Helpful Advice on Yoga and Menopause

Yoga and Menopause
For some women, just hearing the word "menopause" can elicit feelings of discomfort. As women near their middle age years, menopause starts its first stages and ensuing symptoms. It is important to note that some women do not experience any symptoms at all, or symptoms may be mild and completely tolerable. However, these symptoms often render a woman completely unable to deal with its hot/cold, emotional roller coaster-like fluctuations. The combination of yoga and menopause will allow you to tolerate many of the uncomfortable aspects associated with this time of life.

During this transitional time of a woman's life, if she is not getting the proper emotional comfort and support, she may experience depression, anxiety and turmoil. For the people close to her, it may be impossible for them to know just how she feels, and as a result she is looked upon as a complainer or just plain crazy. This adds to the emotional turbulence a menopausal woman may be feeling.

Yoga has specific benefits to women who are entering or are actively in the phase of menopause. Regular practice of yoga poses, pranayama (breathing exercises), and silent, peaceful meditation soothe and calm the nervous system and alleviates anxiety.

Yoga and Menopause - The Perimenopause Stage

"Perimenopause" refers to the years before menopause, and is the process of change leading up to menopause. It can start as early as your 30s or as late as your 50s, and marks the time when your body begins the transition to menopause. Hot flashes, two names synonymous with menopause, are caused by the fluctuations of hormones once menopause has set in, but there are many triggers that will cause a woman to be uncomfortable. Hot flashes and some of the other more intense symptoms can start during perimenopause, although they usually occur in the second stage; menopause. It is said that menopause starts “officially” one month and one year after the last menstruation.

Hot flashes, or "power surges" are described as a sensation of heat in the face, or moving through or across the upper half of the body with sweating, and a feeling very much like suffocation. Hot flashes are oftentimes the most troublesome symptom during menopause, as the ovarian production of estrogen naturally subsides, and brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine change.

Other symptoms of menopause include weight gain, bloating, back ache, headache, irritability, food cravings, depression, acne, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, changes to the skin (loss of elasticity), urinary tract infections, bone loss and the onset of osteoporosis, increased risk of heart attack, and even uncharacteristically violent or suicidal behavior. Women tend to suffer from depression 2-3 times more than men, and these tendencies are increased at times of hormonal changes.

Women who have premature menopause often have autoimmune disorders like thyroid disease or diabetes mellitus. These diseases cause the body to produce antibodies to one or more of its own organs.

Yoga and Menopause - Relieving the Symptoms

Jumping Woman As menopause approaches and finally enters, bringing some or all of the above symptoms with it, we can add a solid source of comfort and remedy into our lives through yoga. Yoga is one of the things that a woman can practice to bring her physical, mental and spiritual Being back into balance. Once the balance is back, new vigor and well-being comes back and we can once again enjoy life's little pleasures.

Asana -

The physical moves in yoga can be a wonderful way to alleviate the physical discomfort of menopause, particularly the stress build-up and irritability. Restorative and gentle yoga poses can help with physical discomfort and alleviate any tightness or pain in the body and are vital for healthy aging.

Pranayama -

or breath control, can cool, calm or invigorate during the experience of hot flashes or anxiety. Yogic breathing is a way to bring extra energy into the body or bring in a sense of relaxation. Breathing techniques are very important during this time to keep the proper level of energy flowing.

Meditation -

Simple and easy meditation techniques can be a source of relief when there is overload during a stressful time. Meditation stills the mind of excessive thought and can give the clarity and focus needed to cope with mood swings and mental imbalances. It restores a sense of inner peace and balance, and renews mental focus and control. Irritability, depression and moodiness can be greatly eased by regular meditation, which will help to stabilize the emotions.

Ayurveda -

Ayurveda suggests a natural holistic approach towards alleviating menopausal symptoms by utilizing various minerals, herbs, yoga, meditation and special Ayurvedic massages. Ayurvedic medications for treatment of menopausal symptoms include phytoestrogens, which are estrogen-like substances derived from plants. The natural healing wisdom of Ayurveda teaches that there are balanced and imbalanced states in every mind-body type. Ayurveda teaches how to balance the different doshas, or mind-body types (Vatta, Pitta and Kapha), and gives specific remedies and healing modalities pertaining to each dosha, which includes healing sounds, sights, tastes, and other sensory stimulation and healing practices. This section on Ayurveda will show you a wonderful way to bring the body into greater balance during the transition into and beyond menopause.

Yoga brings the body, mind, breath and spirit together, which helps to control some or all of the ups and downs of menopause. It allows a woman to experience menopause with greater ease and acceptance, with the knowledge that it is a natural experience. She then has the tools and resources to make the transition with little difficulty and can sail through menopause onto greater stages of her life.

This helpful article on Yoga and Menopause is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. As always, severe symptoms, physical or emotional, should be discussed with your health care practitioner.

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