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Does Yoga Help Menopause Symptoms?

Updated on January 19, 2016
Practicing yoga helps relieve menopause symptoms
Practicing yoga helps relieve menopause symptoms | Source

Has your practice of yoga helped your menopausal symptoms?

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Yoga Poses For Menopausal Symptoms

The practice of yoga is a great "natural remedy" for treating menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, moodiness, insomnia, and memory problems.

I went through this life event a little early -- I was 49 when I had my last period (the average age is 52). At 55, my body still hasn't quite adjusted to the new hormone levels, and I continue to occasionally experience a few annoying symptoms -- hot flashes, moodiness alternating with anxiety, and some fatigue. And I've noticed more "middle-aged spread" (well, part of that may be because I like my chocolate and pretzels....).

I decided not to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for a number of reasons -- mostly because I prefer to avoid medications of any kind when possible. I've tried some of the "natural" creams and pills to alleviate hot flashes and other symptoms, but I've never been too disciplined in that area.

But I AM disciplined in my practice of yoga, and that has helped me get through the worst of my menopausal symptoms.

When I skip my practice for too long, or if I don't practice intelligently, I get moody and irritable, I don't sleep as well, I experience more anxiety, and I have more hot flashes.

I know which sequences of yoga poses (scroll down for links to Yoga for Menopause sequences) help me to quiet these symptoms of menopause, so even though they haven't completely disappeared, I can easily deal with them without having them disrupt my life.

"Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured." ~ BKS Iyengar

Menopausal relief
Menopausal relief | Source

What is Menopause?

The word "menopause" comes from the Greek "meno" for month, and "pausis" for pause, or stop. Menopause is when our monthly cycle stops.

There are three stages:

Perimenopause -- or premenopause. The greatest fluctuation in hormones are during this stage. Our menstrual cycles start to become more irregular during this time, and we start to experience other menopausal symptoms. Perimenopause usually lasts for about five years, but can last for much longer.

Menopause -- This stage is when the menstrual cycle has stopped. "Official" menopause is twelve months after the last period. The body is still adjusting to the changes in hormonal levels, and we may experience menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes) for several more years.

Postmenopause -- This stage lasts for the rest of the woman's life. The body has adjusted to the new hormonal levels, and menstrual symptoms have stopped.

Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause: A Guide to Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Health at Midlife and Beyond
Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause: A Guide to Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Health at Midlife and Beyond

This is the most comprehensive guide that I've seen to the practice of yoga during menopause.

 

A Good Guide

If you get just one book about yoga and menopause, it should be this one.

Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause by Suza Francina.

The author, Suza Francina, is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher who has done a wonderful job putting together information on how the practice of yoga can help ease our way through this life event. She intersperses her informational chapters with interviews of other yoga teachers and practitioners who have gone through this and how they've adapted their yoga practice during this time.

Supta Baddha Konasana
Supta Baddha Konasana | Source

Yoga for Menopause Sequence

Here's a nice sequence of seven restorative poses, shown in photos, that help to balance our hormones during menopause.

Yoga for Midlife and Beyond by Suza Francina

Find a good yoga class to help you learn these useful poses!

Restorative Yoga Calms Many Symptoms, and Soothes Our Nerves

Menopausal symptoms are caused by changing levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body. The practice of yoga doesn't affect the production of these hormones, but it can alleviate menopausal symptoms by improving the functioning of the endocrine system. The effects of these hormonal fluctuations are smoothed out.

The yoga poses that are most useful to ease these symptoms are restorative poses (quiet, supported, nurturing poses) which soothe the nervous system and balance the endocrine system. Restorative poses help to calm our irritable, jangled nerves, help to cool the body, and to give us much needed rest.

Many women who've had a very vigorous yoga practice up until menopause will benefit from having a more quiet practice more often. They don't have to give up their active practice, but add in a restorative practice when they're experiencing the more difficult menopausal symptoms.

The practice of yoga doesn't necessarily make it possible for every woman to be comfortable during this phase of her life, but it helps many. You still might decide that it's better for you to have HRT treatment if your symptoms are severe and you can't function well in your daily life without this treatment. You may not need HRT treatment for as long if you continue to practice yoga.

Salamba sarvangasana
Salamba sarvangasana | Source

Yoga Inversions

Inversions are "upside down" poses, or "head below the heart" poses that include Headstand, Shoulderstand (shown here), Downward Facing Dog pose, and Simple Legs Up the Wall pose, among others.

