Endometriosis… What it ‘Is’, What it doesn’t ‘Have’ to be & How Yoga Helps

It was through the regular practice of yoga that I can honestly say my symptoms of endometriosis began to subside and eventually became non-existent. Yes… I have endometriosis.  So I know very well what you women out there and even ‘teens‘ may be going through living with this disease.  I emphasize teens because I was a teen when the onset started and the idea of a teenager having endometriosis was unheard of.  Doctors didn’t take me seriously and even were patronizing in their care or non care.

When I was 18 years old I use to have the worse periods. The pain I experienced was like none other. Oh My God! I thought I was dying. Seriously. It literally felt like I was being stabbed in the abdomen. The only way I was able to find some kind of relief was to take my fists and press them in my belly while laying in a fetal position.  This was me for about a week before my menstrual cycle. Then there was the aching legs and lower back pain. This was unbearable and would go on for hours or even days.

I had no idea what was going on with me. I went to several doctors and the response I received was most discouraging and very insulting.  One physician told me after my examination “You have pain like most women get headaches“. This was a gynecologist, and Yes… that was his response.  Another was from a female doctor whom I was referred to because she specialized in Women’s Health, she told me that “You are just severely constipated“.  Another doctor advised for me to “get pregnant” and there were a few more… no need to get into all of the responses, lets just say, they weren’t very insightful.  Until one evening while at a pub watching the basketball game with some friends I had an episode. That is what I called them. Episodes. Well this time it knocked me off the chair in the pub, on to the floor in such excruciating pain (pain caused by the stabbing feeling in my pelvis and sheer embarrassment), it was so bad that my friend rushed me to the hospital.  I am very grateful for that moment, not the best moment to remember, but an important one; because, there in the emergency room I met a resident doctor who told me about this disease called Endometriosis.  And from that moment my life changed. I still remember his name.. it rhymed with Canola {dreamy smile}, he was quite handsome too.

I went to see another specialist referred to me by my aunt. He was a Godsend from Ireland. Older doctor and incredible gynecologist. He informed me that Endometriosis was a disease more common in older women 45 + years old and very uncommon to see someone my age of 18 years having it.  In 1993 a laparoscopy was performed and confirmed that I did in fact have Endometriosis. My diagnoses was medium – severe and the scar tissue and endometrium tissues was accumulated around my left & partial right ovary and all under my bowels.  It was partially cauterised where it could be and I was told that I needed to receive treatment as it may cause infertility and other health concerns.

At the age of 18 I was put in to a medically induced Menopause for 6 months and didn’t have a period for a year afterwards.  Wow… I learned quick what my mother was going through. Hot flashes, mood swings, short temper and I gained a bit of weight in my belly. Now, imagine being 18 years old and living in a house where you and your mother were going through menopause??? Yikes… it was no field day, yet at the same time I fully understood what my mom was dealing with, as she did with me and we got through it together.

To give you a general idea of what endometriosis is 
it is when your endometrium lining sheds outside of the uterus. It attached to areas within the cavity of the body and each month during the women’s menses it acts as the lining does inside the uterus. It thicken and then sheds.  However, creating lesions and scar tissue and adhesion’s,  growing on possibly the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowels, and essentially anywhere inside the body creating inflammation and pain. There is no way for it to leave the body. It can even grow around the lungs, bladder, cervix etc… I attached a link to provide you with more insight into this chronic disease and it’s
symTEXTptom’s. What is Endometriosis? 

Suffering each and every month does not have to be a way of life. I know that you may have a difficult time believing in this idea, but it is true. There is another way.  I have had 3 laparpscopies over the past 2o years.  The 2nd was performed in 2006 for fertility purposes, to see if all was clear. There was some more build up on the left ovary and around the fallopian tubes and I found out my appendix is attached to my side. The doctor removed some more scar tissue and that was it. My symptoms and discomfort with my cycle were still there. Not nearly as bad as they were when I was first diagnosed at 18 years old, but still present.

It wasn’t until 8 years ago when I actually began to experience a pain-free cycle. It was just one day I came on my period and had no idea. There was no P.M.S, no back pain or pelvic pain, no leg aches and pain, I didn’t even bloat, in fact other symptoms too were gone,  This was awesome! Even my partner noticed a difference and welcomed it.  We thought to try to conceive, as getting pregnant was difficult; therefore, in 2010,  2 years after I started practicing yoga, my 3rd scope was performed and every thing looked good. Infertility was a reality; however, there was notable difference from that last scope in 2006. All healed well and no significant new growths. The fertility specialist cleaned up some areas inside and informed me that my endometriosis was mild. This was amazing news. I attribute this change in my body, balancing of my hormones and comfortable periods each month to my yoga practice.

