Guest Post: How Yoga Can Change Your Menopause - by Cheryl MacDonald
Going through the menopause is something that we, as women, all dread. And if it’s brought on even earlier because you’re going through treatment for an illness, it can be even harder.
But there are ways to make the transition as painless as possible. And one of those ways is through yoga.
As the Founder of YogaBellies.com and our new online course, YogaPause, I work with women over 40 every day either experiencing those first signs of menopause, or those in their 50s who have been working through the changes it brings for years.
While the symptoms vary from woman to woman, some will notice weight gain, hot flashes, senior moments of forgetfulness, sleepless nights, anxiety, mood swings or even depression. Understanding your body and what is happening is so important to be able to reduce the negative effects it can bring. I personally began to experience the symptoms in my early 40s and while so many women breeze through it, most of us don’t. But instead of seeing it as an illness that must be ‘treated’, which is often how it is perceived in the media and beyond, – why not look at it as a new, healthy and exciting stage in life? I knew there was so much evidence coming to light around natural alternatives to symptoms and this led me to look into how yoga could help make this transition easy.
Reducing stress and balancing hormones
We all know that yoga can help with stress, no matter what is going on in your life. By practising yogic relaxation techniques, we can balance cortical activities and the nervous and endocrine systems, reducing the body’s reaction to stress. As a result, the body produces less of the stress hormones, adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol – and you feel more balanced and stress-free.
In the menopause, yoga can make all the difference by helping with the stress associated with fluctuating hormone levels. Of course, the change in hormones is what the menopause is all about; when your ovaries stop producing estrogen and your periods stop and you officially reach menopause when you have gone 12 months without a period. Yoga helps to balance those hormones, alleviate pain and reduce the symptoms of low mood and anxiety, ultimately moving you towards a better state of mind. And, when it comes to physical exercise, women see yoga as much less intimidating than say, Zumba or Pilates, and you can work at your own pace.
Re-evaluating how your body is changing
Yoga also makes you rethink the way you look at things. For example, society is telling you you’re getting old and this is, undoubtedly a bad thing. But it’s not. Yoga helps you to re-evaluate; reframe your thoughts and to re-consider your sense of self through mindset and physical exercises as well as mindful meditation techniques. This also helps to manage key symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, lack of focus and low moods.
Yoga involves focusing on the breath and the present moment which helps to calm the mind and reduce stress.
Improving flexibility and balance
As we age, our bodies may become less flexible and prone to stiffness. Yoga can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles, improving flexibility and reducing the risk of injury. It also helps to build endurance. Since yoga involves holding and moving through various poses, it helps strengthen the muscles.
Going through the menopause is a huge change for every woman but it doesn’t have to be a huge challenge. Overall, yoga can be a helpful practice for women over 40 as it can support physical and emotional well-being during this time of life.
About Cheryl MacDonald
Cheryl MacDonald is a Yoga Elder and Founder of www.yogabellies.com. Their new course, YogaPause is an online training programme for women keen to teach yoga to women going through the menopause. For more information visist YogaPause: Embracing the Crone 50-Hr YTT (Menopause) (yogabellies.com)