Women face multiple emotional and physical changes before and during menopause. Here is how yoga can help reduce the side effects and manage the changes.
Let’s face it. Going through menopause is a drag. There are so many changes as you head into menopause and once you’re officially in it. These changes can be challenging. What better practice to help you get through this than yoga!
Yoga will not only help you physically but also with the emotional changes. Perimenopause (the time before the actual menopause period), which can last for years, is when most women experience menopausal symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms That Yoga Targets?
- Hot flashes
- Adrenal burnout
- Digestive problems
What Happens During Menopause?
We are all made up of five elements, similar to the rest of nature. Health issues result in an imbalance in the elements of our body. Yoga, eating certain foods, and other mind/body therapies such as meditation help restore the balance. During menopause, women experience a lack of the water element. This causes dryness of skin and hair. Using the sister science of Ayurveda, you can reduce this dryness with oils that can be consumed and/or used topically.
How Does Yoga Help?
Certain yoga poses (asanas) focus on the water element with the fluidity in the postures (vinyasa). Hip opening poses are very beneficial in terms of regulating the water element. Restorative yoga postures are particularly helpful, especially at the onset of menopause, when the change can often leave you feeling exhausted and emotionally frayed.
What Are A Few Simple Poses?
- Child’s pose – Turn inward and get into a fetal position. You can use a bolster to prop you up, and if you are experiencing any kinds of cramps, you can use a blanket folded at the lower belly to bring some energy to the area. Your forehead rests on the ground or on a block, and this has a very calming effect on the nervous system.
- Supported bound angle pose – This is one of the most beneficial restorative postures. It opens the hips, draws energy downward (apana), and helps restore energy, especially when you feel depleted.
- Supported bridge pose – This is an energizing pose and works on the adrenals. You can use a block or bolster under your low back, and knees can be bent or straight.
- Viparita Karani pose – This inverted pose you can get into by propping up your legs on the wall will increase your energy. As an alternative, you can prop your legs on a chair (simply rest the calves on a chair); this helps if you are experiencing lower-back pain. It’s even better if you can elevate the hips for either version, either on a block or bolster.
What Are The More Intense Poses?
Most of the time, your body is not up to a rigorous exercise. Although I’m a big fan of listening to the body, I’d suggest not to do it all the time. I often feel more energized after an active practice with a good deal of forward and backward bends. Here are a few that help with the symptoms of menopause:
- Prasarita padottanasana (the fan pose) – In this pose, feel free to practice with a chair to support your arms or use blocks under your hands or even to support your head. Forward bends ease anxiety, which is a side effect of hormonal changes.
- Ustrasana (the camel pose) – Back bends are extremely energizing. This one is particularly easy on the body because you can modify to help explore the pose, even if you cannot get into the pose completely. This pose is most effective when your feet and hands are in contact with each other. However, you can also start with your hands resting on your lower back and really work to keep the hips over the knees. Once you get more comfortable, you can move your hands down the back of your legs, pausing wherever necessary. Finally, you can use the help of blocks placed near your feet and at a higher height than the feet. This will take you almost into the full expression. Ultimately, the benefit of this pose can be experienced at any stage.
How Do Pranayama And Meditation Help?
- Sitali breath – This can be done any time you feel a hot flash coming on. Simply curl the tongue or stick the tongue out like a dog, inhale up the tongue, and exhale through your nose.
- Meditation – Any form of meditation is helpful. Find the right practice that works for you. You can simply meditate on the breath or pick a mantra to repeat (any word or words you resonate with).
Use yoga to help you go through menopause smoothly. It’s often hard to go through the changes and you might sense an emotional feeling of loss. Yoga can help you feel connected to yourself and if you continue the practice lifelong, you will always feel at home with your body.