Yoga is a system of exercises to promote control of the body and mind. Awtar Kaur Khalsa, MA, IBCLC, RYT, a registered yoga teacher and board-certified lactation consultant, has developed her own theory about the value of arm movements in yoga to increase milk production based upon her observations of several lactating yoga students who reported increases in milk volume after attending her Kundalini Yoga classes. She believes the milk production increase her students experienced may be a result of the arm movements that increase serum nitric oxide, resulting in increased blood circulation. She notes that Dr. Herbert Benson observed that nitric oxide triggers the relaxation response, caused by vasodilatation and increased blood circulation. She hypothesizes that this same response, triggered in proximity to milk-making glands, may cause increased milk volume. Although her recent research study to investigate this possibility was inconclusive, she plans to explore the correlation between arm movement and increased lactation in future studies. From a practical standpoint, yoga is known to be an effective means of exercise and relaxation that is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. The arm movements and increased blood circulation may help milk production. At the very least, yoga can be very relaxing and therapeutic, which can help facilitate milk ejection.
Khalsa, A. Personal communication with Diana West. July 23, 2005.