October is World Menopause Month. The menopause is characterised by vasomotor symptoms, most commonly hot flushes and night sweats.1 Up to four in every five women experience these on a daily basis.1 But what is even more worrying is that menopause has a profound psychological impact on sufferers.1,2 One in four women with the menopause are concerned about their ability to cope with life; almost half say they feel depressed, and a third of women say they suffer with anxiety.2 The situation is made worse by a general lack of understanding and support – a view held by approximately two thirds of women.2 Anything women can do to help themselves may therefore have important benefits. Practicing yoga may be one of these things.
How can yoga help manage the symptoms of menopause?
Practising yoga can improve your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Yoga means ‘union’ and brings together these three aspects . Yoga can help to improve many of the symptoms of the menopause including balancing mood swings (emotions), decreasing stress/anxiety/depression and hot flushes and improving self-esteem, memory and sleep.3-8 Joining a yoga-for-menopause class can also provide a great support network for women on their journey into menopause or simply provide a highly supportive environment.
What style of yoga is good for menopause?
The most important thing when starting out on your yoga journey is to find a qualified yoga instructor and choose a type of yoga suitable for you and most importantly one that you enjoy and can incorporate into your daily life. There are several different styles of yoga ranging from the more physical practices of Ashtanga and Vinyasa flow, through to restorative and meditative practices. Many women choose a more restorative type of yoga at this time, as they find they really benefit from some time to be calm, and enjoy a restorative and nurturing practice - incorporating 15 minutes a day of yoga relaxation (see savasana below) into their lives has shown significant improvement in their overall wellbeing and quality of life.9
Savasana - a yoga pose to help calm menopausal symptoms
This is restorative pose, where you are fully conscious and aim to be totally relaxed but stay awake with a clear mind
1. Lie on your back, with your legs extended and ankles approx. hip width apart.
2. Arms extended slightly away from your sides with your palms facing upwards
3. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
4. Relax in this position for 10 to 15 minutes breathing naturally (ensure that you are comfortable and warm)
5. Some people find it beneficial to use an eye pillow
6. To come out of the pose, roll onto your side and use your arms to slowly and gently bring yourself up to a seated position
Savasana can help to:
• Calm the mind, helping to relieve stress and mild anxiety/depression
• Encourage total relaxation
• Redues headache, fatigue, and insomnia
As always consult a medical professional before starting any new exercise regime if you have any health concerns and also to discuss your symptoms of menopause if they are causing you concern or discomfort.
Further information on the menopause and support can be found at:
1. Gracia CR, Freeman EW. Onset of the Menopause Transition: The Earliest Signs and Symptoms. Obstet
Gynecol Clin North Am 2018; 45(4): 585-597.
2. Menopause Support. Available at: https://menopausesupport.co.uk/?page_id=60
3: Cramer H, Peng W, Lauche R. Yoga for menopausal symptoms-A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Maturitas 2018; 109: 13-25.
4: Jorge MP, Santaella DF, Pontes IM, Shiramizu VK, Nascimento EB, Cabral A, et al. Yoga practice decreases
menopause symptoms and improves quality of life: A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med
2016; 26: 128-135.
5: Buchanan DT, Landis CA, Hohensee C, Guthrie KA, Otte JL, Paudel M, et al. Effects of yoga and aerobic
exercise on actigraphic sleep parameters in menopausal women with hot flashes. J Clin Sleep Med 2017;
6: Crowe BM, Van Puymbroeck M. Enhancing problem- and emotion-focused coping in menopausal women
through yoga. Int J Yoga Therap 2019. doi: 10.17761/2019-00020. [Epub ahead of print].
7: Shepherd-Banigan M, Goldstein KM, Coeytaux RR, McDuffie JR, Goode AP, Kosinski AS, et al. Improving
vasomotor symptoms; psychological symptoms; and health-related quality of life in peri- or post
menopausal women through yoga: An umbrella systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther
Med 2017; 34: 156-164.
8. Koch AK, Rabsilber S, Lauche R, Kümmel S, Dobos G, Langhorst J, et al. The effects of yoga and self
esteem on menopausal symptoms and quality of life in breast cancer survivors-A secondary analysis of a
randomized controlled trial. Maturitas 2017; 105: 95-99.
9. Jorge MP, Santaella DF, Pontes IM, Shiramizu VK, Nascimento EB, Cabral A, et al. Hatha Yoga practice
decreases menopause symptoms and improves quality of life: A randomized controlled trial. Complement
Ther Med 2016; 26: 128-135.