Yoga inversions help to balance the endocrine system and calm the nervous system. Some variations can be done with support, while some take more effort (Headstand, Shoulder Stand), but are soothing to people who are already practicing them regularly.

If you don't already know how to practice Headstand and Shoulderstand safely, do alternative poses instead, or get the help from an experienced teacher. These are powerful poses for maintaining health, but there are also contraindications to these poses. Practice in a way that is safe for you!

Ardha Halasana
Ardha Halasana | Source

Hot Flashes and Yoga

Hot flashes are experienced by around 80% of women going through menopause. There's a rise in the core body temperature and a faster pulse during hot flashes. Some people, looking on the bright side, call them power surges...

Stress, fatigue, and intense periods of activity can intensify hot flashes. My hot flashes are often preceded by a sudden feeling of anxiety. They're worse if I'm tired or angry or irritable.

Supported poses such as this "Supported plow pose" are cooling, and calming to jittery nerves. (If you don't already practice this pose, there are many other quiet, cooling poses that you can do instead, including lying on the floor with legs up the wall or supported forward bends)

Another cooling pose is "Supta baddha konasana", as shown in the photo a couple of sections above (lying over a bolster with feet together, knees wide).

Supported Setu Bandha
Supported Setu Bandha | Source

Fatigue

Fatigue is the second most common menopausal symptom. Gentle supported backbends that open the chest and heart area bring more energy, determination, and joy.

This pose is Setu bandha sarvangasana with support (supported bridge pose variation), and is very soothing to the nervous system as well as a good way to open the chest.

The two other poses shown earlier are also helpful for resting the body and quieting the mind.

Supported Prasarita Padottanasana
Supported Prasarita Padottanasana | Source

Irritability, Anxiety, Mental Tension

Forward bending poses with the head supported (either standing or seated) can help reduce irritability and mental tension. Supported foreward bends shut out external distractions and soothe the mind and reduce stress. The other poses shown earlier also help with these symptoms.

When you're feeling strong and rested, you can do your more vigorous practice if that's what you're used to (I know my body craves the more vigorous work when I'm feeling strong and healthy) but do pay attention to when your body needs these quieter, more nurturing poses. You'll get through menopause much easier if you take care of yourself!

Namaste greeting
Namaste greeting | Source

Post-Menopause and Yoga

After our hormones have adjusted to their new levels, our menopausal symptoms disappear and we generally feel more comfortable in our own bodies again.

Our practice of yoga during this later stage of our lives won't be as vigorous as in our earlier years, but it will help us keep our bones strong, our joints mobile, our heart healthy, and it will help us maintain a healthy and positive outlook to life.

The Woman's Book of Yoga and Health - A Lifelong Guide to Wellness

The Woman's Book of Yoga and Health by Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden

This is another excellent resource with chapters on all stages in a woman's life. The woman on the cover is Patricia Walden, a senior level Iyengar Yoga teacher, who has gone through menopause and continues to remain strong and elegant.

It includes information for women in all stages of life, from puberty through old age. Sequences are included with good instructions and illustrations.

What do you think? Has this information been useful? - I'd love to hear from you!

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    • KarenHC profile image
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      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      @SmartYoga: I've found that yoga has been very helpful at this stage in my life!

    • profile image

      SmartYoga 4 years ago

      Thanks! Yoga is so amazingly great for many things, and I'm just about to enter my menopause (I think)! Really important to know that there are alternatives to HRT!

    • profile image

      Mrothsking5466 4 years ago

      Yoga is a wonderful thing that exists, especially while going through menopause. It really does calm your nerves, takes away all that bad energy(moodiness), is great for your health, and does really help!

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Menopause-Zone/...

    • profile image

      margret-levine 5 years ago

      Yoga is such a life saver! I do a 15 minute set every morning called the five rights, and I've been able to even eliminate my morning cup of coffee because of it!

      Also, if you ladies want an encyclopedia of perimenopause/menopause information crammed into a documentary, watch "Hot Flash Havoc"

      yekra.com/hot-flash-havoc/#!/deployment_code=94449068mkfs6w

    • GrowthSpark profile image

      GrowthSpark 5 years ago

      Great info here, thanks. Power surges, I love that!

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @abchirocare: Thanks for your recommendation. Herbal supplements can be invaluable for managing menopausal symptoms.

