In the study, 120 women ages 40 to 55 followed either a yoga routine (including breathing and meditative exercises) or a stretching and strengthening program for an hour at a time, five days a week, for eight weeks. The women in the yoga group also listened to lectures on diet and managing stress from a yogic point of view while those in the workout group attended talks on diet, exercise, menopause and coping with stress.
The yogis ended up experiencing fewer hot flashes and mood problems than the exercisers. And while both groups of women improved on tests of attention and concentration, the yoga group fared better.
Yoga helps because it reduces stress, speculates Timothy McCall, MD, author of Yoga as Medicine. The ancient postures are known to kick-start the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation.
For possible relief from symptoms, the Yoga Alliance, an organization that maintains standards for yoga teachers, recommends these DVDs available on Amazon.com: Yoga for Stress Relief (with the Dalai Lama, buy it here) and Mayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Menopause (buy it here).