Menopause is the natural cessation of menses that occurs in a woman’s late forties or early fifties. Menopause usually begins slowly with irregular periods and occasional hot flashes, and once the menses have completely stopped it may take several years for the body to readjust and rebalance due to the change in hormones and body chemistry. This adjustment comes easily for some women and is very difficult and frustrating for others. There are several factors that effect this transition including stress, diet, attitude and lifestyle.
The main discomforts of menopause are hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, depression, anxiety, insomnia and decreased libido. These are all symptoms of the body adjusting to the fluctuations of hormones and changes in the endocrine system due to the natural decrease in functioning of the ovaries.
Yoga’s ability to reduce stress, promote a healthy lifestyle, create a positive attitude and regulate and balance the endocrine and hormonal systems make it an excellent therapy to soften the transition into menopause.
In general, a gentle, slow paced yoga practice that emphasizes floor poses is recommended. Inversions nurture the cooling yin aspect of the body and regulate the endocrine system. Low back bending poses such as bridge, cobra and bow tonify the kidneys, nourish the adrenal glands and alleviate fatigue. Side bends and poses that stretch the insides of the legs regulate the liver’s soothing and stabilizing influence on the emotions. Chest opening poses such as fish and standing yoga mudra calm the mind and reduce anxiety. Shitali and Sit Cari pranayamas can be used to clear heat from the body.
A complete resource including poses, sequences, pranayamas, books and articles for menopause is in the Yoga Therapy section of theYogaBasics’ premium membership site.