You may be surprised to hear that using yoga for yeast infections is a good idea. However, yoga addresses many of the causes of yeast infections in the body by promoting overall good health. Once you have a yeast infection, it can help you bounce back more quickly. Doing yoga on a regular basis might just keep yeast infections at bay almost all together.
Using Yoga for Yeast Infections
The big picture is as important as particular symptoms and specific relief. Yoga promotes holistic good health that boosts your immune system. When your immune system is weak, your stress level is high, your blood sugar and hormones are out of balance, and you live in a constant state of anxiety, making your body vulnerable to infection. Regular yoga practice helps your body in a variety of ways.
The biggest way yoga helps ease, and sometimes even prevent, yeast infections is by decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety. If your mind and body are healthy, you're more able to fight off any type of infection, including yeast. By easing your stress with relaxation poses and deep breathing, you'll cut down your cravings for unhealthy things like excessive caffeine, cigarettes, sweets, and alcohol. Those things not only tend to weaken your health in general, but they can exacerbate a tendency to get yeast infections.
Restores Hormonal Balance
Additionally, stress and anxiety usually accompany a hormonal imbalance that is often partially to blame for yeast infections. For example, anytime your body experiences a spike in estrogen, the estrogen can help candida grow.
Gets Rid of Toxins
Finally, yoga works to relieve the body of toxins that build up and make it harder to fight off the infection. Stretching and organ and muscle massage work to cleanse the body.
Creating a More Resilient Immune System
As you practice yoga, you create a more resilient immune system that protects you better against an infection or flare-up. In short, doing yoga for yeast infections helps you by keeping your mind and body healthy overall. It keeps your immune system healthier than it might be otherwise, especially when you learn to use yoga just to relax, like practicing a gentle form of Hatha yoga, or meditation.
Yoga Poses to Combat Yeast Infections
Specific yoga poses target vulnerabilities that can put you at risk for a yeast infection. Add these to your personal asana sequence to correct imbalances, lower stress, speed toxins out of your body, and strengthen your kidneys, bladder, and entire abdominal region.
Standing Big Toe Pose
Big Toe pose, a forward bend, relieves stress and anxiety, stimulates the kidneys, and remedies a host of health issues, including insomnia. Breathe deeply while you stretch, compress and pump fresh oxygen to your brain.
- Mountain pose, feet hip-width apart, spine and knees straight, arms relaxed.
- Bend forward from your hips, keeping your head and torso aligned.
- Wrap your index and middle fingers around your big toes, tucking them between the big toe and the second toe.
- Press your toes strongly down, inhale and lift your spine as if you were going to stand up.
- Raise your head slightly to align with your spine.
- As you exhale, lift your butt, straighten your elbows and contract your belly button toward your spine.
- Repeat the inhalations and exhalations five or six times.
- Exhale, bend your elbows, and lower your head and torso into a complete forward bend, feeling the stretch along your spine and the backs of your legs.
If you can't reach your toes, perform Standing Big Toe using a yoga strap under your feet and grasping it with both hands to intensify the stretch.
Supported Reclining Bound Angle
Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclining Bound Angle Pose is a supported stretch that stimulates all the abdominal organs, including the bladder and kidneys. It also boosts circulation, relaxes tight thighs and groins, and relieves depression, stress, and symptoms of menopause and menstruation. It encourages you to let go of tension everywhere in the body.
- Place soles of the feet together and draw the legs in, along the mat, toward your torso.
- Lean back onto your elbows and lower yourself gently to the floor.
- Relax your arms and shoulders, allowing your arms to fall loosely to the sides. Draw your shoulder blades together easily, no clenching.
- Focus on letting the weight of the legs draw your knees closer to the mat, increasing the stretch as you close your eyes and breathe deeply and evenly in the pose.
- To increase the relaxation, choose the supported version of this pose, placing a rolled towel or yoga bolster under your spine, neck and head, and tucking folded blankets or yoga blocks under your knees.
