Yoga for PMS

It’s the worst part of your month: bloating, cramps, mood swings, headaches, fatigue.  PMS hits almost every woman, and for some of us, it’s enough to make you wish you’d been born a man. However, many women swear that yoga is one of the best therapies for this dreaded precursor to the “curse.”

In common parlance, PMS has many aliases, ranging from Puffy Mid-Section to Pass My Shotgun and Potential Murder Suspect – a humorous reminder that not every woman experiences PMS in the same way.  Some women crave sugar, others feel too nauseated to eat; some are exhausted, some can’t fall asleep. In the 1980s, Guy Abraham, a gynecologist and obstetrician at UCLA, categorized PMS symptoms into four types:

  • Type A (anxiety, also characterized by irritability and mood swings),

  • Type C (cravings, also fatigue and headaches),

  • Type D (depression, also confusion and sometimes memory loss) and

  • Type H (water retention, also weight gain and breast tenderness). 

Women can experience any combination of these symptoms, and they can vary from month to month.

Even though PMS affects 85 percent of women, doctors don’t know for sure what causes it.  Most people assume the culprit is rising levels of sex hormones, but in healthy women, these hormones remain at a normal level throughout the menstrual cycle.  Some research suggests that PMS is genetic, and that it’s linked to a decline in feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain.

One thing doctors, homeopaths and professionals of all stripes agree on, however, is that lifestyle factors can make it worse.  Stress from work or relationships, poor diet and lack of exercise can all aggravate premenstrual symptoms and make that time of the month even worse.

Yoga is one of the best natural treatments for PMS symptoms.  Unlike short term fixes, (popping OTC drugs, junk food or zoning out in front of the TV), developing and maintaining a yoga practice can help reduce the severity of PMS over the long term.

Yoga asanas helps to keep your worst symptoms at bay by reducing stress, and a regular yoga practice prevents the symptoms you do have from debilitating you by putting you in better touch with your body.  Some yoga poses can even treat specific PMS symptoms. 

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