Menopause Made Easier: Yoga to the Rescue
Mood swings, anxiety, depression, low energy, irritability, poor sleep cycle, or unexplained weight gain are just a few of the string of physiological and psychological changes a woman goes through as menopause hits. But the good news is it does not have to overwhelm you or take control of your life. You can prepare for this biological onslaught with minor changes in your lifestyle—from moving to a more wholesome nutritious mineral-rich diet to getting your circadian rhythm in place to integrating mind and body practices like yoga and meditation into your daily routine.
Menopause—that inevitable transition that typically hits in the late 40s or early 50s and brings a wave of changes, both physical and emotional, to the body, mind, and soul. While it is a unique and transformative experience for each woman, it comes with a range of discomforts, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. The relief is that yoga, a holistic mind-body practice that has been around for thousands of years, can be your companion during this journey and help you move through and adapt to these changes with grace and ease!
So let’s dive into why yoga is your secret weapon to get through menopause.
What is menopause?
First things first, let’s understand menopause and why it happens.
Menopause is a natural process that occurs when your ovaries close up shop. In other words, menopause is when ovaries stop producing eggs, marking the end of your menstrual cycle. The common age for menopause to occur is between 45 and 55, but it can happen earlier or later.
The hormonal changes that take place during menopause, particularly a decrease in estrogen, can lead to a variety of symptoms, including
- Hormonal variations
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings and irritability
- Sleep disturbances
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain and changes in metabolism.
The physical and emotional challenges associated with menopause can be overwhelming, impacting a woman’s overall well-being and quality of life.
The Role of Yoga
Yoga, a practice that originates in India, offers a comprehensive approach to health and well-being that extends far beyond physical postures (asanas). It encompasses breath control (pranayama), meditation, and a philosophy that promotes harmony and balance in all aspects of life, taking you to your higher Self. Yoga’s holistic approach makes it particularly well-suited to address the multifaceted challenges of menopause.
Benefits of Yoga for Menopause
Yoga can be a powerful tool for managing various menopause symptoms.
Menopause messes with your hormones, and that can be a rollercoaster. Yoga, with its relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises, helps you balance those hormones. Pranayamas or deep breathing techniques are a game-changer for hormonal balance.
- Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) This pose is excellent for stimulating the ovaries and opening up the pelvis, which can be particularly beneficial for women going through hormonal changes.
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) The bridge pose can improve thyroid function and help with hormonal balance. It’s also great for strengthening the lower back.
Hot flashes and night sweats are notorious for their surprise attacks. Yoga has specific poses and pranayama practices to cool things down, quite literally. Forward bends and calming breathing exercises can be your best allies here.
- Sitali Pranayama (Cooling Breath) This breath control technique involves inhaling through a rolled tongue or pursed lips, creating a cooling effect. It can help alleviate hot flashes.
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart and lift your hips using a prop (such as a yoga block). This gentle inversion can help cool your body.
Mood swings during menopause? We get it, and here’s yoga for you. Through meditation and awareness, yoga gives you the tools to manage your emotions.
- Child Pose (Balasana) Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels with your arms extended forward and your forehead on the mat. This pose is great for calming the mind and reducing stress.
- Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) This pranayama technique helps balance the left and right sides of the brain, promoting emotional balance and reducing stress.
Say goodbye to those sleepless nights. Yoga is all about relaxation, which can improve your sleep quality so you can get the rest you deserve, night after night.
- Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) Lie on your back with your legs up against a wall. This pose can help relax the nervous system and improve sleep.
- Corpse Pose (Savasana) Lie on your back, arms by your sides, and legs extended. Focus on deep, mindful breathing and relaxation, which can prepare your body for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Vaginal health is important, and yoga poses can help maintain it. These postures strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and counteract the effects of hormonal changes.
Maintaining a healthy weight is always a concern, especially during menopause. Yoga postures and mindful eating practices make this a lot more manageable.
- Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) This standing pose can help strengthen your legs and build muscle, which can support weight management.
- Boat Pose (Naukasana) Sit on the floor, lift your legs, and balance on your sitting bones. This pose engages your core muscles, which can aid in weight management.
Menopausal Wellness with Mudras
Mudras in yoga are like secret hand gestures or healing modalities that can boost your energy and make menopause easier to handle. When you use these special hand gestures along with attention to your breath (preferably ujjai breath) and meditation, they become your toolkit for handling menopause.
The following three mudras can balance hormones, soothe mood swings, and make you feel better overall.
- Prana Mudra Place the tips of your ring finger and little finger against the tip of your thumb while keeping the other two fingers straight. This is believed to enhance vitality and energy flow in the body. It can help combat fatigue, improve sleep, and reduce stress, which are common issues during menopause.
- Surya Mudra Bend your ring finger so that it touches the base of your thumb. Keep the other fingers straight. It is associated with the fire element and is believed to increase warmth and metabolism in the body. It may help with weight management and alleviate cold sensations often experienced during menopause.
- Apana Mudra Bring the tips of your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger together while keeping the other fingers straight. Associated with the elimination of waste and toxins from the body, it can help with digestive issues and support the body’s natural detoxification process during menopause.
These mudras can be incorporated into your yoga practice, meditation, or daily routine to complement your efforts in managing menopause symptoms and promoting hormonal balance.
The Yoga Community
The menopausal journey can be a bit lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Joining a yoga class can introduce you to a supportive community of women who understand what you’re going through. Sharing stories and advice can be incredibly comforting as well, as you will realize you’re not alone. So don’t forget to reach out for help, when needed!
The Importance of Yoga Classes
Remember, yoga is not an instant solution, and consistency is key. It’s best to practice these poses regularly and consider joining a yoga class led by a certified instructor who can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs. Also, always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise or yoga routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
So there you have it, ladies. Yoga isn’t just about being flexible or looking serene in pictures; it’s about embracing a path to self-discovery, empowerment, and holistic health during menopause.
By integrating yoga into your daily lives, you can enhance your overall quality of life during menopause, fostering a sense of well-being, balance, and self-acceptance. It’s like having a wise, calming friend by your side, helping you navigate the ups and downs of this transformative journey.