Hands up if you’re female. Yes? Then going through the menopause is something you’ll have to deal with in future, if you’re not already. And, with symptoms ranging from hot flushes, headaches and joint stiffness to recurrent urinary tract infections (such as cystitis), trouble sleeping and low mood – chances are you’ll be exploring different options to try and help ease these.
Luckily, one way you can help ease these hormonal-driven discomforts is not only free, but you can do it in the comfort of your own home: yoga. ‘The number of women over the age of 40 practicing it is on the rise,’ explains Cheryl MacDonald, founder of fitness franchise Yoga Bellies (yogabellies.co.uk). It’s not just one symptom that yoga can target either, offering relief in several areas.
Night sweats: ‘Regular practice can help lower your blood pressure and promote blood circulation in your body,’ MacDonald explains. ‘In turn, this can ease this problem.’
Physical pain: ‘Many gentle movements in yoga, such as sun salutations, can help ease any back or neck pain you may be experiencing,’ states MacDonald. ‘These moves help to increase flexibility in the joints – just five to 10 rounds each day is enough to make a drastic difference,’ she adds. Even better? ‘Yoga practitioners tend to have a higher pain threshold’,’ MacDonald reveals. So get practicing to reduce your pain levels in future, too!
Stress-busting: A key component while practicing yoga is to focus on your breathing, which ‘can help reduce anxiety,’ MacDonald says. And, ‘it also helps clear the mind of negative thoughts and feelings,’ she reveals, so you can help lift yourself out of those patches of low moods.
Natural aid: Step away from the pharmacy counter! If you’d prefer to go down a more natural route to ease your symptoms, then look no further than yoga. Plus, it’s a great technique to practice with others, so gather up any friends who are experiencing symptoms too, and beat them together.
Body booster: Research shows engaging in this ancient form of exercise not only helps reduce fatigue but also boosts energy. This is because performing poses can elevate levels of the hormone cortisol, low levels of which can drain your vitality. Plus, by breathing more deeply and steadily, you’re supplying your blood with fresh oxygen, which can also boost energy.
Want to experience these benefits for yourself? ‘Start sat on a mat, with your legs crossed and eyes closed,’ says MacDonald. ‘Take 3 deep breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Really shut your mind off from the rest of the world.’ Ready? Try these poses from Cheryl (you may need to hold on to a chair to start off with to help with your balance!):
Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana (half bound lotus pose)
Ardha matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose)
Supta padmasana (reclined or sleeping lotus pose)
For more information on Yoga Bellies, visit yogabellies.co.uk. Has yoga helped you with menopause or hormonal symptoms? Let us know by tweeting us @healthymag.
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I’m an inclusive, not scary, totally normal yet heavily qualified yoga instructor and founder of YogaBellies® and the Birth ROCKS Method. I’m trained in self hypnosis and meditation and what I love is helping women (ALL women) enjoy yoga without having to whisper all the time and wear fancy activewear that cost a month’s rent.
I believe Yoga is for everyone.