Looking For An Effective PCOS Workout? Try Yoga!
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a traditional form of physical activity that brings together the union of mind, body, man and nature. It is a combination of philosophies, physical movement, and mental practices and a form of spiritual discipline. There is a focus on intentional movement and an attempt to align the breath, thoughts, and all senses.
Yoga as a form of physical movement includes several postures or asanas that can help build flexibility, mindfulness, and bring with it a sense of calm. Additionally, it can improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, chronic pain, and also enhance general well-being.
Yoga emphasizes the following key characteristics of self-discipline:
- Proper eating habits (Mitahara)
- Dhyan, or meditation, is a form of pranayama, or proper breathing.
- Proper body cleansing (Shatkarma)
The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere and anytime by anyone irrespective of their age. Furthermore, different asanas or types of yoga routines can be practiced. For example, on days you want to focus on breathwork, you can practice breathing exercises, and on other days you can go for power yoga which will help you sweat it out.
Benefits of Yoga for PCOS
PCOS is a hormonal condition and lifestyle modifications including exercise and nutrition are recommended for its management. Among the very many forms of physical activity, yoga has proven to be helpful for people with PCOS, the rhythmic self-paced movements along with the breathwork work well to correct the hormones in the body. Here are some of the benefits of yoga on PCOS:
- Reduce testosterone levels
Studies have shown that practicing yoga 3 times a week for one hour each for a duration of a minimum of 3 months can help reduce testosterone levels by 29%. People with PCOS generally have higher levels of testosterone causing issues like acne, hairfall and abnormal hair growth and this is a great way to balance your hormones.
- Anxiety and stress levels can be managed
Yoga with its movements and focus on breathwork is a wonderful way to ground yourself and feel one with yourself. It is known to help lower anxiety by reducing cortisol levels. Additionally, several movements in Yoga include stretches that can help release built-up tension in the body.
- Regulate menstrual cycles, hormones, and metabolic markers
In a study that investigated the impact of yoga on adolescents with PCOS, there were 2 groups, one where the participants did breathing exercises, postures, and sun salutation for one hour each a day for 12 weeks and the other, a control group that participated in exercises such as walking and stretching along with other exercises. At the end of 12 weeks, they found that the group that did yoga had lower levels of testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), improved menstrual regularity, and body hair compared to the group that engaged in exercise. Yoga is also known to help lower cholesterol levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Yoga asanas for PCOS
Suptbandhkonasan (Reclining Butterfly)
There are various advantages to the butterfly posture for PCOS treatment. This will stimulate the ovaries and it stretches the inner thighs and groin area, which helps with regulating irregular periods and easing tension.
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
Surya Namaskar is one of the most effective yoga asanas you can do at home, especially for PCOS. Sun Salutation can aid weight loss, lipid profile, reduce waist to hip ratio, and regulate menstrual cycles. Try to do 10-12 repetitions based on your fitness levels.
Anulom Vilom (Breathing through alternate nostrils)
Daily practice of Anulom Vilom for at least 10-15 minutes would help you de-stress and cleanse the energy channels (Nadis). It will allow a free flow of vital energy (Prana) to promote mind, body, and soul relaxation. It helps improve lung capacity, digestion, metabolism, functioning of all organs and in that way helps with hormonal imbalance. Try doing 4-6 repetitions of this in your daily routine.
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
This can help reduce fat around the abdominal region, thighs, strengthen the spine and arms. It also relieves pressure from the upper body which can help in de-stressing. This pose helps adrenal secretion and can positively impact metabolism and hormonal levels. To get the most of the benefit, repeat this asana 3 times and hold it for at least 10 seconds to promote circulation to the pelvic region and stretch multiple body parts simultaneously, including the neck, shoulders, back, and legs.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The cobra stance extends the abdominal organs and improves the function of the ovaries. It can also strengthen and balance the adrenal glands, responsible for secretions of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones. The thyroid gland’s functioning also improves with this pose. Aim to hold this stance for about 10-15 seconds.
Kapalbhati Pranayam (Breathing exercises)
This exercise is a wonderful breathing exercise that helps to reduce oxidative stress, balance glandular output, and improve blood circulation to all organs. It aids weight loss, metabolism, digestion, and strengthens abdominal muscles. Try at least 20 reps and you can increase it depending on your fitness level.
General tips if you’re a beginner:
- Begin with a bit of meditation to establish a relaxing environment for the mind.
- Make sure there is proper air circulation in the room.
- Avoid doing yoga on a full stomach or right after a meal. Both the bladder and the bowels should be empty. If you have eaten something, wait two hours before doing this yoga.
- To avoid any mishaps, practice yoga with all necessary accessories and supplies.
- To minimize injury, always warm-up and stretch before undertaking PCOS yoga exercises.
- Perform cooling exercises without fail after completing each session.
Yoga is an effective addition to your PCOS management routine and it can help you physically as well mentally. Apart from helping improve testosterone levels, metabolism, weight loss, strengthening muscles, it can also positively impact your mental health.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-follow and effective PCOS routine, head over to the Uvi Health app now!
Written by: UVI Health
Cover Illustration by: MomKidCare