What I experienced when I tried Yoga for PCOS

6 min read

I was 13 when I was diagnosed with PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I remember my doctor saying that it could cause infertility as an adult and to expect a wide range of symptoms as I continued throughout young adulthood.

I experienced excess body hair, irregular and infrequent periods, and weight loss. Other symptoms include insulin resistance, heavy periods, depression, acne, and hair loss. PCOS is a condition that affects one in ten women in the United States. PCOS is idiopathic. Its cause is unknown. However, it causes hormone imbalance and higher androgen levels than normal for females.

PCOS and Body Image

I felt shame and disappointment for what my body seemed to be doing as a punishment. I was struggling with my body image and started a weight-loss journey. After two years of healthy food and daily exercise, I lost around 80 pounds.

My weight loss journey began with a loving intention to be healthier. However, I also disliked my body. This led to disordered eating habits and compulsive exercises, which I carried with me through college. I started weightlifting competitively and enjoyed the challenge of “molding” my body.

When I reached one goal, it was only a matter of time before I created another…and never did I accept how I looked or performed. It became an obsession, and it gave me the sense of empowerment that I was missing in many areas of my life. In my mid-twenties, I finally decided to make a change.

The Physical Isn’t Enough

I stopped doing physical activities where I was asked to change my appearance or told I was “not good enough” the way I was. It was physically and emotionally painful for me to be a perfectionist.

Over the years, I made great progress in healing my eating patterns and the deep pain that had allowed it to continue for so many decades. This was through counseling, taking the time to feel deeply, and a growing light of self-love. It was now time to go beyond the physical.

I intuitively knew that PCOS was my body’s way of telling me to go deeper, both emotionally and spiritually. What was my body telling me?

PCOS meant to me that I needed to accept and love my body and heal my sexuality.

As a young child, I was inundated with unhealthy and irrational messages that caused me to feel shame, guilt, and fear about my body. I was conditioned to believe that being a woman was dangerous, uncomfortable, and disadvantageous. I found it difficult to be receptive.

In turn, this led to me feeling disempowered and experiencing many “teaching” moments as an adult on how to regain my sense of power. This self-disapproval was also fueled by the insecurity and difficulty of nurturing and loving myself without condition.

I’m still working through the unraveling of my false self, letting go and opening myself up to the beauty within. I still have a long way to go, but I’m grateful that I’m moving in the right direction.

What I did to start my yoga journey

After years of intense exercise, I started Yoga to rejuvenate and rest my body. But also to heal myself emotionally. At first, I focused on the way it could change and mold my body. After reading a few books on Yoga, it became clear that Yoga is not an “outfit” but rather a way to work.

It is hard to change this intention as a fitness trainer. But I have tried my best. It is a tool I use to be present with myself, enjoy my body’s presence, come into a deeper acceptance and self-love, soothe anxiety, and listen.

Sometimes, I leave my mat feeling energized and optimistic, and on other days, a floodgate of deep pain opens. Eventually, I feel lighter and find inner peace.

Since the beginning of this transition, I have seen improvements in my PCOS. I am grateful. Since childhood, I’ve been taking oral contraceptive pills to help manage my symptoms. It has made a significant difference. My yoga practice has still caused a change in my body. It’s a shift that is collaborative between my spiritual, emotional, and physical.

When it comes time to conceive, I have a feeling that everything will be fine. If I’m wrong, I have at least developed trust in my body’s intelligence and my journey. They will guide me to the best outcome for me at the right time.

Yoga is better than intense exercise.

Intense exercise has been counterproductive to my emotional goals at this stage of my life. It can also be ineffective in achieving healthy levels of hormones and even increase the production of androgens. This is a problem for women with PCOS.

I did some research on “yoga to heal PCOS” and found that it can help reduce symptoms such as infertility, irregular periods, and cysts and help you achieve a healthier weight.

Hatha styles and Yin styles are the most beneficial to me. These styles are gentle on my body, help me connect with my emotional self, and don’t increase androgens like some vigorous yoga. Sometimes, I miss the intensity of my movements, so I incorporate Vinyasa into my routine a few times a week to change things up. Of course, I listen to my body about what it needs on any given day.

It is okay to honor the days when I feel like lifting weights or going for a run. All my movements are meant to be self-loving and constructive, not destructive. I also listen to my body more than I ever have before.

Yoga was a balancer in my overall wellness. I now love my body even more and understand that physical ailments can be an opportunity to learn. Our bodies can be amazing messengers when we tune in and listen to ourselves.

Move From Fear to Healing

Every physical pain and disease is a powerful chance to heal ourselves. PCOS has taught me to heal. She now understands that she was unintentionally taught to “reject herself” by the scared adolescent.

Our culture sends out unrealistic, unattainable, and false messages on what it means to look beautiful, be a woman, and honor our femininity.

It’s okay if I don’t completely cure PCOS within my body. With the courage and love I possess, I have discovered ways to nurture myself and appreciate my body as it is and in its current location.

I’m excited to continue my yoga journey. It will be an amazing dance to get deeper into myself with every movement and moment.

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