PCOS, also known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a condition that has a significant impact on the overall health of approximately 8-13% of women in their reproductive years. It is an endocrine disorder that derails the ability to conceive, causing weight gain, irregular periods, acne, excessive facial hair growth, and male pattern hair loss. While these physical symptoms manifest, a woman’s psyche undergoes much adversity in troubled waters. As debilitating as all of this already is, the future of health complications like heart issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, and endometrial cancer adds to the misery. To the individual being affected, their entire life is in shackles.
Although there isn’t a permanent cure for the disorder, its symptoms can be managed. The treatment varies from person to person and requires a holistic approach. Yoga for PCOS is efficient for addressing the physical and emotional discomfort associated with the condition. It is a practice that involves both the mind and the body, combining breath control, meditation, and physical postures, thus helping relieve the multidimensional trauma caused by the disorder.
How Yoga Benefits Symptoms of PCOS
Yoga may decrease testosterone levels
A study conducted in the US proved the usefulness of yoga for PCOS. The study assigned 31 women with PCOS to a thrice-weekly mindful yoga program. After three months, there were significant results. The testosterone hormone can exceed normal levels in women with PCOS. The results showed lower testosterone levels and decreased depression in women who completed the program. Yoga has been shown in this study to have significant impacts on individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Yoga is accessible for many fitness levels
Yoga does not require any vigorous movements. It is accessible, and anybody can do it without additional equipment. It is easy and beginner-friendly. Women with PCOS may have trouble moving their lower bodies. Yoga enables them to relax using beginner stretching exercises, making yoga for PCOS more inclusive than other forms of physical activities.
Yoga Poses for PCOS
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
The bridge pose stretches the front of the thighs, hips, abdomen, and chest. It straightens the spinal cord, helping relieve tension in the lower back.
This pose is exercised by laying flat on your back and slowly engaging your core muscles to arch upwards from the floor. Make sure that your thighs are parallel to each other and arms are rested alongside your body. Once stable, you can clasp your hands behind your back and rotate your shoulders. Hold the pose for a few breaths. Then gently straighten and relax.
Cat-Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)
The cat-cow pose, which is beneficial for individuals experiencing back pain, enhances the flexibility and circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid. This type of yoga for PCOS can help strengthen and stimulate the abdominal organs.
To initiate this pose, begin by positioning yourself on your hands and knees on the floor. Shift to a box-like position with your spine parallel to the ground. Take a deep breath and transition into the cow pose, which involves softly letting your abdomen lower and lifting your chest, while keeping your eyes directed towards the ceiling. Make sure you do not strain your neck while doing this. Exhale and transition into the cat pose, arching your back upward. Release your head downward and gaze at your belly. Practice this yoga for PCOS 5-20 times a minute.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
The garland pose is like an open squat position. It helps toughen the pelvic floor and the abdominal core, creating space in the hips and improving metabolism.
For this pose, stand with your legs wide apart from your hips. Move into a squat position with your lower body deliberately dropped closer to the floor. Place your hands and elbows inside your knees with a prayer stance. Keep stretching out your knees. Stay in position for a few breaths and release. This yoga for PCOS is a classic and doesn’t require much movement. Hence, it is perfect for absolute beginners.
Surya Namaskar yoga asanas for PCOS expand the pelvic region and encourage blood flow to the uterus, reducing bloating and inflammation. Regular practice can help reduce anxiety.
Surya Namaskar involves a combination of different postures. Begin with a prayer position. Inhale and lift your arms upward, bending backward. Exhale, stoop forward and touch your feet. Inhale, move into the next asana by stepping your right leg far back, keeping the left knee close to your chest. Lift your chest. As you release your breath, extend your left leg behind you and align your entire body in a straight position. Lower your knees, chest, and chin towards the floor. Hold your hips up. Then exhale, lift your chest, and inhale, arching your back and looking upward. Slowly lift your hips and straighten your legs while exhaling, forming an inverted v-shape. Alternate the pose by bringing your right leg towards your chest, keeping your left leg down at the back. Now stand straight, bend, and touch your feet. Breathing in, stretch your body upwards with your arms raised, leaning backward. Lastly, exhale and return to the starting position.
Head-to-Knee Pose (Janusirsana)
This particular yoga pose targets the hip muscles and the upper thigh area, providing a beneficial stretch. This yoga for PCOS can be therapeutic in reducing cramps and relieving stress. To assume the head-to-knee pose, position yourself on the ground with one leg stretched out and the other leg bent. The sole of your feet should touch the inner thigh of the other leg. To reach your foot, hinge at your hips and hold onto the foot of the leg that is stretched out. Hold the stretch for a few breaths and repeat, alternating the leg.
Bow pose (Dhanurasana)
The bow pose stimulates reproductive organs, regulating menstrual flow. It increases circulation in the head and pelvic region. It is one of the trickiest yoga poses for PCOS. Before attempting this pose, make sure you have warmed up by stretching your body. To get into the bow pose, first lay flat on your stomach. Pull your knees toward the back. Hold your ankles and stretch your upper body. Maintain the position while inhaling and exhaling, then let go.
Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
The butterfly pose is one of the best yoga poses for PCOS. It has the potential to balance hormones and support overall endocrine health. For this pose, sit straight and fold your leg inwards so that the soles of both your feet touch. Hold your feet or ankles with both hands, then stretch your spine. Inhale, exhale, and move your knees up and down to hit the floor like a butterfly flapping its wings.
Bonus breathing technique (Kapalbhati Pranayama)
Apart from all the other yoga poses for PCOS, Kapalbhati Pranayama is a rapid breathing technique that improves blood circulation and ovarian functioning. It also helps in removing toxins from the body.
For this technique, begin by sitting with your legs crossed and shoulders relaxed. To effectively practice this technique, start by taking a deep breath in, then exhale rapidly and forcefully through your nostrils, utilizing the muscles in your abdomen. Repeat a few times and observe the rhythmic pattern of the technique mindfully.
What other benefits does yoga provide?
Yoga has an immense lot to offer. By now, it is evident that yoga is indeed a comprehensive practice, beneficial for women with PCOS. However, yoga is not constrained to just people with disorders. It is advantageous for everyone who desires a healthy life. Breathwork and meditation improve cognitive functioning and enhance mental clarity and awareness. The stretches involved in the practice extend your body in such a way that it helps reduce digestive issues, boosts the immune system, and balances hormones. It also helps improve sleep quality, a treasure in today’s hectic life. Yoga is the way to connect with your inner self. It paves the way for a smooth ride in your relationship with yourself and others.
Can other forms of exercise benefit PCOS symptoms?
Different exercises help in managing the symptoms associated with PCOS. A combination of cardio and strength training for PCOS management can be beneficial. However, many are skeptical when it comes to high-intensity cardio, and let’s be real, when you are in pain the last thing you want to do is move. Pain doesn’t know any time or hour. It strikes at the most unexpected times, while you’re traveling or at work. It can be extremely stressful when you have to deal with pain at odd times. But there is help you can avail much closer than you’d expect.
Read our workplace wellness blog for more wisdom. We all have different lifestyles. Educating yourself about what your body needs can help in creating a workout schedule that works for you.
It is proven that cardio exercises like brisk walking and swimming can be highly effective in managing weight, and strength training can lower androgen (male hormones) levels. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to indulge in heavy workouts, something lighter and equally effective like pilates can be an option. There are a lot of options, but making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle is vital for a person with PCOS. If you are interested in developing an exercise plan or want to learn more about pain management, you can call the 181 women’s helpline number at any time.