Yoga to soothe and reduce endometriosis related symptoms

If you were diagnosed with endometriosis or you suspect you might suffer from it, you know how endometriosis associated pain, symptoms and stress have a dramatic impact on one’s life.

Yoga is an effective complimentary tool to aid endometriosis symptoms reduction and treatment.

What is endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition, often associated with autoimmune conditions, where ectopic endometrial tissue is present outside the uterine cavity.

This tissue has been found in the pelvic region but also around the lungs, heart and in the brain.

This disease affects approximately 10% of the female population. Nevertheless there is not general scientific consensus on its causes yet.

Because of this lack of information, endometriosis is often times under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Unfortunately it is still very common to finally get an endometriosis diagnosis after 10 years or more since the first start of the symptoms.

Endometriosis symptoms include:

-chronic abdominal pain and bloating

-chronic fatigue

-bowel dysfunctions

-ovulatory pain

-premenstrual pain

-heavy menstrual bleeding

-lower back pain

-rectal pain




Endometriosis and the nervous system

Research shows that perceived stress increases experienced pain in people with endometriosis.

There’s a deep connection between endometriosis pain, the central nervous system and HPA axis regulation.

When you struggle with endometriosis you are under a significant amount of stress because you don’t know when you might have a flare up and your symptoms might force you to cancel meetings, night outs or trips.

It has also been shown that endometriosis is associated with low cortisol output which may reflect a deficiency in hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning.

Endometriosis symptoms and the menstrual cycle

Like the uterus lining, endometriosis tissue expands and bleeds in response to sex hormones changes during the menstrual cycle. The difference is that this tissue stays in the body leading to inflammation and adhesions.

Endometriosis symptoms often get worse cyclically in relation with the menstrual cycle, even though pain patterns are very personal and variable.

A worsening of endometriosis associated symptoms is sometimes associated with specific phases of the menstrual cycle, typically ovulation, when the ovaries are signalled to release a mature egg, and/or premenstrual and menstrual phases.

When endometriosis is associated with severe ovarian adhesions, you feel pain on either side of your lower belly during 12-48 hours. This is because the ovary expands in the process that leads to the release of the egg and because of the endometriosis adhesions, the ovary is not free and puts pressure on pelvic nerves.

How yoga can help with endometriosis

Because of the complexity of endometriosis and given my personal and professional expereince, I suggest you practice yoga asanas and pranayama under the guidance of a certified Iyengar yoga teacher knowledgable about endometriosis.

Read on as I give you specific and practical suggestions about how a endometriosis adapted yoga practice attuned with your menstrual cycle can improve your life quality.

Yoga for nervous system regulation, inflammation reduction and immune system support

Yoga helps bringing the nervous system into a balanced state.

It supports the parasympathetic nervous system therefore bringing the autonomic nervous system and associated HPA axis into a functional state.

Basically it helps moving away from a constant flight-fight-freeze response (sympathetic nervous system) and towards a rest-digest response (parasympathetic nervous system).

Through the practice of yoga you retrain your nervous system so that you decrease perceived stress which in turn decreases pain triggers.

Studies have shown yoga is an effective intervention to improve endometriosis associated pain.

Yoga not only decreases endometriosis associated pain. When your nervous system and associated HPA axis are functional, immune function is supported.

Moreover studies show that yoga is an effective practice to decrease classical inflammatory biomarkers.

Being endometriosis an inflammatory disease with associated autoimmune conditions, you can see how a yoga asanas and pranayama practice adapted to your needs can certainly improve endometriosis symptoms and help reclaim your life from it.

Yoga for endometriosis adhesions

Yoga can also help with endometriosis adhesions.

In this case one has to be very careful and practice in a way that doesn’t worsen the pain associated with adhesions.

In general you want to adapt the physical practice of yoga in a way that brings gentle softening and elongation, creates space and improves circulation in the area where the adhesions are located.

An intelligent use of yoga props it is instrumental in this process.

