“I was diagnosed with PCOS almost 15 years back. When the doctor first told me, I was scared. I had doubts whether I would ever have kids. My friend was a yoga teacher and I started learning the practice from her. Slowly, my acne was gone and I didn’t have too many mood swings as before. I’m now 30 and a mother of 2 healthy kids. Life has never been so beautiful.” – Ruchika Ahuja, homemaker
Ruchika is just one of the many women in the world with PCOS (acronym for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). The condition isn’t as scary though as the name suggests. PCOS is common occurrence today in women at reproductive age. At least 5-10% of the young women (as suggested by the National Institutes of Health research) are diagnosed with this condition. And many have started acknowledging the role of yoga as a safe PCOS treatment option.
If you too have PCOS, read on to know how yoga can help you. Even if you don’t, continue reading because yoga will always help you, irrespective of whether you have any problem or not!
Interestingly, PCOS has not yet been attributed to any specific cause. Most doctors believe it to be a result of stress, a fall out of modern-day unhealthy life style.
As Dr.Pratima Malik, Gynaecologist, Apollo Hospitals, states, “The highly ambitious, stressed-out working woman of today is likely to be more prone to PCOS”.
How to find out if you have PCOS?
- Irregular or no menstrualcycles at all
- Frequent hair loss and heavy hair growth on the face, back, stomach, arms and legs
- Heavy acne
- Frequent mood swings
- Weight gain
Although it is impossible to eliminate stress completely from our day-to-day life, we can surely build up our capacity to deal with it. This is where yoga and meditation help.
What role does yoga play in PCOS?
The science of yoga works at levels much more subtler and deeper than just the physical body level. Yoga helps release deeply stored stress in the system, which can help improve PCOS symptoms.
Asanas (yoga postures) designed for PCOS help open up the pelvic area and promote relaxation and pranayamas (breathing exercises) are powerful techniques that help calm the mind. Coupled with these are some soothing meditations that work at a very deep level and help de-toxify and de-stress the entire system. And last, the powerful mantra of Sudarshan Kriya, designed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar himself, which helps take care of negative emotions and mood swings.
Yoga postures for PCOS (as recommended by Dr.Sejal Shah, Art of Living Yoga teacher)
Relaxation is the key in PCOS. You can relax in the asana by coordinating it with breathing. Breathe long and deep as you perform each posture.
Note: All asanas should be carried out at a professional yoga class, under the guidance of a certified Art of Living Yoga teacher. Postures that put extreme pressure on the abdomen should not be done by women with PCOS. Make sure you relax while carrying out each of these asanas.
- Butterfly Pose can be very helpful in PCOS. Don’t flap your legs too much; instead try holding the posture for long.
- Even more helpful is SuptaBadhakonasana (Reclining Butterfly Pose), which works just like the Butterfly Pose,this time lying down. This is what makes it extremely relaxing. To enhance the experience, play some soft music and place cushions under your hip. For beginners, it is a good idea to use cushion support while doing this posture.
- Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s Twist) is a seated spinal twist that helps PCOS patients.
- Chakki Chalanasana (moving the grinding wheel) is a very simple exercise with several benefits. It helps massage the liver, kidneys, pancreas, uterus and the reproductive organs.
- Shavasana (Corpse Pose) is another useful posture to try. In PCOS, the more you relax, the better you feel and this posture will help you completely relax at the end of your yoga session.
- Padma Sadhana practice is also considered very effective for PCOS patients.
- Make sure you don’t hold the postures that put pressure on the abdomen (Bow Pose, Superman Pose, Cobra Pose and Boat Pose) for a long time.
- A few rounds of Sun Salutation at a faster pace can be good for weight loss; however, it is a good idea to practice only a few slow rounds daily for more relaxation.
These poses are also helpful in losing weight (which PCOS women have a tendency to put on). Dr.Sejal Shah says, “Even if you manage to lose just 5-10% of the body weight through regular yoga and meditation practices,you will feel a lot better. It relaxes your mind and eases you of the stress of weight gain which in turn helps in regularizing your monthly cycles. It is important in PCOS to give sufficient time every day to yoga and meditation.”
Relaxation is the key word in PCOS; pranayama helps Breathing exercises, or pranayamas, are a good way to relieve stress naturally. Dr.Sejal Shah says that for PCOS women, it is a good idea to do a few minutes of Nadi Shodhan (alternate nostril breathing) and Bhramri (bee pranayama) daily for a few minutes. Through the medium of breath, these pranayamas help release stress in the mind.
Tips to reconnect with nature
- Eat organic food. Avoid junk.
- Drink lots of water.
- Exercise regularly. Brisk
walking is a good idea to keep weight under control.
- Visit nature places and
spend time alone.
- Take steps to calm your
mind. Worrying about the
problem can only make it
worse – listen to music,
read or spend time gardening.
Meditate and see the difference
Since stress starts in the mind and slowly its effects can be seen on the body as well, it is very important to address this issue at the mind level. This can be done with meditation. The American Medical Association has conducted scientific research which establishes numerous health benefits of this practice.
“When we introspect deeply, healing happens from within,” says Dr.Sejal Shah. A few minutes of sitting still with eyes closed is extremely relaxing and also gives you the right perspective to find solutions to the problem than keep worrying about it.
Most women, when diagnosed with PCOS at a very young age right after they attain puberty, become confused and frustrated. Integrating yoga and meditation at an early age in life can help us attain a disease-free body and a healthy mind.
Sudarshan Kriya has helped many PCOS women
Shares Sarina Mahboobani, a PCOS patient for nine years, “For me, the main problem has been acne all over my face and it is so frustrating! But I never took to any medication. I only take care of my diet, have lots of fresh food and salads, drink lots of water, and exercise. On days my body feels bloated and heavy and I feel extremely inert, my daily practice of Sudarshan Kriya helps. It gives me energy and enthusiasm and I feel so much better.”
Sarina adds that Sudarshan Kriya also greatly helps in handling mood swings, irritability and negative emotions. A healthy diet, exercise, yoga and meditation has helped Sarina control her symptoms and prevented the problem from getting worse. She also has less acne to worry about now!
Science and spirituality: hand-in-hand
Modern science has also started accepting the growing importance of yoga and meditation in treating several life style disorders such as diabetes and PCOS. Doctors now recommend afew minutes of pranayama and meditation practice to their patients along with prescribing medication for the treatment. Says Dr.Chhaya Patil, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospitals, “In today’s age, you need to combine science with spirituality for better results. Both need to run parallel.”
Although the exact cause for PCOS remains unknown, thankfully you have treatment options available. With yoga and a natural, holistic way of life, you can make a choice to do something about it. However, you will need to be regular with your practice in order to reap its benefits.
And, the good news is the amount of benefits you reap is directly proportional to the amount of effort you put into your yoga practice. So even if you start with a little effort, it will pay off!
Long and consistent yoga practice is all you need to quit worrying over PCOS.