It Depends: Yoga for Menopause
Menopause describes the changes a woman goes through either just before or after she stops menstruating, marking the end of her reproductive period. During this phase, the majority of women experience both emotional and physical symptoms of varying degrees.
How can Yoga help the process of menopause?….IT DEPENDS…
Firstly, it would depend on what symptoms are presenting.
Due to changing levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are the hormones that control menstruation and ovulation, a variety of symptoms can occur:
- Breast tenderness
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Vaginal atrophy (thinning of vaginal wall, causing dryness)
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
Some of these symptoms can also impact relationships, bringing another level of emotional stress. It is not so simple to say ’do these poses and your symptoms will be relieved’.
Possible practices for physical symptoms
- Sheetali – also known as cooling breath – can help to combat hot flushes, night sweats, sleeplessness and anxiety
- Low bone density can cause weakness so weight-baring pose such as Warrior 1, 2 & 3 or modified plank & side plank
- Personalised breath centred Asana practice- (which could be gentle /strong depending on individual needs )
- Use of sound
It also may be worthwhile referring to a good naturopath. They can look at potential chemical imbalances, which could include:
Low vitamin C associated run down and not feeling well
Low zinc = thinning/dry skin/nails
Mental & Emotional Symptoms
This important change in a women’s life, if left unresolved previously, can begin to illuminate questions such as “What do I want in my life? Where do I fit in the world? What is it to be an ageing women? It is common, particularly for women who have raised a family and used to putting the them first, feel ‘What about me?’ It can be an important time for self enquiry.
This can manifest in some of the following ways:
- Adrenal exhaustion
- Mood swings
- Low moods or depression
- Heart issues – emotional
Possible practices Mental & Emotional Symptoms
As a general guideline, a practice focused on specifically stimulating the parasympathetic response over the sympathetic, is going to support a variety of mental and emotional symptoms.
- Gentle movements with breath, enabling the mind to be focused
- Inversions, like ‘legs up the wall’ (Viparita Karani) and shoulder stand, with the relevant preparation
- Restorative practices with longer holds, following movement
*Recognition of perimenopause it vital*
Perimenopause typically begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually make less estrogen. This can often be over-diagnosed as conditions such as depression and unnecessarily medicated.
These are for general advice only, we always recommend seeking a qualified teacher to help fine tune and guide you through a personalised practice, just for you.