Yoga is defined as a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation. While it has been around since before recorded history, thought to be dated back to 10,000 years ago, yoga is constantly being reshaped and, lately, studied for its therapeutic benefits. A systematic review and meta-analysis published this month looked at the effects of yoga on quality of life and pain in women with chronic pelvic pain. It supports the use of yoga on both quality of life and pain. The highest rated article in the review was a randomized case-control trial, which compared non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to yoga3. The yoga group showed significant reductions in pain and an increase in quality of life outcome measures as compared to the NSAID group. So, the next time you want to pop that Advil, try yoga instead.
Yoga has been widely studied over the past 2 decades, showing numerous other health benefits. It has been shown to help decrease hot flashes in post-menopausal women. Metabolic syndrome (METS) is a cluster of conditions which include high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, abnormal cholesterol levels and more. It is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Ten weeks of yoga significantly decreased fasting glucose levels, increased energy levels and helped to lower blood pressure and improve wellbeing and stress in those with METS5. Yoga has also been shown to decrease depression and improve negative affect, state anxiety, mental health and overall quality of life in women with breast and ovarian cancer.
The ideal recommended frequency of yoga practice is 60 minute sessions, 5 days a week for at least 8 weeks, but benefits are seen with even just twice a week. Below are 3 poses which have been shown to harbor the healing effects of this ancient mind-body activity. The main mechanism theorized to achieve these effects include desensitizing the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and enhancing the parasympathetic or rest and digest aspect of the central nervous system. Overall, this decreases our levels of stress hormones and increases our body’s natural feel good chemicals.
So, the next time you’re feeling any discomfort or stress, melt into a comforting waterfall pose or open up into a gentle butterfly stretch.
Viparita Karana Waterfall Pose
Method: Place your feet up on a wall as shown above
To modify, you can place a bolster, yoga block or towel under your pelvis
Stay here for 5-10 minutes
With each inhale think of lengthening your SIT bones towards the wall, relaxing your pelvis down with each exhale
Benefits: improves circulation, relieves lower back pain, calms the central nervous system
Baddha Konasana The Butterfly Pose
The pelvis should be in a neutral positionMethod: Sitting up tall, bring your feet together, legs splayed out to the side
Stay in this pose 1 – 5 minutes
To modify, sit on a blanket or block; you can place towel rolls under your knees or move your feet farther from your groin
Benefits: stretches pelvic floor and inner thighs/groin; can help soothe menstrual pain
Method: lie on your back as shown; you can prepare by lengthening your entire body away from your pelvis and then softening into the posture
Soften the entire body, including the jaw and tongue, feet and hands
Stay in this pose for 5 minutes
Benefits: decreases blood pressure, relaxes the entire body, helps relieve headache and fatigue
1.Yoga. (2019) In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. Retrieved from
2. Russel N, Daniels B, Smoot B, et al. Effects of yoga on quality of life and pain in women
with chronic pelvic pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Womens Heal Phys 3.
3. Saxena R, Gupta M, Shankar N, Jain S, Saxena A. Effects of yogic intervention on pain
scores and quality of life in females with chronic pelvic pain. Int J Yoga. 2017;10(1):9–15.
4. Cohen BE, Kanaya AM, Macer JL, Shen H, Chang AA, & Grady D. Feasibility and
acceptability of restorative yoga for treatment of hot flushes: a pilot
trial. Maturitas. 2007;56(2):198–204.
5. Cohen BE, Chang AA, Grady D, & Kanaya AM. Restorative yoga in adults with metabolic
syndrome: a randomized, controlled pilot trial. Metab Syndr Relat
6. Danhauer SC, Tooze JA, Farmer DF, et al. Restorative yoga for women with ovarian or
breast cancer: findings from a pilot study. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2008;6:47-58.
Picture References (in order)