Aging gracefully isn’t always easy especially when menopause sets in. Menopause brings with it fluctuating hormones that mess up your sleep, makes you irritable, pack on pounds of belly fat and painful mensuration.
If you’re looking for natural ways to manage or reduce menopause symptoms, consider starting a yoga practice. A research study says yoga practice cut hot flashes by 31%. Other studies say yoga improves your mood and craving control.
Symptoms of Menopause
During the years leading up to menopause, you might experience
- Hot flashes
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
- Sweat problem
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Mood changes
- Weight gain and slow metabolism
- Loss of breast fullness
You might skip periods during pre-menopause. Your menstrual cycle may skip a month and return or skip several months and then start monthly periods again for a few months.Despite irregular periods, pregnancy is possible.
Causes of Menopause
Menopause can result from:
- Natural reduction of reproductive hormones
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Primary ovarian insufficiency- This condition may occur when your ovaries fail to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones due to autoimmune diseases or genetic factors. Primary ovarian insufficiency may affect 1 percent of women.
Yoga for Menopause
Yoga can be a significant tool for efficient management of menopause symptoms. Here are some great reasons why yoga can make the transition easier for you.
Yoga lowers stress. Yoga controls your breathing which reduces anxiety. It frees you from negative feelings and thoughts, leading to a more blissful state. Yoga helps you to reduce and control anger. Practicing yoga on a regular basis provides a sense of calmness that results in as tress-free life.
Reduces physical pain and discomfort. If you practice yoga, you’ll have a higher pain tolerance. Yoga reduces pains and aches related to menopause like back and neck pain and chronic pain in general. If you practice sun salutations, it will significantly increase flexibility in the joints and work every muscle in your body. Try practicing the Surya Namaskar 5-10 rounds per day.
Decreases hot flushes. According to Ayurvedic practices, hot flushes are due to excess of pitta (fire dosha) in your body that you must release. Seated half-bound lotus, Half Lord of the fishes and Reclined lotus poses, can help to reduce hot flushes.
When you experience hot flushes, you must do the movements slowly, pay close attention to the rhythm of your breath and keep your tongue on the roof of your palate during practice. These actions help your mind to become more calm and stabilized.
Reduces blood pressure. You might experience night sweats during menopause. If you practice yoga on a regular basis, it reduces high blood pressure and oxygenates your blood. This action helps to reduce night sweats.
Yoga is even better with aromatherapy. During your yoga practice, your senses are enthralled by the beautiful aromas of the essential oil blends. This action intensifies your focus and the effects of your practice.
The aromatherapy oils release old or negative emotions, cleanses your feelings, soothes tense muscles, realigns the chakras and help to balance hormonal fluctuations.
Yoga good for joints. A study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found practicing Hatha Yoga can contribute to easing joint pain. The study participants were 21-25-year-old women who had rheumatoid arthritis for nearly ten years.
After six weeks the women who practiced yoga felt happier and were more able to manage and accept their pain. They reported better general health and overall energy.
7 Yoga Moves that Reduces Menopause Symptoms
Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
- Stand straight and position your feet parallel to each Keep your feet atleast six inches apart and your legs straight.
- Gently contract your thigh muscles so you can lift your kneecap outwards.
- Bend forward with the aim of touching your forehead to your knees.
- Firmly hold your big toe on each leg with your fingers.
- Inhale and lift your torso, and gently straighten your elbows.
- Slowly exhale and again bend towards your toes. Repeat this process a few times and straighten your body.
- Keep your breath constant, and torso straight as you go up and down, all the while holding your toes firmly.
- Come back to the starting position.
- Reduces menopause and menstrual disorders
- Calms your brain and relieves stress and anxiety
- Activates kidneys and liver
- Stretches your calves and hamstrings
- Improves digestion
- Strengthens thighs
- Stimulates your digestive and reproductive systems
- Relieves insomnia and headaches
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
- Start the asana in staff pose. Sit straight with your spine and extend the legs in front of you. Rest your arm son the sides with your palms on the mat.
- Slowly bend your knees and draw your heels inwards towards your pelvis. Gently press the soles of your feet together, while your knees drop open to both sides.
- Hold each of your big toes with your first two fingers. Press the soles of your feet firmly together and press your outer edges of your feet firmly on the floor.
- Sit straight and extend through the length of your entire spine through the crown of your head.
- Softly gaze ahead. Be in this pose for up to 5 minutes.
- To release the pose remove the clasp from your toes. Gently lift your knees and extend your legs.
- Strengthens and improves flexibility
- Soothes menstrual discomfort and digestive problems
- Reduces fatigue
- Opens up lower back and relieves sciatica
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Enhances the health of ovaries,prostate gland, kidneys and bladder
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Start the asana by lying on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor hip-width Keep your arms on the sides with palms facing down.
- Press your feet into the floor. Slowly inhale and lift your hips up. Lightly squeeze your knees together, and keep your knees hip-width
- Press down on your arms and shoulders and lift your chest up. Engage your legs, buttocks and contract your muscles at the bottom of the pelvic floor behind the cervix(Mula Bandha) to lift your hips higher.
- Gently breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths.
- To release, exhale and slowly release the spine back to the floor.
