Perimenopause symptoms are like a rollercoaster ride. One minute you’re up, the next minute you’re down and if you want to get off when it gets really scary—like when the car goes upside down, you’re stuck! Does this mean that you’ll never feel balanced during perimenopause? No, you can get off that ride and feel much better. It turns out that yoga exercises can help you reduce stress, relax and yes, even smile again!
I know you’ve heard it a million times before, but it’s true; exercise can really do wonders for you, especially when you’re in a bad mood. My recent article on how to ease menopausal symptoms with exercise explains how getting off your duff can reinvent your life. I’ve even covered how yoga beats up insomnia!
Doctors like what yoga can do for your body and your mind!
A recent study by Dr. Beth Cohen, “Yoga: An Evidence-Based Prescription for Menopausal Symptoms,” published by the Journal of the North American Menopause Society found that the 120 women between 40 to 50 who participated in the study; yes, these women had a variety of menopausal symptoms. They followed a regime of five 60-minute yoga sessions for eight weeks had a significant reduction in symptoms. The study also showed that they increased their concentration and attention span as well.
Why does yoga work so well? The breathing exercises can help gently reduce stress. The various yoga poses assist in keeping and gaining flexibility and muscle strength. Put those positives together and say bye-bye to yucky and unwanted perimenopause symptoms! Another study by the Roosevelt University Stress Institute in Chicago found that “Yoga stretches reduced physical stress while increasing physical relaxation.”
If you’re worried that adding yoga to your life means you’ll have less free time, you won’t. You can do poses while watching TV—talk about multitasking! Or close the door to your office and practice a pose or two.
“If you practice yoga before menopause, then all the poses that are especially useful for coping with uncomfortable symptoms are already familiar, and you can reach for them like an old friend,” states Suza Francina, leading yoga instructor and the author of Yoga and the Symptoms of Menopause. “If you are familiar with restorative poses, then you have the best menopause medicine at your disposal.”
Can Yoga Help with Menopause Symptoms?
Viniyoga, developed by Gary Krafsow, MA works on physical issues like back pain as well as anxiety and depression.
Iyengar is an extremely gentle form of yoga. It’s a favorite among injured athletes, arthritis sufferers, and those who do not exercise regularly.
Jacki Nett, a faculty member of The Iyengar Institute of San Francisco, and Yoga Journal’s resident expert states that the Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose) “Did wonders for me when in the throes of menopause…I would end up in Viparita Karani, and I always came out feeling grounded and with a sense of inner knowing about what to do next.”
Francinaalso recommends the Viparta Karani (legs up the wall pose) as well as the Reclining Butterfly. “If I could just pick one or two poses a day, I’d pick these two.”
For the Reclining Butterfly pose, sit in front of a bolster placed lengthwise behind you. Keep the soles of your feet together. “It totally opens up the pelvis,” says Francina. “It’s the same pose you would do if you were having a period with bad cramps.”
If you’re feeling more ambitious, Mary Beth Janssen, author of Rejuvenation: Spa Secrets for Menopause and a certified Mind Body Health teacher with the Chopra Center of Well-Being devised a series of gentle yoga poses. The six poses were published in Health magazine and are so easy to do; you can practice them almost anywhere.
If you’re tempted to try yoga after reading this, but aren’t feeling confident, pop a yoga DVD into your home player. Yoga for Menopause is a 38 minute guided Ananda yoga session that works for women experiencing perimenopause or menopause. Kathy Smith’s Moving Through Menopause combines yoga, cardio and strength training.
When you feel you’re ready to take a class (and show off those new yoga pants), go online and wander through Yoga Alliance’s national directory. After a while, it may even become second nature to you to start utilizing yoga breathing techniques if you feel stressed or overwhelmed. The next time you start to feel out of sorts because of a perimenopause symptom, you may find yourself feeling better after practicing a yoga pose or two.
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!