Stretch it out: yoga can ease period pain and PMS

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Cramps, mood swings, bloating and nausea are just a few of the symptoms us lucky women are treated to when our periods roll around every month.

And with the average woman facing a massive 450 periods throughout her lifetime, we’re glad science is finally stepping up to the plate and investigating new ways to ease the pain.

While we’ve long been told the health benefits of exercise, new research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests there is one particular form of physical activity that can be particularly helpful to easing period pain – yoga.

The research analysed the results of 15 previous studies investigating the link between yoga and common menstrual complaints, including cramps and PMT, with the results showing that yoga could help alleviate these symptoms.

Some studies analysed also showed that yoga could help reduce bloating and breast tenderness, while helping to boost mood and aid relaxation and concentration.

“The authors of these studies suggest that yoga works on the autonomic stress response and also on how pain is experienced and interpreted, perhaps by stimulating the release of the body’s natural painkillers," the research author, Jennifer Oates, told TIME.

Oates, who works as a lecturer in mental health nursing at King’s College London, added that further research would be needed to figure out exactly what type of yoga works best at reducing the symptoms. 

She also noted that the studies included in her research included women who practised yoga either every day or every other day, and that future work would need to focus on exercise regimes “that are a bit more typical of the average busy woman, maybe one or two classes a week”.

In the meantime, we’re off to grab a yoga mat.

Images: iStock


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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter