A study that compared the experiences of postmenopausal women who did yoga for four months to women who didn't showed that the menopausal yogis had improved sleep and a higher quality of life.
"Yoga can help reduce the symptoms of menopausal insomnia."
Lead author Rui Ferreira Afonso of the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo in Brazil and his team wanted to find out if yoga could help treat the insomnia of women in menopause.
A group of 44 women between the ages of 50 and 65 participated in the study, none of whom had done yoga before. All the women had insomnia - but not sleep apnea - and were not undergoing hormone replacement therapy for their menopausal symptoms.
Each woman was randomly assigned to be in one of three groups: a group that did passive stretching, a group that did regular yoga and a control group.
The group doing the passive stretching did one hour sessions each week for the four month period while the yoga group had two one-hour sessions each week led by a yoga teacher.
The yoga sequence, based partly on some Tibetan techniques known as yoga HT for menopause, included both stretching postures (asanas) as well as bellows breathing, a kind of strong and fast breathing used in yoga. Each session concluded with directed relaxation.
At the end of four months, the women who did yoga showed a lower severity for their insomnia and a higher score on a quality of life assessment. The women in the yoga group also showed significant improvements in reduced stress.
The passive stretching group experienced a small reduction in their insomnia severity, and the control group showed a small decrease in one form of stress.
The authors note that sleeping disorders affect 28 to 63 percent of women in menopause, so they conclude that doing yoga regularly might help mitigate the symptoms of these disorders.
"We believe the timeless practice of yoga keeps the body and mind in sync, helping to balance all areas of daily life. When a regular yoga practice is pursued, the body naturally indicates healthier choices in diet, sleep patterns, and deep relaxation," said CiCi Parsons, owner of Be Yoga, located in Austin, TX.
The study appeared in the journal Menopause.
The researchers stated no conflicts of English except one for Dinah Rodrigues, the author who developed the sequence of yoga exercises used in the study and who teaches it to women in menopause.