The benefits of Yoga and Reflexology in Menopause
During a recent online non-menopause related yoga class my ears pricked up in Paschimottasana (a seated forward fold where you are reaching towards your toes) when I heard the teacher mention that brain fog can be alleviated by pressing and gently massaging the big toe nail.
This really intrigued me so I began researching the possible therapeutic benefits of foot massage - and more specifically reflexology to help with the common symptoms of menopause. Turns out there are loads! Who knew?
Just as we are aware of the gut-brain connection, another important pathway is the foot-brain connection which helps to keep us safe in our bodies. Our toes are directly connected to the head and brain and our feet constantly send signals to the brain to keep us physically aware and firmly rooted in the present moment, which as we all know is a great place to be. When we are firmly grounded in the present we tend to feel less anxious, and we are better able to concentrate on what is happening now. Overall focus and concentration is improved and we can avoid those feelings of overwhelm, which are so common during menopause.
Massaging the toes relieves stress and reduces anxiety which has a positive impact on the overall health of the brain. Winner!
Yoga and Reflexology both have a balancing effect on the brain, hormones and endocrine system.
Yoga helps to reduce the effects of stress in the body by balancing the endocrine system and targeting specific glands, including the Pituitary, Pineal, Thyroid, and regulating the Hypothalamus, a small but important area in the centre of the brain responsible for hormone production and temperature regulation in the body. Out of balance it is believed that this is responsible for excess heat manifesting as night sweats & hot flushes.
Reflexology helps to strengthen the immune system, reduces stress, and promotes relaxation to restore the body to a state of homeostasis (equilibrium).
The harmonising effect of both yoga and reflexology means the parasympathetic nervous system can operate more efficiently giving us space to rest, repair and heal rather than constantly being on red alert in fight or flight mode. Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats are alleviated, and we sleep better. This crucial balancing effect on the Thyroid and Parathyroid glands also helps to prevent bone loss.
Reflexology also helps the ovaries to regulate oestrogen and allows the uterus to maintain its natural health and tone.
So next time you’re in a forward fold, have a cheeky squeeze of your toes!
*Research carried out at the UK School of Complementary Health in Exeter indicates a marked decrease in anxiety, depression, insomnia, hot flushes and night sweats among menopausal women who received regular reflexology over a 4 month period.
*(Source: mysecondspring.ie: Sarah Finlay MIRI)