The word “yoga” has its roots in the Sanskrit scripture and it means “to unite”. Science defines yoga as a protocol of exercises for our body that involves subtle control of breathing and relaxation to both mind and body. So, it essentially unites your mind and your body harmoniously and is classified as a spiritual discipline. But how beneficial is yoga if you have PCOS?
Science behind yoga
When you think of yoga, the word “asanas” springs up in your mind. But yoga is so much more than just asanas or postures. Yoga can be practiced comprehensively with the help of its foundational concepts. These involve: Yama (restraints), Niyama (Observances), Asana (Postures), Pranayama (Breathing), Pratyahara (Withdrawal), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation), and Samadhi (Absorption).
In science and particularly medicine, yoga can be termed as a mind-body therapy that can aid you to practice strength, flexibility, and mindfulness. Your body experiences an increase in the performance of heart and breathing functions and this is directly related to relieving depression, anxiety and chronic inflammation.
Women with PCOS who have practiced yoga in some form or the other, have experienced an improvement in their overall well-being.
With the evolution of mankind and everything that surrounds it, yoga has also evolved. And the best part is – there is something for everyone who practices yoga! For example, if you wish to relax your mind and body, restorative yoga can be your go-to. On another instance, if you are looking towards strengthening your bones and ligaments, you may practice Yin yoga. No matter what your weight is, or your age or gender is, the practices of yoga are inclusive and highly beneficial.
How Is Yoga Beneficial For PCOS?
Women with PCOS may often struggle to lose weight and control the diverse symptoms of the condition. Regular exercise and a good diet can definitely help you keep them in control, but it is also important to reinforce positive mental health in order to sustain these healthy habits. Yoga – can help in this aspect immensely! The benefits of yoga are known to almost everyone and it has been known to improve heart health and even relieve anxiety. A few research studies have also shown that it may help with relieving the symptoms of PCOS.
By now, you do understand that PCOS affects multiple parts of your organ system and has many symptoms as a result of it. Because of this, every woman with PCOS has a different range of symptoms and all of them project on a varying degree of severity too. Under such situations, the priority of practicing yoga should be to promote postures that is beneficial both mentally and physically. But to what extent can yoga help you reduce or control these symptoms?
Here is what research says:
Lower levels of androgens (male hormones)
Practicing yoga mindfully has been said to lower the hormonal imbalance created in your body due to PCOS. With consistency and efforts in yoga, your body becomes aware of its posture and breathing. With low levels of stress hormones and other mental health issues, your symptoms do become controlled, thereby reducing the levels of androgens in your blood.
When you practice yoga, it regulates the release of stress hormones in your body. This is directly linked to the major parts of our nervous system – your body feels relaxed physically and mentally. These hormones also reduce inflammation and the same has been confirmed by running blood tests on women with PCOS who have practiced yoga for a specific period of time.
Regulating your periods
Research studies have shown that women with PCOS who have performed yoga postures such as sun salutation, breathing exercises and meditation, have benefited greatly with an improvement in their irregular periods, excessive body hair and even mental health. Paired with a good diet and some more physical activity, these women had lower levels of androgens, and better balance in the hormones that are directly linked to periods.
Improved metabolic values
Women with PCOS have experienced a stability in their metabolic markers such as insulin and cholesterol values after consistently practising yoga for a specific time period. When yoga is paired with regular forms of intense exercise, it has shown results that are more effective than just doing regular exercises in women with PCOS.
What you should know before you start practising yoga
Understand your body
Your body has limits to it and yoga is all about understanding how your body functions. If you feel pain or experience any strain while doing any posture, ease up and take a break from it immediately.
Since yoga is all about postures and practising them in a particular manner – you practically require no expensive equipment to do it! However, using some support or props that support you to do a posture may help you practice to your best potential.
Flexibility and movement are a part of your yoga routine and clothes that act as a barrier to practicing it can be discouraging. Comfortable leggings and a supportive sports bra are a good combination to begin with. Any athleisure wear that can support your flexibility is welcome.
Have a private space
Yoga is an exercise that can be performed anywhere but having a private space can help you a lot. A quiet space reserved just for yourself can get you in the zone to practice it. Scented candles, indoor plants and scented oil diffusers are a great addition to the space, making it more peaceful and personalised.
Living with PCOS can feel isolating and stressful at times but the first step is to create awareness and empower women to make the right step. Often we are so focused on the end goal that we forget to acknowledge the progress that we are making daily. You’ve given your best everyday and you’ve come far — so be proud of yourself because there is nothing stopping you from reversing PCOS for life.
Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician