PCOS is a condition that affects millions of menstruators. Most people rely heavily on medications and dietary changes to manage their symptoms. However, research shows that supplementing these with physical activities like yoga can be highly beneficial for combating PCOS symptoms and ensuring better mental and physical health in the long run.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder that affects hormone levels in menstruators between the ages of 15-44.
PCOS directly affects ovaries. Ovaries are the reproductive organs that produce oestrogen and progesterone - two hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. Besides these two hormones, ovaries also produce a small number of male hormones known as androgens.
People with PCOS develop many small, fluid-filled sacs within their ovaries because of excessive androgen production. Each of these sacs - called follicles - contains an egg. The eggs never mature enough to reach the ovulation stage.
The lack of ovulation alters levels of oestrogen and progesterone - progesterone levels remain lower than usual, while androgen levels are higher. This disrupts the menstrual cycle. As a result, menstruators with PCOS have irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles, experience abnormal weight gain, and might find it hard to conceive.
How does Yoga help people with PCOS?
Yoga has several benefits for your mind and body, from building strength and flexibility to feeling more calm and mindful. Here’s how yoga can help people with PCOS:
- Decreases testosterone levels
- Regulates hormones and menstrual cycles
- Alleviates symptoms of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression
- Controls the production and regulation of metabolic indicators like insulin, glucose, and lipid
Most importantly, unlike many high-intensity fitness routines, yoga is accessible to people with varying levels of flexibility and fitness. Listed below are five easy and effective asanas (body posture for yoga) that can help all menstruators, whether you are a beginner or an expert at yoga.
Yoga asanas for PCOS
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
Follow the steps below to complete one round of surya namaskar.
- Stand straight, keeping your feet together so that your weight is distributed evenly between both feet.
- Relax your shoulders and gradually expand your chest.
- Lift your arms from the sides as you slowly inhale.
- Bring them together in a prayer position in front of your chest while exhaling.
- Breathe in, trying to stretch your entire body.
- Exhale and bend forward to touch your toes; try keeping the spine straight.
- Push your right leg back as much as you can and keep it straight.
- Now, push your hands against the floor and hold for 1-2 seconds.
- Get into the cobra position.
- Continue inhaling and exhaling as you perform these asanas.
- Get back to your initial position. Stand straight and bend forward to touch your feet.
For best results, complete at least 5 rounds of surya namaskar daily.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Bridge pose helps regulate the thyroid, which is crucially linked to PCOS.
- Lie on your back.
- Fold your knees, forming a right angle between your feet and hips.
- Place your hands next to your body, facing your palms downward.
- Raise your lower, mid, and upper back - one at a time.
- Lift your chin up and roll your shoulders backwards.
- Keep breathing and hold this pose for at least 1-2 minutes.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
This pose encourages healthy functioning of the ovaries by soothing your stomach, which is why it is effective for regulating the symptoms of PCOS.
- Lie on your back with your elbows close to your body and your palms facing downwards.
- While inhaling, straighten your arms to lift your chest off the floor gradually. Try reclining backwards as you do this.
- Make sure your navel is touching the ground while you do this.
- Hold this position for 15-30 seconds before slowly exhaling.
Boat Pose (Naukasana)
The boat pose helps reduce body fat, improves blood flow to your reproductive organs, and enriches the function of the ovaries.
- Lie on your back, and join your feet together.
- Place your resting arms beside your body.
- Take a deep breath and slowly lift your head, chest, and feet off the floor with your hands stretching towards your feet.
- Exhale deeply while keeping your fingers and toes straight.
- Maintain this pose for 30 seconds. It is normal to feel some muscle tension in your cores during this time.
- Return to the starting position.
Bow pose (Dhanurasana)
This pose can help alleviate PCOS symptoms, as it stimulates your reproductive organs, relieving menstrual discomfort and regulating your menstrual cycle.
- Start by lying on your stomach. Position your feet hip-width separated and place your arms by your sides.
- Fold your knees until they come close to your hips, and hold onto your ankles.
- As you raise your chest off the floor, slowly raise your legs so that your body takes the form of an arched bow.
- Take a few deep breaths and remain in this pose for at least 30 seconds.
- Release your ankles and slowly return to the standing position.
PCOS not only affects people physiologically but can also have several psychological implications. Yoga eases these physical symptoms, regulates emotions, and helps you maintain a healthy and balanced state of mind.
But remember, yoga is only one aspect of a holistic treatment plan for PCOS. Based on your doctor’s recommendations, the plan could include diet, meditation, strength training, and medications. Click below to consult a non-judgmental gynaecologist and curate a personalised plan for yourself.