(Last Updated on : 11/08/2009)
Yoga for women is the natural solution to the physical and mental difficulties faced by women. Stress, hormonal changes, and self-development are some reasons for which women practice Yoga.
A woman`s capability to handle stress, whether emotional or physical, highly depends on her health; thus it is very important to keep oneself healthy through natural means like Yoga. The hormonal changes associated with Menopause, Pregnancy and Menstruation can cause women to suffer from Premenstrual Syndrome, Menstrual Cramps, headaches, and other such symptoms. She also needs to stay healthy to be able to cope with the months Pregnancy and Menopause, together with the symptoms. Usually women strive to look good and Yoga has offered solutions to problems like obesity, abdominal fat, wrinkles, under eye circles and so on.
Yoga is an ancient science that has helped women to cope with their health issues and help them develop the perfect state of their body and mind. Yoga can help ease the pain that goes with Menstruation, stress, fatigue and ensure an easier child delivery among other benefits. Yoga poses are also designed to tone and exercise the muscles of the body to eliminate excess fat, and make it even more flexible and stronger.
Pregnancy is something almost every woman anticipates. Pregnancy is the period from conception to birth. That is from the time when a male`s sperm cell fertilizes the female`s ovum (egg) to the day of delivery or a total time period of 40 weeks or 280 days. For the first trimester, standing Yoga Poses are advised as this helps to strengthen the legs, promote circulation, generate energy, and may reduce leg cramps. It is also suitable to do some stretching such as the hamstrings stretch to avoid backache. During the second and third trimester, one may reduce the time spent for practicing the yoga asanas to prevent fatigue and overwork. It is also not advised to practice from the tenth to through the fourteenth week of pregnancy since these are crucial times. Supine poses, backbends, and twisting can also be done with certain adaptations if the body lies on a slant. One should not overstretch the abdomen; the stress of the twisting poses should be given on the shoulders and the upper back and not on the abdomen. The would be mother should avoid doing inversion poses though some experience Yoga practitioners usually still feel comfortable doing this until the seventh month.
There are certain Yoga asanas that can help one in dealing with the symptoms of pregnancy, ensuring smoother and easier delivery, and faster recovery after childbirth. Poses that put pressure on the abdomen and other difficult poses should not be done during advance stages of Pregnancy. Tadasana promotes the experience of stillness, strength, relaxed power, and immovable stability associated with mountains. Trikonasana keeps the mind stable and calm. Virabhadrasana stretches and strengthens the arms and legs, increases stamina and improves balance and concentration. Paschimothanasana relax the body and mind, stretching the hamstrings, shoulders, and spine; it relives stress. Virasana strengthens the arches of the feet, stretches the ankles, and improves posture. Neck exercises are very important during pregnancy. Ujjayi Breathing Technique can help protect one from a host of diseases by getting rid of excess phlegm, wind or bile. Savasana is the complete relaxation pose practiced before or in between Asanas.
Menopause is one of the crucial stages of a woman`s life. Menopause is the permanent cessation of reproductive fertility some years before the conclusion of the natural lifespan. Menopause is indicated by the permanent stopping of menstruation or "menses" and it does not really require medical treatment since it is a natural biological process. Exercising, proper diet, not smoking, and reduction of stress are effective ways to make menopause more bearable and can also facilitate in preventing any chronic ailments that can occur in the postmenopausal years. Yoga asanas like kapalabhati, tadasana are best in such cases. Kapalabhati is a breathing technique used specifically for cleansing mucus in the air passages or feel tension and blockages in the chest. Pada Hastasana gives many of the same benefits as the Forward Bend - trimming the waist, restoring elasticity to the spine, and stretching the ligaments of the legs, especially the hamstrings. Padmasana is a classic seated posture which strengthens the ankles and knees, enhances concentration, and improves flexibility of the legs. The standing spread leg forward fold can strengthen and stretch the inner and back legs and the spine. Standing side stretch pose is another Yoga Pose with two lines of energy radiating outward from the center.
The term `amenorrhoea` literally means `the absence of menstruation`. There are a wide variety of reasons why a person may not be having menstruation, like heavy exercise, stress or eating disorder and one must always take steps to find out what is causing amenorrhoea. However, Yoga asanas again offer solutions to this problem through Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana or the Mountain pose with arms stretched up and Uttanasana or Intense forward stretch. The former asana should not be practised if the person has stress-related headaches; migraine, eye strain, low blood pressure, osteoarthritis of the knees, bulimia, diarrhea, insomnia, or leucorrhoea. The latter asana should be avoided if the women have osteoarthritis of the knees, diarrhoea and rheumatoid arthritis.
Mood swings, abdominal cramping, fatigue, and bloating are common yet uncomfortable symptoms that disturb the daily activities of women. Besides yoga, proper diet is also to be followed in order to make the asanas effective. Foods that are high in fiber should be consumed before the period begins so the body can continue to cleanse its system. A teaspoon of sesame seed oil should be taken daily before, during and after the menstruation cycle so the body feels strong during this time, despite of blood loss.
The meditating asanas are important for all women, irrespective of age group. Meditation helps one to attain a perfect condition of all the body systems like circulatory, muscular, nervous, and cardiovascular. Yoga for women has been taken up as a serious issue by most of the Yoga institutes. Separate sessions are held for pregnant women, lactating mothers, adolescents and elderly women as well. All Yogic asanas are not recommended for women as they have certain limitations, owing to the diverse physiological structure between men and women. It is always advised that pregnant women should execute any asana under the proper guidance of an expert.