Summer heat can aggravate the hot flashes experienced by 85% of menopausal women. Fortunately, there’s a way to beat the hormonal heat – with yoga.
Hot flashes and night sweats occur when fluctuating estrogen levels confuse the hypothalamus, setting off a cascade of cooling mechanisms, including perspiration. University of California, San Francisco researchers chose 14 menopausal women who experienced at least four hot flashes a day and introduced them to a yoga routine. After eight weeks, the women reported an average 31% reduction in hot flash symptoms. Other research found that meditative breathing exercises reduced such symptoms by 44%.
Stress, like soaring temperatures, is another hot flash trigger. Yoga helps there, too, by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Yoga also improves sleep quality: Harvard researchers found that daily yoga practitioners fell asleep 30% faster and woke 35% less often than a control group.
Bonus: Watch actress Mariel Hemingway talk about her commitment to yoga and healthy eating, and go grocery shopping with the DNI’s comprehensive guide to “Eating for Yoga.”
Published August 1, 2009