According to the National Health Interview Survey from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 21 million U.S. adults and 1.7 million children used yoga to improve their health. People of all shapes, sizes, genders and ages practice yoga for its mental, physical and spiritual benefits, and this meditative practice rooted in Indian traditions has a few unique benefits for women’s health in particular.
1. Menstruation and PMS
Women go to great lengths each month to alleviate the emotional and physical side effects that occur before and during our periods. Yoga is a simple, healthy and natural alternative to expensive over-the-counter medications. A few yoga poses including Camel Pose and Head-To-Knee Forward Bend help create openness in the front body, abdomen and groin, and increase blood flow to counteract discomfort caused by uterine contractions.
The meditative nature of yoga also helps alleviate the emotional burden of PMS. Child Pose helps calm the nervous system and Bow Pose helps combat fatigue, while the deeply meditative Corpse Pose helps create an intense level of relaxation and aids in the reparation of cells.
2. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Research shows that 1 out of every 5 Americans suffer from some type of pelvic floor dysfunction, which refers to a wide range of problems, particularly pain, that result from tightness or damage to any part of the pelvic region. A few pelvic floor disorders affect women specifically, including Vulvodynia and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and yoga is widely used by physical therapists to help manage the pain. In fact, some yoga teachers, including Leslie Howard of the Bay-Area, focus their practice specifically on pelvic issues. Yoga poses help release tension in the groin area, increase blood flow to the pelvic organs and relieve anxiety that either results from or even contributes to pelvic pain.
3. Sexual Pleasure and Orgasm
If you’ve ever heard someone say that people who do yoga have better sex, they weren’t lying. Yoga increases blood flow to the clitoris and cervix, tones and strengthens the vagina (allowing for more intense orgasms), relaxes the pelvic region and improves overall flexibility. Some yoga poses are sexy in and of themselves and are even used in the Kama Sutra! Perhaps the most powerful way yoga will improve your sex life, though, is by teaching you to eliminate chatter from your mind in order to fully experience sexual pleasure as intensely as possible.
Yoga helps improve fertility by sending energy to reproductive organs and encouraging them to function normally. Additionally, by calming the stress associated with trying to conceive, yoga balances hormones making it easier to get pregnant. A few poses that are especially helpful for fertility include Wide-Legged Seated Pose and Bridge Pose on blocks.
5. Breast Cancer
The emotional and physical pain breast cancer patients must endure is tremendous, and yoga can help these women through one of the most trying times of their lives. According to a research study by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, women who practiced yoga during breast cancer treatment had a 12 percent improvement in fatigue, physical functioning and overall quality of life. There are a few poses that are especially helpful to breast cancer patients, including Bridge Pose, which helps improve circulation and stretches muscle tissue around the breasts and Warrior II, which nurtures the lymphatic system.
Disclaimer: The words and other content provided in this post, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.
Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 000 immediately.
The views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other institution with which the authors are affiliated.