PCOS is a hormone imbalance that affects many women of reproductive age. PCOS can affect fertility, physical well-being, and emotional stability.
Alongside medication, doctors will suggest certain lifestyle changes, including yoga, to help you manage this condition.
Read on to learn more about yoga for PCOS and how it can be used as an effective tool for managing the condition in women.
You will learn the following:
- What is PCOS?
- What is Yoga for PCOS?
- How can yoga help with PCOS?
- 8 simple yoga poses for PCOS
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It occurs when the ovaries produce excessive amounts of androgens, male hormones, which disrupt the normal release of eggs from the ovaries.
This results in absent, irregular, or unusually heavy periods. It is estimated to affect 6-12% of women.
Other common symptoms associated with PCOS include acne, weight gain, fertility problems and excessive hair growth.
It is also associated with emotional issues such as depression and anxiety. In the long term, PCOS can also affect insulin resistance, resulting in type 2 diabetes and excessively high cholesterol levels.
It is unknown what exactly causes the hormonal imbalance that causes PCOS, but it is thought to be a mixture of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. It is treated through a mix of medical interventions and lifestyle changes.
A doctor might prescribe birth control pills to regulate menstruation, medication to maintain insulin levels, and fertility treatments when a person with PCOS is trying to conceive.Necessary lifestyle changes include maintaining a healthy weight, moderate exercise, a balanced diet, and strategies to reduce stress.
Yoga for PCOS: How Can Yoga Help with PCOS?
Yoga for PCOS can be an effective lifestyle strategy for managing the symptoms of PCOS as it addresses a number of the key issues associated with the disorder.
Yoga breathing may also help to balance hormones. A recent study found that women with PCOS who completed one hour of yoga three times a week for three months saw a 29% reduction in testosterone levels.
Certain yoga asanas stimulate the endocrine system, which can help regulate hormonal imbalances. Inverted poses, for example, can increase the flow of blood to the reproductive region which may improve regular ovarian function.
A regular yoga for PCOS practice can also help with weight management, improve cardiovascular health, boost the metabolism, increase muscle tone, and improve physical well-being overall.
Experts suggest that the best yoga for PCOS poses focus on stretching and relaxing the abdominal area, increasing blood flow to the pelvic region, and encouraging mindfulness.
8 Simple & effective Yoga Poses for PCOS
Below are 8 yoga asanas that can be included in your regular yoga practice to help effectively manage the symptoms of PCOS.
Cat-Cow Pose can be used near the beginning of your yoga for PCOS practice to warm up the spine and as an effective flow to connect the body and the breath.
The asana also massages the internal organs, including the ovaries, relieves back pain and strengthens and stretches the spine.
- Begin on all fours with your hips stacked above your knees and your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
- Exhale while entering cat pose by arching your spine towards the ground, driving your sit bones to the ceiling and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Inhale as you round your spine towards the ceiling, tuck your site bones under, roll your shoulders towards your heart, and tuck your chin to your chest.
- Repeat several times to create a yoga flow.
Cobra pose, also called upward dog, stretches the chest, abs, and shoulders, stimulates the digestive system, and opens the heart and lungs. This yoga for PCOS pose can also effectively boost energy and help fight depression.
- Lie flat on your may with your face down. The tops of your feet should be resting on the floor and your hands beneath your shoulders with your elbow tucked in towards your body.
- Activate your legs and push the tops of your feet into the ground, and then push through your palms and straighten your arms to lift up your chest while curving your spine.
- Make sure that you keep your tailbone tucked under towards your navel and your legs and shoulder blades active.
- Keep your ears up and away from your shoulders.
- Stay here for five deep breaths, rest and repeat.
Bow pose opens the front of the body and stretches the chest, abdominals, shoulders, hip flexors, and quads.
This asana also massages the organs around the pelvis to encourage blood flow.
- Lying face down on your mat, bend your knees to bring your feet towards your hips.
- Take hold of your feet with your hands from the outside.
- Push your feet backwards into your hands and use this to pull your chest up off the ground.
- Lift your chest and thighs as high as possible and pull them inwards towards each other.
- Stay here for five deep breaths, rest and repeat.
Garland pose activates the pelvic floor and releases tension in the lower back, hips, and the psoas.
It also works flexibility in the ankles, shoulders, inner thighs, and lower back, aids digestion and stimulates the lower ab muscles.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and your toes facing out.
- Bend the knees to come down into a low yoga squat with the entire foot planted on the ground.
- Use your elbows to open your hips wide and extend up through the spine.
- Stay here for five to twenty deep breaths.
Butterfly pose strengthens the psoas muscles and pelvic floor and opens the hips, making it an ideal yoga for PCOS asana.
It can activate the parasympathetic nervous system to promote calm and relaxation and activate the kidney meridian to encourage a faster metabolism and better immunity.
While in the asana you are lengthening the groin, spine, knees, and inner thighs.
- Seated on your sit bones, bring your feet together in front of you and as close to your hips as is comfortable, letting your knees drop out to the sides.
- Hold your feet with your hands and use your leg muscles to push your knees toward the ground.
- You can bounce the knees for a period before pushing downwards to lubricate and stretch the muscles.
- Stay here for as long as is comfortable, but at least five breaths.
The seated forward bend is an accessible pose for beginner yogis, but this powerful stretch for the entire back of the body can take years to master.
This yoga for PCOS pose strengthens the pelvic floor and stimulates the abdominal organs, including the liver, kidney, ovaries, and uterus.
- Sit on your mat on your sit bones with your legs extended out in front of you. Your feet should be flexed and your legs active.
- Squeeze your thighs together.
- Hinge at the hips to reach forward over your legs while keeping your spine as straight as possible. Take hold of your toes or shins.
- Stay in the pose as long as possible but definitely for a minimum of five breaths. Try and sink deeper into the position with each exhale.
Bridge pose is a good counter pose for seated forward bend and it strengthens the glutes, quads, and hip flexors, and is a preparation for deeper backbends such as wheel pose.
This yoga for PCOS posture also brings focus onto the pelvis and opens the heart.
- Lying flat on the ground, bend your knees and place your heels as close to the outside of your hips as possible.
- Extend your arms alongside your body with palms facing down.
- Push through your hands and feet to lift your pelvis up into the air while keeping your shoulders down.
- Bring your hands together underneath you and interlace your fingers. This will allow you to shuffle your shoulder blades further beneath you and lift your pelvis higher.
- Stay here for five breaths, rest and repeat.
Spending time in legs-up-the-wall pose brings release to the legs, spine, and nervous system.
The yoga for PCOS pose also promotes blood flow to the ovaries to improve function.
- Sit close to a wall with one hip touching the wall. You may wish to place a cushion of folded towel next to you to provide slight elevation for your hips.
- Roll your hips down onto the floor while lifting your legs up onto the wall.
- Try and find a position where your legs can remain elevated without you actively holding them there.
- Stay in the posture for 10-15 breaths and repeat 4-6 times.
Yoga for PCOS – Final Thoughts
Lifestyle changes can be an effective tool in treating many health issues, including PCOS. A regular yoga practice contributes towards physical and mental well-being that can help restore balance in the body.
In the case of PCOS, the yoga postures mentioned above can also encourage blood flow to the ovaries for better function and stimulate better hormone production.
Try yoga for PCOS by incorporating the poses described above into your regular yoga practice, and observe how this might affect or improve your symptoms related to PCOS.