Endometriosis is an estrogen dominant condition. It is caused by an imbalance of hormones.  Practicing yoga helps to balance the endocrine system, bringing hormones into stasis through increase oxygen, blood flow, and energy flow to specific areas of the body. One the main areas would be our ovaries and the pituitary gland which governs the processes of our ovaries, adrenals and thyroid. And we need a good balance between these three for our estrogen, progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol.  

In addition,  when observing the  energetic connection. Endometriosis is housed within the sacral chakra.  The sacral chakra is located in the naval centre. This is where we would find imbalances in sexual and reproductive organs. Sacral chakra deal with our personal relationships, our desires, creativity and sexuality. It identifies with our emotions, so feelings of depression, addictions, anxiety are associated with sacral chakra, as well a guilt.  The connection to our endocrine system is our ovaries, as previously mentioned; as well, associated with the womb, genitals and kidneys. The sacral chakra governs movement and connection.  

So what does this mean? It can have many meanings. It could be that there is an energetic blockage(s) deeply rooted that needs to open to allow for energy movement and flow. It can be due to hormone imbalance or emotions held in the body or a combination of the both.  This is not meant to diagnose, it is to provide you with some insight and possibly some new information that may assist you in your healing.   There are some asana’s that you may do to help target and ease the discomfort you may feel with the endometriosis.

Will yoga cure it?  I don’t know if there is a cure, aside from not having a period any longer.  Endometriosis is a fact of my life and is still present. It is under control from what I believe.  I am at a place now where I can tell when my body is out of balance, some symptoms may re-occur, but there is an awareness. That is what has changed.  I am aware and have a relationship with my body.  There’s a dialogue that happens and I listen. You too can develop a relationship with your body by starting a regular yoga practice, taking time to connect and listen to the messages your body is sending you.

Here are a few asana’s to get you started.  Practice with ease and comfort in the pose and allow for your breath to flow… relaxing in to your exhalations.

1} One of my all time favourite is the restorative version of Supta Baddha Konasana or reclining bound angle pIMG_2462ose. You may perform this as a restorative posture with props or without. It targets all the areas that we want: Ovaries, groin, kidneys, womb, whole pelvic area, the back and legs.  As well, it is opens the heart and allows for expansion of the chest. It eases discomfort, helps with sleeplessness, calming and very nurturing. It can feel exposing for some who may feel vulnerable being so open; therefore, covering yourself with a blanket will help.    Yoga Journal ~ reclining bound angle pose

2} Padmasana / Ardha Padmasana~ Lotus pose or half lotus. This is an intermediate or advanced posture. This is another asana that helps to direct circIMG_2433ulation and energy to the groin and pelvic area. It eases menses and menopause symptoms.  The hips are required to be open to perform, and can be hard on the knees and ankles (not good to do if you have any injuries in these areas). To start if you are able, perform Half Padmasana. Yoga Journal ~ Padmasana or Ardha Padmasana (Lotus / Half Lotus)

3} Another favourite of mine and is a go to pose when I am having any menstrual discomfort especially in my back and my legs is Downward Facing Dog.  Also good to ease mild depression as it directs blood flow and energy to the brain. Stretches out the back targeting the kidneys, adrenals as well, directs energy to the pelvic area and hip crease, which helps with menses and menopause symptoms.  Since DWFD causes a upward stretch of uterus as in inversions, you may wish to only do this one during the few days before your period starts,   Yoga Journal Downward Facing Dog

4} I have a few favourite’s and Seated Forward Bend~pashchimottanasana is on the top of my list.  This asana gentle massages the internal organs, focusing in on the ovaries, uterus, it stretches out the back targeting the kidneys and adrenals as well, feels really good for that back pain and leg discomfort. In addition, it helps to detoxify and cleanse the energy channels of the liver and kidneys. In my opinion pashchimottanasana is one of the master asana’s. Yoga Journal Pashchimottanasana

5} The last one is Half Lord of the Fisher Pose, Ardha Matsyendrasana http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/half-lord-of-the-fishes-pose/ . Seated Twist. This asana  helps to gently massages the abdomen, the liver and kidneys. It ease menstrual discomfort and helps with infertility. Stretches and lengthens the spin so it feels really good on the back all the way up to the neck. As well, it offers a good stretch to the legs.  One more to add to the top of the list for master poses.

I hope you find this post helpful. There are many more asana’s that I could add that would be helpful for Endometriosis,  but I don’t want to overwhelm you.  Just know and believe that your body is designed to heal itself and yoga is a wonderful tool to assist you with doing just that.   Please feel free to send me any comments. I would love to open up a dialogue with you.

From my heart to yours,

Blessings & Namasté ~ Maa Moksha Anand

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