How to Use Yoga to help with menopause

Menopause is when menstruation stops. It can happen when you are in your late forties to early fifties. But it can happen early or later than this. It involves a transition period that can take over several years during which time there are various changes that take place in a womans body. When the ovaries stop functioning, there is an increase in the other glands (thyroid) that brings about an imbalance in the hormonal system. For some women they suffer terribly from hot flushes, high blood pressure, fatigue, heaviness in the breasts, headaches, insomnia, obesity and dry skin. Irregular menstruation can often be accompanied with very heavy bleeding some months leaving women particularly exhausted and distressed. Emotionally some women can feel like they are on a roller coaster bouncing from bouts of anxiety, periods of paranoia, short temper, jealousy, deep sadness, depression, anger, fear and a feeling of being disconnected (not grounded). Post Menopause brings its own issues for women (vaginal dryness,incontinence, joint stiffness) – see THE WOMENS BOOK OF YOGA AND HEALTH*

A yoga practice at this critical stage in a woman life is, as Geeta Iyengar notes in her book YOGA-A GEM FOR WOMEN, ‘extremely beneficial, as it calms the nervous system and brings equipoise … it gives one a bright outlook on life and allows one to look forward to a happier future’ p 57. The Sequences below should help to bring a soothing sensation to the nerves, help with hot flushes and erratic mood swings, correct the functioning of the endocrine system and bring a more positive outlook on life.

Sequence 1

  • Seated Baddha Konasana- either to wall/ or chair behind
  • Seated Upavistha Konasana-either to wall /or chair behind
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana-head support
  • Uttanasana – head support feet wider than hip width apart, toes turned in
  • Prasarita Padottanasana – head support – helps with hot flushes
  • Salamba Sirsasana- (active, or hanging )- Legs straight/can also do Baddha Konasana , Upavistha Konasana in Sirsasana
  • Viparita Dandasana – Chair head support / if too difficult do cross Bolsters
  • Janu Sirasana – head support
  • Paschimottanasana -head support
  • *******Some days add other forwards Bends like Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana,Triang Mukhaikapada, Paschimottanasana, Maricyasana1
  • Salamba Sarvangasana -or supported /or Niralamba Sarvangasana
  • Ardha Halasana
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana /bench or bolsters(home practice)
  • Viparita Karani
  • Savasana
  • Pranayama-Ujjayi 1 , 11 Viloma 1,11,

Sequence 2

On days when you feel quite exhausted – shorter practice.

  • Supported Savasana
  • Supta Baddha Konasana -8 mins /Supta Virasana
  • Matsyasana -if not possible supta Swastikasana
  • Forward Virasana -head support
  • Viparita Dandasana(cross bolster)
  • Setu bandha Sarvangasana -8-10 mins
  • Swastikasana forward -head support
  • Viparita Karani/ straight legs/ feet in baddha konasana/ Upavistha Konasana

Twists are excellent – for replenishing and stimulate adrenals, help deal with anger and depression Bharadvajasana 1&2, Madrichyasana 111, Supine twist, Standing Twists.

Backbends are great, as they stimulate thyroid and adrenals and help women cope with depression. Can be done in supported manner on days when energy is low.

Standing Poses should also be done as they invigorate the adrenal glands, bring energy and relieve joint and muscle stiffness , and keep the bones in a healthy state. The following standing poses could be done when feeling strong. Support can be used / blocks / wall / balcony rail.

  • Tadasana – feet apart, toes turned in
  • Tadasana feet apart raise arms palms facing each other
  • Uttanasana arms folded feet apart / head can also rest on a chair
  • Utthita Trikonasana
  • Virabhadrasana 11
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana
  • Ardha Chandrasana
  • Parsvottanasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana
  • Parivrtta Trikonasana
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1&2

Abdominal poses / use belt so less tiring Navasana, Ardha Navasana, Supta Padangusthasana 1&2 (avoid Supta Padangusthasana 1 when menstruating)


Additional reading. These books can be borrowed from the library at the studio:

  • Geeta Iyengar, YOGA- A GEM FOR WOMEN
  • Linda Sparrowe & Patricia Walden, THE WOMENS BOOK OF YOGA & HEALTH (many excellent sequences to practice)