Bridge pose builds your core and strength, especially in the lower body. It lengthens and strengthens your spine, stimulates your endocrine and nervous system and energizes your body.
Ardha PINCHA MAYURASANA (Dolphin Pose)
- Come to the table position, lower your forearms to the floor, tuck your toes. Gently lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
- Spread out your fingers wide apart, with your middle finger facing forward and keep your palms shoulder-width
- Pres your forearms, fingers and the palms onto the floor, and engage your hips up and back. Keep your spine straight and long, reaching up high through the tailbone.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart with your toes facing forward. Press your heels on the floor; you’ll feel a stretch in the back of your legs. Slightly bend your knees to keep your back flat.
- Keep your head and neck tension free and allow your forehead to rest on the floor. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths.
- To release gently bend your knees and lower your hips back to the table pose or come all the way down to child’s pose.
- Calms your brain, and relieves stress and mild depression
- Relieves symptoms of menopause
- Strengthens arms and legs
- Strengthens shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and arches
- Prevents osteoporosis
- Improves digestion
- Relieves insomnia, back pain, fatigue and headache
- Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, sciatica and flat feet.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
- Start with your hands and knees. Position your wrists directly under your shoulder. Keep your knees directly under your hips.
- Stretch your elbows and gently relax your upper back.
- Spread your fingers wide and press through your palms and knuckles.
- Slowly exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Extend your pelvis up toward the ceiling. Slowly draw your sit bones towards the wall behind you. Gently straighten your legs but do not lock, your body resembles the shape of letter“A.”
- Press on the floor as you lift through your pelvis. Lengthen your spine and lift your sit bones up through the ceiling. Press down through your heels and palms of your hands.
- Rest your index fingers on the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and towards your tailbone. Broaden your collarbones.
- Rotate your arms externally. Bring your chest toward your thighs as you press the mat away from you, as you lengthen and decompress your spine.
- Engage your quadriceps. Rotate your thighs inward and sink your heels toward the floor.
- Align your ears with your upper arms. Gently relax your head, and gaze between your legs.Hold for 5-100 breaths.
- To release gently bend your knees and exhale. Come back to your hands and knees.
- Calms your brain and energizes your body.
- Helps relieve symptoms of menopause and prevent osteoporosis
- Improves digestion
- Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with head supported
- Strengthens arms and legs
- Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, sciatica, flat feet, and sinusitis.
- Relieves insomnia, headache and back pain
Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
- Start the exercise with the mountain pose. Exhale as you slowly step your left foot back, place it parallel to the back edge of the mat. Raise your arms parallel to the floor.
- Turn your left foot in a little to the right. Bring your right foot out to 90 degrees. Align the right heel with your left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right leg
- Exhale and extend your torso towards your right, bend from your hip and not from your waist. As you straighten your left leg, press your outer heel firmly into the floor. Slowly rotate your torso to the left. Allow your hip to come slightly forward. Lengthen your tailbone towards your back heel.
- Rest your right hand on your ankle. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling. Keep your head in a neutral position, turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at your left thumb.
- Stay in the pose for 30 secs to one minute. Inhale as you come up. Press your back thoroughly on the floor, and reach your top arm towards the ceiling. Repeat on the other side.
- Helps relieve symptoms of menopause
- Stretches and strengthens your thighs, knees, and ankles.
- Relieves stress
- Improves digestion and stimulates abdominal organs
- Relieves backache
- Therapeutic for anxiety, neck pain, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica
- Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest, and spine
Virasana (Hero Pose)
- Sit so your butt rests on your heels. Rise on your knees for a moment. If you feel comfortable, you can proceed further.
- Lift back up off your heels. Separate your feet wide enough so you can sit between them. Point your toes so that the back of your feet are flat against the mat.
- Slowly lower back down to the ground.
- Keep your hands on your knees or thighs, this action helps you to expand your chest, and sit upright.
- Gently rotate your legs inward to deepen the stretch.
- Hold the pose for as many breaths as you are comfortable.
- Release the pose slowly by raising your hips, or lying flat on your stomach like you’re flying to continue the hero theme.
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Strengthens the arches
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma
- Reduces swelling of the legs during pregnancy ( you can do until your second trimester)
- Stretches the thighs, knees, and ankles
- Improves digestion and relieves gas
Hormonal changes during menopause cause your bones to become weak increasing risk of osteoporosis. So eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Your body weight may affect your menopause symptoms, so be active and maintain a healthy weight.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables keeps your bones healthy. Fruits and veggies are low in calories, aids in weight loss and help prevent some menopause symptoms. Some foods may trigger hot flashes, mood swings,and night sweats.So avoid caffeine,alcohol, spicy and sugary foods.
Include foods that are high in phytoestrogens such as flax seeds, soybeans and soy products, tofu, tempeh, linseeds, sesame seeds and beans.
Keep yourself hydrated, reduce refined sugar and processed foods. Never skip meals, eat protein-rich foods and take natural supplements.
Regular exercise improves energy and metabolism, promotes healthier joints and bones, decreases stress and provides better sleep. Along with a healthy diet try the seven asanas we’ve detailed for a smooth sailing during your menopause.