Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent endocrine disorder impacting 1 in 10 women around the world. Those with this disorder may experience irregular or exceptionally long menstrual cycles, as well as elevated androgen levels. Furthermore, their ovaries may accumulate with fluid-filled follicles and be unable to produce eggs regularly.
While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PCOS, yoga has been shown to be an effective method of managing symptoms. From calming the mind to improving circulation, we have listed some yoga poses that can help reduce the symptoms of PCOS and bring balance back to your body and mind.
But before that, let’s talk about PCOS a bit.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known. Factors that might play a role include:
Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone manufactured by the pancreas. This hormone permits cells to use sugar as a source of energy. When the cells become impervious to insulin, the level of sugar in the blood increases, prompting the body to produce more insulin in an effort to reduce the amount of sugar in the blood.
When the body is exposed to an infection or hurt, white blood cells produce a response that is referred to as low-grade inflammation. Studies have revealed that individuals having PCOS have a chronic form of low-grade inflammation, which generates androgens from polycystic ovaries, in turn resulting in cardiovascular and blood vessel problems.
Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS. Having a family history of PCOS may play a role in developing the condition.
Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may endure a high amount of androgen. An overabundance of androgen disrupts the regular production of eggs and their release from follicles. Additionally, high androgen levels may cause hirsutism and acne.
Signs and Symptoms of PCOS
- Irregular periods: Infrequent, irregular, or prolonged menstrual cycles.
- Excess androgen: Elevated levels of male hormones which may result in associated physical symptoms, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
- Polycystic ovaries: Enlarged ovaries that may contain follicles surrounding the eggs. This interferes with proper functioning of the ovaries.
- Hormonal changes: This can lead to uncontrolled acne problems along with other skin-related issues like skin tags and dark patches.
- Mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
- Pelvic pain which may occur during PMS (periods,) along with heavy bleeding or spotting.
Yoga for PCOS
When we speak of Yoga for PCOS, we can categorize it into three parts
- Yoga poses for PCOS
- Pranayama for PCOS
Let’s talk about each one of them in detail.
Yoga poses for PCOS
1. Bridge Pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Doing this yoga pose for PCOS can manage thyroid activity, which is significantly linked to PCOS. It loosens up and stimulates the organs in the stomach area, thus reducing the signs of menopause.
How to do:
- Lay down in a supine position, bend both legs and have the soles of your feet touch the ground, with the distance between them equal to the width of your hips.
- Put your arms next to your body, with your palms pointed towards the floor and your fingertips touching the back of your feet.
- Apply pressure through the feet onto the ground, take a deep breath and raise the hips, uncurling the spine from the floor. Gently press the legs together to ensure they remain the same width as the hips.
- Push down through the arms and shoulders so that your chest rises. Utilize the muscles in your legs, glutes, and mula bandha to lift your hips up.
- Breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths.
- To release: exhale and slowly roll the spine back to the floor.
2. Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar
Surya namaskar is considered one of the most beneficial yoga poses for PCOS. Practicing sun salutation on a daily basis can help reduce weight, decrease abdominal and hip fat, and regulate the menstrual cycle.
How to do
- Begin by standing with your feet together and your weight evenly distributed. Loosen your shoulders and open your chest.
- On an inhale, lift both arms up from your sides and when you exhale, bring your hands together in a prayer position at your chest.
- As you take a breath, extend your entire body – from your toes to the tips of your fingers.
- Exhale and bend forward to touch your toes, keeping your back straight.
- Push your right leg backwards and stay in that position, looking forward. Get into the push-up position, holding for 1-2 seconds, then move into the cobra pose.
- As you do this, keep breathing in and out. After that, return to standing, and touch your feet.
3. Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana
Bhujangasan, or cobra pose, can enhance the body’s suppleness and manage stress. This pose is regularly featured in the array of yoga for PCOD issues. This posture is known to bolster healthy ovaries by calming the stomach and helping it to operate the way it should.
How to do
- Start by lying on your stomach.
- Put your palms on the floor about 6 inches from your shoulders with your fingers facing towards your head.
- Squeeze your knees together, tuck your chin, and look at the floor in front of you.
- Inhale and lift your head, shoulders, and upper back off the floor.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent and your forearms on the floor.
- Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds while breathing deeply.
- Exhale and release the pose.
4. Boat Pose or Naukasana
Naukasana is a form of yoga that works to build up the muscles and organs in the abdominal region. It is also reported to have an effect on thyroid regulation. This practice is known to provide toning of the abdominal muscles and organs, as well as reducing stress and improving ovulatory functioning.
How to do
- Lie on your back with your feet together and arms beside your body.
- Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, lift your chest and feet off the ground, stretching your arms towards your feet.
- Your eyes, fingers, and toes should be in a line. Feel the tension in your navel area as the abdominal muscles contract.
- Keep breathing deeply and easily while maintaining the pose.
- Hold the position for a few seconds.
5. Corpse Pose or Savasana
Doing yoga as a form of stress relief might be beneficial for those with PCOS, as stress is a main factor in the development of the condition. Shavasana, a relaxation pose, could help to manage cortisol levels and relax your mind.
How to do:
- Lie on your back, let your arms and legs relax, with your arms being at an angle of about 45 degrees from the sides of your body. Make sure you are cozy and pleasant, you may need to place some blankets over or under your body. Shut your eyes, and take in deep, slow breaths through your nose.
- Allow your body to become soft and heavy, permitting it to sink into the floor. As your body relaxes, sense how the whole body lifts and lowers with each breath. Go through your body from the toes to the fingertips to the top of your head, searching for any tension, tightness, or contracted muscles.
