Woman’s Pocket Guide to Yoga

SI ExifYoga is a woman’s best friend. It’s true. Yoga is always there for you, just like your bestie. You can always rely on a good yoga class or meditation practice to keep you sane and lift you up. It takes the load off and lessens the grip of the many heavy things we carry around (literally and metaphorically).

Here are a few good reasons to spend time with yoga, your old or new best friend.

Multi-tasking

Women are queens at doing multiple things at once. We schedule our day around fitting in as many activities as we can so we can get it all done. You may be cooking while doing the dishes, watching the news, and talking on the phone. Or while at work, you are on a conference call, filing your nails, grabbing a bite to eat, texting your friend, and scanning social networks. This overactivity drains us! Time spent in a one-hour yoga class or private session releases us from this pressure to get it all done. When are you allowing yourself to take this break?

When overwhelmed and juggling too many tasks, opt for a slower-paced style of yoga to help you slow down and become more grounded. You might try a hatha yoga class, yoga nidraguided meditation, or simple breathing exercises. At home, you can also practice the following exercises:

alternate nostril breathing
sun breaths
spinal flexes
tree pose
standing forward bend

PMS

Something we know too much about – premenstrual syndrome, aka hormonal imbalances, mood swings, bloating, and all the physical discomfort associated with our dreaded time of the month. Yoga poses and breathing exercises work wonders for our bodies and minds to help soothe the inner chaos of our monthly cycle.

During this time of the month, it’s best to practice gentle poses to avoid rigorous postures and high impact exercise as it can affect the menstrual flow. Go for restorative yoga or take a meditation class. It may be most beneficial to practice at home during this time so you can gauge your energy and adjust your practice accordingly.

child’s pose
reclining bound angle pose
reclining twist
seated forward bend
ocean breath

Fertility

Many women experience difficulty trying to have a baby, and this can turn a joyous occasion into a stressful one. Yoga is an excellent resource to help you release stress and tension, which can affect fertility. Some experts say some yoga poses help increase vitality in the reproductive organs and helps stimulate hormones.

When you are trying to have a baby, the most important thing yoga can do is reduce your stress levels. The reason doctors tell you it’s OK to have a glass of wine is not because it’s good for you, but because stress is far worse! Cooling your stress response of fight or flight helps you balance your hormones and makes your body an environment that is more conducive to conception.

Look for classes that emphasize a gentle, restorative practice to maximize yoga’s stress-reducing benefits. Yoga nidra may also be a good companion during this time. A daily practice is important, so when you cannot get to a class, try the practices listed below.

sacrum circles
wide-angle seated forward bend
legs up the wall (skip during menstruation)
relaxation pose
loving kindness meditation

Confidence

That feeling you get when you finally get up in a backbend or are able to touch your toes: priceless. Yoga is so very nourishing for our sense of self-worth and self-esteem. It boosts us up when we are feeling low. Practice one yoga pose a day that you want to improve, but is out of your comfort zone. Take note of your progress and see how awesome it feels when you can finally take your pose to the next level!

warrior II
half-moon pose
stargazer pose
shoulder stand / headstand
bridge pose

Social Support

Not only is yoga good for you individually, but it also can be a nice way to meet other like-minded people. Yoga studios often have workshops that might be a good way to meet new friends. Meditation centers promote community events that support beginners and provide an outlet to get more involved. You can also look for meetup groups that focus on yoga-type activities.

Please note there are many more yoga practices that are beneficial for each of the conditions listed. This guide is merely a starting point for those interested in trying yoga for boosting women’s health. When doing yoga, remember to do what feels good; back off or try another pose if you are feeling any discomfort or pain. While these yoga practices are great to do on the spot to alleviate current symptoms, it is recommended to consistently practice yoga for an overall decrease in the frequency of these concerns.

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