Menopause is a transition period in every women’s life which seems like an end of an era. It is marked by the termination of the menstrual period permanently which leads to tons of bodily changes.
Such a transitional period upsets the hormonal balance that affects a woman on physical, psychological and emotional levels. Menopause is diagnosed when 12 months have passed without encountering periods. However, the symptoms arrive almost six years before menopause around your 40s, known as perimenopause.
Yoga helps relieve and cope up with menopause symptoms, hence practising yoga for menopause must be started during perimenopause. This helps the body adjust and respond accordingly to the natural, yet drastic process.
Symptoms that yoga for menopause relieves
Every woman goes through this biological transitioning when ovaries no longer produce eggs due to a drop in reproductive hormones. Since a lot is going on in her mind and body, every woman responds to it differently.
In such a condition, yoga is a natural therapy to keep your body calm and avoid any undesirable side effects. You can rely on yoga to cure these major symptoms of menopause and perimenopause:
- Irregular menses or no menses
- Hot flashes
- Fatigue and pain
- Irritability, anxiety and mood swings
- Increased blood pressure
- Night sweats and sleeplessness
- Slowed metabolism leading to weight gain
- Vaginal dryness, urinary issues, changes in sexual desires
- Changes in physical appearance, pimples, skin dryness, hair thinning, etc.
How does yoga relieve menopause symptoms?
Since mood swings and depression are among the more troublesome menopause symptoms, practising restorative yoga poses helps to calm the nervous system activity. In these yoga poses, you hold the poses for a longer duration than conventional poses often with the support of props such as a blanket, yoga block or use wall support.
Yoga has been found evidently [efn_note] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51455341_Yoga_and_menopausal_transition [/efn_note] effective in dealing with all the symptoms of menopause due to providing physical, mental and emotional health benefits.
- Inversion yoga poses helps calming the mind, relieving anxiety, mood swings, and irritation.
- Cooling pranayama exercise is particularly helpful in lowering body temperature and hot flashes in menopausal women. It can be practiced while holding a seated yoga pose.
- The stretching of the muscles while practicing yoga for menstruation enhances strength and flexibility. It also increases the endurance of the women which helps in coping up with fatigue and pain.
- Indulging into yogic practices also maintain the blood pressure along with boosting circulation and oxygenation of blood.
- Hormonal imbalances can be naturally neutralized practicing yoga for menstruation toning the endocrine system.
- Yoga poses that targets the strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles come in handy for issues like urinary disorders or UTIs, (chances of which increase during menopause).
- Moreover, symptoms like disturbed sleep, increased weight, digestive issues, hair loss, etc. can also be relieved by yogic practices.
Yoga poses for menopause
Let’s get started with the poses meant for easing the symptoms of menopause and lead the post-reproductive phase without any discomfort.
Practice the following yoga poses to get the overall health benefits that prepare you to fight back against all these symptoms of menopause.
1. Tree Pose
It is a basic standing pose assumed by balancing the body on one leg while outstretching the other knee and placing that foot pressed against the standing leg.
Standing in tree pose strengthens the legs and improves spinal flexibility – which makes it a great pose for staying in shape for a woman in menopause. It also boosts concentration that counters memory loss due to menopause.
- Stand tall keeping the feet together and arms by the sides.
- Bend your right knee to place the right foot on the left inner thigh.
- The heel is placed as close to the groin as possible.
- Join your palms in front of the chest and fix your gaze forward.
- Balance in the pose for 5-10 breath, release the foot, and then repeat it switching the legs.
To get into triangle pose you have to stand separating the legs and bend sideways to reach the floor with the corresponding hand over the respective leg.
This stretches the abdominal organs, improves digestion, strengthens the muscle, and cuts off extra fat deposited around the waist. It is also beneficial in overcoming the depression and anxiety that most women go through during menopause.
- Take a stance separating the legs more that hip-width.
- Turn your right foot 90 degrees out and left foot 15 degrees inward.
- Spread the arms at the shoulder level with palms facing down.
- Stretch the torso sideways lowering the right arm to reach the right ankle with right hand.
- The left arm is extended upwards, gently rotate the head to look towards the right fingertips, and open the chest.
- Hold it for five breaths and then repeat it on the other side.
It is assumed reclining on the back and bring the soles together with heels pointing towards the pelvis. This is a good restorative pose to relieve back pain and soothe hot flashes.
In reclining bound angle pose, the action of moving the heels towards the groins enhances blood flow in the pelvis and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. Thus, practising reclining bound angle pose as yoga for menopause works wonders and relieves a lot of physical pain.
- Sit extending the legs on the floor and keeping the arms by the sides.
- Join the soles of your feet dropping the knees on either sides on the floor.
- Draw your heels towards the pelvis and lie down on your back.
- Keep your arms by the sides on the floor with palms facing up.
- Hold the pose for about five minutes breathing deeply.
Assume down dog pose from coming to all fours to raising the hips up and back to lift the knees and straighten your legs. This is followed by lowering the heels to the floor and simultaneously lowering the head between the arms.
It is one of the therapeutic yoga for menopause as it helps in calming the brain, relieving stress, stretches the legs, back, and arms. It promotes joint flexibility and prevents osteoporosis that is often a complaint among women post-menopause.
- Come to your all fours keeping the wrists under shoulder and knees under hips.
- Tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the floor pushing the hips back.
- Simultaneously, straighten you arms on the floor and engaging the core muscles, lower your head between the arms.
- Try to bring your heels to the floor and gaze towards the navel.
- Hold this pose for 4-6 breaths.
To come to low-lunge, one needs to take a stance keeping one foot ahead of the other and bending the front knee. The back knee and lower leg rest on the floor while the arms are raised over head.