Stay in the pose as long as you are comfortable.
Marichyasana or Marichi's Twist is a seated twist that squeezes your abdominal organs, boosts digestion and elimination, releases stress, and is generally detoxifying. Plus, it feels really good.
- Bend your right knee, drawing the leg into the torso and placing your foot firmly on the mat.
- Place your right palm on the floor behind your sit bone for stability.
- Raise your left hand toward the ceiling, feeling the increased space between your ribs as you stretch the intercostals.
- Twist to the right as you bend your left elbow and tuck it against the outside of your right knee.
- Breathe deeply for at least five inhalations and exhalations, keeping the pressure on the knee with the left elbow to increase the stretch.
- Focus your eyes where your head and neck feel best - straight ahead or over the right shoulder.
- Relax, unwind and repeat the stretch on the other side.
Legs Up the Wall
This is a passive partial inversion almost anyone can do. The set up is key. Once you're in the pose you can just chill, letting the wall and gravity do all the work for you. Legs Up is a really nice restorative pose that boosts circulation of blood and lymph, speeding the elimination of toxins and delivering a gentle push of oxygen to your brain. It stimulates the digestive and abdominal organs and repairs your fractured nervous system. You will likely find it very soothing.
- Arrange your support on your mat about 5 or 6 inches from the wall. (The mat should be perpendicular to the wall.) Try it out to see if this is the correct distance and adjust as necessary.
- Sit on your support with your right side facing the wall. Take a deep breath and swing both legs up and against the wall as you lower your torso and head to the mat.
- Raise and lower your shoulder blades a bit to increase the space between them.
- Lift the base of your skull just off the floor to release the head backward and relax your neck and chin. (If your mat doesn't provide enough cushion, you can use a very thin folded cloth or towel between your skull and the floor, or a small rolled towel under your neck, just at the juncture of neck and shoulders.)
- Check that your spine arches very slightly from hips to shoulders and let your arms fall to the sides, palms up.
- Allow your lower butt to "melt" into the space between your support and the baseboard, and the weight of your belly area to sink deeply into the floor.
- Breathe and empty your mind for five to fifteen minutes.
- To leave the pose, bend your knees, push against the wall to raise your butt, slide the support out from under you, lower your butt back to the floor, and roll to the side before attempting to get up.
Pranayama - Breathing Poses
The breath of life (prana) is central to a yoga practice, and you can combine yoga breathing with Lotus or Easy pose to open your energy channels, center yourself and lower stress, and create a strong and lasting sense of well-being. Try a Pranayama exercise such as Dirgha Pranayama, Nadi Shodhana, or Ujjayi Breathing at the beginning or end of your daily yoga practice - or anytime you need to release anxiety and restore equanimity. Do Pranayama in Lotus or Easy pose as a prelude to meditation or to increase the healing benefits these poses confer. Both poses target your abdominal region, your thighs and groins, and your spine. Easy pose is, well, easier, if you can't manage the cross-tucked legs in full Lotus.
Cure, Not Cause
Make sure you're not undoing all of your progress by making a few common mistakes involving yoga. Dry off and change clothes as soon as you can after practicing yoga -- especially "hot yoga" such as Bikram, which causes you to sweat heavily. The additional heat and dampness will contribute to the ideal environment for a yeast infection to form. If you're currently into yoga and you have a yeast infection, change quickly after your session and clean your yoga attire well before wearing it again.
Go Easy on Yourself
Maintain your yoga practice if you do develop a yeast infection, but listen to your body when choosing a class or selecting a daily sequence. Take it slow to ease into the stretches, twists and hip openers. Stay mindful of your yoga breathing in each posture to increase your energy and deepen your relaxation. Treat yourself with comforting and recovery poses like Child's pose and Savasana. Yoga can help you to heal from a yeast infection -- and lower your risk for an infection in the future.