There are specific ways of practising yoga asanas that make sure endo warriors keep their abdomen soft, elongate and lift their abdomen from pubic bone to navel which can help with adhesions, improve circulation in the abdomen.

Same can be said for endometrial tissue growing around other organs.

For endometriosis adhesions located in the pelvic area, pelvis opening postures practised well supported as needed, asanas like bound angle pose, simple crossed legs pose can be beneficial.

The same postures can be practised reclined when appropriate.

When you feel strong, try between follicular and ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle, you can try standing poses which lengthen the abdomen and backbends to help with emotional balance.

baddha konasana

Cyclical synced yoga for endometriosis

Cycle synced yoga is practising yoga asanas and pranayama in tune with your menstrual cycle, perimenopause, menopause.

This way of practising yoga adds the extra benefit of supporting your menstrual cycle health and given the fact that endometriosis symptoms often change cyclically in relation with the phases of the menstrual cycle, you see a further reduction of your endometriosis symptoms too.

Because you practice in a way that respects your menstrual cycle and perimenopause, you practice with self awareness, you learn to listen to your body, to what the body is telling you, you learn what actually works for you and what not in each phase of your menstrual cycle and depending on how is your pain in that moment.

This way of practising yoga improves general health and quality of life, physical and social functioning.

Yoga to soothe endometriosis-associated pain

Practising yoga following the principles I described above will decrease your endometriosis symptoms, but this a life work, a continuous practice and while you are building it and even after you established it, you can have a flare up, your pain can get worse because of some triggers whether it be food, stress or other. Then you can use specific yoga practices as self-support tools to help you soothe that pain.

When you are in pain it is harder to do any kind of movement practice but yoga asanas and pranayama can be adapted to your needs and different props can be used so that the practice can soothe your pain.

Moreover yoga is a full body-mind discipline that really helps endo warriors find a way through pain, separate themselves from the pain, see it from the outside instead of it having power over them.

I advise you to incorporate the practices below into your daily routine for general stress reduction but also use them as endometriosis pain SOS practices:

Conscious relaxation

You can do conscious relaxation in supported Savasana where you learn to actively relax the body, observe your breath and calm the mind. You balance your nervous system so that the pain in general decreases and when you experience pain you will then be able to use this relaxation technique to help yourself get through the pain.

While you are at it, you can use images like exhaling through your fingers to let the pain leave your body.


Pranayama (breath control techniques) reduces heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure therefore supporting the parasympathetic nervous system and quieting the HPA axis response to stress.

The respiratory diaphragm movements put a certain pressure on the vagus nerve which runs through the respiratory diaphragm. This in turns activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

If you are new to yoga you can’t jump into advanced pranayama techniques but you can certainly work on rhythmic breathing and breath awareness to then move towards long exhalations, and paused exhalations pranayama techniques (Ujjayi I and Viloma II).

Belly breathing

Belly breathing is a breath awareness exercise with involves directing the breath towards your abdomen and letting your belly move freely in sync with your breath.

The benefits of belly breathing for endometriosis are:

– reduces chronic pelvic pain

– reduces tension

– reduces digestive issues

– improves circulation in the pelvic region

– keeps your pelvis warm

– helps to reconnect with your abdomen on a deep level and rediscover its energy, rather than seeing it as a source of pain


Low tone chanting is also really beneficial to stimulate the vagus nerve.

You could chant OM or humming sound for example or if you are a yoga practitioner and you know it already you could practice Bhramari Pranayama, the bumblebee breath.

It might feel awkward at first but I invite you to give it a try for some time. You might want to start chanting along a yoga mantra soundtrack. After some cycles of chanting you can experience the soothing vibration of the chant running through your body and a sense of inner union.

Now is your turn to incorporate the practice of yoga into your daily routine or experiment adapting your existing practice to reclaim your life from endometriosis.

Remember this is not medical advice but information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure. Please talk to your doctor before making any health-related decision.