The method is based on the effects of hatha yoga on regulating the endocrine system and activating direct and reverse chains within. This method was described in a book Yoga Therapy by Artem Frolov. To make yoga practice more efficient, it is recommended that participants use some specific techniques for stimulating neuroendocrine menstrual cycle regulation.  

 

 

  1. Physical exercises. Yoga asanas and vinyasas.

  2. Inverted postures. Sarvangasana, halasana, viparita karani mudra.

  3. Stomach vacuum exercises.  Uddiyana bandha, agnisara dhauti and nauli.  These techniques can be performed both as cleansing and as breathing   exercises (pranayama).

  4. Asanas increasing mobility in the hip joints. Variations of baddha konasana, padmasana, gomukhasana, virasana, trikonasana and ardha chandrasana.

  5. Strengthening pelvic floor muscles.  Ashwini mudra and mula bandha, techniques for strengthening perineum muscles. 

  6. Breathing exercises. Pranayama and prana vyayama.

  7. Relaxation. Yoga nidra, cyclic meditation and different variations of savasana. 

1)  Overall, physical exercises have positive influence on menstrual cycle and women’s health. For example, it is proved that regular physical activity reduces the symptoms of PMS. It also increases the number of functional capillaries in blood stream and improves blood rheological properties, bringing all the systems in the body back to balance. However, for the ultimate women’s health, it is important  to choose suitable level of intensity, even in the yoga practice. In order to create conditions for the regular menstrual cycle and increase fertility, there has to be a minimum amount of  fatty tissues in the body, since they play an important role  in maintaining the  reproductive system.

 

Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and fatty tissues. One third of all circulating estrogen is synthesised  in the fatty tissues. Thus, abnormal decrease in  weight due to reduction in size of fatty tissues can lead to hypoestrogenism and amenorrhea. Sometimes, excessive yoga practice can contribute to the absence of menstrual periods. However, after changing  exercise schemes, shifting the focus towards relaxation and activation of trophotropic response, menstrual cycle is tend to restore.

 

On contrary, the excessive amount of  fatty tissues produces extreme amount of estrogens, resulting in ovulatory disturbance. Women with alimentary obesity (caused by poor eating habits or constitution) are six times more likely to suffer from menstrual disorders. Also, their risks of becoming infertile are increased almost double. Nevertheless, the slight reduction of body weight (10-15%) is often sufficient in order  to restore the menstrual cycle. In this case, the practice should be more intensive and include active and energising practices, such as agnisara dhauti kriya, surya namaskar and others.

 

2) Inverted postures (sarvangasana, viparita karani mudra). Inverted poses reverse the blood flow. They increase the brain blood  supply and encourage venous return - the return of blood flow back to the heart from the lower limbs and pelvis.  Oxygenated blood promotes the process of neurons metabolism and renews their receptor functions. Thus, stimulating the higher centres of neuroendocrine regulation, such as  brain cortex, extrahypothalamic cerebral structure, hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Inversions increase venous return. As a result of gravity, abdominal organs change their position, thus stimulating the reproductive organs.

 

3) Stomach vacuum exercises. In hatha yoga, these exercise are also referred as the abdominal muscles manipulations (uddiyana bandha, agnisara dhauti and nauli). These techniques can be performed  both as cleansing and breathing exercises  (pranayama). The benefits include massage of the abdominal and pelvic organs, stimulation of microcirculation and effectors, initiation of intestinal peristaltic motion and decreasing of intra-abdominal pressure. Madhyama nauli is performed by simultaneous contraction of the left and right side of the abdomen, while the abdominal walls and the diaphragm are pulled up. Both Uddiyana bandha and  Madhyama nauli directly affect the blood circulation in the pelvic region. Negative pressure in the chest and abdomen cavities creates a suction action which  promotes venous return from the pelvis. In order to increase the venous return, all the stomach vacuum exercises can be done together with the inversion poses, for example uddiyana bandha and viparita karani mudra.

 

4) Asanas increasing mobility in the hip joints (baddha konasana and variations). Stretching of muscles and  fibrocartilage tissues of the hip joints has a powerful effect  on proprioceptive sensors. Also, it stimulates peripheral nervous system, increases the metabolic rate in  the  effectors and  eliminates proprioceptive deficit.   In addition to neural stimulation,  it also  improves the blood circulation of the pelvic organs and their tropism.  Apart from baddha konasana and its variations, the same effect has  all articular vyayamas and asanas, which stretch the perineum, hip joints ligaments and tendons. For example, padmasana, gomukhasana, virasana, trikonasana and ardha chandrasana).