    • profile image

      abchirocare 5 years ago

      I recommend pairing yoga with an herbal supplement. Pairing the two holistic cures to menopause can be a great combo. I recommend Availyn for menopause relief. You can find it at www.availyn.com

    • profile image

      susjuly 5 years ago

      Excellent step to overcome the problems of menopause, with exercise like yoga would be beneficial for a lot of the problems faced by these women.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you, just the information I've been looking for as I enter menopause. This will make my yoga practice more meaningful.

    • profile image

      WordsByGina 5 years ago

      You should also look into different menopause treatments to take. Doing yoga and taking a vitamin would be a great way to actually make those symptoms stop. www.menopause411.com is a great place to go if you are trying to figure out which vitamin to take.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I really need to show this to my mom! No one can mention this to her if you know her (not that you would), but she is at this stage in her life and could use something like this. She is constantly complaining about the side effects to menopause. I really just want to help her by relieving her some of the symptoms with something like a yoga class in Ottawa. Can this help no matter how long they have had menopause for?

    • YogaAngel profile image

      YogaAngel 5 years ago

      Very helpful Information. Thank You!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 6 years ago

      Yes, great information. I love yoga1

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      This is great - well deserved purple star on your article on using yoga to relieve menopausal symptoms - it's an honour to add it to my little hot flushes lens. thank youu

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 6 years ago from U.S.

      @HERBMASTER: Good question! These poses are certainly beneficial for men too, and will help balance everyone, physically and mentally.

    • profile image

      HERBMASTER 6 years ago

      This is really good. I am going to add this to my regimen. Do the same postures work for men with Andropause or is there a difference>

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Its so nice to stop by here again. I get such a calming feeling and is just so relaxing to me. Must be because I know exactly what your talking about.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Again, great info. I am experiencing early onset menopause from radiation, and am still very happy with more vigorous asanas (having been a former dancer and athlete), but after coming through so much, the wisdom of Yoga and the humility that makes me practice with far less ego is really shining through and enriching my practice. Yoga is bringing my broken body back, and preventing many of the symptoms as well as it gets stronger and more balanced. Yoga is a life saver. All elements of it, beyond the postures...

    • profile image

      maryctucker 6 years ago

      Excellent information!Very important thinks sharing here.

    • profile image

      PrettyWorld 7 years ago

      Very interesting series of lenses. I've spent the last few years studying about how to use garden herbals and have been using them for detoxing and for menopausal support, and just this year added in learning belly dancing to help keep me limber for my next 50 years. I'm not sure that yoga fits into my day as easily as belly dance, but there is a lot of overlap in how they both build balanced musculature, support and massage organs, and aid the circulatory and lymph systems. I'm going to enjoy reading through more of your yoga/health lenses!

    • profile image

      Yogalicious 7 years ago

      WOW, this is great information. I am adding to my favorites so that I can refer back to the poses.

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 7 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Great lens.

    • profile image

      SandyPeaks 7 years ago

      Very useful advice, I will have to try some of these positions again - it's been quite a few years since I was flexible enough to do them easily! Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      @corinnemwestphal: Thanks for lensrolling this lens! I agree that it will fit well with your pressure point therapy lens.

      Supported plow pose can be such a wonderfully soothing pose if it's something you're already at least partially familiar with. I hope it helps.

    • corinnemwestphal profile image

      corinnemwestphal 7 years ago

      A brilliant lens. Thank you for this! I will try the Supported Plow Pose on my next run-in with hot flashes. And will lensroll this with my pressure point therapy lens, it's a great complement.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      @RhondaAlbom: Never fear -- there are simpler yoga poses that are effect too :-)

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Interesting information. I hate hot flashes, but I am not sure I could get into the yoga position above :)

    • profile image

      MenopauseAdvice 7 years ago

      Great info, 5* and your lens is in my favorites. Thanks.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 7 years ago

      Excellent lens - Five Stars ***** and a Fav! Thanks - I needed reminding of these poses - think I'll go do one now!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thanks for this. I've been mulling whether to do anything about menopause and this looks like a good thing to try.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      I've never done yoga and know little about it but this is a good informative lens and may be very helpful to many people. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 7 years ago

      Yes, it's very useful. I already knew most of the poses, what I didn't know is that they can actually help me during this stage of my life. Thank you!

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