For women in midlife and beyond, yoga provides a primary type of menopause medicine that may help them adjust to hormonal changes and deal with a wide assortment of symptoms – such as hot flashes, night sweats, heavy bleeding, mood swings and fatigue – with no unwanted side effects.
Over time, my classes are filled with women who started yoga during the menopausal years. Now that I’m sixty years old and post menopause (defined as that point of life when a woman’s periods stop permanently) my yoga practice is a rejuvenating antidote to the stiffness which tends to settle in the body with the passage of time. Even a brief yoga session helps replenish my energy reserves, particularly when practiced with the aid of yoga props.
I remember how during the year my periods stopped, I told my students that yoga is my “menopause medication”. I often remind my students that are at the perimenopausal (pre menopause) years, that in case you practice yoga before menopause, then all of the poses which are especially helpful for coping with uncomfortable symptoms are already familiar, and you can reach for them such as a nurturing and supportive friend.
What yoga does for you
The spiritual science of yoga admits that equilibrium in the body will help to bring emotional balance and mental clarity. Yoga supports a new archetype that depicts older girls as wise, strong, healthy and instinctive. Yoga reduces the effects of menopause’s hormonal fluctuations by balancing the endocrine system. It smoothes out the hormonal and glandular changes that happen in this phase of life.
The normal practice of all of the types of poses — standing, sitting, lying down, backbends, forward bends, twists, and inverted (upside down) poses — stimulates and activates all of the glands, organs, cells and tissues of the body. Yoga’s inverted poses are especially important during menopause because they have a strong effect on the neuroendocrine system, allowing fresh, oxygenated blood to flow into the glands in the neck and head.
Hormonal changes adaptation
A woman’s body is very capable of adapting to the hormonal changes that occur when the ovaries slow down. If all our glands are working well, they will, typically, continue to make all the hormones a woman needs for the remainder of her life. It’s important to keep in mind that all menopausal symptoms are associated and using yoga to ease the unpleasant effect of a single symptom generally contributes to better health in the rest of the body.
Every yoga pose has a large number of effects on all of the systems of the body. No part of yoga is more important for girls crossing the menopausal bridge then to take the time to practice yoga’s restorative poses – passive poses in which the body is totally supported by yoga props.
Props help you keep in poses for a longer time and conserve your energy, allowing the nervous system to relax. Restorative yoga poses are recommended for replenishing your adrenal reserves. This is particularly important during times like menopause when women often find themselves in a vicious cycle of feeling “too tired to work out,” (often due to adrenal fatigue) and then feeling even more tired since they’re not exercising.
Yoga bolsters provide a firm support for the full length of your spinal column, from the lower back to your mind, once you’re lying down. The muscles of your stomach, back and chest release their tension, lengthen and relax deeply. Bolsters are especially designed so the sides of your rib cage open and extend over the bolster and proceed downward toward the ground. When your rib cage expands laterally in this fashion, your breathing capacity naturally deepens. The leaves a vital, lasting impression in the body of what it feels like to have the chest open and free. Most restorative poses can be safely practiced independently.
For instance, if you’re feeling tired, practice Supported Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose or Supported Lying-Down Bound Angle Pose for ten minutes. If you’ve got twenty minutes, practice both or remain in one pose more. Don’t be in a rush. It’s much better to do fewer poses in a calm, relaxing manner than to rush through a lot of. There’ll be days when it’s a blessing just to be still and rest deeply in a single pose for as long as you’d like.
Yoga gives us a much-needed time to be silent. After a lengthy stay in restorative poses, you may feel and look as if you have had a massage and a facial. Your face and entire body will feel smoothed and soothed, from the interior. Your eyes will appear clearer and brighter. You will examine your world like from the top of a mountain. The profound rest, peace and quiet you encounter with restorative yoga is a door to meditation.
In most poses – and in most of life – keep your abdomen soft, your chest open and your breath flowing. Here are the key restorative yoga poses for balancing your hormones, relieving hot flashes, supporting pelvic health and replenishing your energy reserves.
Place your props for the following poses on a yoga mat so that they don’t slide. As you read the descriptions which follow, take note that in practicing yoga, there are subtle alterations and refinements which can’t be dealt with in the space of the report. A qualified teacher can supply you with specific, individualized directions and demonstrate how you can make these healing poses really comfortable. This supremely nourishing pose is crucial for replenishing energy reserves through the menopause transition.
Supremely nourishing poses
Lying Down Bound-Angle Pose
This pose puts the stomach, uterus, vagina and clitoris able that frees these areas of constriction and tension that inhibit balanced hormonal action. Blood flow is directed into the pelvis, bathing the reproductive organs and glands and helping to balance hormone functioning. The centering, balancing impact of the pose helps decrease mood swings and depression.
In this pose we’re practicing what yogis refer to as “deliberate stillness.” We provide the mind and body an opportunity to integrate and also give up the past. If you have problems sleeping soundly, practice this pose before going to bed or in the event you can’t fall back asleep.
How to Practice: Sit in the front of the bolster placed lengthwise behind you, the bottoms of your feet together. Place a folded blanket on peak of the bolster to make a comfortable support for your head and neck. Loop a strap behind your back, at your sacrum (near your tailbone, not your waist). Bring it forward, around your hips, across your shins, and below your feet so the bottoms of your feet are safe. Secure the strap in such a manner it is not too tight or to loose. Place a folded blanket (or yoga block) under your outer thighs (and forearms, if necessary, to be comfortable). Place an eye bag over your eyes to help calm the motion of your eyes and help your mind to relax.
