Endometriosis affects over 5.5 million girls and women in the United States, and over 70 million around the world. This disorder is caused when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus and on other organs of the body, result in excruciating pain, particularly during menses, and can sometimes even cause infertility.
Because it can be confused with regular period pain, endometriosis often goes undiagnosed for years. When women finally receive a diagnosis, they often turn to surgery or prescription drugs to treat the condition.
However, many women are now finding that certain yoga poses for endometriosis can be helpful in easing its painful symptoms. Combined with other therapies, yoga emerges as an effective pain and stress management tool that can help endometriosis sufferers improve the quality of their lives.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is caused by the migration of endometrial cells from the uterus to the pelvis and various organs of your body. The cells continue to respond to the monthly changes in your body caused by menstruation, resulting in internal bleeding that can prove to be very painful. The bleeding also results in the formation of scar tissue, which itself is another source of pain and discomfort.
Research has yet to establish the main cause of endometriosis. One theory suggests that endometriosis is caused by excess estrogen in the body, which in turn causes the endometrial cells to leave the uterus. According to another theory, endometriosis is caused when stray cells resulting from the backward flow of blood from the uterus are not destroyed.
Yoga Poses For The Abdomen
Start off with basic poses such as the Supta Baddha Konasana and Supta Virasana which stretch out the abdomen and pelvis to relieve bloating, discomfort and pain. Seated poses that stretch your pelvis such as Upavistha Konasana, Baddha Konasana help to iron out kinks in your endocrine system, which can be beneficial when you are not menstruating.
To strength your abs, lie flat on your back on a mat and draw your navel inwards towards your spinal cord. If you do not suffer from discomfort at this stage, you can move on to poses that will engage your core abdominal muscles such as Chaturanga Dandasana or Paripurna Navasana. Esther Myers, however, recommends that women suffering from endometriosis combine abdominal exercises with poses that work the pelvis for added support.
Yoga Poses For The Liver
You can also perform some twists to stimulate your liver, to help reduce the pain associated with endometriosis. Listen to your body, though: some poses may cause discomfort during menstruation. Start with basic twists such as Bharadvajasana and Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, before progressing to the more advanced poses such as Marichyasana III.
Be Careful With Backbends
Backbends can be very relaxing at the time, but may cause cramping in some women the next day. As always, listen to your body. Start with basic backbends such as Salabhasana, see how much stretching your body can withstand, and then work your way up to Urdhva Dhanurasana and the Ustrasana.
Yoga For Endometriosis: What To Avoid
As far as possible try to avoid poses such as Uddiyana Bandha and Mula Bandha which exert pressure on your organs other than your abdomen and pelvis. Since your organs are already bearing the pressure of scar tissue, you would be well advised to not burden them any further.
As always, don’t forget to discuss your exercise plans with your doctor or physician and a qualified yoga instructor before attempting any form of yoga for endometriosis. Here’s to a happy and pain-free you!