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Yoga for Mind, Body, and Spirit

HFN 013 Yoga 1 13027212Yoga, a discipline incorporating the body, mind, and spirit, dates back over 5000 years. Although practiced in America for many decades by relatively small numbers of people, it is now as mainstream as jogging or Jazzercize.® Classes can be found at most health clubs and at local yoga studios, and you can find a large selection of illustrated websites and books for both beginners and advanced students. Also, it doesn't require much space for a home practice.

The physical practice of yoga, known as hatha yoga, is taught in various styles, such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Bikram, to name a few. Some styles are gentle, others more vigorous. These yoga practices involve a variety of poses, or asanas, whose purpose is to enhance your health and well-being. At the least, practice helps keep your body flexible as it ages. And for women in menopause, yoga may help with the more annoying symptoms. As Trisha Gura has written in Yoga Journal, "Restorative postures in particular can relax the nervous system and may improve the functioning of the endocrine system (especially the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the thyroid, and the parathyroid gland), which helps the body adapt to hormonal fluctuations."

You don't have to learn the head stand or push your body into a pretzel to get benefits from yoga. Often regular practitioners find themselves making slight changes to their poses when menopausal symptoms rage. Instead of holding the body in a tense pose, it's recommended to use props (as simple as a chair or folded blanket) to modify poses. Many women, whether experiencing menopause or HFN 013 Yoga 2 25216853not, find yoga to be a great stress reliever and report feeling more peaceful after practice.

Any good yoga website will describe which poses are helpful during menopause. Many health-oriented sites include articles on yoga, and you can find videos on YouTube for menopause in particular that demonstrate the poses best for this time in your life. To avoid injury, beginners are encouraged to take a yoga class, where an instructor will guide you through the correct posture for each pose.

Yoga, like walking, is a form of exercise that many people continue well into their senior years, as it can be easily adapted to physical changes yet still offer health benefits. ♀

Some resources: www.yogajournal.com, www.livestrong.com 

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