Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yoga Helps Menopause: You Don't Have To Be Bendy To Benefit

If you're going through menopause, it won't surprise you to learn that your fluctuating hormones are the number one cause of those troublesome symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, insomnia and depression.

As the estrogen and progesterone levels in your body decline during the menopause transition, you may be left with a general feeling of emotional and physical imbalance even if your menopause symptoms are not that severe.

Yoga can help you to correct this instability by bringing your body and your mind back into balance. Yoga postures and poses (asanas) combined with breathing exercises (pranayama) help to strengthen the muscles and internal organs of the body as well as balance the endocrine system; the system of glands such as hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid and pineal, responsible for secreting hormones directly into the bloodstream.

Inverted postures such as the shoulder stand, downward facing dog and plough pose work the heart and boost the immune system and are considered to be hormonal balancers due to the increased blood supply to the endocrine glands at the throat during practice.

Yoga meditation and relaxation practices enable you to let go of tension in your body and your mind, allowing access to a deep inner peace and calm, helping you to accept yourself and your body and leading to a calmer, easier transition to menopause.

Who Can Do Yoga?

If you've never considered practicing yoga to help ease your menopause symptoms then at this point your mind is probably throwing out all kinds of objections like "yoga is for young people", "I'm not flexible enough to do yoga" or "I don't have time to do a yoga class"

First of all, just about anyone can practice yoga. The oldest yoga teacher in the world is 93 years old! All right, she started practicing yoga when she was eight years old but the average age of the students in her daily yoga class is 40 plus. You can start practicing yoga at any age, you just have to listen to your body and not over extend yourself during the exercises. Choose a reputed teacher and a class designed for older students so you won't be tempted to overdo it when you're just starting out.

And you don't have to be able to twist yourself into a pretzel to benefit from yoga exercises. Although your postures may not be as extended as younger practitioners, they still carry the same benefits. Flow into and out of poses rather than holding them and you will develop agility, strength and flexibility. Using props to assist with getting into the correct alignment is standard practice with older and less bendy students.

Regular yoga practice will improve your flexibility and balance and help to strengthen your bones, which is important in later life to ward off osteoporosis. Yoga can also help with high blood pressure, anxiety depression and digestive disorders.

Of course, one of the greatest benefits of yoga is that once you've learned a routine, all you need is a yoga mat and you can practice by yourself at home between classes.

Or if you prefer not to attend a class at all there are some great, easy to follow downloadable programs available online, produced by reputable, highly experienced yoga teachers with yoga routines that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

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