Miserable during that preperiod week? Striking a pose can alleviate aching, crankiness and more, according to Suzanne Trupin, M.D., clinical professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Urbana.
"Yoga boosts circulation, which can relieve fluid buildup that causes bloating," Dr. Trupin says. "The paced, deep breathing also increases oxygen flow to tissues, decreasing discomfort induced by cramps."
Plus, focusing on the smooth, flowing yoga practice takes your mind off how icky you feel and can reduce not-so-diet-friendly cravings (sugar and salt, please) that women get with their cycle, Dr. Trupin adds. So step away from that pint of Heavenly Hash and dig in to this relaxing routine instead. The trainer Barbara Ruzansky, director of West Hartford Yoga in Connecticut, compiled these pain-relieving poses. "The following postures are particularly valuable for lessening PMS symptoms because we've included some that open the hips or invert the body to help circulation," Ruzansky explains.
The Plan Perform these poses daily during the week prior to your period for instant (as in, right this second) relief. Complete all 12, or simply pick a few that work for you.
Technique Tips Concentrate on taking full, strong breaths as you do each pose. As you inhale through your nose with your mouth closed, imagine the air slowly expanding your rib cage, filling up your torso like a balloon. Exhale through your nose, mouth closed, at the same tempo as the inhale, very gently pulling your belly toward your spine while you breathe out. "This type of breath awareness will help you connect to the posture, ensuring an even greater release," Ruzansky says. We say, Sounds good to us.
Seated Twist Sit with legs extended. Cross left leg over right, left foot flat next to right knee. Bring right heel near left hip. Put left hand on floor by left hip. Inhale, wrap right arm around left knee and twist torso to left. Hold for 10 to 15 deep breaths. Return to start. Switch sides; repeat.
Wind Pose Lie faceup. Bring knees to chest, reaching arms around shins; clasp hands. Keep lower back pressed into floor as you breathe slowly and deeply for 20 breaths.
Cat Pose Start on all fours, knees under hips, hands under shoulders. Inhale, dropping chin to chest, tilting pelvis under while rounding back like a cat. Exhale, lifting chin toward ceiling and arching back in opposite direction. Repeat 10 times.