Low lunge an amazing yoga pose for menopause, as it is an intense hip-opener stretching the hip flexors and psoas muscles. Thus, it strengthens the upper thighs and lower back.
Besides this, low lunge pose improves breathing in menopausal women due to expansion of the chest muscles that relieve any stiffness, muscular fatigue. Other symptoms of menopause like indigestion, blood pressure, and low metabolism also improve practising this pose.
- From down-dog pose, step your right foot forward between the hands.
- Lower your left knee to the floor sliding the upper part of the foot back.
- Keeping the hips square, inhale, and engaging the core muscles lift the arms over head, opening the chest.
- Come into a gentle backbend to gaze up towards the thumb.
- Exhale, lower your hands back to the floor, and assume down-dog again.
6. Warrior I pose
Warrior I posture is a beginner level standing pose assumed by separating the legs and twisting the torso towards front leg. The front knee is then bent leaving intense stretch in the back leg and the arms are raised overhead with a slight arch in the back.
This intense stretch opens up the chest, shoulders, hips, and elongates the spine fully. The body in warrior I pose is exposed to natural air cooling down the hot flashes. This posture is therapeutic for insomnia, arthritis, and burns excess fat, hence, it is a must to do yoga for menopause.
- Stand separating the feet 4-5 feet apart.
- Turn your right foot 90 degrees out and left foot to 45 degrees to the right.
- Rotate your torso towards the right leg and exhale while bending the right knee over the ankle.
- Raise your arms over head lengthening and slightly arching the back.
- The palms face each other, and hold this pose for 60 seconds.
- Release to initial position and repeat switching the legs.
7. Wind-Relieving Pose
Wind-relieving pose is performed lying down on the floor drawing the knee towards the chest and hugging them to hold on to the stretch.
Along with improving digestion and strengthening abdominal muscles, it also strengthens the back, arms, and legs. This is helpful in relieving muscular cramps and aids in weight loss. Hence, it is practiced as yoga for menstruation.
- Lie down on your back bending the knees to place the feet hip-width apart on the floor.
- Lift your legs and draw your bent knees towards your chest.
- Wrap the arms around the knees, lift your head off the floor, and try to bring your nose to the knees.
- Hold the pose for about 30-60 seconds.
8. Legs up the wall
Legs up the wall is a restorative stretch practised lying on the back and extending the legs up against a wall, as the name clears. The stretch enhances further when the hips and lower back is lifted off the floor walking the heels on the wall.
This is quite a relaxing posture as it improves blood circulation relieving trapped tension in muscles. It leaves rejuvenating effects to the body aiding in fatigue elimination. Other symptoms of menopause like insomnia, anxiety, stress, etc. can also be treated easily with this pose.
- Lie down on your back placing the hips closer to a wall.
- Lift your legs to place them against a wall.
- Slowly, start walking the heels on the wall until the hips, lower, and middle back lifts up.
- Place the hands on your back for support.
- Hold the pose for 10 minutes or longer.
9. Fish Pose
To assume Fish Pose, lie down on your back keeping the hands under the hips lifting the upper back and arching the neck to place the crown of the head on the floor.
When practiced crossing the legs, it elevates blood supply towards the reproductive organs, by reducing its flow to legs. Also, opens the chest and lower head below the hear, thus, it pumps more blood and oxygen to the brain calming the nerves. Thus, it is included in yoga for menopause.
- Lie down on your back bending the knees and placing the feet on the floor.
- Cross your legs in lotus pose and place them on floor relaxing the entire body.
- Place your hands on the hip crease pointing the elbows to the floor.
- Pressing the elbows gently on the floor, raise the chest slightly, and lift the upper back and head off the floor.
- Drop the head back to lower the crown of the head to the floor.
- Extend the arms to grab the big toes resting the elbows on the floor and gaze forward.
- Hold it for five breaths and release the toes, head, and legs respectively.
This is a standing posture assumed by side stretching the torso towards one leg while bending its knee and stretching the other legs straight. The arm corresponding to the bent knee is extended towards the floor beside the feet and another arm is stretched overhead passing through the ear.
Practising this pose helps relieving backache, strengthens the legs, and improves flexibility of joints. It also leaves massaging effects on the abdominals and hips that results in relieving overall symptoms of menopause.
- Take a stance separating the legs comfortably apart.
- Turn the right foot 90 degrees and left foot 45 degrees to the right.
- Bend your right knee over the right ankle and spread your arms at the shoulder level with palms facing down.
- Take right hand down placing it next to the right foot stretching the torso sideways and extend the left arm passing through the ear over head.
- Look up towards the extended fingertips overhead holding the side-stretch for five deep breaths.
- Release to come up and repeat it on the other side.
Pranayama and Mudra for Menopause
In menopause, Sitali, Sitkari, Chandra bhedana pranayama can be practiced to reduce hot flashes and Nadi shodhana Pranayama to calm nervous system. Practising a few rounds of these pranayama daily can reduce stress to a great extent and balance the endocrine and hormonal systems.
Yoni mudra increases the effectiveness of pranayama breathing to relieve symptoms of menopause. While doing sitali or sitkari pranayama, make yoni mudra gesture with your both hands. Hold this hand gesture close to the navel (solar plexus) and do deep breathing.
Pranayama and mudra is comparable easy to practice so anyone can start with these practices. Once you build up habit to sit comfortably, then you can start with gentle yoga poses described above.
Get all the benefits of yoga for menopause and make this transitioning period a lot better. These poses are quite relieving and can be easily practised without any complications.
Since, menopause is a natural biological process, hence, no other treatment than natural yoga therapy is better and effective for its aid. Start practising today, and reap its health benefits life-long.