Yoga Relieves Menopausal Stress Better Than Exercise

Going to a comprehensive yoga class reduces menopausal stress better than exercise, according to a study from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation published in Menopause.

Here is a yoga class, consisting of pranayama, Sun Salutation, and meditation, that reduces menopausal stress better than exercise. Pranayama is the Sanskrit word to describe yogic breathing exercises and the Sanskrit equivalent for the Sun Salutation series is Surya Namaskar.

Is Menopausal Stress Common?

Fortunately, the following numbers show menopausal stress does not affect the majority of women. Unfortunately, the numbers also show a significant portion of women suffer from stress during this natural process.

In a multi-ethnic study examining data from 16,065 women, psychological distress occurred at a rate of:

  • 20.9 percent during premenopause
  • 28.9 percent during perimenopause
  • 22 percent during postmenopause

Yoga Beginners Try To Reduce Menopausal Stress

In this yoga for menopause study, researchers enrolled 120 women between the ages of 45 and 55 with regular and irregular menstrual cycles. Every woman was:

  • A yoga beginner
  • Had not practiced yoga for more than one month in their lifetime
  • Had not used hormone therapy
  • Did not taken psychiatric medication

The researchers divided the women into a yoga treatment group and an exercise/stretching treatment group. Trained instructors led each group for 1 hour, 5 days per week, for 8 weeks.

The Yoga Class to Reduce Menopausal Stress

Would you like to try the yoga class from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation to reduce your menopausal stress? Here is the complete 4-part class as reported in the journal Menopause.

Part 1: 10 minutes of Surya Namaskar, also known as Sun Salutation.

Part 2: 15 minutes to complete 5 pranayama breathing exercises:

    a. Hasta Ayama Svasanam — hands in and out breathing

    b. Hasta Vistara Svasanam — hands stretch breathing

    c. Gulpha Vistara Svasanam — ankle stretch breathing

    d. Vyaghra Vvasanam — tiger breathing

    e. Setu Bandha Svasanam — bridge posture breathing

 Part 3: 25 minutes of Cyclic Meditation, also known as Avartan Dhyanam

 Part 4: 15 minutes of a yoga-based wellness lecture.

Is Yoga or Exercise Better for Menopausal Stress?

If you want to reduce menopausal stress naturally, the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation found an integrative yoga program is more effective than exercise. At the end of the study, the yoga group enjoyed a significantly greater decrease in perceived stress than the exercise group.

How did researchers measure the women’s level of stress in order to draw this conclusion? The participants completed well-known psychological tests called the Perceived Stress Scale and the Eysenck’s Personality Inventory. Here are the specifics of their findings:

  • The yoga group had a 6-point average reduction in stress
  • The exercise group had a 1.67-point reduction in stress
  • The yoga group had a significant reduction in neuroticism

The Less Effective Exercise Class

Are you currently using an exercise routine to try to reduce menopausal stress? Are you wondering if your exercise routine is similar to the one in the study? Here is the 4-part exercise class used in this study:

Part 1: 10 minutes of brisk walking

Part 2: 10 minutes of stretching exercises, including forward and backward bends, side bends, a spinal twist, and toe walking

Part 3: 25 minutes of resting in corpse pose, also called shavasana

Part 4: 15 minutes of a diet and exercise lecture

Yoga Reduces Menopausal Stress Better Than Exercise

1. Menopause; Treating the Climacteric Symptoms in Indian Women with an Integrated Approach to Yoga Therapy; R. Chattha, et al.; 2008

2. Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation

Photo courtesy of Gareth Williams