Menopause is a time of life that is celebrated by some, feared by most. Uncomfortable menopause symptoms are well known, and when women start to experience hot flashes, night sweats, and hormonal changes that affect everything from daily mood to sexual libido, it can be a time of crisis if a way cannot be found to relieve some of the discomfort.
“You don’t have to be a yoga to reap the benefits of a few well-chosen poses”
While some look to hormone replacement as a way to reduce undesirable symptoms at this time, others seek other alternatives that feed the mind, body and soul. There is a movement sweeping middle aged women that involves trying yoga poses for menopause, and it’s being shown very effective at improving mood, boosting energy, and even stimulating libido at a time when sexual energy would normally be waning. You don’t have to be a yoga to reap the benefits of a few well-chosen poses; follow this advice and you’ll be looking and feeling better in no time:
Big toe pose
This fancy name for a forward fold increases flexibility across tight hamstrings and gives your internal organs a massage, allowing for the release of hormonal support at this time. To perform a big toe pose:
1. Stand upright with feet hip width apart, parallel to each other. Keeping your upper torso straight, bend forward at your hips and reach the crown of your head down toward the floor.
2. Using your middle and index fingers of each hand, slide fingers in between the big toe and the second toe, creating resistance while you push down with your toe as you are pulling up on it with your fingers. Work to balance in this position with your legs straight, head pointed down toward the floor.
3. Lift your upper body so that it is parallel to the floor, using your arms on your upper thighs for support. Alternate between lowering yourself back to the floor and grasping your toes and extending your upper body so that it is parallel to the floor. Perform 5-10 reps, holding each extended position for several seconds before moving into the next position.
Bridge pose can be whatever you want it to be—strengthening, lengthening, or restorative. Whatever your intention, it will stimulate the pelvis and lower back, allowing you to relieve painful cramping and menstruation complications common with the first phases of menopause. To perform bridge pose:
1. Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent. Push your pelvis up toward the sky until your buttocks are as high in this position as they will go. Keep thighs and inner feet parallel.
2. Clasp hands together beneath the pelvis and press downward toward the feet, lifting your upper body onto your shoulder blades and the back of your neck. Aim to make a straight line between your collar bone and your knees, pushing everything upward.
3. Hold this position for several seconds to a minute; challenging yourself to reach longer and push higher each time.
Down dog pose
Unarguably the most recognized yoga pose of all time, down dog offers the ultimate whole body stretch and reset. Use anytime you feel tension and stress mounting as a result of hormonal changes. To perform down dog:
1. Begin in a position with hands and knees on the floor. Palms should be flat on the floor, fingers spread, and toes turned under as if ready to spring up.
2. Exhale, lift your knees off the floor, and invert your body into an upside down V shape. Push legs out long and hands into the floor as you raise your sit bones to the ceiling.
3. Feel the stretch across the back of the shoulders, through the buttocks and down the backs of the legs and calves; hold this position for several seconds to several minutes; its strengthening properties will assist you in feeling and looking more toned from head to toe. Down dog is also a great mental reset; allowing for mental activity to slow down as you become consciously aware of your breath.
Extended triangle pose is a wonderful way to stretch muscles across the midsection, strengthen the torso, and provide overall strength that will help combat loss of bone density that is so common in menopause. To perform triangle pose:
1. Stand with feet hip width apart and arms raised and outstretched, parallel to the floor. Turn your left foot inward slightly as you rotate the right foot out 90 degrees, keeping both legs straight.
2. Extend your right arm and torso over the right leg and knee, keeping your torso straight as you lower the arm to the floor by your right ankle. Left arm should be raised straight toward the ceiling so that your arms form a straight line perpendicular to the floor. Hold this position for as long as it is comfortable, then switch sides and perform on the other side. Breathe deeply through this position for maximum benefits.
How to incorporate yoga into your daily routine
“Find an accountability partner that can get you through times when you are unable or unwilling to motivate yourself”
Committing to improve your health and wellness does take a bit of commitment. When making major lifestyle changes, we all come up with excuses as to why it will be hard, why we will not be able to sustain them, etc. Here are some tips for incorporating yoga into your daily routine:
- Keep a log of your workout successes to motivate you
- Pick a consistent time every day that you can set aside even 10 minutes for yoga and stretching
- Find an accountability partner that can get you through times when you are unable or unwilling to motivate yourself
- When you experience a setback, keep going!
In no time at all, you’ll have developed a healthy habit that positively impacts your life.
How do I know if yoga fits my lifestyle?
“Practicing yoga poses for menopause will set you up for health and wellness long after any uncomfortable symptoms have come and gone”
With all of the mental, physical, and even emotional benefits that come with the practice of yoga, it is hard to imagine that it won’t work for everyone. Regardless of your age, your level of health and fitness, and even your motivation to exercise, there is a variation and style of yoga that will work for you.
Finding the right fit is key to developing a habit that will stand the test of time, so getting more information about yoga practice options is very important. Whether you have ten minutes to devote to your practice or 50 minutes, you will feel the benefits every time you come to the mat.
Yoga will give you an overall sense of confidence and well being; use these poses to inspire you to stay more active through your menopause symptoms and make this stage of life downright enjoyable. Practicing yoga poses for menopause will set you up for health and wellness long after any uncomfortable symptoms have come and gone. Stay active, embrace your changes, and look forward to the golden years that are yet to come!
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