Hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog. Erratic periods and mood swings. Welcome to perimenopause, sis. Need relief? Try yoga. It’s my go-to for almost everything that ails me, and there’s scientific evidence that it can help you, too.
“Some studies present evidence suggesting that yoga may be a complimentary, non-pharmaceutical modality to help alleviate menopausal symptoms and relieve stress,” confirms Nadine Kelly, who left a seven-year medical practice as a pathologist to become a certified yoga instructor.
Perimenopause can occur between four to eight years prior to the onset of menopause, and natural changes in hormone levels can cause symptoms that vary from woman to woman. Adopting healthy lifestyle practices, including yoga, can help reduce symptoms through menopause and beyond.
“One of the most beautiful benefits of practicing yoga is giving ourselves permission to slow down, notice our thoughts and actions and to know when we need help,” says Kelly. “My students often share stories about using breathing techniques to cope with stress and anxiety, symptoms which are prevalent during perimenopause and menopause. In doing so, they feel empowered to take charge of their own well-being.”
Here are four yoga poses that may help you do the same.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Sit comfortably. Lift your right hand and straighten your first two fingers. With your palm facing you, place those two fingers on your forehead. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and exhale, then inhale slowly through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale, then inhale through the right nostril. Repeat for a few minutes.
If you have asthma or COPD, talk to your doctor before attempting this exercise. And skip it if you have a cold or stuffy nose.
Lie on your back. Bend your knees, spread your legs hip-width apart and put your feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms by your side, palms down. Lift your hips and slide a yoga block on its lowest or medium setting under your sacrum and relax. You may also use a blanket under your head and neck to make the pose more comfortable. Rest here for a few minutes.
Unless under the supervision of an experienced instructor, people with neck or shoulder injuries should avoid this pose.
Legs Up the Wall
Sit next to a wall or a folding chair on a bolster or blankets. Bend your knees and roll onto your back. Lengthen your legs up the wall or rest them on the seat of a chair with the backs of your thighs touching the seat and your feet through the open seat back. You may use a blanket under your head and neck for additional comfort. Lie here and breathe deeply for a few minutes with your eyes closed.
Do not do this pose if you have glaucoma. If you have neck or back injuries, attempt this pose only under professional supervision.
Either in bed or on the floor on a yoga mat, lie on your back. Let the back of your head, shoulder blades, hips and legs sink into the floor or bed. Arms are at your sides, palms up. Let your feet fall open to the side. (If you have lower back pain or discomfort, keep your knees bent and feet on the floor, hip distance apart, or use a blanket or a bolster beneath your knees. If you’re pregnant, lie on your side.)
Close your eyes and mentally scan each body part, one at a time, starting with the facial muscles and progressing to your feet. Stay in the pose for five minutes.
If it isn’t bedtime, finish by taking a few deep breaths and slowly moving your body to wake it up. Gently roll sideways into a fetal position, and then press your palms on the floor to gently raise your body into a seated position.