Are you ready for part 2 of my yoga nidra extravaganza? Great! (I’ve assumed you said yes?) In part 1 we looked at the evidence for yoga nidra in helping with mental wellbeing. Today we’ll look at how yoga nidra may help with a range of menstrual problems. *
Surprised by the topic? I have to admit, I was too. I shouldn’t be – I am a woman and this is a big problem for many of us – I just hadn’t expected almost 1/5 of yoga nidra studies to be focused on this. It mainly seems to be the life’s work of two researchers (who weirdly share the same surname). The studies also felt a lot more robust in terms of sample size and design.
I’m going to break up the results into 2 categories:
Yoga nidra improves mental wellbeing in women with menstrual problems
All the studies (1, 2, 3) found significant improvements compared with baseline in psychological wellbeing, including specifically anxiety, depression and what they termed positive wellbeing. Yoga nidra plus treatment was also significantly more effective at improving psychological wellbeing than treatment alone (the control group in these studies).
One of the studies actually stratified the participants based on severity – in this instance, yoga nidra helped those women with mild or moderate anxiety or depression, NOT those suffering with the severe form of the conditions. This is really important to bear in mind when talking about any kind of yoga in therapeutic terms; yoga is amazing, but we do have to be cautious and avoid overpromising what yoga alone can achieve (more on that another time).
Yoga nidra is associated with physiological changes in women with menstrual problems
Improvements in anxiety and depression are great, but can yoga nidra do more? I’m going to say maybe, because I’m not fully sold on these results. But they are definitely interesting and promising.
Two of the studies (1, 2) looked at hormone profiles and found significant changes in TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), LH (leuteinising hormone) and prolactin . Specifically, they found that yoga nidra decreased the levels of these hormones, which when ‘abnormally’ high can cause period problems like the ones investigated in these studies. Pressumably this was the case for the women who took part in the studies and yoga nidra helped to bring them back to ‘normal’ levels .
Fair question. I’ve been trying to figure this out while researching the literature, but finding evidence has been challenging. This is my hypothesis:
Yoga nidra helps to reduce stress. This means that it brings back balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous systems. We also know that stress impacts our reproductive system, which includes the reproductive hormones that regulate our cycles.
Therefore, by reducing stress, yoga nidra may help to alleviate the hormonal imbalances that in turn cause period problems.
What do you think ladies? Has yoga nidra helped you tackle any of your period problems?
*Just so we are are clear on what menstrual problems are, the studies looked at lack of periods (amenorrhea), painful periods (dysmenorrhoea), periods that are infrequent, or too frequent or extremely light (oligomenorrhoea, polymenorrhoea and hypomenorrhoea, respectively), and very heavy and long periods (menorrhagia). Yikes, we women go through a lot!