I still crack up when I recall the Broadway musical “Menopause” that I watched ten years ago. A cast of four women shopping for lingerie at a Bloomingdale’s sale sing songs about chocolate cravings, hot flashes, loss of memory, nocturnal sweats, and sexual predicaments. All issues worded so humorously – lampooning menopausal malaises urinary urgency frequency, moodiness, forgetfulness, and weight gain. Back then at 30 I thought “What a wild time”… “Why do women have to do all the heavy lifting and put up with periods, pregnancy, birth, post-partum, and even menopause? Why do men get a free ride through life? Ha, ha, ha… A pretty immature remark back then…
Today, after having gone through most of these stages, except menopause, I feel so humbled and blessed to be a woman – blessed with the richness of all these profound experiences. I find it fascinating to trace the energetic shift that accompanies this stage of inner ripening.
During menopause there is a tremendous shift and release of energy that is both unsettling and liberating. It is a movement from the surface of life and a longing for what really matters. It is really a time to “pause” and inquire within. A targeted and regular Yoga practice is probably women’s best bet to support their physical and spiritual journey through menopause. It is one of the deepest and most effective ways to help the body regulate itself and the mind rewire itself. And for our spirit to grow wings.
Physically, at menopause our primary concern is how to rebalance the endocrine system, our hormone producing glands. Our Yoga practice will promote glandular secretion while avoiding any hormone replacement therapy. The asana practice combined with targeted visualization, mudra and meditation allow the glands to function well and continue to nurture all the hormones a woman needs for the rest of her life. Furthermore, Yoga helps modulate mood swings and reduce depression and anxiety by helping balance the fluctuating hormones. Many of the symptoms commonly associated with menopause, such as irritability, depression, and various aches and pains, are intensified by the inability to cope with stress. The adrenal hormones build a shield to help us tolerate many of the burdens of life. However, the majority of women enter menopause with their adrenals already exhausted from years of juggling family and work. This puts the adrenal glands on red alert without giving them the chance to replenish.
When we are under stress, our blood becomes more acidic, which, over time, depletes calcium from the bones. The weight bearing poses can help prevent osteoporosis and retain healthy bone density levels. Similarly, Yoga’s relaxing benefits alkalize our blood so we don’t loose as much calcium. Also, Yoga helps create pelvic health by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to our reproductive organs and restores your energy reserves while relaxing the nervous system and balancing the endocrine system.
The effect of Yoga stretches beyond the muscles and bones that a regular workout provides. The breathing works on the etheric nerve channels and promotes vitality through al the organs. The postures stretch the tendons, tone the muscles and stabilize the joints. They also nurture the glands to secrete life-sustaining hormones. Once the glands function properly the body switches to self-regulation mode and finds the optimal way to cope with the hormonal and glandular changes. The regular practice of all pose types: standing, sitting, lying down, backbends, forward bends, twists, and inverted poses, stimulates and activates all the glands, organs, tissues and cells of the body. Yoga’s inverted poses are essential during menopause as they have a powerful effect on the neuroendocrine system, allowing fresh, oxygenated blood to flow to the glands in the head and neck. What actually happens is that in each yoga posture different organs and glands are placed in various anatomical positions and are supplied with fresh blood, gently massaged, relaxed, toned and stimulated. Because every yoga pose has a multitude of effects on all the systems of the body.
It is worth bearing in mind, that Yoga poses that turn the body halfway or completely upside down, and various inverted poses stimulate the endocrine system, especially the pituitary gland. This master gland of the body nestled in the center of the brain regulates blood-sugar levels and body temperature, and controls the changes in the hormone levels that occur in menopause. Forward bends also gently compress the abdomen, massaging the uterus and other abdominal organs. When we come out of the pose and release the compression, the organs are bathed in freshly oxygenated blood, and we feel replenished.
On a more subtle level, inverted poses affect the flow of prana (life force) in a way that can help counteract hot flashes. Inverted poses draw prana inward, toward our vital organs and the body’s core, and away from the surface (the skin). This alternate squeezing and soaking enhances the functioning of the ovaries and the hormones they produce. Forward bends also soothe the nervous system and have a quieting effect on the mind. Finally, Yoga poses, such as twists and backbends, improve the functioning of the adrenals, helping them to increase the amount of estrogen in the body. These poses also stimulate the kidneys, promoting healthy elimination of metabolic byproducts. In sum, all the systems in the body are stimulated and rejuvenated, reversing the effects of premature ageing.
Spiritually, a good yoga practice especially targeted for menopause gives us the opportunity to weed out and clear away the mental and emotional debris that is the root cause of many problems associated with this “silent transformation.”
Most of all, menopause reminds us of the natural way of our bodies to heal and rebalance themselves at any age and any stage. How fortunate are we women to be able to go through all these different rites of passage? What a beautiful way to employ our creativity even when our procreative organs are put to rest. I feel the key to aging gracefully is recognizing that we do not loose our fertility at menopause. We actually internalize it to reset the balance of the glands and recalibrate our entire system. And although we cannot regenerate our reproductive organs, we can access our fertile ground to reinvent ourselves. We are given this unique opportunity of rebirthing ourselves every cycle, every stage, every age. What a gift to be cherished!
As you open up to maturing gracefully, flow through this special routine for menopause, which was requested and inspired by one of our devoted Yogea followers. Are you ready to rekindle the inner child and marvel the journey that sails you to the very core of your being?
Yoga Routine for Menopause: Graceful Maturity (open level)
This Yogea routine is especially geared toward helping women manage menopause beautifully. It blends powerful gland stimulating asana with chakra activating mudras and nurturing creative visualization to acknowledge this sacred “rite of passage”. A powerful cooling breathing accompanied by “Shakti” inducing mudras moderate the body’s temperature while activating the chakras of the sensuality and personal identity. The routine starts in a cocoon shell to bring the focus in and ignite the body’s powers of self-regulation and embodied sustenance. Rippling motion takes the body into a wild serpent undulating through all fours and kneeling poses. A hip opening warm up through spider lunge and twisted diamond variations revitalize the pelvic floor and lead into standing and balancing poses – transitioning creatively from externally rotated positions to twisted deep squats to rekindle the spark of the second chakra. The standing grounding series gracefully cascades into seated twists adorned with bind variations to open both hips and shoulders – enhancing the functions of the ovaries and the hormones they produce. Gentle backbends paired with reclining twists ramp up the adrenals boosting estrogen levels. Powerful forward bends gently compress the abdomen, massaging the uterus and other abdominal organs. And inverted poses regulate the endocrine system and reset the hormones. Stimulated and nurtured the your body is brought back into the cocoon where it further gestates – opening up outlets for fertile creativity. A guided meditation takes you through the stages of spiritual maturation during menopause.