Thursday, August 6, 2009

Embracing Menopause Through Yoga

written by Dana Layon, ERYT

When you understand menopause and how yoga can help you can:

Make nutritional choices that will be in alignment with your personal needs
Find relief from symptoms of peri-menopause through yoga postures and breathing techniques
Make lifestyle choices that better fit your needs as well as the environment
Redefine your outlook on menopause and what it truly means to us as women

What is Perimenopause?
During the perimenopausal transition you may experience a combination of PMS and menopausal symptoms or no symptoms at all. This process can begin anywhere from about 35 years old to 45 years old.

What is menopause?
The word comes from Greek roots: “Meno” meaning “Month and 'Pausis' meaning, “Pause”. Menopause in its true deep meaning is the end of a woman’s fertility.

Our Renewed Outlook
Our society tends to look at menopause with despair. While instead we should be embracing this time – looking at it as a time of wisdom of kundalini energy – inspiration and renewal.

Society has been slow to show the menopausal woman the same patience as we show to our teenagers going through puberty. Technically and clinically the same thing is going on. Hormonal imbalance – same thing, different time frame.

On the contrary – instead of celebrating a woman’s “coming of age” – our culture bombards her and the 50 million other women who will enter menopause within the next 15 years or so – with images of barrenness, of stooped women who are brittle of bone but could come alive and be young again with the help of pharmaceuticals and elective surgery.

The most important thing you can do for yourself prior to getting to menopause is to enter into those years as healthy as possible – body, mind and spirit. If your diet has included fast food, white sugar, non-organic choices – your body may rebel physically. If you live a high stress life, only exercised sporadically, laughed only randomly – you may enter into menopause feeling depleted, your adrenals will be physically depleted, your nervous system overloaded and your endocrine system will be imbalanced.

Find time for meditation and contemplation. Participating in activities that soothe our hearts so we are at peace with what is and see the joy we hold within ourselves.

We all know there are many symptoms related to menopause: Hot flashes, heavy or erratic periods, mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, fuzzy thinking
Headaches, urinary incontinence and heart palpitations.

What we found – in relation to each of them – is they are all related to an estrogen/progesterone ration imbalance. Additionally, our symptoms usually are in direct proportion to the level of stress we are experiencing in our daily lives.

All of these symptoms can be pacified by practicing yoga and meditation on a regular basis. Coupled with a healthy balance of nutrition and supplements that fit your personal needs, menopause and perimenopause can come and go without such drama and anxiety.

Stop watching television programs and reading magazines that are telling you what you should be doing at this “stage” of your life. Instead, go inward and listen. Stop and breathe, deeply and intentionally create your reality of what menopause is.

Remember what some of these great doctors have said about menopause – “it’s a time in our lives when we can use our extra energy to bring about change in our community. We can surrender to what is and shine from the inside out. If we are ready to finally, after all these years, ready to go inward and examine the beauty that truly lies within us. Find that spiritual place of peace in the stillness of your own heart.

Hot Flashes
Fact – 80% get them
Estrogen/Progesterone ratio imbalance
Caused by stress – anything that affects your central nervous system

Why do we get them?
No one really knows. But, we do know it all starts with a gland located in the brain called the “hypothalamus”. This gland controls and regulates many functions in the body, including temperature. It also controls the pituitary gland and production of hormones that serves as a primary connection to the endocrine system. It is my belief a balanced endocrine system is the key to hormone regulation and in return can reduce or even eliminate hot flashes. Exercise and nutrition can be the vehicle in which to balance the endocrine system.

How can yoga help?
Awareness is the key Know what it is that causes them and then change your attitude when that situation happens again.

Breathe more

Inversions are simple poses that bring the pelvis higher than your chest will help tremendously.

Forward bends and supported backbends are cooling poses that can help pacify the nervous system, restoring a sense of calm, peace and connection with the earth

Suggestions to alleviate insomnia
As women we are always thinking – even when we are sleeping. Below are a few suggestions that use yoga and meditation to help relieve insomnia.

Go to be at the same time every night – allowing yourself at least 8 hours of rest.

Before your set bedtime – read a book that interests you or meditate. Listen to your breath and only your breath – letting go of the thoughts from your day.

Your evening ritual should begin with writing in a gratitude journal – recounting the circumstances during your day that you are thankful for.

Eat dinner at least 4 hours prior to your bedtime.

If frequent urination occurs, do not consume beverages at least 2 hours before bed and do not consume any stimulants or diuretics 5 hours before bed.

Upon waking each morning – spend at least 5 minutes slow, rhythmic breathing before starting your day. If time permits, write your intentions in your journal. Phrase them as…”My intention today is to…..” instead of “I want…” or “I need….”

Exercise early in the day – pranayama practice every day, alternating days with cardiovascular and strength training for heart health and bone health.

Practice yoga at least once daily – even if it’s only 15 minutes of stretching.

Find something beautiful each day to cherish.

Basically a daily practice of yoga and meditation can calm the nerves and bring about peace within the mind and heart.

For more information about our next Embracing Menopause Through Yoga workshop, go to

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