There is no cure for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is something any Cyster is well aware of. However, there is hope for managing PCOS symptoms. Trust me, you don’t need to just live with your irritating symptoms of PCOS.
One way you can get relief from both the physical and mental effects of PCOS is through exercise! Cysters, though, need to be aware of what workouts we do and if they feel right. Slow-weighted and meditative workouts are a great way to lower stress hormones while building muscle.
So, does yoga count? Is yoga good for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)? That’s the question we’re exploring today! Here’s the breakdown on yoga and PCOS:
Is Yoga Good for PCOS?
To put it simply, yoga can work wonders for PCOS. The meditative nature of the exercises keep our bodies relaxed and stress hormones low while we workout. This means we receive all of the benefits of yoga, without any of the anxiety you feel after you do an intense work out with PCOS.
Personally, when I switched to yoga after a year of intense kickboxing and cycling, I had never felt better. My body and stress hormones needed a break.
Have you ever felt fatigue, anxiousness, and even gained weight after working out A LOT? Going with a mindful and slow exercise such as yoga is the perfect choice for anyone looking to add a hormone-healthy fitness routine to their PCOS journey. Here’s why yoga is so good for PCOS:
Benefits of Yoga for PCOS
Improve Anxiety and Depression
Women with PCOS are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than a person with no autoimmune disease. Hormone imbalance, unwanted body changes, and other symptoms of PCOS really contribute to this issue. Then, depression and anxiety can contribute to unhealthy lifestyle choices that further worsen PCOS symptoms, creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.
However, meditative yoga has been shown to alleviate depression and anxiety and help break that cycle. The exercises promote relaxation, which can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. In studies when Cysters participated in yoga for around an hour, three times a week, they found significant reduction in their symptoms of depression and anxiety after just one month.
Because yoga has relaxing benefits, it decreases strain on the adrenal system. When your body receives stimuli like a fast-paced workout, a bunch of caffeine, or an anxiety-inducing situation, your body releases extra cortisol, which is your body’s fight or flight response.
It’s what has kept us alive for thousands of years. In these intense situations, the increase in our heart rate and blood pressure keeps us alert to survive the threats ahead . . . however, we’re not coming face-to-face with bears or opposing troops most days. Instead, we’re worked up about our job, family commitments, or other not-so-life-threatening situations.
When our bodies release cortisol, it increases our blood pressure and disrupts our glucose metabolism. Then, our adrenal system has to work overtime to regulate our bodies again after a burst of stress like this! (Which is exactly why fast-paced, heavy workouts have probably never gone well for us ladies with PCOS.)
Instead, choose yoga, which relieves stress and helps to regulate those hormonal imbalances. The deep breathing, slow movements, and focus on mindfulness are ideal for us.
Regulate Menstrual Cycle
Irregular periods are often one of the first signs of PCOS. When there are high levels of androgens (male hormones) in the body, reproductive organs can’t function properly. The follicle doesn’t mature and release, and a period never occurs.
However, studies have shown that practicing yoga can help with menstrual-related hormonal imbalances. In addition to helping regulate your period, yoga can also ease pain, swelling, cramping, and breast tenderness.
Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, which means their body doesn’t metabolize and process glucose properly. This increases Cysters’ risk for weight gain! Yoga, though, can help stimulate proper metabolic processes through twisting and compressing.
It’s pretty crazy, but various yoga poses sort of massage your abdominal organs and help to regulate your endocrine organs. Plus, any type of increased physical activity is going to help improve metabolism, digestion, and circulation, which can help you lose weight and lower the long-term risks of PCOS.
Boost Energy and Focus
Though scientists aren’t sure why, yoga has been shown to boost energy and increase executive function (a person’s ability to plan, focus, recall, and multi-task.) They believe it is because of endorphin release and increased blood flow to the brain. Even more, yoga can help you silence stirring thoughts and focus on what’s currently important.
Yoga can help with physical energy too! If you’re a Cyster, you know fatigue. Sometimes the worst part of PCOS aren’t the cysts and extra pounds, but the constant fogginess!
Though yoga alone can’t fix all your PCOS symptoms, it has been shown to help support your symptom management when combined with other lifestyle changes.
Best Yoga Poses for PCOS
The mountain pose is a really easy position if you’re just starting with yoga for PCOS. Simply stand with your feet parallel and your arms hanging naturally with your palms facing out. Then, take deep breaths and roll your shoulders. It’s a great choice because it’s thought to be good for digestive health!
Here’s another one considered helpful for digestion, although it’s also thought to help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. For this one, start in the mountain pose, then take a deep breath and bend forward until you touch your feet. Keep breathing, and each time you do, lift and stretch your abdomen. Really feel the stretch.
To do this pose, you kneel on all fours. Then, you breathe in, and stretch out your legs to make an inverted “V.” It’s believed this helps improve circulation since your head is lower than your heart. Additionally, it’s thought to relieve tension from the neck and back, which further helps blood flow to the brain!
When you do child’s pose, you start on your knees, separating your legs slightly. Next, bend forward and lay your torso across your knees, stretching your arms forward with your palms on the ground. This pose is thought to boost blood circulation, help with digestion, and energize your body to fight fatigue.
For the bridge pose, start by lying on your back. Then, place your feet flat on the floor a shoulder’s width apart. Next, your palms go flat on the floor, down at your sides. Finally, press your hips and torso into the air. This one has been shown to really help with PCOS related pain by relieving lower back tension.
Reclining Butterfly Pose
To do the butterfly pose, sit on the floor and press your feet together, spreading out your knees and thighs. Then, lie down on your back and place your hands on your stomach. Studies have indicated this pose relieves pelvic pain, eases stress, and relieves symptoms of depression.
The bow pose is considered helpful for PCOS because it’s believed to regulate menstrual flow, stimulate the reproductive organs, and relieve pelvic pain. To complete the pose, lie on your stomach and hold your ankles. Pull to lift your legs and chest off the ground. Hold, release, repeat as necessary.
Finally, let’s talk about the boat pose! This one requires a little balance, but basically, you sit with your legs and back off the floor stretched out. You’ll look like a “V.” Your hands should extend past the knees with your arms out straight. The boat pose is thought to better the health of your reproductive organs and relieve pelvic pain as it releases stress and anxiety on your body and mind. Give it a try!
Mediative workouts like yoga are great for PCOS symptoms!
Alright, it’s time to roll out your yoga mat, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and practice some poses. Though yoga cannot cure PCOS symptoms, adding mediative workouts into your daily routine can make reversing PCOS a little easier.
Also, don’t forget to join the The Cysterhood App. It’s both a resource and community that can help you reach your PCOS healing goals. There, you can earn points that can be traded in for prizes like my favorite yoga kits. I can’t wait to see what they do for your journey!