This week endometriosis has been in the national spotlight after a new report highlighted the “devastating impact” of the condition, and urged the government to take “bold action” to support the 1.5 million women in the UK living with the illness.
Infinite Harmony founder Vicky Watson understands only too well the suffering caused by endometriosis, after being diagnosed with the condition.
Here, Vicky looks at how yoga can help with pain caused by endometriosis, and improve the mental and physical well-being of sufferers.
Having suffered with pain caused by endometriosis, I’m always keen to help out other women with the condition, and have previously worked with women with endometriosis, creating a sequence of gentle postures to help ease endometriosis pain, relieve menstrual cramps and help achieve calm and relaxation to restore the body.
Yoga is the perfect form of exercise for endometriosis, and certain poses can relax tension in the abdomen and pelvis, which is where many sufferers feel pain.
Yoga also assists with deep relaxation. This is so important for those with endometriosis.
Having experienced the awful pain of endometriosis myself, I know that when you are in constant pain your body is constantly tense. Being tense all the time causes fatigue, something many women with endometriosis also suffer from.
Yoga allows the body to relax, with postures designed to gradually release tension without being too strenuous or tiring.
Endometriosis can also cause a woman’s immune system and nervous system to be on attack, as it becomes used to be in a constant stressed state. The illness takes its toll on the body, whether that be from surgery, tissue damage, fertility treatment or hormone medication.
The emotional trauma can also be tough to deal with, particularly when the average wait for diagnosis is still eight years, on average. By the time many women are diagnosed they will have probably had their pain and symptoms dismissed by health professionals in the past.
Yoga can help reset the body and focus the mind, giving you the tools you need to relax. Whilst yoga can’t get rid of pain, it can ease symptoms, and it can also change the way you deal with pain. Breathing exercises help focus the mind away from the pain, making it feel less intense.
The mind is a powerful tool. We tend to underestimate how much our own mind determines how we feel and how we perceive pain. Learning how to manage pain through yoga is a great way to help alleviate some of the symptoms of endometriosis.
Whilst it can never cure the illness, some women find it helps and is a positive way of taking back some control. Slower, gentle styles of yoga are best for endometriosis, such as hatha or restorative. Props including blankets, pillows, cushions and blocks can also help with relaxation during yoga, aiding the body to feel comfortable and cosy after stretching.
If you want to try yoga to help with endometriosis pain then it is best to find a teacher who specialises in this, as some postures could make pain worse. But once you have learned the different postures, you can use them independently whenever you have a flare up or need to feel calm and relaxed during tough times.
I know that endometriosis can bring emotional pain as well as physical. I’ve been there myself. Yoga has really helped me to focus my mind during difficult times, whether they have been because of endometriosis or other challenges throughout my life. Yoga has always been something I can turn to, a way to relax my mind and body after a busy day.