“Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal.” – Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois
Did you know that more and more women aged 40-50 are doing yoga?
Well, I must say that this trend deserves the spotlight because yoga brings so many health benefits! It helps women age gracefully and relieve a lot of menopause symptoms. It can also ease stress-related discomforts, strengthen your bones, improve posture and align the spine. YUP! Sounds like a strong defender against something we all want to get away with — osteoporosis. ?
Let’s learn more about the promising benefits of yoga for women in menopause!
What are the Benefits of Yoga for Menopausal Women?
So, it’s settled: You can definitely still do yoga! Now, let me give you a couple more reasons why you need to embrace yoga!
1 – It improves bone health.
When it comes to bone health, the number one benefit of yoga is increasing bone density. What does that exactly mean?
Bone density, sometimes called “bone mineral density”, refers to the amount of minerals (like calcium) present in our bones. As we age, maintaining our bone density is vital when it comes to preserving movement. Typically, your bones increase their density from your teenage years and reach their maximum density in your early thirties. After your forties, it gradually declines due to various factors:
• Hormonal imbalance: Estrogen plays a significant role in bone density. When women are young (between 20 and 30) estrogen works to regulate bone growth. Bones are constantly being remodeled and estrogen is kept in proportion through menstruation. When we enter menopause, estrogen begins to drop, contributing to about 20 percent loss in bone density.
• Poor diet: Lacking essential bone minerals (like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and more) in your diet can lead to bone loss. Well, some people are lactose intolerant and it has been a “universal standard” that drinking milk or having anything dairy is “the best” for our bones. BREAKING NEWS: IT’S A MYTH! There are actually a lot of healthier calcium sources. Dark leafy greens, for one, are excellent sources of calcium. Fish, like sardines, can also boost your calcium levels! If you want to have a longer list, visit my article about calcium!
• Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise: Lacking physical activity can set you up for weak bones. Yes, it may seem like a contradiction that “adding stress to our bones increases strength”. But that’s exactly how exercise improves the health of our bones! The physical stress forces them to build new cells and make them stronger. Thus, our bone density builds up!
• Mental health: Yup! You may not think your mental state impacts your bone health, but it does! It is not purely about mood and emotions. It can also take a drastic toll on the body and that includes our bones! Let’s take depression as an example. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that roughly 6.7 percent of American adults suffer from depression. In this population, it has been studied that depression can lead to bone loss!
Now, if you have low bone density, there is an increased risk for you to suffer from breaks and fractures. In fact, around 8 million women in the United States do. Fortunately, yoga saves the day as it strengthens the areas that are most likely to suffer (hips, spine and wrists) and helps maintain bone density!
2 – It increases blood circulation, relaxes the mind and reduces muscle tension.
Moreover, yoga connects and streamlines every corner of our body. With its gentle and light movements, yoga relaxes the central nervous system (CNS). This system controls all parts of the body, from hormones to blood vessels to tissues! A relaxed CNS lowers our stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. As a result, we manage stress better!
3 – It improves balance, flexibility and posture.
You might be wondering why exactly do we need balance at this age. Well, darling, without a good sense of balance, we are literally going to fall! That’s not really on your watch, is it?
And if ever you’re thinking that you can’t do yoga because “only flexible people can”, go get yourself a yoga mat already! You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. Actually, just do that pose and your flexibility will improve with yoga!
Also, as yoga increases blood circulation, it enhances the coordination of our major bone structures and muscle groups. So, it keeps your spine healthy by creating an ideal postural alignment!
4 – It can enhance cognition and memory.
Sometimes, it just really feels like some words I’m about to say are at the tip of my tongue. Do you have these moments too? Or are you more of a “One second… I think I misplaced my keys.” person?
Well, our brain’s cognitive function involves concentration, memory, mental balance, verbal retention and a whole lot more. Sadly, as we age, these processes seem to slow down. But yoga is here to save the day!
It is believed that practicing yoga stimulates the growth and connection between our neurons! Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a Psychiatry Professor and Researcher at the University of California said:
“Creating new neural pathways is a way of recovering and improving cognitive capacity, including processing speed and memory, that may decline with aging or brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.”
