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Yoga May Help You Manage Menopause Symptoms

August 06, 2013

Women's Center Workshop Offers Guidance and Instruction

While the experience of going through peri-menopause and menopause is different for each woman, this "change of life" process often involves symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, insomnia and fatigue resulting from sleep deprivation. In many cases, however, a personal home practice of yoga may help alleviate those symptoms - even without the use of hormone replacement therapy.

"The physical and mental benefits of yoga that bring energy and balance into your life are particularly helpful to women who are transitioning into menopause or who find themselves already there," says Colleen de la Torre, a certified yoga instructor at Washington Women's Center.

"As our hormone levels and body chemistry begin fluctuating rapidly, we can be left feeling out of balance and 'victimized' by our changing bodies," she explains. "Yoga assists in leveling out this physiological instability by relaxing and gently stretching our muscles, thus promoting better blood circulation and greater oxygenation of our body cells and tissues. This helps optimize the function of the endocrine glands and the organs of the female reproductive tract. In addition, yoga improves the health and well-being of the digestive tract, nervous system and other systems in our bodies - which is beneficial for anyone, but particularly for women at this stage in life."

To help women in the community learn more about how yoga may help them manage the symptoms of menopause and how to develop a personal yoga practice, the Washington Women's Center is offering its first-ever workshop in "Yoga for Menopause" on Tuesday, August 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. The workshop, which is limited to 25 participants and costs $15, will be held in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Room C, in the Washington West Building located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

Women of all ages and stages of menopause are invited to attend the workshop, which is suitable for yoga students at all levels of practice from beginner to experienced. Ms. de la Torre, who is a certified ViniYoga instructor and is also certified in Restorative Flow Yoga, will lead the two-hour workshop. She has been teaching classes in yoga for menopause at a local yoga studio for 11 years.

"The yoga exercises included in this workshop address many specific menopause-related symptoms and other issues such as bone strength and cardiovascular and breast health that are of concern to women transitioning through midlife," she says.

During the workshop, participants will explore:

  • Asanas (yoga postures) focused on concerns and symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, irritation, frustration, depression and fatigue.
  • Pranayama (breathing techniques) for heat-related issues including hot flashes, night sweats, strong thirst and dryness, as well as for mood swings, irritation and anxiety.
  • Yogic meditation to reduce stress, calm the mind and harmonize the endocrine system.

Instruction will focus on developing a personal practice of exercises that bring each participant the most relief and health benefit. Handouts will be provided to assist participants in continuing the practice learned in the workshop on a regular basis at home. Additional handouts will provide information on topics such as the myths and truths of women's hormones, and the pros and cons of various vitamins and dietary supplements. Workshop participants may bring their own yoga mats, but equipment also will be available for those who do not bring their own. Participants should dress in comfortable clothes and bring water bottles.

"We'll begin the session seated in a circle to focus on breath work and relaxation techniques before introducing ourselves and sharing our common experiences with the menopause process," Ms. de la Torre says. "We will learn some gentle yoga movements and then focus on customized poses that apply to specific symptoms of menopause. At the end of the workshop, we'll offer time for questions and answers before closing with relaxation and meditation exercises that will leave participants feeling relaxed and refreshed."

Ms. de la Torre notes that she has received very positive feedback from women who have taken part in her yoga for menopause classes in the past. "In addition to appreciating the benefits of specific yoga techniques, the women have expressed positive comments about the group experience," she says. "They felt reassured by the fact that they're not the only ones going through the experience of the hormonal roller coaster ride called menopause."

To register and pay for the workshop on August 13, call (510) 608-1301. For more information about programs and services offered at the Washington Women's Center, visit www.whhs.com/womenscenter.

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