3 Health Benefits of Yoga for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Developed thousands of years ago, yoga is a form of holistic medicine that unites the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga creates balance, strength, and flexibility but also mindfulness.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are encouraged to engage in daily exercise to help balance hormones and manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Both aerobic and resistance (weight) training exercises have been shown to benefit women with PCOS. Recent evidence, however, has challenged this perspective by showing significant health benefits of yoga for improving anxiety, hormones, menstrual cycles and metabolic parameters among women with PCOS more so than conventional exercise.

Woman in a yoga pose
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Here are three surprising health benefits of yoga for women with PCOS.

Reduces Anxiety

Those who practice it regularly know about the benefits of yoga for reducing anxiety and stress. Yoga offers a calmness to the mind and there is evidence showing that yoga reduces stress and anxiety by affecting the sympathetic nerve activity.

Anxiety is common among women with PCOS and yoga may provide an effective and non-invasive treatment for women with the condition to manage it. A study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that 12 weeks of a holistic yoga program in adolescent girls with PCOS was significantly better than a physical exercise program in reducing anxiety symptoms.

Improves Hormones

There is evidence to suggest that the benefits of yoga go beyond that of reducing anxiety for women with PCOS to improving sex hormones and regulating menstrual cycles. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that adolescent girls with PCOS who engaged in a holistic yoga program involving one hour of yoga daily for 12 weeks, showed significant improvement in anti-müllerian hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH), and testosterone, even more so than physical exercise. The girls who practiced yoga daily also saw improvements in menstrual frequency.

Improves Metabolic Markers

It seems that yoga can also have a positive impact on insulin and cholesterol levels in women with PCOS. Yoga was found to be significantly more effective than conventional physical exercises in improving glucose, lipid, and insulin resistance values among the adolescent girls with PCOS who practiced different varieties of yoga daily.

Yoga offers many health benefits to women with PCOS and is definitely worth a try if you’ve never done it before. Practicing yoga can be done anywhere and at little or no cost. There are many different types of yoga ranging from gentle to more vigorous workouts. Hatha or Vinyasa yoga may be best suited for beginners as it is gentle and incorporates the basic yoga poses, whereas Ashtanga or Bikram yoga, a practice that takes place in a heated room, may be best reserved for advanced yogis.

Tips for Beginners

  • Avoid eating a heavy meal right before class.
  • Drink water before, during, and after class.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and bring your own yoga mat.
  • Don’t be shy to tell the instructor that you’re a beginner.
  • Go to class early and pick a spot that is most comfortable to you.
  • Perform the poses at your own pace.
  • Don’t be shy about asking for help.
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nidhi R, Padmalatha V, Nagarathna R, Amritanshu R. Effect of a holistic yoga program on anxiety symptoms in adolescent girls with polycystic ovarian syndrome: A randomized control trial. Int J Yoga. 2012 Jul;5(2):112-7. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.98223

  2. Nidhi R, Padmalatha V, Nagarathna R, Amritanshu R. Effects of a holistic yoga program on endocrine parameters in adolescents with polycystic ovarian syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Feb;19(2):153-60. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0868

  3. Nidhi R, Padmalatha V, Nagarathna R, Ram A. Effect of a yoga program on glucose metabolism and blood lipid levels in adolescent girls with polycystic ovary syndrome. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2012 Jul;118(1):37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2012.01.027

By Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN
 Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN, is the founder of the PCOS Nutrition Center.