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Yogic Kriya Helps with PMS Symptoms

Mar 05, 2012 04:58PM ● By Dr. Kalpana Rajdev, M.D.

Scientific evidence is supporting what more than 15 million yoga practitioners in America already know—yoga buoys our mood. One of the most tangible measures of this benefit was reported in a 2007 neurochemical study conducted by Harvard University, in conjunction with Boston University. The study revealed an average boost of 27 percent in the level of a potent brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that calms the nervous system by inhibiting the firing of excitatory neurons, as a result of practicing hatha yoga alone. Low levels of GABA have been associated in prior studies with both anxiety and depression.

A new survey conducted by the Isha Foundation suggests the mood-lifting effects of yoga apply to the irritability and blues associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as well. The Isha Foundation (IshaUSA.org) is a non-religious, not-for-profit, public service organization, which addresses all aspects of human wellbeing.

Improvements in psychological symptoms associated with PMS were among the greatest benefits shared by the 128 women surveyed, with 72 percent reporting a reduction in irritability, mood swings, crying spells, and depression as a result of practicing a form of yoga called Isha Yoga regularly for at least six months. Isha Yoga includes a popular yogic kriya called Shambhavi Mahamudra, which involves simple, gentle postures (asanas) and the breath.

Women in the survey reported relief of other PMS symptoms as well, including a 57 percent reduction in severe painful periods and an 87 percent reduction in the incidence of heavy menstrual flow. Perhaps most telling of their overall symptomatic improvement is a 63 percent reduction in the need for medical or surgical intervention.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, as many as 80 percent of women regularly experience at least some of these premenstrual symptoms. Women who meet the criteria for a PMS diagnosis are debilitated by their symptoms, with impairment to physical and mental function that affects their quality of life, relationships and ability to work. Overall, the women surveyed by the Isha Foundation study reported that the multi-symptomatic relief they experienced as a result of doing Isha Yoga practices reduced their impairment to work by 83 percent.


Dr. Kalpana Rajdev, M.D., was the director of long-term care at Henry Ford Medical Center for 17 years before following her passion to become the director of Isha Care Clinic in the greater Nashville area, which provides free healthcare to low-income families in rural communities. She is a proponent of proactive, holistic care that treats the whole patient, not just the symptoms. For more information and a complete study report, email [email protected].

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