PCOS and Yoga
Last fall, I embarked on a yoga teacher training program with the intention of bringing the gift of yoga to young people struggling with food and weight concerns. Having practiced yoga for several years, I was truly convinced that gentle movement through yoga postures could lead to a more caring, healthful approach to eating. Apparently I’m not the only who thought this, because yoga in the treatment of weight-related issues has become a hot topic of research!
It was very exciting (and not altogether surprising!) to come across new research looking at yoga in the treatment of PCOS. Basically, researchers in India divided 90 teen girls—all with PCOS—into two groups. For twelve weeks, one group was instructed to practice yoga (including postures, yoga breathing, and instruction in yogic philosophy) while the other group participated in standard (non-yoga) physical activity. Each group was led by a trained instructor, and met for one hour, seven days a week.
At the end of the 12-week period (drum roll please!), the young women practicing yoga reported lower anxiety levels, lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and improved hormone levels compared with the girls who did standard physical activity. You may be wondering how yoga had a powerful affect on the girls’ health. The researchers think the health benefits have something to do with lower stress levels; and I can’t help but wonder if this is related to how the girls felt about their bodies after doing yoga.
Like people who struggle with food and weight, girls with PCOS may view their bodies in a less-than-loving way—whether this negative view comes from having excess hair, acne, or difficulty losing weight. When practicing yoga safely and (at least initially) under the supervision of a trained and caring instructor, we may notice for the first time how it really feels to be in and to move our bodies. As we become more aware of our bodies, we may also learn to appreciate everything our bodies do for us. A more loving and accepting body image is something many girls with PCOS need. Through yoga, girls with PCOS may develop a more positive view of their bodies, which may come with several health benefits, too!