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Yoga and the Menopause

Feeling flushed, flat, frazzled and awash with menopausal mayhem? Grab a yoga mat and just breathe…

Menopause can be a crappy time when our emotions are all over the place. We can go to bed feeling happy and wake up flat as a pancake. We can’t look at our husbands, who tiptoe about, afraid of breathing too noticeably and upsetting us! We may have a weird, vaguely anxious feeling that comes and goes. There are nights when we can’t sleep at all and then there’s that infernal sweating. Not good…

I managed well without the need for drugs until the age of 53 when all hell broke loose with my hormones. Now at 58 a low dose of body identical HRT keeps me hot flash free and energetic. What has helped all through these times has been yoga.

Nobody mentions the weird anxiety that can accompany the menopause. I used to have a very demanding job as a magazine editor that often meant staying in hotels. I rather enjoyed it then suddenly, as menopause hit, I’d find myself late at night feeling hemmed in in the hotel room and wanting to go outside to get air. I had to talk myself out of that one — wandering the streets of central London in your PJs isn’t to be encouraged. So I did a little yoga. Pose of a Child, where the heart faces the ground and the third eye, the space between the eyes, reaches for the ground, signifies to the body that it’s time to relax. Rag Doll is a favourite pose too, where you hang forward, suspending the body in mid-air, therefore suspending the mind as well and slowing rapid thinking.

Menopause can leave us feeling meh. A flatness can creep over us, leaving us less than sparkly and the more we try to gee ourselves out of it, the less we feel able to. It’s because as oestrogen declines, it can take with it our feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. What we’re experiencing is a chemical imbalance that we can’t talk ourselves out of. Yoga can help here too with poses that boost balance of the autonomic nervous system and help the brain work better.

I favour flowing Warrior sequences to work on meh feelings as they help us feel strong in mind and body, lifting us from that dreaded flat feeling.

Insomnia is the curse of the menopause and can leave sufferers feeling deranged. Legs up the Wall pose is tops for sleep problems and you can do it every night in bed. Just prop your legs up the wall with arms overhead like goal posts. It slows everything down and helps improve our quality of slumber.

Yoga won’t cure the icky hot flushes that come with hormonal disruption. If it could, I wouldn’t still be on HRT. It can aid hormone rebalance though to make them less intense. It also soothes the nervous system so we can breathe better and manage these troublesome symptoms. Shoulder Stand is great for hormone balance. I like to do the wide legged version. This was one of yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch’s favourite poses. She died last year, aged 102 and looked marvellous so I guess it works!

To sum up, yoga can’t completely mend your menopausal ailments, but it can be a great support mechanism if you’re struggling through a difficult time. Try a few of the poses here — even ten minutes in the morning can make a difference to how you feel physically and mentally. I know you’ll have a giggle at my ropey diagrams. Doing the wee stick yoga pose sketches is so boring. I like to make my models look like Beryl the Peril, if you can remember who she is!

For more menopausal yoga practice, my programme Yoga for Menopause consists of five videos; four mini sessions addressing the main menopause issues — Anxiety Ease, Hormone Balance, Mood Lifter, Sleepy Time plus Peace & Calm 5 minute meditation. These are yours to download and do again and again for £19.99. Just message or email to order. There is life during menopause and yoga is the way forward!

Love Ali xxx


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