Yoga for PCOS: Potential benefits & 3 effective poses

Yoga can be a great way to improve physical & mental health, especially if you have PCOS! Read on to learn how.

When it comes to managing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), lifestyle modifications play a big role in symptom management and overall quality of life. Factors like your diet, sleep, exercise, and stress levels can all impact your symptoms. Finding joyful movement can be a great way to  take care of your body and feel better with PCOS (1). 

It’s important to remember that physical movement won't look the same for everyone and listening to your body will be your key to success. For some, cardio and aerobic exercises may feel best, but for others, low impact workouts like pilates or yoga may be more effective. Whatever your choice of exercise is, it can all help balance hormones, boost your mood, and manage blood sugar and insulin levels. 

In this article we are going to explore low impact movement, specifically yoga, and its benefits for people with PCOS.

How low impact exercises help people with PCOS

All movement is good movement, but it is a little bit more nuanced when you have PCOS. 

High intensity workouts or endurance training can put your body under stress and certain types of PCOS (specifically adrenal and even inflammatory) are driven by stress levels. Overworking your body can actually worsen symptoms because it triggers cortisol to be released, which can cause inflammation if you are not giving your body enough fuel or time to recover (2).

If you find that HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts or strength training put too much strain on your body, you can try focusing on more low impact exercises into your routine, yoga! What makes yoga unique is that it’s not only a physical activity but also incorporates a component of mindfulness in the practice. This means that in addition to the benefits you will get from physical exercise, yoga can help with improving your mental health too. 

Yoga brings many benefits:

  • Accessible to an array of physical fitness levels
  • Promotes relaxation through deep breathing
  • Can help reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improves balance and mobility
  • Benefits to both physical and mental health

Yoga & PCOS

In addition to the benefits that incorporating a yoga practice can have for your general well-being, research shows it can be an effective tool for managing PCOS symptoms. In fact, studies show that practicing yoga for an hour three times a week can lead to the following benefits for people with PCOS (3).

Movement like yoga can bring many positive changes for your reproductive health such as:

  • Improvement in menstrual regularity
  • Improvement in clinical hyperandrogenism
  • Reduction in hirsutism
  • Relief of menstrual discomfort

But yoga does not just impact our reproductive health. It also has numerous benefits when it comes to our metabolic health:

  • Reduction in testosterone levels (29% reduction after three months) (2)
  • Decrease in HbA1C and insulin resistance
  • Improved lipid levels - reduction in cholesterol
  • Improved digestion

In addition to the physical benefits listed above, participants experienced less depression and anxiety. After just three months of practicing yoga, they experienced improved quality of life and emotional well-being (4).

It’s important to note that while physical movement can improve symptoms, nutrition, rest, and stress management are all lifestyle factors to also consider when you have PCOS.

Yoga poses for PCOS

When focusing on management of PCOS symptoms it can be helpful to focus on a more restorative practice. This means holding yoga poses for longer stretches of time (5 to 10 breaths) and transitioning between poses slowly. 

A restorative yoga practice can help to reduce stress, regulate emotions, and provide physical relief. Below you'll find a handful of yoga poses that can be beneficial for different aspects of PCOS (4).

Garland Pose (Malasana)

  • Benefits: Garland pose (malasana) increases circulation to the pelvic region, improves metabolism, and aids in digestion. Practicing this pose can also help to strengthen the pelvic floor and release tension in the hips. 
  • How to practice: Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands in prayer position (anjali mudra). Bend your knees and lower your buttocks towards the floor until you arrive in a squat position. Using your elbows, press into your knees to open up your hips. Use your core to stay engaged and keep your chest lifted. Hold this pose for 5 deep breaths. Release by straightening your legs and repeat this exercise a total of 3 times. 
  • Modification: For additional support try adding a rolled blanket under your heels to improve your balance and a yoga block under your glutes. 

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

  • Benefits: Bridge pose (setu bandhasana) relieves tension in the back muscles. 
  • How to practice: Start by laying down on your stomach with your arms on either side of your body, palms facing down. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the ground hip distance apart. As you inhale, lift your lower back, mid back, then upper back off the floor. Improve your stability by engaging your glutes, bringing your chest towards your chin, and pressing into all four corners of your feet. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths. Release by slowly lowering to the ground starting with your upper back, mid-back, then lower back and repeat this exercise 3-5 times.
  • Modifications: To relieve pressure on the neck roll a small towel or blanket under the next for additional support. If you find that your knees are splaying outwards, try hugging a block between your inner thighs.

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

  • Benefits: Bow pose (dhanurasana) increases circulation to the pelvic region, releases tension from the abdominal organs and stretches the neck, shoulder, and leg muscles.
  • How to practice: Start by laying down on your stomach with your arms on either side of your body. Bend your knees and hold your ankles with your hands. As you breathe in, lift your chest off the floor while pulling on your legs. Hold this pose for 5 breaths. Slowly release your chest and legs to the ground and relax and repeat this exercise a total of 3 times.
  • Modification: If you find it too difficult to hold both of your ankles, practice this pose one leg at a time. 

If you have never tried yoga, it can seem quite daunting as a beginner. However, yoga is a practice that suits all levels and you can easily find classes or video tutorials that fit your comfortability. There are also always modifications you can make to adjust any poses to your own range of motion, so don’t be afraid to try something new! 


  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2021, November 1). Benefits of Physical Activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from 
  2. Cortisol, Stress, and Exercise. (2019, January 10). DNAFit. Retrieved March 16, 2022 from, 
  3. Verma, A., Upadhyay, V., & Saxena, V. (2021). Effect of Yoga Therapy on Health Outcomes in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Corale Naor


Corale is a Registered Dietitian and Functional Medicine Health Coach who is passionate about holistic approaches to patient care. Her philosophy is centered around a deep respect for the body’s ability to heal when given proper love and attention. Corale is on a mission to help her clients live life as the best version of themselves.