Add this to the list of yoga's health benefits.
A new study shows that doing yoga a couple times a week can help diminish sleep problems and other symptoms of menopause.
The study, which appears in the journal Menopause, is small and researchers cautioned that it doesn't prove that yoga can cure menopausal symptoms, Reuters reported. "But it can improve and relieve them," study researcher Dr. Helena Hachul, of the Universidade Federal de São Paulo, told Reuters.
According to the study, 44 postmenopausal women who were not receiving hormone therapy for their symptoms and who were between ages 50 and 65, were assigned to do yoga, passive stretching or nothing for four months. Researchers took note of their health, stress and sleep before and after the study.
Reuters reported that women who did the yoga for four months considered their menopausal symptoms as mild after the four-month period, while the women who weren't assigned to any activity considered their menopausal symptoms as moderate.
Insomnia is a common side effect of menopause, many times because of uncomfortableness from hot flashes, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Insomnia is defined as having trouble falling asleep, waking up too early, still feeling tired after a night's rest and waking up multiple times throughout the night.
The most basic of yoga asanas, the forward bend or Uttanasana involves bending over and attempting to have your knees touch your forehead. It can be good for releasing tension in the legs, back and shoulders.
Wide-legged forward bend or Prasarita Padottansana is similar to the forward bend but involves the legs being spread a few feet apart. It's known to calm the brain and stretch the back legs and spine.
Child pose or Balasana involves tucking your feet under your buttocks and bending forward with your hands stretched out in front (or resting lightly on either side). Child pose is good for relieving anxiety and fatigue -- by promotion relaxation -- and for stretching the hips, thighs and ankles.
Seated forward bend or Paschimottanasana is similar to the forward bend but is done while sitting instead of standing. It stretches the shoulders, spine and hamstrings and can be especially effective at relieving anxiety and insomnia.
Plow or Halasana is a more advanced yoga pose that involves lying down, bending one's body from the hip and placing the legs above and beyond the head. It stretches the shoulder and spine and can work for anxiety and stress-relief.
Supine spinal twist or Supta Matsyaendrasana is a gentle reclining twist that involves lying down and twisting the upper body. The pose relaxes the back and spine and can help with insomnia.
Shoulder stand or Sarvangasana is an advanced yoga position that involves bending the body from the shoulders and lifting and holding the legs in the air. Sarvangasana improves digestion, stretches the shoulder and neck and helps reduce fatigue and alleviate insomnia by promoting relaxation.