May 15, 2024

Yoga’s role in menopause wellness

Menopause is a natural phase of life that every woman experiences as she transitions from her reproductive years to the next chapter. It’s a time marked by hormonal changes, which can bring about a range of physical and emotional symptoms. While this transition is inevitable, the good news is that there are holistic practices  like yoga, that can offer support and relief during this transformative time.

Why Yoga?

Yoga, with its centuries-old roots in ancient Indian tradition, has now gained widespread popularity for its many health benefits. From improving flexibility and strength to promoting mental well-being, the practice embodies a whole body approach to being and feeling well. When it comes to menopause, it can be particularly helpful helping women feel as strong, well and full of vitality as possible.

The physical body

One of the hallmark symptoms of menopause is hot flushes, which can be uncomfortable and disruptive to life – during the night and day. Certain yoga poses, such as forward bends and gentle twists, help to calm the nervous system and promote relaxation, which can help manage these physical symptoms. The breathing practices of yoga can also be used when your temperature rises to help keep your mind calm, even when the body feels agitated.

As oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis as bone density can decrease. Weight-bearing yoga poses, such as standing postures and gentle backbends, help to strengthen bones and improve density, reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis-related complications.

The emotional body

In addition to physical symptoms, menopause can also bring about emotional challenges such as mood swings, anxiety, loss of confidence and depression. Yoga offers a powerful tool for dealing with these difficult states by encouraging mental clarity, emotional balance and stress reduction. Practices like mindfulness meditation and pranayama (breathwork) can help women cultivate a sense of calm in the face of unsettling feelings.

Sleep disturbances are a very common complaint at this time, with many women experiencing insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns, which further impacts our emotional resilience. Yoga can be a powerful antidote to sleep issues, as it promotes relaxation and prepares the body for rest. Incorporating a gentle practice before bedtime that focuses on calming poses, such as seated forward bends and supported supine (lying face upwards) twists, can help soothe the nervous system, encouraging us to unwind. As can slow breathing that focuses on extending the length of the exhale, which signals us to slow down and relax.

The human connection

Attending in-person classes or joining online communities allows women to share their experiences, receive support and connect with others who are going through similar challenges. This sense of camaraderie can provide comfort and encouragement. Fostering a sense of community and connection can be invaluable during what can feel like an isolating  or unsettling time for many.

As with any new practice, it’s important for women to listen to their bodies and choose practices, teachers and environments that feel safe and comfortable for them. Those new to yoga are advised to start with gentle, beginner-friendly classes or online tutorials, gradually building strength and flexibility over time. It’s also important to consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any exercise routine, especially if you have any underlying health concerns.

There’s no doubt that yoga offers a multitude of benefits for women navigating the broad spectrum of menopausal transition, from peri to post. This age-old practice can assist in alleviating physical symptoms like hot flushes and insomnia, to  fostering emotional strength and bone health. It’s a non-invasive, drug-free, holistic approach that you are in control of.  By incorporating  it into your weekly routine, all women can cultivate resilience, find support and embrace their bodies as they open a new chapter with grace and vitality.

Next steps…

If this sounds like something that could be helpful for you, reach out to Emily, a perimenopausal yoga teacher who knows only too well the challenges that this time of life can bring! She offers a warm welcome in a peaceful studio setting with forest and ocean views. Come and focus on you. Emily will discuss how you are feeling in body and mind and craft a practice that is especially suited to meet your needs.  At Mount Martha Yoga we offer small group and private yoga lessons on Mornington Peninsula to help you feel the best you can. 

We offer a space to rest and rejuvenate each week or month – how often you decide to come is up to you. Most women report feeling calmer, clearer, stronger and more able to face the demands of this particularly busy life stage. Looking after you first means you are better equipped to look after everyone else. Come and try our meditation and yoga on Mornington Peninsula and experience a more comfortable body and mind.