Yoga & Ayurveda for Period Pain

July 3, 2024

Last updated : July 4, 2024

Many women know the struggle of debilitating period pain and hormonal issues, often dismissed by doctors and even loved ones. For years, I was one of them. Despite changing times, these problems are still frequently misunderstood or brushed off as "normal female experiences." But this isn't a story of hardship. It's one of hope and self-discovery.

My journey of pain led me to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and the transformative power of yoga. These practices didn't just offer relief; they reshaped my understanding of my body and its needs. Here, I'll reveal how practicing Ayurveda and yoga for period pain and hormonal imbalances changed my life. But more importantly, I'll share some essential advice for those interested in taking a holistic path to female health.

How It All Started

I got my first period when I was around 12 years old, and it was immediately horribly painful. I remember being on the floor, crying for two hours before the painkillers kicked in and I finally felt a sense of relief. Visiting a doctor never crossed my mind because this was supposed to be "normal." I just had bad luck—some women had a lot of pain, others didn't.

Over the years, the pain worsened. Two hours of debilitating pain turned into four, then six, and eventually several days. Painkillers provided some relief, but I still felt awful. When I finally sought medical help, the options were limited to painkillers or the birth control pill. 

About the Pill

For two years, I was on birth control. Though I can't recall specific side effects, something always felt off. The idea of needing a daily pill for "balance" didn't sit right with me. Even for its intended purpose of preventing pregnancy, it still seemed an imperfect solution.

I believed (and still do) that every medication has side effects, whether immediate or long-term. So, I intuitively decided to stop taking the pill. But my relief was short-lived. Not long after, my period pains returned and they were worse than ever before. 

By 21, I was at a breaking point. Not only were my periods excruciating, but I felt exhausted, drained, and anxious throughout the month. I knew something had to change. This realization marked the beginning of my journey towards natural, holistic solutions for hormonal health.

Regaining Control from the Root

I entered the online wellness space, deciding to be my own healer. For me, it all started with food. I believed I could heal myself through diet. I tried various approaches like paleo, juice fasts, and eventually became vegan (which I’m not anymore). I did lose weight and had more energy by eating more wholesome, less processed foods…

but still... a lot of pain each month.

I realized I had to look deeper. I needed to understand my body, my hormones, the impact of stress on the body, and specifically the female body. I needed to understand the root causes and I wanted to know why so many women around me were also suffering in silence.

Practicing Ayurveda & Yoga for Female Health (& Advice I Wish Someone Gave Me)

I dove into Ayurveda and yoga for period pain and menstrual health. I became a yoga teacher and an Ayurvedic food and lifestyle consultant. Ayurveda taught me to understand my body's needs and how to adjust my food and lifestyle based on the symptoms and imbalances I was experiencing. Yoga taught me how to regulate my nervous system, be present in my body, and tune into my body's signals.

This journey, like any other, involved a lot of trial and error. Eventually, I started feeling better and began teaching yoga for menstrual pain and consulting in Ayurveda. I helped many women find more balance and relaxation, heal from PMS and menstrual cramps, and navigate menopause with yoga and Ayurveda as their tools.

Along the way, I also began helping people heal holistically from conditions like eczema, hair loss, digestive issues, and being overweight. Most importantly, I taught women to be gentler with themselves and stop pushing themselves into this masculine energy. Most women intuitively knew they needed more rest, gentleness, and play, but societal pressure to be more productive and perfect often led them astray.

If you're considering this path, here are a few things I learnt on my own holistic journey in women’s health as well as some advice I wish someone had given me earlier.

Take Your Time

Unfortunately, I fell back into old stress patterns, driven by a desire to help people and build my business. Although I loved my work, I hit burnout—hard (like I said, this journey was marked by trial and error).

I had to really look inside and evaluate my inner thought patterns, my nervous system patterns, and my behavioral patterns. I was so driven (yes, I’m a pitta), but why the rush?

