Going to yoga class twice per week might reduce insomnia for post-menopausal women, according to a study from Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil published in a 2012 issue of the journal Menopause.
There is keen interest in raising the quality of life for postmenopausal women without prescribing hormone therapy (HT) because clinical research found a correlation between HT and “a significant increase in coronary diseases, breast cancer, stroke, and thromboembolism.” Insomnia is one common symptom that reduces quality of life and affects between 28 and 63 percent of postmenopausal women. Fortunately, you may be able to alleviate your insomnia with yoga.
Postmenopausal Women, Just Like You
Forty-four healthy, postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 65 who had no previous experience with yoga participated in this four-month study. To determine the insomnia diagnosis, the researchers relied on criteria from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. To conduct the study, they divided the women into three groups: a yoga group, a passive stretching group and a control group that did not receive treatment.
Yoga Class Twice Per Week
The yoga group took two, one-hour yoga classes per week for four months led by a yoga teacher. The classes were based on a “Tibetan technique known as yoga hormone therapy for menopause.” The sequence started with asanas, followed by the strong and fast yogic breathing exercise Bhastrika – Bellows Breath, and finished with guided relaxation. The women in the passive stretching group attended two, one-hour sessions per week for four months with a physical therapist. In a passive stretching session, the patient relaxes while the PT manipulates their joints to stretch their muscles. Kind of like a medical Thai massage.
Is Yoga Better Than Passive Stretching?
When it comes to yoga classes versus passive stretching, the yoga classes “yielded best results for reducing postmenopausal insomnia-related complaints.” After four months, the yoga group had major improvement in insomnia as well as major improvements in mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression. The common symptoms of hot flashes and irritability also showed improvement. The women in the passive stretching group also showed improvement, but not as effective as yoga. The women were so satisfied with the results, 75 percent of the yoga group continued with yoga classes after the study.
How Does Yoga Help Postmenopausal Symptoms?
How does yoga alleviate insomnia and other post-menopausal inconveniences? The researchers say benefits are probably due to “alterations in the central, autonomic, and neuroendocrine nervous systems” that occur when you do yoga.