Updated: Feb 23
You'll know from many of my posts on Instagram that I'm smack-bang in the middle of the menopause - the whole over-heating, over-anxious, over-stressing lot of it.
I'm a great believer in looking at the most natural ways to get through these life challenges, so I was delighted when a lovely neighbour offered me a one-on-one yoga session that would focus on easy menopausal symptoms. Hana - better known as the patchwork yogi - runs classes at Yoga Bourne in nearby Strichley.
Essential oils: Juniper, Black Pepper and Neroli to ground and uplift.
Music: Jennifer Thomas Illumination.
Intention: Exploring yoga as a healing process in menopause.
Focus: Femininity and cooling explored through the Classical Sun Salutation (Classical Surya Namaskara) chosen as Anjenyasana or cresent lunge is a prominent asana (pose) in the flow. The moon is thought to have feminine energy; cooler and introspective. The flow generates less heat than Sun Salutations A and B and therefore can be helpful in menopause. The backbends at the start and during the crescent lunge stretch the psoas, a large vital muscle which is tightened through the ‘mothering’ years of life. In menopause, as muscles become less elastic, it is essential to nurture it, along with the hip muscles in general to create a strong stable core from which to live, love and nurture.
Grounding postures continue this theme of strength coming from the core. Helping to pin down the flighty, fizzy feelings and draw attention to the present. Acknowledging that anxiety is an entirely natural part of menopause but also working to sit with any discomfort that brings. In particular this practice draws on the strength and prescision of Parvakonasana (Side Angle Stretch) and the power of Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2)
Cooling both the body and the mind is cultivated through the practice using Janusirsasana (head to knee pose) and Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold) as well as supported inversions to suppress the sympathetic (Fight, flight, freeze drive) nervous system and lower heart rate. Exploring the vulnerability of a new phase and time in life is welcomed in the backbends where the heart is drawn upwards and opened.
Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose)
Classical Surya Namaskara (Classical Sun Salutation) x 3
Trikonasana (Triangle pose)
Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Stretch)
Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2)
Prasaritta Padotonasana (Wide Leg Forward Fold, using blocks to support)
Virabhadasana 2 (Warrior 2)
Parvakonasana (Side Angle stretch)
Trikonasana (Triangle pose)
Uttanasana (Forward Fold, using blocks to support)
Dandasana (Staff Pose)
Janu Sirsasana (Head to knee pose)
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Cobblers or Butterfly pose)
Sukhasana (Easy seat for Pranayama)
Villoma Pranayama or wave breath: Breathing in inflate the abdomen, expand the chest then lift the collarbones. Breathing out the collarbones fall, the chest deflates and abdomen empties. Continue in this ‘wave’ like fashion. This is a calming and focussing breath, useful in moments of anxiety or when trying to ‘ride out’ a hot flush. Can be used in some seated and lying postures. We begin the practice sequence in Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) using villoma pranayama.
Sitali Pranayama or Cooling breath: To inhale open the mouth, stick the tongue out and breathe in deeply. To exhale close the mouth and breathe out through the nose. Very cooling, feels very silly! Good for remembering that this is your yoga practice and for lots of us laughter is a part of feeling ‘whole’ and healthy.