- Intentionally let go of and relax any areas that you find. If you need to, sway or shake parts of your body from side to side to help with the relaxation process. Release all control of your breath, mind, and body. Enable your body to slide deeper and deeper into a state of complete relaxation.
- Remain in Shavasana for somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes.
- To come out of the pose, start by taking some deeper breaths, then move your fingers and toes, stretch your arms over your head, and extend your entire body. Exhale and curl your legs into your chest before rolling over to one side in a fetal position. When you are ready, use an inhalation to come up to a seated position.
6. Reclining Butterfly Pose or Supta Baddha Konasana
The Reclining Butterfly Pose is a variation of the primary Butterfly Pose. It is one of the most beneficial yoga postures that emphasize relaxation of the mind, body, and soul, as well as stretching out the pelvic area.
How to do
- Start with Dandasana, with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your knees and draw the heels towards the pelvis.
- Press the soles together and try to drop your knees open to both sides.
- Lean backward and bring your elbows to the floor. Now, lower your back all the way to the floor.
- Gently shift your buttocks from side to side, adjusting your position such that your back lengthens along the floor.
- Draw your shoulder blades gently inward.
- Relax your buttocks and lengthen your tailbone towards the heels.
- Stay in this position for 1-10 minutes and let your body relax.
Pranayama for PCOS
1. Skullshining Breathing or Kapalbhati Pranayam
This technique mainly concentrates on decreasing oxidative damage, improving the flow of blood in the body, and handling the output of glands. It helps in reducing weight by affecting the pancreas positively. This is why it is one of the most beneficial workouts for PCOD.
How to do
- Sit comfortably on your mat and sit straight so that your back, neck and head are aligned.
- Inhale normally and exhale forcefully through your nostrils only.
- Keep inhaling and exhaling in this manner for 30 -50 seconds.
2. Anulom Vilom
In yoga, Anulom Vilom is a type of pranayama, or regulated breathing. This technique entails blocking one nostril while breathing in, and then blocking the other nostril while exhaling. After that, the procedure is repeated in the opposite direction.
How to do:
- To begin, sit in a comfortable meditation pose and make sure your spine and neck are straight.
- Close your eyes and focus on nothing but the present.
- Put your wrists on your knees and fold your middle and index fingers into your right palm.
- Place your thumb on your right nostril and your ring finger on your left nostril.
- After taking a deep breath through your left nostril, switch and exhale through your right.
- Then, reverse and inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left.
- Keep your attention on your breathing while doing this.
Bhramari is the Sanskrit word for “bee,” and this pranayama is so named because of the humming sound
produced at the back of the throat during the practice—like the gentle humming of a bee.
How to do:
- Sit on the Padmasana or any other sitting Asana and close your eyes.
- Place your index fingers on your ears.
- Now, you must take a deep breath in. Once you begin to exhale, slowly press down on the cartilage with your index finger. You can either continue to press down on this cartilage or you can press it in and out while making a loud humming sound.
- Low-pitched humming is also acceptable, however, loud sounds are ideal as they produce superior results.
- Breathe in once again and continue to follow this pattern for 3 or 4 more rounds.
Meditation for PCOS
To effectively manage PCOD, creating a comprehensive plan that includes diet, exercise, weight loss, and creating healthy habits is essential. It is also essential for PCOD sufferers to keep their weight in a balanced range. The safest way to maintain a balanced lifestyle, exercise regimen, and weight is to practice proper yoga and meditation.
Since one of the main causes of PCOD is stress, it is essential to maintain the serenity of the mind. Not only is it a natural approach but it is also secure.
Meditation has an effect on the person beyond just physical health and betterment and improves emotional and mental condition. Meditation eliminates stress from the system and creates a comforting and peaceful feeling. It soothes the mind and body and keeps them away from day-to-day worries.
How to do
- Take a seat.
- Set a time limit.
- Notice your body.
- Feel your breath.
- Notice when your mind has wandered.
- Be kind to your wandering mind.
- Close with kindness. When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them).
- This is the technique. You center your attention, your thoughts drift away, you redirect it, and you try to be as gentle as you can (as often as necessary).
This can help:
Other benefits of yoga
Besides helping to manage symptoms of PCOS, there are many other benefits to practicing yoga regularly. This includes improving flexibility and mobility, strengthening core muscles, increasing circulation, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Yoga can also help to improve sleep quality and reduce the risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Regular yoga practice can improve fertility for women with PCOS, and it can also help to lower androgen levels.
When practiced regularly, yoga can be an effective method of managing many symptoms associated with this condition, including abdominal cramps, bloating, and menstrual discomfort.
Tips for getting the most out of your practice
As with any exercise routine, it is important to be mindful while practicing yoga. To get the most out of your practice, try to focus on your breathing and be present in the moment.
Practicing yoga can be an excellent way to de-stress and find some much-needed relaxation when life feels hectic. It is a great way to clear your mind, ease anxiety, and de-stress after a long day.
If you are new to yoga, try to avoid comparing yourself to others during your practice. Everybody practices yoga at their own pace, and in their own way. Focus on finding what works for you, and you will see positive results
Yoga is an excellent way to manage the symptoms of PCOS, and it can also be beneficial for helping to regulate hormonal imbalances.
Whether you are new to yoga or have been practicing for years, there is likely a pose that is perfect for you. When practiced regularly, yoga can help to lower cortisol levels, improve core strength, increase circulation, and promote feelings of calmness and relaxation.
Regular yoga practice can also help to improve fertility for women with PCOS, and it can help to lower androgen levels.