Furthermore, meditation practices like yoga can improve our ability to self-regulate during stressful situations! Meaning, your mind and body learn to not react immediately to stressors. Instead, you will tend to take a breath, get centered and respond in a healthier way! How gorgeous!
5 – It promotes proper breathing.
Why? Because yoga enthusiasts believe that the spinal column is the “energy pathway”. It is where the “life force energy” travels as directed by and connected to the breath. Fascinating, I know!
6 – It relieves headaches.
When the body is relaxed, it stimulates the production of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. These mood hormones help us stay calmer, happier and free from mental tension! Simple poses on yoga for headaches can be performed to help ease headaches!
Indeed, yoga keeps us fit and strong during midlife. A proven wellness promoter for the mind and body! ?
How Can Yoga Help Women with Osteoporosis?
We’ll let some research answer that!
Osteoporosis is commonly encountered by postmenopausal women. Therefore, there is an increased need for a low-cost and efficient treatment alternative to address this health issue. YOGA IS COMING ON TOP OF THE CHART! ?
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one in three women over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis. While osteoporosis is commonly referred to as a “woman’s disease”, men are not immune to it. In fact, nearly two million men have osteoporosis and another 8-13 million have low bone density — and that’s only within America! So, ladies… Loosen up! Osteoporosis is not a form of sorcery for women only, alright? ?
Now, here’s the thing…
According to the results of a groundbreaking clinical trial, postmenopausal women with osteoporosis gained bone density after only 6 months of regular yoga practice.
The trial showed an increased bone density in the spine and hips of 11 patients (aged 68 on average) with osteoporosis and osteopenia — a condition with below normal mineral density but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis.
No such changes took place among those in a control group who did not perform yoga. At the end of the study, five participants who had osteopenia were reclassified as normal. On the other hand, two patients with osteoporosis were considered “having osteopenia” after the study.
This is the first clinical study to show the benefits of yoga for osteoporosis relief and prevention! Yoga can not only prevent menopausal bone loss, but can also increase bone density after menopause — where women usually start to lose bone!
Just in case you’re still doubting the wonders of yoga for our bone health, watch this video from Dr. Susan Brown! She is a medical anthropologist, a New York State Certified Nutritionist and the author of Better Bones, Better Body — the first comprehensive look at natural bone health. So, if I didn’t convince you about the groundbreaking study, she definitely will! ?
What are the Most Common Types of Yoga?
With the increasing number of yoga enthusiasts, more and more yoga types are being created. I’m not even complaining! ? Each type of yoga is meant to fulfill different needs! Below are some of them:
1→ Slow and Gentle Meditative Yoga
Hatha is a gentle and slow meditation covering the introduction and basics of yoga postures. Practicing Hatha would less likely make you sweat, but it would reduce stress and improve breathing!
2 → Vinyasa (Fluid, Intensive Movements)
Vinyasa is the Sanskrit term for “flow”. This practice involves fluid and intensive movements! It builds lean muscles, connects movement to breathing and improves flexibility. Vinyasa also reduces the risk of heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes!
3 → Ashtanga (Power, Fast-Paced Yoga)
Ashtanga is a form of power yoga that is fast-paced. It involves push-ups and lunges. Its purpose is to relieve stress, improve coordination and make you lose weight! Also, Ashtanga is physically demanding, which makes it perfect for people who desire to enhance strength and stamina.
4 → Iyengar (Body Alignment and Balance Yoga)
Iyengar focuses on body alignments. It uses props like straps, blocks and blankets to strengthen the body! Iyengar is more on standing poses, so, it works best for beginners who want to align their spine and improve balance. It also helps you recover fast from injury and heal chronic conditions like arthritis.
5 → Bikram (Hot Sweaty Yoga)
Also called “hot yoga”, Bikram is typically executed in rooms with warm temperatures. Bikram eliminates body toxins and stretches the muscles!
6 → Kundalini (Philosophical, Spiritual Yoga)
7 → Anusara (The light to Inner Goodness Yoga)
Anusara is the youngest practice in the yoga world. John Friend, an American yogi, developed it in 1997. It’s based on a view about the human’s intrinsic goodness. Its physical practice challenges the mind and opens the heart to discover grace and inner goodness!
