Our path to weight management & stress management
Yoga is a physical practice that is based upon Ancient Indian philosophies that’s main purpose is to “yolk” the mind, body and spirit together through asans (postures), creating one, unified self. Yoga was originally created to help prepare the body for meditation and eventually, became a practice all on its own. Although, if you have practiced yoga, you can see that most classes begin and end with a meditation called savasana. Yoga and meditation, in their true forms, have tremendous physiological and psychological benefits for those that practice. Although there is a lot of research that is lacking about its benefits for women with PCOS, its benefits for regular bodies have been well-studied, which can be applied to us as well. Yoga and meditation can,
- Increase body awareness
- Increase body acceptance
- Lower stress levels leading to lower levels of stress hormones and lower inflammation
- Reduce pain
- Helps alleviating anxiety and depression
- Reduce blood pressure and heart rate
- Decrease joint stiffness
- Enhance the expression of genes responsible for energy metabolism and insulin secretion (Kitamura, 2013)
- Reduce the expression of genes responsible for the inflammatory and stress response (Kitamura, 2013)
Particularly for women with PCOS, there have been a few studies that concluded that yoga helps with improving glucose, lipid and insulin panels, as well as helps with reducing anxiety symptoms in teenage girls aged 15-18 years of age (Nagarathna, 2012). Granted, these are only a few studies, performed by the same people, but it’s a pretty interesting conclusion. There is something to be said for yoga and meditation and the mind-body connection that it creates!
Yoga & Meditation for weight management
Yoga and meditation give you the opportunity to slow down, relax and listen to your body. As mentioned before, “Yoga” means “to yolk” the mind, body and spirit together creating one unified self. See, the thing is, when we actually listen to our bodies, we create a sense of body awareness, a sense of understanding of our bodies, and with that understanding, we become more in tune with its needs and just tend to appreciate our bodies more. When we become more in tune with its needs,
- We tend to eat less with less binge-eating episodes, referred to as “Mindful Eating”
- We tend to get to bed earlier and get more quality sleep
- We tend to manage our stress levels better
- We tend to appreciate our bodies more
All of the above will lead to better weight management. With mindful eating, less calories will be consumed because we tend to know when to stop eating, rather than eating too much too quickly. I also suspect that there self-acceptance tends to be tied into here as well, which leads to having less binge-eating episodes in general. As you’ve learned, getting better quality sleep leads to a lower risk of disruptions in our hunger signals, lower levels of cortisol, and improved pulses of GnRH, leading to having the ability to control our appetite better. Managing our stress levels helps keep stress hormones in check leading to better weight management and better wellbeing as well. Yoga and meditation can be exceptionally powerful for weight management.
Yoga & Meditation for stress management
Yoga and meditation have been known for many, many things, particularly stress management. The idea with yoga in regards to stress management is that you put your body under voluntary physical stress by performing the asans, and you learn to breathe through the “discomfort”. This is a powerful lesson. When you practice yoga regularly, your body and mind will associate when uncomfortable experiences arise, to breath through them as a coping mechanism. That means that you can bring your breath-work (pranayam) that you practice on the mat, off the mat into the world leading to a healthier form of stress management. This aids in reducing blood pressure, heart rate, inflammation, coritsol levels and increases overall wellbeing and being in control of the self.
Take home message-Knowledge IS Power
Yoga and meditation are journeys of discovery and as you practice, you will see what they will mean for you, but there is no doubt that both can help with balancing PCOS. They give you the opportunity to cope better with stress and help with manage your weight and these don’t include all of the other wonderful experiences that come with the practice of both yoga and meditation such as self-compassion, self-love, self-discovery and the other surprise experiences that come with regular practice.
Kitamura, M. (2013). Harvard Yoga Scientists Find Proof of Meditation Benefit. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-11-22/harvard-yoga-scientists-find-proof-of-meditation-benefit
Nagarathna, R., Nidhi, R., Padmalatha, V. & Ram, A. (2013). National Center of Biotechnology Center: Effect of holistic yoga program on anxiety symptoms in adolescent girls with polycystic ovarian syndrome: A randomized control trial. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22507264
Nagarathna, R., Nidhi, R., Padmalatha, V. & Ram, A. (2013). National Center of Biotechnology Center: Effect of a yoga practice glucose metabolism and blood lipid levels in adolescent girls with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22507264