Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder affecting millions of women worldwide and while conventional medicine often focuses on symptom management through medication, a holistic approach like Yoga emphasises nurturing the body naturally. This approach integrates lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, physical activities and spiritual practices to address the root causes of PCOS and promote overall well-being.

Yoga and nutrition for PCOS: Exercises, holistic approach to nurture the body naturally (Image by ArthurHidden on Freepik)

Understanding the Holistic Approach

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar, Founder of Akshar Yoga Kendraa, shared, “A holistic approach to PCOS involves treating the individual entirely, not just the symptoms. It considers the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, and aims to restore balance and harmony within these realms. Benefits of this comprehensive treatment plan include improved hormonal balance, enhanced physical and mental health, and a sustainable way to manage PCOS long-term.” According to him, this approach includes –

  1. Diet and Nutrition: Healing from Within – Diet plays a pivotal role in the development and management of PCOS. Consuming high amounts of sugar, fructose, trans fats, animal fats, and processed foods can contribute to obesity and insulin resistance, worsening PCOS symptoms. On the other hand, a balanced diet rich in whole foods, fiber and healthy fats can help manage weight and improve insulin sensitivity. Incorporating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats like those found in nuts and olive oil can make a substantial difference in managing PCOS. Adequate supplementation of vitamins B12 and D and iron is also essential.
  2. Physical Activity and PCOS – Physical inactivity can worsen PCOS symptoms. Regular exercise helps manage weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and regulate menstrual cycles. Women with PCOS are encouraged to engage in regular physical activity, such as aerobic exercises, strength training and flexibility exercises like Yoga. Flow asanas like Surya Namaskara and Chandra Namaskara can be incorporated into the routine. However, in cases of chronic PCOS, Surya Namaskaras should be avoided. Gentle stretches and exercises are recommended, and overstretching should be avoided. Water activities, such as swimming, are also beneficial.
  3. Managing Stress and Emotional Well-being – Stress significantly impacts PCOS, as chronic stress can lead to hormonal imbalances and continual low-grade inflammation, worsening symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles and acne. Managing stress through techniques like Mindfulness Meditation, yoga, and therapy can help improve overall well-being, reduce the severity of PCOS symptoms, and control inflammation in the body. Alleviating fear and anxiety is crucial, and mindful meditation practices can help. Practices such as the Siddha Walk (walking in an 8 pattern) and the Healing Walk (walking with hands raised) can harness body communication, channelise blood circulation and provide good results. In addition to managing stress, prioritising rest and self-care is crucial for women with PCOS. Adequate rest allows the body to recuperate and rejuvenate, supporting hormonal balance and overall well-being. Establishing healthy sleep patterns, engaging in relaxing activities like reading or meditation, and setting aside time for self-care rituals can all contribute to a sense of calm and inner balance. Nurturing oneself holistically involves honouring one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, fostering a deeper connection with oneself and promoting healing from within.

The Role of Yoga and Meditation

Asserting that Yoga and meditation are powerful tools in balancing hormones and reducing stress, Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar revealed that specific poses and practices beneficial for women with PCOS include –

1. Yoni Mudra held at the perineum: This mudra enhances and circulates blood flow; enhances reproductive health.

2. Sahaj Shankh Mudra, Adi Mudra and Mushti Mudra: These mudras help in channelizing energy and promoting hormonal balance.

3. Hanumanasana and Baddha Konasana: These asanas open up the pelvis and increase blood flow.

4. Paschimottanasana and Vajrasana: These asanas are beneficial for taking care of calf muscles and improving overall flexibility.

Reducing Exposure to Environmental Toxins

Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar highlighted, “Reducing exposure to environmental toxins is essential in managing PCOS. Practical tips include using natural or organic products, avoiding plastic containers for food storage, and reducing the use of personal care products with harmful chemicals. These steps help minimise the intake of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and support overall health.”

Restoring Balance and Harmony

Restoring balance and harmony within oneself and with the earth is crucial in managing PCOS. Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar advised, “This involves nurturing the body naturally, aligning it with its intrinsic rhythms, and fostering a deep, spiritual connection with nature. Spiritual practices such as waking up early with the sunrise and incorporating water activities like swimming and grounding oneself with Earth’s energies can promote balance and harmony. Understanding the connection between lifestyle factors and PCOS is crucial for effective management of the condition. While genetics set the stage, lifestyle choices play a pivotal role in the severity and progression of PCOS.”

By adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress and minimising exposure to environmental triggers, women with PCOS can improve their symptoms and enhance their overall quality of life. This holistic approach, which includes lifestyle changes such as Yoga, physical exercise and dietary modifications, provides the most effective strategy for managing PCOS.