By Gopi Rao
There are many misconceptions about menopause that generally cast this natural change in a completely negative light. The truth is that menopause is a natural change that should be embraced rather than fought, and yoga can be instrumental in helping women adapt to this new state of physical being.
Menopause is, in a nutshell, the ceasing of the menstrual flow. However, it’s actually a lot more complicated than that since there are a great many factors that regulate the menstrual cycle in the female body. The shift can happen seemingly overnight or slowly over a span of years, but one things remains the same in either case: the body is different afterward. Hormones have a lot of control over a female’s emotional well being and mood, so this represents a profound life shift. Women who already practice yoga will have different needs during peri-menopause and menopause and will likely change up their yoga routine to account for this. Newcomers to yoga looking for relief during this transitional period will find their needs best met through gentle and restorative yoga, though more intense varieties also have their benefits as well.
Women are most at risk for osteoporosis and heart disease after menopause, so getting physically active at this time is key to retaining health and vitality. A recent study concluded that yoga practice strengthens bones by applying the kind of pressure they need in order to become stronger and more dense, and yoga supports heart health by increasing flexibility and reducing blood pressure and stress. Yoga is therefore the perfect solution to the new physical needs of the post-menopausal female body.
Menopause also has quite the impact on the mental state of a woman since so much of a female’s self worth and value are linked with how she views her body. Menopause can make women feel disconnected with their bodies and this gives them the sense that they’ve lost an essential part of themselves. The truth is that the body isn’t that much different than it was before menopause, and yoga serves to reconnect women with their bodies through increased body awareness. The body is respected and loved through each mindfully done asana and this leads to a more graceful adaption to the new state of the body.
Stress is also a bigger factor for menopausal women and they might have a harder time coping with stressful situations. The calming and grounding effect of yoga will be a welcome retreat from what is now a more stressful world. The key is to focus on restorative poses and to go by the mantra of less is more; the more gentle, the more benefit.
Some of the best Yoga asanas for menopause include Downward Facing Dog, inversions, backbends, forward bends and restorative poses such as Corpse Pose. Poses should be modified using props whenever necessary in order to enable women to fully give themselves over to the asana. It’s not a sign of weakness to get the extra support when needed and it serves to help menopausal women get the most out of their practice.
When embraced and accepted to its fullest menopause may actually bring a woman into better awareness of her body, leading to more happiness, peace and health than before the big change. Yoga restores balance to the post-menopausal woman, making it an effective answer to the new needs of a changing body.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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