7 yoga poses to add to your practice if you have PCOS

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Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are encouraged to have a consistent workout schedule, as this helps to balance hormones and balance insulin and blood sugar levels. But it’s not just the physical benefits—exercise reduces cortisol levels, which is important too. Yoga is able to do both, as it helps to relieve anxiety, balance hormones, improve the menstrual cycles and rev up your body’s metabolism. “A regular yoga practice helps deal with stress, anxiety and depression which in turn helps in managing and controlling the adrenal and cortisol levels of the body. It reduces stress and helps balance our hormone levels. Relaxation is the key to fighting PCOS,” says Mumbai-based yoga expert Samiksha Shetty.

Yoga is also beneficial for those with PCOS as it helps increase the heart rate by providing a cardiovascular workout. “A regular practice helps to build muscle mass. Muscles combat insulin resistance, which is very important when it comes to managing PCOS. Certain asanas help with digestive disorders (which prevail due to the hormonal imbalances) by improving the functions of the digestive organs,” says Shetty. Knowing what your body can handle and how you can push it is important. “Not all yoga practices are stress-reducing. Some vigorous practices may cause your body to release endorphins which can add to the load on the adrenal glands,” says Shetty.

Ahead, we list out the best yoga asanas that may help control the symptoms of PCOS:

1) Cat and cow pose

“With synchronised slow breathing, this asana helps relieve the spine, back and neck muscles, creating mobility in your spine and helps relax and ease the entire body,” says Shetty.

  1. Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your palms shoulder-distance apart with your wrist right below your shoulders and keep your knees hip-width apart. Start by keeping your spine in a neutral position.
  2. Inhale and roll your shoulder blades back, lifting your head up and arch your back.
  3. Exhale, round your back pulling in the naval into the spine. Tuck your chin towards your chest. Continue this fluid movement and connect your breath to each movement. Repeat this for 10 breaths.

2) Malasana or garland pose

“Malasana works on your digestive tract, which is important if you’re prone to bloating and indigestion as a result of your PCOS. It also provides an intense stretch at the hip, hamstrings and lower back. It strengthens the core and pelvic floor and relieves tension in the hip,” says Shetty.

  1. Start by standing up tall keeping your feet a little wider than hip-width distance.
  2. Then, join your hands in front of your chest in namaskar mudra and turn your toes slightly outwards.
  3. Take a deep inhale and on the exhale, begin to slowly bend your knees lowering your hip towards the floor. Once your hip is a few inches above the ground, use your upper arms to press your thighs open. Simultaneously, squeeze your thighs inwards so that you feel a lift through the hips. Keep your torso upright and chest lifted. Relax your shoulders. Keep your whole body engaged and hold for 8-10 breaths.

3) Baddhakonasana or butterfly pose

“Baddhakonasana helps relieve cramps and back pain during menstruation. This pose relieves stiffness in the ankles, knees and hips and improves hip mobility. It also helps with emotional release,” says Shetty.

  1. Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you and spine erect. Now, bring the soles of your feet together bending both your knees out to the side.
  2. Place your feet in front of your pelvis, around a fist distance from your groin. Now, take deep breaths and press your thighs and knees down towards the floor providing gentle pressure.
  3. In a slow and controlled motion begin to flap both your legs from the hip like the wings of a butterfly for around 60 seconds and then release.

4) Navasana or boat pose

“This pose strengthens the legs, the spine and neck and also helps tone the waist, abdomen and back. It also helps strengthen the core muscles, reproductive organs and the pelvic region and releases stress and anxiety,” says Shetty. It is also known to regulate thyroid function, one of the effects of PCOS.

  1. Start by sitting on your mat with the legs bends from the knees. Slowly lift the legs up straight in the air and simultaneously straighten the hands in line with the knees parallel to the floor.
  2. Balance on your hip joint. Lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders.
  3. Hold your legs and torso up at an ideal angle of 45 degrees from the floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and then lower our legs down straight in front of you. Repeat three times.

5) Dhanurasana or bow pose

This pose increases circulation in the head and pelvic region. It releases tension from the abdomen and strengthens it and the organs around. “Regular practice of this asana strengthens the reproductive organs. It also helps release indigestion and constipation,” says Shetty.

  1. Lie down on the floor flat on your stomach. Lengthen your abdomen using your hands.
  2. Bend your legs from the knee keeping your knee hip-width apart.
  3. Extend your hands behind and grab your ankles from the outside.

6) Balasana or child’s pose

“The child’s pose relaxes by soothing the central nervous system, making it great to manage stress. It also releases lower back tension, menstrual cramps, and PMS symptoms and normalises blood flow throughout the body,” says Shetty.

  1. Kneel on the yoga mat and sit on the heels keeping your knees separated about hip-width apart.
  2. Now, bend forward from the waist and bring your head down in front to touch the floor. Lay your torso down between your thighs.
  3. Place your hands on the floor at the side of the torso and relax the shoulders towards the floor. Rest in this posture for 30 seconds to a minute.

7) Setubandhasana or bridge pose

Try this asana if you have lower back pain, sciatica and stiffness of the ankle, hip, back, thighs and shoulder blades. “This helps with fertility, menstruation, and improves lung capacity. It also strengthens the back muscles,” says Shetty.

  1. Start by lying down on the mat on your back.
  2. Bend your legs from the knees and place your feet hip-width apart.
  3. Inhale lift your hips up to the ceiling pushing into the feet. Exhale slowly with control drop the hips back onto the floor. Repeat this movement for 10 times.

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