Menopause is as inconvenient as it is unavoidable. From hot flashes to mood swings, it isn’t a terribly pleasant experience.
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While there isn’t anything you can do to entirely alleviate the symptoms of menopause, there are a number of things you can do to lessen your suffering. While some women turn to medical intervention in the form of drugs, others choose a more natural approach and seek to reduce their symptoms through the use of a natural and time-tested practice—yoga.
Many of the common benefits of yoga make it particularly appropriate for use in reducing menopause symptoms. If you or someone you love is suffering through this period of discomfort, try yoga. It’s non-invasive, it’s safe and—most importantly—it’s effective.
1. Decrease Hot Flushes
Hot flushes are by far the most commonly complained about symptom of menopause. Women who have experienced this unfortunate occurrence know the incredible discomfort—and, often, embarrassment—first-hand. Surprisingly, reducing the frequency and severity of hot flushes could be as simple as partaking in some yoga. If you’re experiencing a hot flush, or just trying to stave off a future one, focus on slow movements and weight-bearing positions. For optimal effectiveness, concentrate on your breathing, as doing so increases the speed with which you can calm your mind.
2. Ease Insomnia
Although not as commonly discussed as hot flushes, many menopausal women experience periods of insomnia. This insomnia can accompany stress, or it can occur in isolation. Many yoga poses, particularly those that feature inversions, can ease this particular symptom of menopause. This is due primarily to the fact that these yoga poses alleviate stress, which is usually the underlying cause of menopause-related insomnia.
3. Reduce Fatigue
Experiencing fatigue during menopause is exceptionally common. It’s not surprising, after all, as the frequency of periods of fatigue commonly increases with age, anyway. The hormonal changes that occur in a woman’s body during periods of menopause can make this fatigue even worse, however. If you’re experiencing this symptom, focus on yoga moves that include backbends, as this opens up your chest area, which is associated with increased feelings of joy.
4. Lower Stress
Everything about menopause is stressful. Not only are you stressed because you’re dealing with these significant physical changes, but you also experience higher levels of stress as a result of the fact that something entirely outside of your control is happening to your body. Participating in yoga of any type should result in reducing stress. Because this benefit is applicable to anyone, menopausal or otherwise, you can use your knowledge of this benefit as a way to entice others, like your spouse or your children, to embark on your yoga journey with you.
5. Improve Memory
Another thing that commonly accompanies the advancing of age is memory loss. For menopausal women, the severity of memory loss can be even more significant. Menopausal women, much like pregnant women who are also experiencing profound hormonal changes, often report feeling confused and fuzzy-headed. To improve memory, you should try positions like Downward-facing Dog, as it increases the blood flow to the brain. Because yoga in itself is commonly thought to improve memory and concentration, any yoga efforts will likely prove beneficial in this regard.
6. Decrease Mood Swing Frequency
Many menopausal women report experiencing mood swings that are as bad, if not worse, than those they experienced prior to their menstrual cycles. These mood swings are due, in part, to hormonal changes occurring in your body. Aggravating this symptom is the knowledge that things are changing, whether you like it or not. Fortunately, yoga can help. To reduce mood swings, add backbends to your yoga routine. This move stimulates the adrenal gland, which can help counteract the hormonal changes that are primarily responsible for this particular symptom.
7. Reduce Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can have a serious long-term impact on your health. Additionally problematic, increased blood pressure rates are often tied to night sweats, an all-too-common complaint of menopausal women. Partaking in yoga on a regular basis is linked to reductions in blood pressure and improvements in circulation, both of which offer benefits, including the reduction of night sweat frequency. If your goal is to reap this benefit, try the Savasana pose. This pose is designed to help you focus on your breathing, making it optimally effective in helping you improve your overall circulation and reduce your blood pressure levels.
8. Decrease Joint Pain
Women experiencing the onset of menopause also commonly experience joint pain. Yoga is an impact-free exercise that has long been associated with the reduction in levels of joint pain, making it a perfect solution for this particular menopause-related issue. A study published in the “Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” found that hatha yoga is particularly useful in reducing joint-related discomfort. While all women can feel a reduction in joint pain by undertaking a yoga regimen, women who also have arthritis will experience the most significant, life-altering results.
9. Reduce Physical Discomfort
Along with joint pain, many women who are in the throes of menopause find themselves feeling general discomfort much more frequently. This discomfort can vary significantly in both type and severity, ranging from a simple low-grade headache to whole-body pain. If you’re experiencing discomfort with increased frequency, focus on yoga moves that help enhanced flexibility. Sun Salutations, in particular, can prove highly beneficial in easing this particular symptom.
10. Decrease Cramping Severity
The key benefit to no longer getting your period is being able to skip those cramps, right? Well, not exactly. Many women, particularly those in early menopause, experience relatively severe cramps. Uncomfortable as they are, this is hardly surprising, given all that’s going on in the reproductive system during this time. If you’re feeling this particular menopause-related issue, try a position like the Reclining Butterfly. This position, which also helps with period cramps, targets yoga benefits on the abdomen, making it highly useful for this particular issue.
11. Increased Sexual Function
For many women, the onset of menopause brings with it a notable reduction in sexual desires. This can be difficult for both the woman and her sexual partner and can produce long-lasting, relationship-impacting effects. A study published in the “American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology” found that the use of yoga did have a moderately positive impact on sexual function. The study found, however, that women only experienced this symptom reduction while they were regularly practicing yoga. When women stopped partaking in regular yoga sessions, symptoms of sexual dysfunction returned.
12. Improved Sense Of Calm
For many women, the physical side effects of menopause are only the start of the issue. For them, a major challenge stems from the feelings of unease. Everything is changing. This can be overwhelming. Fortunately, yoga can help you with this, too. A study published in “Yoga Journal” suggested that regular yoga practice results in improved feelings of ease and calm. The pose, Viparita Karani, in particular, left practitioners feeling calmer and better able to handle sudden and unavoidable changes, such as those that accompany menopause.