8 → Yin Yoga (Yin Energy principle, Subtle and Slow Movements)
Doing the poses of Yin yoga respects the flow of the Chi or energy. The postures have to be performed in a non-aggressive way. Also, the secret to practicing this type of yoga is to slowly stretch the muscles and joints until it opens up to its full softness and range!
What Yoga Essentials Should I Have to Get Started?
1 ♥ Yoga Mat: A specially fabricated mat that prevents hands and feet from slipping during yoga. A strap sling can help you stow away and carry your mat conveniently wherever you go!
2 ♥ Yoga Bolster: A yoga accessory that provides comfort, supports poses and increases stretching during restorative postures and deep breathing exercises.
3 ♥ Yoga Pants or Leggings: Form-fitting trousers designed for yoga. They are usually made of a mix of nylon and Lycra — a sub-category of spandex. Also, more specialized fabric combinations have been introduced recently! These fabrics were made to take in moisture, provide compression and reduce odor. Some of the best fabrics are rayon blends, polyester-spandex, bamboo fiber and merino wool!
4 ♥ Non-Slip Socks: These socks make the execution of yoga more effective and comfortable. It also protects from the dangers of slipping off while making challenging yoga positions.
5 ♥ Foam Roller: They provide added support under challenging poses or can be used to massage your muscles after a difficult routine. Medium-density rollers are great for beginners to use during yoga, while denser picks can make for a tougher workout because they provide less resistance.
7 ♥ Online Courses and Videos: I didn’t begin yoga in studios, but in the comforts of my home, using yoga resources online! It’s best to get a yoga membership because everything is planned for you. It’s convenient and you also have access to some of the best teachers in the world!
I’m currently enjoying the convenience of the phone application Stretchy Fit App. Over 150 on-demand videos can be found in this app! The wide variety of workout styles they offer will help balance your mind, strengthen your muscles and boost your confidence! My top favorites from the Stretchy Fit App are yoga, meditation, breathwork and mobility. ?
Jacquelyn Umof is the founder of the Stretchy Fit App. Fitness communities know her as “Action Jacquelyn” and indeed, this girl is always in action! I personally love her attitude and mindset. She believes that daily mindful movement can create a happier, more positive outlook in life. Jacquelyn also stands by the belief that you can achieve success in your career and relationships, and develop a deeper sense of self-love through mindful movement.
Can’t help but adore this girl – her perspective resonates very well with my thoughts!
What Other Forms of Exercise Can Help with Osteoporosis?
Besides yoga, the best types of exercise to improve bone strength are weight-bearing exercises (strength training), resistance training and balance exercises.
Strength training focuses on improving bone strength and muscle gain. It involves high-intensity weight-bearing exercises to target certain parts of the skeleton. Strength training typically uses hand weights or dumbbells to create added resistance for your muscles and bones. Squats and other strengthening exercises that use your own bodyweight to create resistance are also excellent choices! Remember, our bone and muscle work as a single unit. So, whenever you use a muscle, you’re also stimulating your bones!
Basically, both strength training and resistance training are proven exercises to promote bone health. They only differ in their goals and intensity. Strength training focuses on improving strength and muscle gain. It is all about intense training. On the other hand, resistance training is usually slower and less intense. It focuses more on flexibility and overall well-being. To choose a suitable activity for you, it’s important to be aware of your physical abilities.
Lastly, balance exercises are the light-and-easy type of exercises. They are also essential for adults because improved balance can reduce our risk of falling — which may lead to fractures!
Watch this video from Michelle Kenway. She is a physiotherapist that serves people of all ages, shapes and sizes to help move the body well and feel great! ?
Another woman that I love to train with is PJ. She talks a lot, but don’t we all? ? PJ is YouTube’s favorite trainer for women over 40. She makes me laugh and her exercises are super effective! She also developed a special osteoporosis program. Check out one of her videos! ?
I hope you have learned many helpful insights about yoga! In menopause, it is super important to find your balance — and yoga is a proven way to achieve it!
In this article, we were able to talk about how it helps prevent osteoporosis! ? I tackled many other benefits that yoga can give as well to help us manage our symptoms! Also, don’t forget about the tips I gave you to strengthen your bones!
I couldn’t find any reason not to encourage my fellow women to embrace the yoga practice! Indeed, yoga is a revolutionary discovery to keep us healthy — physically, emotionally and spiritually. Namaste! ?
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