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.
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:
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:
But yoga does not just impact our reproductive health. It also has numerous benefits when it comes to our metabolic health:
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.
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)
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
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!