7 Ways Yoga Can Help Women Through Menopause
The number of women who practice yoga after the age of 50 is on the steady rise, with women realizing that yoga is the perfect way to reduce and often eliminate the discomforts associated with menopause and aging.
As women experience emotional and physical fluctuations throughout their lives as part of the natural aging process, yoga can serve as a useful tool to help regulate hormones. The hormonal changes we experience in menopause are the same hormones that affect us during menstruation, which can also cause PMS symptoms.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana) is the perfect pose to help stabilize the fluctuation of hormones. Sit cross-legged on your mat with your eyes closed and take three deep breaths. Allow your mind to rest as you acknowledge the thoughts as they pass through your mind's eye. Bring your attention to the breath, relax and let the pose work it's magic.
Still not convinced? Here are seven great reasons why yoga can help ease the transition of menopause for women:
1. It lowers stress.
Yoga controls breathing, which in turn reduces anxiety. It also clears all the negative feelings and thoughts from the mind, leading toward a more blissful state.
It is also a highly effective method to reduce and control anger. When practicing yoga regularly, your overall sense of calmness will increase and as a result, a happier and stress-free life can be led.
2. Physical pain and discomfort is alleviated.
Yoga practitioners can tend to have higher pain tolerance. Aches and pains associated with menopause like back and neck pain, and chronic pain in general, can be eased along with a regular, gentle yoga practice.
Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) helps to increase flexibility in the joints and work every muscle in the body — a complete physical and emotional work out in itself. Try practicing 5-10 rounds per day, and even if you don’t have time for other forms of yoga you will experience dramatic relief from general aches and pains, I assure you.
3. Hot flashes are decreased.
During the menopause, hot flashes are caused by an excess of pitta (the Ayurvedic dosha for "fire") in the body that has to be released. Some asanas that can help include Seated Half-Bound Lotus Pose (Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana, Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana), and Reclined Lotus Pose (Supta Padmasana).
When experiencing hot flashes, your movements should be slow and weight bearing, paying close attention to the rhythm of your breath and position of the tongue to the roof of the palate during practice. This allows the mind to become more calm and stabilized.
4. Blood pressure is reduced.
A common symptom during the menopause is night sweats. A regular yoga practice reduces high blood pressure and promotes oxygenation and blood circulation in the body. This in turn, can help ease those terrible night sweats.
Savasana is an ideal pose for allowing yourself to relax and bring your attention solely to your breath. By taking our focus away from the stresses and strains of the outside world, you're more able to focus on what’s happening in the now.
5. It’s a natural remedy.
Yoga is a fantastic and natural way to help alleviate the pain associated with the menstrual cycle. So many women suffer in silence or take endless pills to reduce pain, but yoga can help soothe the symptoms without having to suffer. It helps bring you to a calmer place emotionally and physically.
6. It’s even better when combined with aromatherapy.
Yoga and aromatherapy have physical, mental and spiritual benefits for the practitioner and therefore, it becomes logicalto use aromatherapy when practicing yoga.
Not only are your senses enthralled by the beautiful aromas during your practice, the focus and effects of your practice are intensified by the therapeutic use of the essential oil blends.
Healing benefits of aromatherapy oils include releasing old or negative emotions, experiencing a detoxifying or cleansing feeling, soothing tense muscles, helping to balance hormonal fluctuations, and even help to realign the chakras.
7. It's great for the joints.
Yoga has been proven to help people suffering from problems associated with joints, such as arthritis. While not all menopausal women will have arthritis, it’s a health concern that’s often associated with aging.
Research published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, showed that practicing Hatha yoga can help to ease joint pain, fatigue and other related symptoms. The small study involved women age 21-to-25 who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for an average of about 10 years. After six weeks, the group that practiced yoga said they were happier and were more able to accept and manage their pain. The women also reported better general health and energy overall.
Cheryl MacDonald is the founder of YogaBellies, which specializes in perinatal yoga and natural birth preparation. She created the Birth ROCKS natural birth preparation method and has trained over 70 YogaBellies teachers across the world. She's worked with birthing women for almost ten years, and is mother of one lovely three-year-old boy. Cheryl lives with her husband in the west end of Glasgow.