Health Team

Study: Yoga Eases Menopause Symptoms

Posted March 14, 2008 5:10 p.m. EDT
Updated March 14, 2008 6:33 p.m. EDT

— In addition to helping people stay fit, yoga can help women deal with menopause and recovery from breast cancer, according to a Duke University study.

Instructor Nancy Kimberly led 37 breast cancer survivors through a tailored yoga program as part of the Duke study to see if it might improve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, fatigue, sleep problems and lack of energy.

"They reported decreases in fatigue and their sleep disturbance, and they did report an increased sense of vigor," said Laura Porter, a professor of psychology at Duke and co-author of the study.

Compared to a group of women not taking yoga, the class also reported improved hot-flash symptoms, Porter said.

The program also incorporated stress management techniques like deep breathing and meditation.

"(It's about) learning to notice what's happening in your life, in your own thoughts and feelings," Kimberly said.

"They really developed a better ability to deal with stressful situations in their lives," Porter said.

Gioia O'Connell, 53, took part in the study and now routinely does yoga, which she said has improved her menopause symptoms, which can be more severe because she's a breast cancer survivor.

"I wasn't as stiff. I felt more flexible, and I feel like, as a result from that, I didn't have problems sleeping," O'Connell said. "Life is good. I'm doing well."

She strongly recommended yoga for all menopausal women, especially other breast cancer survivors.

"Just learning how to sit still and de-stress yourself and breathe (is important)," she said.

The tailored yoga program in the study isn't offered anywhere in the Triangle, but other yoga classes are available that combine stress management techniques.