Yoga and Women’s Health – PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome)

What undeniable evidence of how our body influences our moods PMS is! During this time of the month if someone so much as looks at us the wrong way or says something not quite right we may feel hurt, angry or depressed whereas at any other time we wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at it. PMS may also bring about feelings of bloatedness, sugar cravings, moodiness and even acne outbreaks. Most physicians agree that PMS is the result of an imbalance of hormones along with a sluggish liver. Generally speaking an overabundance of oestrogen may cause anxiety, moodiness and irritability, although sometimes these symptoms may occur due to a lack of the hormone progesterone to balance it. Too much progesterone may cause brain fog, insomnia, depression or confusion. If you experience bloating, breast tenderness and weight gain, your pituitary gland and adrenals may be to blame. Whatever the symptoms, PMS is thought to be the result of a poorly functioning endocrine system.

Yoga, in conjunction with other lifestyle changes like a well balanced nutritional diet, adequate sleep and stress management, may be the answer to these recurring problems. Yoga can help in a number of ways. Physically it relaxes our nervous system, balances our endocrine system, purifies our liver and sends extra nutrition to our reproductive organs. Psychologically, yoga eases stress and relaxes us so the hypothalamus can regulate our hormones more efficiently. Yoga meditation encourages us to look inwards perceiving the self as separate from the body and mind. This wonderfully empowering knowledge gives us greater control of the potentially damaging moods and behaviour associated with PMS.

While a regular well balanced yoga practice is important in controlling the symptoms of PMS some poses are specifically recommended. Feelings of depression and lethargy may be overcome with chest and shoulder opening poses like the wheel or camel pose which are great for increasing feelings of well being and lifting our spirits. Inversions are well known as poses which can create balance and stability in all our body systems. The Headstand in particular is recommended because it stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands both of which are involved in menstrual health. Some teachers recommend using a wall for support while doing a headstand if feelings of anxiousness or irritability are present, or even replace it with a much more relaxing Supported Shoulderstand. Complete Yoga Breathing and Relaxation are also very important components of a yoga session to benefit sufferers of PMS.

Although yoga cannot be looked upon as a general panacea for PMS, many women have found it to be of great benefit.

Please note: Inversions should not be practiced during menstruation.