 

5) Strengthening pelvic floor muscles  (ashwini mudra and mula bandha).

Women with reproductive organs problems should pay a close attention on strengthening pelvic floor muscles. Firstly, practice of ashwini mudra and mula bandha has a similar effect as baddha konasana. The method is differ only in the way of proprioceptive sensitivity stimulation. The muscles are not stretched, but contracted, thus a large number of the effectors being stimulated within. Moreover, strengthening of the perineum muscles helps to stabilize the  pelvic diaphragm and the internal genital organs, remove hypertension and chronic pelvic pain.  Positioning of arteries and veins back to normal improves local blood circulation.  Activation of perineum muscles massages the pelvic organs and connective tissues around, improving their microcirculation.  This plays a tremendous role in the functional activity of the reproductive organs. Mula bandha variation with the contraction of all pelvic floor muscles stabilizes  the pelvic organs and improves blood circulation. On contrary, variation with isolated contraction of different areas of pelvic floor muscles stimulates reflex activity, thus strengthening urogenital system.

 

6) Breathing exercises. Full nasal breathing is the basis for adequate functioning of the  central nervous system (CNS). It plays an important role in correcting all the abnormalities associated with neuroendocrine  menstrual cycle regulation. The importance of nasal breathing is proven through a reflex connecting  nasal mucous membrane with the central nervous system.  Rhythmic rarefaction of air inside the nostrils causes the  fluctuations of  intracranial pressure, which helps to secret and transport  cerebrospinal fluid. It is a well known fact that anomalies of CNS reflex stimulation  associated with difficulty breathing through nose  can be extremely dangerous in the early age. They may also become a reason of psychological and physical developmental delays. Partial or complete suspension of nasal breathing leads to increased intracranial pressure,  change of blood vessels tone in the brain, headache and  depression. Subsequently, it cause a dysfunction of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, resulting in inadequate regulation of a menstrual cycle.

 

The following techniques stimulating the nasal passages are recommended for women with menstrual cycle disorders. Rinsing of the nostrils with isotonic solution -  jala and sutra neti. Forced types of breathing which purify upper respiratory organs - kapalabhati and bhastrika. Finally, all types of breathing exercises (pranayama). The easiest one is nadi shodhana, which helps to equalize the processes of inhibition and excitation in the CNS. This allows to assume the normalisation of the following, difficult processes of neuro-metabolism, cerebrospinal fluid circulation, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland functioning.

 

Among other breathing exercises in relation to yoga therapy of reproductive organs it is essential to mention the exercises that improves venous return from the pelvic region. One of the most important mechanism of venous return is the suction action of chest during inhalation.  Following the decrease of  pressure in the large veins carrying the blood into the right atrium of the heart - superior vena cava and inferior vena cava. This drop in pressure causes the venous blood to move from the pelvis and lower limbs up to the area with low pressure. Breathing exercises stimulating venous return have to be practiced by patients with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, pelvic varicose veins and chronic inflammatory conditions. The technique increasing venous return is the following, short retentions during inhalation done by isometric contraction of  intercostal muscles, while  the glottis remains relaxed. Ujjayi breathing during inhalation has the same effect. Finally, hyperventilation pranayama techniques develop two conditions,  hypercapnia associated with increased level of carbon dioxide in the blood and hypoxia associated with decreased level of oxygen. Occasional states of hypercapnia and hypoxia give light training effect, increase adaptive abilities of cellular respiration, increase metabolism of all cells, systems and organs within the body. It also enables opening of  small arterioles and capillaries  including the ones within the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis.

 

7) Relaxation. Emotional tension and chronic stress are two most common factors of menstrual cycle disorders. The hypothalamus is receptive to the signals not only from the pituitary gland and the ovaries, but also to the cerebral cortex, associated with the mind,  emotions, and higher nervous activity. If  negative cortical excitation lasts for a long time,  it affects the  subcortical structures, disorganising their integrity. The physical ability to control the skeletal muscles, regular practice of savasana, yoga nidra and cyclic meditation help to balance the central nervous system and  psycho-emotional state. It also eliminates pathological states associated with blood congestion and excessive influence of the cerebral cortex on the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis. 

Yoga for Women's health: practice points