Stay in the pose for ten minutes or more. To come out of the pose, put your hands under your thighs and bring your legs back together. Remove the strap and then straighten your legs, permitting them to fall evenly away from the midline. When you feel ready, bend your knees, turn to your side, and use your hands to assist you slowly sit up.
Supported Child’s Pose
When you come from Lying Down Bound-Angle Pose, you can turn and face the bolster and unwind in Supported Child’s Pose. For those moments when you feel like you’re falling off the menopausal bridge and wish you could either remain in bed or run off and have a”crone’s year ,” try kneeling on the ground, hugging your reinforce and simmer for a couple of minutes into Child’s Pose.
It offers you the chance to take a rest and detach yourself from the sometimes seemingly impossible demands of life. This reassuring, restful pose helps calm your nerves and nerves, helps reduce blood pressure and feels wonderful on your spine.
How to Practice: Sit on your heels with your knees on the ground, about hip-width apart. Place a two or three folded blankets in front of you and lean forward until your chest and head are completely supported. Turn your head to one side. Give yourself a few minutes to relax and feel the calming effect of this pose. Remember to breathe softly, gradually, and really “hug” your bolster. Let yourself sink to the bolster, unwind and let go. Turn your head the opposite way before sitting up.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
Downward Facing Dog Pose inverts the internal organs and increases blood circulation to the brain, helping to counteract lapses in memory that could occur at moments of hormonal fluctuation. This pose helps tone and lift your uterus, enhances circulation to your pelvis and strengthens the pelvic floor. It’s a key pose for relieving hot flashes. A weight bearing pose to the upper body, it strengthens the bones in the hands, arms, wrists and shoulders, thus helping to prevent osteoporosis. Resting your head on a bolster or folded blankets, as illustrated, makes the pose more relaxed.
How to Practice: From Supported Child’s Pose, come to your knees and hands. Bring back your knees in line with your hips and place your palms on both sides of the front edge of the bolster. Position your feet hip width apart, curl your toes under, press your hands firmly to the mat and, on an exhalation, straighten your legs so your body forms the shape of a dog stretching. When you return, separate your knees and return to Supported Child’s Pose.
Supported Bridge Pose
Supported Bridge Pose is well suited for the heart and can help balance blood pressure and hormonal secretions. This pose has a calming influence on the brain and nervous system and is advised for relieving mood swings, hot flashes and tension headaches. Placing your head lower than the rest of your body with the chest open is refreshing and soothing, and eliminates lethargy and depression.
Supported Bridge Pose helps regulate and balance blood pressure. Women are more vulnerable to elevated blood pressure once the protective effect of estrogen is removed. As you remain in the pose, feel that the effect deep within the entire belly area. The effect of dropping the stomach, uterus and ovaries in the pelvic bowl will help to balance the hormonal secretions and so will help facilitate the hormonal fluctuations of menopause.
How to Practice: Place one bolster or pile of folded blankets and another vertically, forming a T form. Position yourself near the end of the vertical bolster so that when you lie down your head is near the far end. Slowly slide off the end until the back of your head and shoulders rest flat on the ground. Your feet should rest comfortably on the flat bolster. Stay at Supported Bridge Pose for five minutes or more. When you feel ready to come out, bend your knees, slowly turn to your own and sit up. Turn around, face the bolster and briefly return to Supported Child’s Pose.
Few things are simpler and more sterile, especially after standing upright for extended intervals, then simply lying on your back and elevating your legs up a wall or other surface. This is a safe and calming way for women new to yoga to become accustomed to inverting their own body. Practice this daily if your feet and legs swell easily, or if you have varicose veins. This is a key present for replenishing your adrenal reserves.
Supported Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
During the year my periods ceased, particularly on hot days when the heat added to a feeling of fatigue, I practiced Supported Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose for at least fifteen to twenty minutes daily, often more.
How to Practice: Place a two or three folded blankets about two inches away from the wall. Sit sideways on the bolster so your right side and hip are touching the wall. With the bolster under your bottom, lower back yourself, using the aid of your elbows and forearms, and swivel around to take your right leg and then your left leg up the wall. Stay in the pose for ten minutes or more. If you’re tired, it’s normal to fall asleep in this pose. When you’re ready to come out, bend your knees, turn to your side, and unwind on the ground for a few more breaths until you slowly sit up.
Supported Deep Relaxation (Savasana)
The “pause” that refreshes throughout the pause. Practicing Deep Relaxation Pose on a bolster (or pile of company, folded blankets) opens the chest and helps eliminate depression, in addition to physical and psychological fatigue. This pose is used to treat high blood pressure, alleviate migraine and stress related headaches. In addition, it can be helpful for insomnia.
How to Practice: Sit in the front of the bolster positioned lengthwise behind you (or business blankets folded lengthwise to the form of a bolster). Place one or two folded blankets in the top to make a comfortable support for your head and neck. The advantage of your bolster ought to be near your tailbone. Before lying all of the way back, look down the front of your body and see whether your upper and lower body are based so the line formed by your nose, chin, centre of your chest, navel and pubic bone goes directly toward a centre line between your heels. Center your spine on the bolster.
You might need to experiment with the height of the blanket under your head so that it seems truly comfortable. Your brow should be slightly higher than your chin, not drop back. Your body needs to feel supremely comfortable, supported by the bolster, blankets and flooring. If you feel discomfort under your back, try repositioning your back on the bolster or diminishing the height below your spine by placing a folded blanket under your bottom. Or lie flat on the ground and set the bolster or a folded blanket under your knees.
Give yourself at least ten minutes to unwind. Relaxation isn’t a luxury, but a health requirement, particularly when you’re going through a life-change like menopause. The older I get, the more I love relaxing deeply in supported, restorative yoga poses. They’re a gift for women and men through all the phases of life.