morning walk or do certain Yogasanas that stretch your body, for example the below:
  •  Parvatasana: Seated Mountain Pose, to stretch the spine upwards and open the chest cavity for better breathing.
  •  Talasana: Palm Tree Pose for vertical stretch of the entire body
  • Vakrasana: Spinal twist
  • Trikonasana: triangle pose to reduce B.P., stress and anxiety, improves flexibility
  •  Konasana: angle pose to relieve back pain and improve flexibility
  •  Ushtrasana: camel pose, to strengthen the back and activate thyroid glands
  • Paryankasan: the couch pose, to open chest cavity and increase the blood flow in the groin region
  •  Bhadrasana: butterfly pose to increase the blood flow in the reproductive organs and helping to keep the kidneys and urinary bladder healthy
  • Pascimottanasana: seated forward bend to massage abdominal organs and stretch the spine thus relaxing the nerves
  • Pawanmuktasana: wind release pose to relax the back and release wind from the abdomen
  • Bhujangasana: cobra pose to build confidence and strengthen the spine, etc.

(NOTE: All asanas, pranayams to be performed strictly under the supervision of a trained yoga instructor)

Also,

  1. Gently massage the body
  2. Regular practise of Jalneti (nasal cleansing) can reduce the symptoms of headache, migraine, depression etc.
  3. Kapalarandradhauti (massaging of the forehead) is also very relaxing and should be practised regularly.
  4. Certain Pranayams like Equal breathing, abdominal breathing and Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing) also provide relief if practised on a regular basis.
  5. Practise ‘Kati snan’ ( Sitz-bath)
  6. Practise Mauna (silence and introspection)

Vichaar (Thoughts)

A lot of changes take place on the mental level during PMS and therefor it is important to maintain positive and healthy thoughts in mind.

  1. Discuss your mental state with other members of your family and seek their cooperation
  2. Have faith in yourself
  3. Stay in the company of happy and motivating people
  4. A PMS tracker chart (available online) can be maintained to record the symptoms initially for 3-4 months. It will help you recognise and manage your symptoms better.

So in conclusion menstruation is a biological occurrence that comes along with certain subtle changes in our behaviour (PMS). The solution lies in identifying the symptoms and preparing ourselves well in managing these few days better.

 

For  a lighter view on PMS and all things menstrual read The Crimson Tide and Of Modified Funnels, Filters and More.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Upama Misra is an Independent Yoga Coach and trainer from world renowned "The Yoga Institute", Mumbai. She practices Ashtanga Yoga and Iyengar Yoga and also has exposure to alternate therapy. She is an expert in yoga related to women’s health issues and pre- and post-natal care. Apart from her passion to help women improve their health and well-being, she is the mother of two and a travel enthusiast.

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