Yoga Poses for Hot Flashes
With hormone replacement therapy (HRT) coming under increasing fire for raising a woman's risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other conditions, more women are choosing to get through the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause naturally. Alternative forms of treatment ranging from vitamin and herbal supplements to a regular yoga regimen are both safe and effective in helping women to navigate this transitional period of their lives. In particular, yoga for hot flashes has proven to be an especially useful and simple coping technique.
Perimenopause, the phase prior to the actual cessation of menses can last for years and typically effects women 45 to 55 years of age. As estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate, women experience a range of resulting symptoms including:
- mood swings
- memory problems
- erratic menstrual cycles
- hot flashes
While all of the elements of perimenopause are troublesome and life-disrupting, hot flashes frequently occur at night, contributing to an overall state of sleep deprivation. The more severe a woman's fatigue the more pronounced all her symptoms will become. Getting on top of hot flashes is a critical element to dealing with perimenopause.
Hot flashes effect approximately 80 percent of perimenopausal women. The core body temperature spikes in concert with a rapid heart rate that in turn causes flushing of the face, neck, and arms. Often the incident passes rapidly leaving the victim drenched in sweat and shivering from chills. Although the exact cause of hot flashes are not known, most experts agree stress and fatigue make the episodes more severe.
Legs Up the Wall
In using yoga for hot flashes, a popular pose to lessen the intensity of the episode is called Legs Up the Wall. It is instrumental in calming the nerves and can be executed by anyone regardless of their physical condition. All you need is a wall space approximately three feet in width.
- Sit parallel to the wall with your right shoulder resting against it and your legs extended straight in front of you.
- Bend your knees and as you are doing so, lie on your left side as if in a fetal position with your feet and backside against the wall.
- Now, rotate on to your back bringing your legs up the wall. The backs of your legs and your backside should be touching the wall. (Essentially your body is forming an "L" against the wall.)
- With your hands on your abdomen, breathe deeply following the motion of your hands up and down with the breath. With each breathe, exhale more slowly, deepening the degree of relaxation.
- Clear your mind and concentrate on your breath. If you find it difficult to calm your racing thoughts, you may choose a meaningful or calming word to repeat in your mind with each exhalation.
- Allow your torso to feel as if it is sinking into the floor beneath you.
Initially stay in this position for 3 to 5 minutes with a goal of increasing the duration to as much as ten minutes. When you are ready, reverse the series of movements before standing up.
While there are many yoga positions that are useful in mitigating the wide range of perimenopausal symptoms, you will need the help of some kind of formal instruction to perform them correctly. You might consider:
- taking a class at a local fitness or women's center,
- purchasing one of the many DVDs available, or
- investigating books like "The New Yoga for People Over 50" by Suza Francina.
With regular practice, the discipline has been found to be enormously beneficial to the perimenopausal woman, particularly yoga for hot flashes, which addresses the number one symptom women going through "the change" face.