This led me to an even deeper understanding of everything I had learned from yoga and Ayurveda for period pain and hormonal balance. Today, I still practice these principles, but in my daily life, they look quite different than before I hit burnout.

Try This: 15-Minute Yoga Practice for Stress Relief

Focus on Full Nourishment

Along with practicing yoga for period pain and hormones, I started to fully nourish myself. I used to be kind of a detox addict, always seeking the next cleanse—even Ayurvedic ones. There is a time and place for detoxing, but it all depends on your unique situation, and your physical and mental health. I knew I had to focus on nourishment, not another cleanse.

I started focusing on boosting my progesterone levels, which are crucial not only for a healthy menstrual cycle but also for a balanced nervous system and overall health. This is true for cycling women and for women entering menopause.

I incorporated more gentle forms of somatic exercises that stimulate the vagus nerve to signal safety to my limbic system. I realized I had been living in fight/flight and functional freeze almost my whole life. This made it hard to recognize the stress pattern, because you don’t even know how good you can actually feel. 

I spent a lot of time in nature and made a conscious effort to reduce my screen time, I even disconnected from social media for several years. These seemingly simple choices proved to be incredibly healing, yet I've found that many people struggle to implement them.

I had to let go of my perfectionism. I had to forgive myself for not being "perfect" and cultivate the same compassion for myself that I had for others. This remains, and perhaps always will be, a point of ongoing attention.

Also Read: Holistic Nutrition: What Is It & Why Is It Important?

Don’t Fix, Find Balance (You’re Not Broken)

There is immense healing power in our bodies. However, the online health and wellness space can also be toxic, creating fear and judgment around so-called "unnatural" or "unhealthy" foods and lifestyle choices. This fear-based thinking can lead to further imbalances in the nervous system.

The first step is to stop believing you need to "fix" yourself and that you must do everything perfectly to heal. You may have symptoms and hormonal imbalances, but you are OKAY. Focusing solely on trying to fix these symptoms will only send signals of threat and danger to your brain. It's a delicate balance between doing things that nurture your well-being and doing them solely to fix your symptoms or avoid uncomfortable emotions. You can't regulate yourself out of experiencing emotions, and some things simply need to be felt.

If your symptoms are serious, it's perfectly okay to consult a doctor and consider medication that may alleviate symptoms as part of your holistic healing journey. Sometimes using Ayurveda and yoga for period pain relief or to manage more severe menstrual issues is not enough, and this support, though not "natural," is crucial for your healing.

Prevention is always best, of course, but don't be afraid to do what is necessary. Your body has a tremendous capacity to heal, but it can take some time and extra support, and that’s okay.

Try This: 30 Minute Yoga Practice for Lower Back Pain

Final Thought

Your health journey is uniquely yours. I encourage you to be your own advocate and explore the wealth of resources available for your wellness. Whether it's practicing yoga for period pain or finding balance through Ayurveda, there are powerful, natural tools out there.

And remember, hormonal issues are complex and deeply personal. What works for one woman may not work for another. But don't let that discourage you—with the right knowledge and support, healing is absolutely possible.

 If you're seeking solutions for your own menstrual health or you're passionate about helping others, I've created just the course for your journey. In my Women's Holistic Health Coach Training Course, you'll learn practical techniques, understand the science behind hormonal balance, and gain the confidence to apply these ancient practices in modern life.


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About the author

Sarah Visschedijk

Sarah is an RYT200 certified Hatha and Yin Yoga teacher, as well as an Ayurvedic food and lifestyle coach (KTNO certified, 2018 – 2019). In her daily work as a coach and teacher, Sarah guides women towards more health and balance with the help of Ayurveda and yoga. In her work, she utilizes yoga practices that support and balance the different phases of her client’s menstrual cycle and teaches them to embrace their feminine cyclical power. In her online course ‘Holistic Health Coach for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle,’ you’ll learn how to support women to optimize their hormonal health generally and help them with specific menstrual issues, such as PMS, painful periods, heavy periods, infertility, menopause, fatigue, and pain/bloating related to endometriosis or PCOD.

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