Yoga for Menopause: What the Research Says

Female yoga student practicing Crescent Lunge yoga pose for yoga for menopause

What role can yoga play in navigating symptoms of menopause? Yoga is increasingly becoming understood as a tool to ease symptoms associated with this life transition. But what does the research say? This article explores current research on how yoga for menopause affects symptoms and how it can be integrated into women’s health.

Understanding Menopause Through Yogic Lens

Modern healthcare advancements have increased life expectancy, resulting in women spending about one-third of their lives post-menopause. Because we’re living longer, it’s now more important to understand how to navigate the symptoms and emotional states of all parts of the transition, including the post-menopausal years. While common treatments for medicalized management of symptoms, such as estrogen replacement therapy, may be effective in reducing symptoms, hormonal treatments have limitations and potential risks, prompting the exploration of more natural treatments and healing modalities like yoga.

Yoga offers a holistic approach to managing menopause, encouraging us to view this phase as a transformative journey rather than just a biological shift. By combining physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), and meditation, yoga supports not only physical health but also emotional and spiritual well-being. This integrated practice can be tailored to address specific menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and sleep disturbances.

If we take a yogic view of menopause, we see it is a significant life transition accompanied by various physical and psychological symptoms that vary among individuals. Rather than seeing menopause as a decline in health, we can more holistically understand it as a time of transformation and growth, offering opportunities for self-discovery and spiritual development.

Old woman doing yoga for menopause for women over 60

Research Insights into Yoga for Menopause

Despite its widespread adoption among women experiencing menopausal symptoms, scientific research on yoga’s efficacy remains relatively limited but promising. Here’s a glimpse of three scientific articles published on the topic:

Yoga’s Effects on Management of Common Menopausal Symptoms 

A study conducted in Indonesia and published in 2022 investigated the effects of yoga on menopausal symptoms and sleep quality (1). In this study, participants were divided into two groups. One group practiced yoga for 20 weeks, while the other did not. The study found that regular yoga practice significantly reduced menopausal symptoms and improved sleep quality for postmenopausal and perimenopausal women. Participants who practiced yoga for 20 weeks experienced these benefits, whereas premenopausal women did not see significant improvements in sleep quality. This study suggests that yoga can be an effective non-pharmacological intervention for alleviating menopausal symptoms and enhancing sleep. However, since the study took place in Indonesia, similar research in the U.S. is needed to confirm these findings closer to home.

Woman waking up happy stretching sitting on comfortable bed looking out of big skyscraper window in modern hotel bedroom enjoying good morning and city view starting new day, w

Psychological Benefits of Yoga During Stages of Menopause 

An earlier systematic review in 2012 reinforced yoga’s positive impact on psychological symptoms associated with menopause, such as anxiety and depression (2). While evidence for relief of physical symptoms like hot flashes was shown to be inconclusive, yoga’s role in enhancing mental well-being was found to be well supported. The review included five randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with 582 participants and found moderate evidence for short-term relief of psychological symptoms but no evidence for improvements in somatic, vasomotor, urogenital, or overall menopausal symptoms. Importantly, yoga was not associated with serious adverse events in the studies included here. The study concluded that yoga could be recommended as an additional intervention for psychological symptoms during menopause, though more rigorous research is needed to confirm these findings. Future studies should ensure better methodology and compare different yoga styles and components to further understand its benefits for menopausal symptom relief.

Yoga as a Safe, Effective Complement to Conventional Menopause Treatments 

A 2010 study reviewed existing research on yoga’s effects on menopausal symptoms, finding it a safe and effective complement to conventional treatments (3). Yoga was found by included studies to promote overall health, and the researchers theorized it might work by influencing women’s neuro-hormonal pathways. Unlike the 2012 study, the research included in this review supports yoga as a tool to manage symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats and reduce psychological and physiological risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Yoga also improved cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and concentration. Overall, the authors state that yoga offers significant physical and mental health benefits for managing menopausal symptoms.

Adapting Yoga Practices for Menopause

The gaps in the research on yoga for menopause clearly show that more scientific research is needed to substantiate yoga’s benefits on symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. However, according to yoga teachers and practitioners in the heat of it all, the practices described below may help. Yoga practices can be adapted to meet the evolving needs of women transitioning through menopause:

  • Modifying Intensity 

Yin yoga as a tool to ease symptoms associated with life transition

As women progress through different menopausal stages, it becomes beneficial to slow the practice down. Emphasizing grounding poses, gently supported inversions, and restorative postures can help regulate internal body heat and promote relaxation.

  • Pranayama and Mudras 

Techniques like Sitali pranayama (a cooling breath created by curling the sides of the tongue on an inhalation) and Prana Mudra (“gesture of energy or vital life force”) can energetically encourage cooling the body and redirect tension or stress associated with this time of transition.

  • Lifestyle Integration

As most yoga teachers and students know, yoga is a practice that involves far more than postures and breathwork alone. Beyond asana practice, incorporating a holistic yogic lifestyle—including a mainly plant-based diet, mindfulness, and stress management—can further support overall well-being during menopause.

Hands in hakini mudra by Indian man isolated on white background. Hakini is god of the forehead chakra. Free space for your text

Yoga as a Supportive Practice for Menopause

As more women explore holistic approaches to managing menopause, yoga emerges as a versatile and accessible tool. While existing research underscores its benefits for psychological symptoms and overall well-being, further rigorous studies are needed to validate its broader physiological impacts. Nonetheless, yoga invites women to engage actively with their menopausal journey, offering not just symptom relief but also a pathway to holistic health. Integrating yoga into daily life makes navigating this phase of life possible with resilience, acceptance, and renewed vitality.

 

Lacey Ramirez

Lacey Ramirez writes for YogaUOnline and is an RYT-500 & ERYT-200 yoga teacher, global health researcher, and writer based in St. Louis. Through her work, she seeks to make yoga accessible, inclusive, and equitable.

Lacey discovered yoga as a tool for centering during her years as a competitive runner. Since then, yoga has served as a way to connect with her body throughout her experience of pregnancy and parenthood. She teaches because she hopes others can use this sacred practice for calming, healing, and transformation.

As a yoga teacher, Lacey specializes in teaching restorative, Yin, prenatal, and trauma-informed Vinyasa yoga. She has also completed birth doula and prenatal/postnatal barre certifications and trainings. Additionally, she holds a Masters of Science in Global Health and Population from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. To learn more and connect, visit her website laceyramirez.com 

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