The time leading up to the menopause, known as the perimenopause, can be challenging and full of physical and mental changes but news flash – or should I say hot flash – yoga can help!
There is a long list of symptoms that may be associated with the perimenopause – ‘yippee!’ I hear you cry. Three of the most common are hot flashes, mood swings and sleep disruption but don’t lose heart as yoga can help.
Starting with the whole heating issue. Some research estimates that almost 80% or women are affected by hot flashes thought to be caused by the combination of unbalanced over and under active hormones bouncing about. However, there are a number of yoga poses that can support you and inversions can be particularly helpful.
Useful yoga poses for the perimenopause
A great reference book with detailed yoga sequences for perimenopausal symptoms is ‘The Woman’s Book of Yoga & Health’ by Linda Sparrowe & Patricia Walden. Patricia is an experienced and respected Iyengar yoga teacher. She recommends inversions as they can ‘jump start a sluggish system or calm an overly excited one by allowing fresh, oxygenated blood to flow into the head and neck’.
There is a long list of symptoms that may be associated with the perimenopause – ‘yippee!’ I hear you cry.
Whether in the full form of the pose i.e. headstand or shoulderstand, or in supported versions using props and the wall, inverted poses will help as they are calming and soothing for the nervous system. You may already have a strong inversion practice. If you are completely new to yoga or have neck and back issues there are many alternative supported inversion poses to try. (Although be mindful, it is not recommended that you do inverted poses when menstruating).
Mood swings are another aspect of the whole perimenopause journey. Seated forward bends can be good for mood as they are soothing in anxious moments. However, as they are ‘enclosed’ poses with the forward folding torso they will not be suitable if you suffer with depression.
A slower paced restorative practice can help
Supported restorative poses are good alternatives as a practice lying over bolsters and blankets offers the opportunity to quieten the mind and body at stressful, moody moments. A great resource for restorative yoga is Judith Hanson Lasater’s book ‘Relax and Renew’.
Another symptom is sleep disruption which can be impacted by the effects of the previous two symptoms. Hot flashes become the night sweats and the root of insomnia can be the stress and irritation that comes from mood swings.
With a little time spent quietening the chatter of the mind and negative self talk the perimenopause can become an opportunity to embrace change.
There are various lifestyle changes that can be made such as improved eating habits and avoiding stimulants such as smoking, alcohol and caffeine. Exercise is still important but if you are dealing with sleep issues then consider a more energizing and active yoga practice at the beginning of the day to avoid being too ‘wired’ closer to bedtime.
Quietening the mind can help
Besides the physical practice, mindfulness and the meditative practices of yoga are a great help when dealing with perimenopause symptoms.
Being able to embrace physical changes with a more positive mindset will make these inevitable changes more manageable. As Christiane Northrup, MD author of ‘The Wisdom of Menopause’ says ‘when all is said and done it is your attitude, your beliefs and your daily thought patterns that have the most profound effect on your health’.
With a little time spent quietening the chatter of the mind and negative self talk the perimenopause can become an opportunity to embrace change and benefit from a healthy and positive transition to the next life chapter.
As with all health related issues researched on the internet be sure to seek medical advice for any symptoms you experience.
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