Exercise for PCOS: how yoga can support your hormone health


Polycystic ovary syndrome can be stressful and tiring. It’s not only the health worries that can wear you out, but also the physiological changes that occur in people with PCOS, like high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

If you have the condition, it’s important to implement calming practices into your day to support your hormones, mood and energy levels. Yoga is just one brilliant way to do that.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice that incorporates both mental and physical wellbeing. The poses, called asanas, will improve flexibility and strength, but yoga isn’t just about contortion. The meditative and breathwork aspect of the practice has also been shown to relax and destress you, as well as promote a mind-body connection.

In 2015, a review of 20 years of research on relaxation practices found that yoga was one of the most effective ways to relieve depression and anxiety in adults. It’s also been shown to reduce inflammation in those with chronic conditions, including chronic stress. 

Yoga is also shown to ease symptoms of PMS and period pain, which can be particularly intense for people with PCOS. Another small study published in 2017 found significant improvements in menstrual pain, physical fitness, and quality of life in those who did 30 minutes of yoga twice a week compared to those who didn’t. 

Is yoga good for PCOS?

The benefits of yoga can absolutely apply to those with PCOS, and people with the condition can particularly benefit from any activity that reduces inflammation and stress. 

More specific studies into the impact of yoga on PCOS show other benefits, too. A very small study on 20 people with the syndrome found that those who did three one-hour mindful yoga classes a week for three months saw a 29% reduction in testosterone levels, which are typically high in people with the condition.

What type of yoga is best?

There are loads of different types of yoga, from vinyasa practices to hot yoga and yin. It’s hard to distinguish between types of yoga written about in the research, but we can assume all the studies looked at practices that connected the mind and the body through movement and breathwork.

As with all activities, the ‘best’ type is the one that you enjoy. That might be holding stillness during yin sessions or more strength-focused power yoga. As long as you aren’t finding it stressful, you’ll probably be reaping the benefits.

The best yoga exercises for PCOS

Individual yoga poses like cat-cow and cobra have been shown to stimulate blood flow to the abdominals and ease period pains or backaches associated with PCOS. But, if you want a full practice, try some of these gentle yoga practices that will reduce stress, improve energy and support your body.

30 minute energising yoga by Shona Vertue

Start the day by warming up the body and giving some time to your mind with this 30-minute flow.

Stress melting yoga break by Yoga With Adriene

Release tension and stress with this gentle, nourishing practice.

20 minute Yin Yoga for PCOS by Live Fertile

This slow, yin yoga practice is a brilliant way to melt away the day – specifically designed for ovarian health and people with PCOS.


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