Before I wasn’t connected with my body, just something that I fed, clothed, bathed. Now thanks to yoga I understand my body’s gifts, as well as its limitations and am constantly impressed by what it can do.

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) when I was 23 years old. PCOS, as the name implies, can manifest as cysts on the ovaries although this is not always what happens. For most women, including me, it works like this: there is weight gain, hormone imbalance, insulin resistance, irregular periods, infertility, and facial hair growth, among other symptoms. PCOS, which affects one in ten women, went undiagnosed until about 15 years ago. It is still so largely misunderstood that many afflicted women go undetected or, like me, receive the diagnosis but don’t know what to do about it. Typically the sole recommended “treatment” is to just “lose weight.” Finding myself in this situation I tried many forms of exercise and diet. But despite earnest efforts, this was to no avail. I did not experience any weight loss or change in my health. Nor did these attempts help me to understand my body or come to terms with it. For the most part I felt like a failure.

Three and a half years ago, wanting so desperately to feel successful at moving my body, I sought out yoga as a last resort. I vividly remember how my first yoga class changed my perspective as to my movement capabilities and how I thought of myself. Since then I have become a yoga junkie. I regularly attend at least one class a week. And I am so thankful for the incredible physical and emotional relief this provides me. I have come to crave yoga. When I’m unable to practice my poses or meditate I feel disorganized, stressed out, and lethargic. But when I’m sitting on my mat, legs crossed, hands on my knees, eyes gently closed, I can block out the white noise of life and travel inward. There I can affirm myself, and my mind and body speak truths that only yoga allows me to hear.

– Kelly