Manage menopause with yoga

Yoga helps women to cope with the challenges of menopause

Lady on phonePrema, a vibrant 43-year old woman, suddenly started feeling lonely. Prema, who used to be so wrapped up in her kids, was feeling left out. She was wondering why she felt as if she was not the centre of her home any more, and became sad. Her husband had recently got a big promotion; in fact he was the top boss now! She rejoiced in his joy but then this meant longer hours of work and more responsibility. He was hardly at home. She experienced sudden hot flushes and in the middle of the day or in the night, she felt as if she was engulfed in a pool of sweat.

She wondered if she was entering her menopause. She had noticed that her menstrual cycle had become irregular. After consulting the doctor, it was confirmed that she was experiencing symptoms of menopause. These are typical symptoms faced by women during menopause.

What is menopause?

Menopause is a part of every woman's life. It is the stage when your menstrual period permanently stops and is associated with hormonal, physical and psychological changes.

This natural phase occurs generally between 40-45 years, although it can be as early as 35 or as late as 65. The average age is around 50 years.

Some women go through menopause without much discomfort, but for many it is a distressing and painful experience. Hot flushes, night sweats and sleeplessness are common symptoms of menopause. A hot flush is a sudden feeling of heat in the chest, which spreads to the neck and face. It is followed by a cold, shivery feeling. Hot flushes may occur several times in a day. At night, a hot flush may be accompanied by sweating and can be particularly troublesome. Other problems include palpitations, headaches, irritability, anxiety, depression, loss of confidence and concentration, poor memory, difficulty in making decisions and loss of sex drive.

The long-term problems of menopause include: Osteoporosis [thinning and weakening of bones] that makes your bones more susceptible to fractures, cardiovascular disease which increases your risk of heart attack, and Alzheimer's disease wherein there is progressive loss of memory.

Yoga relief

Let's take a look at some meditative and conditioning yoga postures which will help one to focus, quieten the mind and create a sense of discrimination and discipline [Dharma].

All the asanas have to be done with the correct feelings [Bhavas] because Yoga aims at inculcating good attitudes and stilling the mind. Meditation is a process where a meditative state has to be fostered throughout the day.

Sukhasana

Sukhasana

  • Sit on the floor with legs crossed.
  • This posture can be done on the chair or bed also.
  • Keep the palms of the hands on your knees.
  • Keep the spine and neck erect.
  • Close the eyes.
  • With eyes closed watch your breathing.
  • Retain the pose for at least five minutes, if comfortable.

Tip: This meditative asana helps to calm and focus the mind.

Parvatasana

Parvatasana

  • Sit cross legged.
  • While inhaling 2 seconds, lift the arms from the sides, palms facing upwards.
  • Keep the elbows straight and join the palms.
  • Retain the breath for 4 seconds.
  • While exhaling 2 seconds, bring the arms down, palms facing downwards.
  • This asana tends to strengthen chest muscles and gives upward stretch to the spine, thus improving the posture.

Tip: Stretching asanas like Parvatasana create body awareness and concentration.

Hastapadangushtasana II

Parvatasana

  • Lie down supine.
  • Stretch out arms horizontally.
  • Exhaling, slide the right leg towards the right hand and grasp the toes if possible without bending the knee.
  • Inhaling, slide the leg back to starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tip: Improves circulation in the legs.

Pavanmuktasana Variation

Pavanmuktasana variation

  • Lie supine with knees flexed.
  • Cross left leg over the right leg.
  • Grasp the left knee with the right hand and draw the leg towards the right shoulder while exhaling.
  • Unlock the legs and return to starting position while inhaling.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

Tip: Provides abdominal compression and stretches hip muscles.

Yastikasana

  • Lie supine, with arms alongside the body.
  • While inhaling, stretch the arms upwards and the toes outwards.
  • Retain position for six seconds.
  • While exhaling, return to starting position.
  • Repeat three times.

Tip: Offers extreme stretch and relaxation to the arms and spine.

Ardha Matsyasana

  • Lie down supine.
  • Keep the right leg straight and the left leg flexed with the left foot flat on the ground.
  • With the help of the hand, place the right foot on the left thigh.
  • Gradually, straighten the left leg till it touches the ground.
  • Stay for a little while.
  • Keep the interlocked hands on the abdomen.
  • Repeat the same with the other leg.

Tip: Strengthens pelvic muscles and thighs. Helps prevent oedema and varicose veins

Shavasana

Shavasana

  • Lie down supine.
  • Slowly start relaxing different parts of the body — starting from the toes, to the ankles, the knees, the thighs, the arms, the anus, the generative organs, navel, abdomen, heart region, neck, lips, tip of the nose, eyes, space between the eyebrows, and top of the head.

Tip: Helps create feelings of relaxation, let go [Vairagya] and rest.

Pranayama IV

Pranayama IV

  • Lie supine.
  • Keep the knees flexed with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Place one hand on the abdomen.
  • Inhale, moving the abdomen upward slowly.
  • Exhale, moving the abdomen downward slowly.
  • Avoid jerky movements.
  • Do 10 rounds.

Tip: Aids in concentration and provides gentle massage to the abdomen organs.

Anulom Vilom

Anulom Vilom

  • Slowly sit up.
  • Sit comfortably cross legged on the floor or on a chair.
  • Keep the spine and neck erect.
  • Close the left nostril with the little finger and ring finger.
  • Inhale through the right nostril for three seconds.
  • Now closing the right nostril with the thumb, exhale through the left nostril for three seconds.
  • Then inhale through the left nostril for three seconds and exhale through the right nostril for three seconds.
  • Continue inhaling and exhaling through the alternate nostrils for five rounds.

Tip: Calms the mind and aids in concentration.

Konasana 2

  • Stand with back touching a wall.
  • Keep the feet parallel and approximately thirty inches apart.
  • Keep the arms alongside the body.
  • Raise the right arm upwards, keeping it close to the wall.
  • Inhaling bend to the left, keeping the body close to the wall.
  • Slide the left hand down along the body.
  • Stay in this position as is comfortable for a few seconds.
  • Exhaling return to starting position.
  • Repeat the same on other side.

Tip: Little used muscles on the side of the body are exercised.

10 Tips for Healthy Living

  1. Note 10 happy events that take place every day and enter the same in a book.
  2. Avoid unnecessary reading, sitting idle for too long, thinking negative and brooding on past unpleasant events.
  3. Walking is a wonderful exercise. Take a stroll for at least 30 minutes twice a day.
  4. Relax one hour daily
  5. Sunlight helps relieve joint pain. Expose yourself to the sun at least once a day for about half an hour. If the sun is hot be sure to protect the head and face.
  6. Practise a hobby like drawing, singing, playing an instrument or gardening where you are physically involved.
  7. Try and cultivate a balanced way of life by reading scriptures and visiting religious places and do social work daily.
  8. Avoid oily foods, non-veg food, chocolate, eggs, sweetmeats, sugar and maida preparation and polished rice. Cultivate a taste for soy products.
  9. Have an early dinner preferably before 8:00 pm. Let the dinner be light. Do not include high protein, fried and spicy food at dinner time.
  10. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Papaya is a good fruit to have every night in case one is constipated. Whole fruit is better to have than juices, but if there is difficulty in chewing the whole fruit, juices can be taken. Fruits offer good roughage as they have good fibre content.

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