Wendy Hoffman blogs about menopause and women's health—particularly focusing on how diet and nutrition can positively affect a woman's life around the age of menopause.See all posts »
Yoga for Health and Hormone Balancing
But for those not already with the program, knowing that there is real evidence that yoga can relieve menopausal symptoms and even improve your sex life might be all it takes to sign up for a class.
In one recent study of 44 post-menopausal women, published in the journal Menopause late last year, researchers found that women who participated in yoga classes twice a week for four months reported fewer menopause problems than those who did nothing.
In another study in India, 40 sexually-active women aged 22 to 55 were instructed in a protocol of 22 Yoga poses that are believed to have positive effects on abdominal and pelvic muscle tone, digestion, joint function and mood. They practiced one hour a day (followed by breathing and relaxation) for three months. At the end of the program, the researchers found improvements, particularly among women over age 45, in the women’s self-reported sexual-function scores as measured by desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain, and overall satisfaction.
Nearly 75 percent of the women said they were more satisfied with their sex life following the yoga training.
Curious about which poses they performed? They include these three:
Trikonasana (triangle pose), Bhujangasana (the snake), and ardha matsyendra mudra (half spinal twist)
But is it possible that yoga practice can affect the hormone imbalance that's causing unpleasant menopausal symptoms to begin with?
Claudia Turske, author of Hormone Balance Through Yoga; A Pocket Guide for Women over 40, says yes, certain yoga positions can actually massage internal organs that stimulate hormone-producing glands. She writes;
"Despite my long intensive daily yoga practice, menopause changed my life so dramatically starting at age fifty-three that it was an effort just to get through my day to day tasks. Even teaching yoga classes became a burden. Only when I began to focus on specific hormone yoga exercises did I start to regain my original levels of energy and vitality."
Her book explains how “hormone yoga” works directly on the ovaries, the adrenal glands, and the thyroid through internal massage. One of the first exercises she shows is the well known Downward-Facing Dog.
Hormone Balance Through Yoga starts with preliminary breathing exercises and takes you through a series of warm-up moves before you tackle the twelve exercises for hormone balance. She concludes with exercises for calming the mind.
This is a sixty-page pocketbook, so it’s truly lightweight and easy to take with you on your travels. As someone who’s new to yoga, I find it easy to follow and I appreciate the photos that guide me.
Wendy Hoffman writes about women’s health at www.menopausetheblog.com.