Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Yoga Exercises and Workouts
Yoga is a practice that can help build stronger connections between your mind and body. Regular yoga practice can help increase flexibility, mobility, and mindfulness. If you’re already physically active, adding yoga to your exercise routine two or three times a week will increase your activity levels and could help improve polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) symptoms.
A Look at the History
Yoga is an ancient science that goes back to approximately 3000 BC. While the origin of yoga might have been influenced by a spiritual quest, today, most of us practice yoga for its physical, physiological, and mental health benefits.
Traditionally, yoga has four broad branches, which are classified according to the type of sadhaka or learner. Over time, several other traditions have emerged, each one specific to a guru with styles of their own. Some of the most popular forms of yoga are Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Bikram yoga, and Iyengar yoga.
If practised with awareness and consciousness, yoga can help enhance one’s overall quality of life. Not only will your fitness and mood improve, but you might notice a certain elevation in your state of mind as well.
What Are the Benefits of Yoga?
Yoga is proven to have a variety of health benefits, a few of which we list below.
It increases strength,
boosts the immune
system, and improves flexibility
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) of the body controls the functioning of the heart, intestines, liver, and other internal organs and has two branches- the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).
The SNS is activated in times of stress or when prompted with a threatening situation, thus resulting in anxiety and disrupting the overall balance of the nervous system. The PNS on the other hand acts a counterpart to the SNS by bringing the body back to the state of homeostasis (stability) to counter the stress response.
The twisting, inverting, bending, and stretching involved in yoga not only boost strength and immunity but also help in activating the PNS to make you feel calm and relaxed.
It energises the body and helps improve focus
Starting your day with yoga asanas such as Surya Namaskar can cause significant elevations in your energy levels throughout the day. Yoga is also known to help reduce anxiety and has a very calming and energising effect on the nervous system. It helps you focus better and also helps you learn and retain information more accurately, thus boosting brain power.
It also helps balance the body and the mind and eliminates toxins
Yoga helps the brain produce neurons that help with spatial awareness and muscle memory. Using your feet regularly during yoga will help strengthen the 100+ muscles in your feet. The various twists and turns involved in yoga help flush out stubborn toxins from the body, helping both the body and the mind.
Yoga has anti-inflammatory properties
Better blood circulation and decreased stress levels along with an increase in “happy hormone” neurotransmitters collectively help in reducing inflammation.
Can Yoga Help With PCOS?
PCOS requires lifestyle changes to be managed effectively, and physical activity and working out regularly are amongst the most important. Yoga is also known to benefit women with PCOS greatly.
Some studies suggest that yoga may help reduce testosterone levels in the female body, and it is very effective in reducing stress and anxiety. Doing yoga helps reduce the cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body along with inflammatory markers.
Women who practise yoga on a regular basis may also experience improvements in their emotional health and PCOS symptoms like irregular periods, acne, and facial hair. Certain yoga asanas are also known to aid in reducing hair loss.
Women with PCOS who practise yoga tend to have better lipid values and reduced insulin resistance compared to those who do not. Therefore, yoga is very beneficial for women with PCOS and has a variety of benefits to help manage PCOS symptoms effectively.
While yoga can boost good health in general, certain poses are known to be extremely popular and beneficial. Here are 5 most popular yoga poses that you can begin with
Garland Pose (Malasana)
This pose strengthens the abdominal core and the pelvis while opening the hips. Studies suggest that this pose is great for women with PCOS, as it increases circulation and blood flow to the pelvis, improves metabolism, and aids in digestion. When first attempting this pose, you can use support like a block under your glutes until your body becomes familiar with this pose.
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
The bow pose helps relieve menstrual discomfort, regulate menstrual flow, and stimulate the reproductive organs. It increases the circulation and flow of blood to the pelvis region and releases tension from the abdominal organs. This is also one of the commonly suggested yoga asanas for PCOS-related anxiety.
Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
The butterfly pose is a restorative pose that completely supports the back, especially the spine. It also releases tension from the shoulders and the chest along with relaxing the glutes.
Cat-Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)
The cat-cow pose is one of the most recommended for PCOS. It helps release tension in the back and the abdominal core while stimulating the pelvic region. It is also believed to help relieve menstrual cramps.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
This pose is excellent for calming the body and mind and getting relief from anxiety and depression. It also helps strengthen the spine.
Does Yoga Help You Lose Weight?
When you think about weight loss, you probably imagine lifting weights, doing cardio, or performing HIIT exercises. The truth is, yoga can help you lose weight too! Yoga requires you to use your body weight to execute challenging poses, which can help strengthen and tone muscles.
The type of yoga you do also plays a role in weight loss. Some of the more physically demanding styles of yoga, like Vinyasa or Bikram, incorporate postures that are more aerobic and weight-bearing, meaning they burn more calories and build more muscle than other types of yoga. While yoga may not burn as many calories as other exercises like jogging or walking, it can increase endurance and strength, which helps with weight loss.
What Are Asanas in Yoga?
Asana is actually the physical practice of yoga poses. Asana can also be used to describe a particular yoga pose. Broadly, the word “asana” is used to denote any yoga pose.
Apart from asana, yoga also includes dhyana (meditation), pranayama (breathing exercises) yamas (the codes of social conduct), pratyahara (withdrawal of sense), niyamas (self-observance practices), samadhi (bliss), and dharana (concentration).
What Is a Vinyasa Flow?
The term Vinyasa is derived from Nyasa — meaning “to place,” whereas Vi means “in a special way.”
Vinyasa refers to a style of yoga in which you string together various asanas so that you move seamlessly from one pose to the next while monitoring your breath. It is also referred to as flow yoga.
The Vinyasa flow encapsulates various poses depending on the type of yoga you wish to perform. The variable nature of this kind of yoga helps develop a greater balance of the body and the mind and also can help prevent repetitive motion injuries if you practise the same asanas on a regular basis.
It is all about recognising the temporary nature of things as we enter into a pose, remain like that for a while, and then move to the next pose. It is important to note that the asanas involved in the Vinyasa flow differ based on the context and the nature of the desired outcomes.
How to Get Started as a Beginner Yogi
Yoga, in general, is quite beneficial for your health, and it is all the more helpful for women with PCOS. Here’s how you can get started as a beginner:
- Set up a peaceful place in your home for your yoga or find a place where you can practise your asanas without any interruptions.
- Have realistic expectations and find asanas for beginners that would work for you.
- You can use props and supportive tools, in the beginning, to help you feel comfortable, and once you get the hang of it, you can eliminate the support from your routine.
- Wear something comfortable that does not restrict movement. You do not need fancy clothes but just something that allows you to move freely.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. Understand your body and its limitations, and know that it will take a while for your body to become more flexible and get used to the various poses.
- Making sure you’re breathing during your yoga practice sounds obvious, but it can become difficult to concentrate on your breathing pattern when you’re trying to hold a pose. Breathing actually helps you relax and maintain your posture. Every beginner should practise proper breathing techniques to get the most benefit out of yoga asanas.
Talk to a PCOS Professional
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS or are facing any unexplained symptoms, you should speak to a PCOS expert who will help identify and address your concerns accurately.
It can be quite a challenge to identify a yoga routine that works best for your symptoms, and your PCOS expert will give you all the guidance and help you need in finding which asanas would suit you best.
Take Our Online Assessment to Get Started
The best way to treat your PCOS is to understand it first. Veera’s online assessment is designed to help you understand your condition and find out exactly what you need to overcome PCOS.
We have helped thousands of women manage and overcome their PCOS through actionable management plans that include the best diet and exercise routines for individual body types and needs. Get in touch with us to find the care you seek.
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