Department of Kinesiology, California State University- San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA
Healing Yoga Foundation, San Francisco
Amy Wheeler, Ph.D.
Yoga in the west has often been sought out as a workout routine with the additional benefits of creating a calm and focused mind. The benefits of a regular yoga practice can also create health and healing for many systems of the body. This study was designed to obtain preliminary information about the effectiveness of yoga on balancing college women’s menstrual cycles in the areas of menstrual cramps, low back pain, unstable emotions, feelings of depression, having food cravings and experiencing relationship problems just before and during the menses.
Seventy-two female college students aged 18-46 (m=22.4) were asked to fill out a questionnaire pertaining to their menstrual cycle patterns at the beginning of a 10-week yoga class. The class met twice a week for 90 minutes. The class was taught in the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya and had a strong focus on the synchronization of breath and movement. At the end of the 10-week quarter, students were asked to fill out the same questionnaire regarding the patterns of their menstrual cycle. The students were asked to use a Likert scale (1=low impact on life and 10= high impact on life) to estimate if the following areas impacted them just before and/or during menstruation: menstrual cramps, low back pain, unstable emotions, feelings of depression, having food cravings and experiencing relationship problems. Data was analyzed using SPSS 14.0 with paired-sample t-tests at a 95% confidence interval.
Results: The students reported the impact of menstrual cramps at the beginning of the quarter to be, on average, 5.0. After 10-weeks of yoga this had changed to 4.4, but this was not a statistically significant change. Low back pain began at 4.4 and went down to 3.5 and this was significant t(67)= 2.8, p
These data demonstrate that a twice a week group yoga class does have a significant impact on the menstrual cycles of college aged females. Positive changes in low back pain, emotional state, depression level, food cravings and relationship problems were shown. Changes with respect to severity of menstrual cramps were not shown to be statistically significant.