Over the last few years, menopause has finally started to be taken more seriously. Historically it has been a taboo subject and women have had to deal with it on their own. Menopause is far more than just a few hot flushes. It is a huge hormonal change that can impact our lives to a greater or lesser extent.
As life expectancy has increased, the post-menopause stage can easily be the longest phase of a woman’s life. Improving awareness and understanding of menopause is essential to help women maintain the best possible health and well-being as they get older. Each woman has a unique experience of menopause and there are many factors that can influence each stage of the process.
Education is key to understanding menopause. The more we know the more empowered we become. Finding qualified, unbiased information is essential as each woman has individual menopause management requirements. I recommend reading ‘Menopause’ by Barbra Taylor, MD. Dr Taylor explains the physical, emotional, and mental symptoms of peri-menopause and post- menopause. She also discusses the longer-term impact the transition has on the body and the increased risk of heart attack, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s as oestrogen levels fall away post menopause.
Usually, the transition through menopause starts with peri-menopause. At this stage our progesterone levels start to fall creating an imbalance in our hormones. Peri-menopause is often called ‘puberty in reverse’ and can include a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms such as irregular periods, hot flushes, night sweats, breast pain, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, joint pain, mood swings, depression, and weight gain. At post-menopause, the main hormonal change is the decline of oestrogen in the body.
We need to be aware of the potential issues that can occur during menopause, but thankfully there are several management options available. In her book, Dr Taylor writes about the hormonal, non-hormonal, lifestyle, and dietary options that we have. Understanding the positives and negatives of each, along with their limitations, can help you find the most effective solution for the issues you would like to address.
I see yoga as a practice that can serve us at every age and stage of life. As such, it can be a helpful tool to support women through menopause. Obviously yoga can’t replace hormones, but it provides a valuable lifestyle management option that can complement any other options you pursue.
Yoga helps to improve our awareness of our body, breath, and emotions. It can help us understand more about the symptoms we are experiencing at menopause and how they are impacting us. Improved awareness can help us to notice what triggers symptoms like night sweats or headaches. We also become better at noticing when fatigue starts to build up and the impact of other lifestyle issues on our menopausal symptoms.
Yoga can be adapted to how you are feeling and what will serve you best at any given time. You might prefer a movement practice, or you might choose breath awareness, meditation, relaxation, or a combination of them all.
Yoga can help with stiffness and pain in the body. It gives us a point of reference that helps us to notice the impact of other issues with which we are dealing. A yoga practice can be soothing and help us feel more connected to our body at a time of change. Yoga poses also help us improve strength, balance and co-ordination. This is particularly important if we are at risk of osteoporosis or low bone density. Yoga is accessible and can be tailored to our needs. It helps to keep the body flexible and strong, which in turn can help us to continue the other activities we enjoy.
Techniques for breath awareness can help with all-round health, sleep patterns and relaxation, as can restorative yoga, yoga nidra and meditation. Getting enough rest is essential as sleep patterns can be disrupted in menopause. If you are well rested, you will have the energy to keep active, eat well and enjoy life.
Each woman’s journey through to menopause is unique and it is normal to have different symptoms to deal with at different times. I specialise in helping clients find a yoga practice that works for their current situation, and also fits in to their lifestyle. If you would like to discuss how yoga can help you, please feel free to get in touch for a chat. I would love to hear from you.
tel: 07977 483344
Barbara Taylor M.D. (2019), Menopause: Your Management Your Way…Now and for The Rest of Your Life, published by Barbara Taylor M.D.
Podcast: Menopause Management with Menopause Barbie