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5-Minute Workout: Relief from Cramps

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Ease Period Cramps

While period cramps may send you cowering back under the covers, it's exercise, not bed rest, that will revive you the most. And yoga is particularly effective in easing your pain. "Yoga incorporates deep breathing, which helps relieve the effects of oxygen deprivation to the tissues, one of the main causes of cramps," says Suzanne Trupin, MD, a gynecologist at the Women's Health Practice in Champaign, Illinois. Here, how to find relief in just five minutes with these simple moves from Cyndi Lee, director of OM yoga in New York City.

1. Forward Bend

Minutes 0:00-1:00

  • Stand with feet together and arms at sides.
  • Sink feet into the floor, inhale, and reach arms toward ceiling.
  • Exhale, bringing arms out to sides as you hinge forward from hips to touch the floor. If you can't reach the floor, bend your knees.
  • Hold for 1 minute.

2. Supported Half-Moon

Minutes: 1:00-2:00

  • Stand with your left side against a wall.
  • Slowly bend forward, bringing fingertips of your left hand toward the floor. At the same time, lift your right leg behind you to hip height.
  • Turn right to extend right fingertips toward ceiling, stacking right hip on top of left; place left palm (or fingertips) on the floor. Keep right foot flexed and breathe evenly.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Switch sides.

3. Head-to-Knee Pose

Minutes: 2:00-3:00

  • Sit with legs extended.
  • Bend right knee and position foot on the inside of left upper thigh.
  • Inhale and lift arms overhead.
  • Then exhale and lean forward over left leg, resting forehead on thigh (or on a pillow).
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then inhale to sit up.
  • Switch sides.

4. Wide-Angle Forward Bend

Minutes: 3:00-4:00

  • Sit up tall on the floor with legs extended as wide as possible (sit on a small pillow if this feels uncomfortable).
  • Inhale and bring arms out to sides and overhead.
  • Exhale and bend forward, extending arms out in front of you and placing your hands on the floor.
  • Keep kneecaps pointing toward ceiling rather than rolling in toward you.
  • Bring forehead toward floor (rest it on a pillow or block if you can't reach).
  • Hold for 1 minute.

5. Reclined Bound Angle Pose

Minutes: 4:00-5:00

  • Sit on floor with a blanket rolled up lengthwise at the base of your back with a pillow on top.
  • Bend your knees to bring soles of your feet together, then slowly lay your spine back onto the blanket and rest your head on the pillow.
  • Breathe evenly and relax for 1 minute.

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