Yoga is a natural and easy way to relieve common PMS symptoms and digestive discomfort. I have been adding these eight poses into my daily flow to give love to my lower abdomen, lower back, and side body. I am used to dealing with PMS-related bloating and cramping. It is never comfortable, but at least it is predictable. What’s not so predictable is bloating, cramping, and gas from Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed 13 years ago and the sensations in my gut still come as a surprise to me. Usually the symptoms come after eating a big meal or dairy, but sometimes I feel digestive discomfort without any warning.
These eight poses have several benefits, but I am going to concentrate on how each eases bloating, cramping, and gas. I have labeled each of them with both the Sanskrit and English term.
The instruction for each pose is a rough explanation. I recommend taking a few yoga classes at a local studio to familiarize yourself with basic alignment and modifications. Also, most of the pictures shown illustrate a deep variation. Please know that your body may not be ready for some of these, so do not push yourself. These poses are not in any particular order and can be done within a vinyasa flow or as individual stretches. If you deal with any physical issues like lower back pain or knee pain, consult with a doctor before practicing.
Bound Angle Pose
Instruction: Sit down. Bring soles of the feet together, knees open wide. Use your hands to open your feet out like a book. Elbows hug in towards lower belly. INHALE, prepare by straightening the spine. EXHALE, round forward encouraging head towards feet. Elbows can lightly massage abdominal organs.
Benefits: I love this pose! It stimulates the abdominal organs, improving the health of the ovaries, prostate gland, kidneys, and bladder. It’s my favorite pose for cramps. This pose also opens the lower back which can feel good if you get lower back cramps from PMS or Crohn’s Disease.
Supine Spinal Twist
Instruction: Lay on back with feet planted. Hug knees into chest. INHALE, prepare. EXHALE, drop legs to one side, twisting the spine. Keep upper back and shoulders firmly planted. Hands can stretch out or come into a goal post position. Breath here for one minute on each side.
Benefits: I like to think of my digestive system as a wet towel in this pose. As I twist, it’s like I am wringing out my digestive system. This twist helps stimulate waste removal and gas. When you release the twist, fresh blood rushes back to your digestive organs which helps nourish them.
Instruction: Lay on back with legs straight. INHALE, bend one knee toward chest and wrap hands around shin. EXHALE, prepare. INHALE, lift head towards knee. Hold for 5 breaths. EXHALE, release. Be sure to do both sides. You can also simple hug both knees into chest and just hang out while keeping head and shoulders down or rock forward and backward.
Benefits: Don’t be ashamed if you let out some gas. This pose massages the intestines and other organs in the abdomen. It really helps in digestion and the release of gas. I love this one!
Extended Triangle Pose
Instruction: Stand with feet about 3 to 4 feet apart. Right foot comes to 90 degrees to front of mat. Left foot comes parallel to back of the mat and slightly turned in. INHALE, arms reach out wide, thumbs up, and gaze at left thumb. INHALE, reach towards right foot until you can’t reach anymore. EXHALE, bend from the hip. Right hand comes to thigh, shin, big toe, or block. Gaze up at left fingertips. Chest stays lifted. Hold for 5 breaths. REPEAT on left side.
Benefits: This is a powerful pose which stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion. I like it because it stretches my side body and strengthens my core which feels good when I am bloated or gassy.
Instruction: Lay flat on your belly with hands down by your sides. Bend your knees so that your feet are pointing towards the ceiling. INHALE, reach your hands back to grab ankles, big toes touching. EXHALE, prepare. INHALE, lift chest, knees, and thighs. Shoulders out of ears. Breath into your diaphragm and back of torso. Hold for 5 breaths.
Benefits: When you breathe here, you will encourage a gentle massaging of your internal organs. This can help digestion and move stuck wastes through the digestive system. I like to give my organs a nice massage here by rocking slightly forward and backward.
Instruction: Lie prone on the floor, legs back, tops of feet on the floor. Bend your elbows so that palms of hands come beside floating ribs. INHALE, push hands into the floor (and slightly back as if you’re energetically pulling yourself forward), straighten arms (elbows facing forward) and simultaneously lift your torso, hips, and legs a few inches off the floor. Collar bone spreads and thighs engage. Hold for 5 breaths.
Benefits: This pose is a heart opener. The chest opens and collar bone spreads which can help with indigestion. This pose also stimulates the abdominal organs. You can feel a stretch right above your pubic bone which helps relieve cramping.
Instruction: Lay on your back with feet firmly planted. Arms come beside the body with hands reaching towards ankles. EXHALE, press feet and arms into the mat. INHALE, lift hips and slightly firm buttocks. Keep thighs and feet parallel. Clasp hands below pelvis as you stay on top of shoulders. No pressure in neck.
Benefits: This pose stimulates the abdominal organs which helps improve digestion and relieve PMS symptoms. It is really nice when you’re feeling bloated and gassy. This pose can also help relieve lower back cramping.
Seated Forward Fold
Instruction: Come to a seated position with legs straight and feet flexed. Engage lower belly and keep spine straight with shoulders hugging down. INHALE, arms reach high. EXHALE, fold forward bringing peace fingers to big toes. I like to bend my knees here to encourage a flat back. Hold for 5 breaths.
Benefits: This pose is amazing for menstrual discomfort. The forward fold stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus. It also helps improve digestion and can relieve gas.
You may also be interested in: “How Yoga Changed My Life.”