Menopause can be an intense and challenging time, but it also gives us the opportunity to listen to our body and its messengers – the hormones. This listening allows a deep transformation to step into your power and all that you want to be. In many cultures, women take some time to be alone, to be quiet and to nourish themselves for an easier transformation. In Susun Weed’s book New Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way (my absolute menopausal bible) she recommends taking a “Crone’s Time away”, time to move away from taking care of others to turning your energy towards your own change. To take a sustained period away can be tricky and, with many of us having babies in our 40s, often not possible. However, we can use our yoga and meditation practice to give us some time on a daily basis.
Restorative practices allow us to feel supported and nurture us deeply. They give us time to be quiet, rest and nourish our bodies, and soothe our nervous systems.
These restorative practices can be (but do not have to be) passive, and we can still work strongly with support. At the 2021 Iyengar Yoga convention, Abhijati Iyengar (granddaughter of BKS Iyengar) gave the following sequence in response to a participant’s request for help with hot flushes. She also recommended inversions to balance hormones.
This link is to a video of me practising this sequence with instruction. It lasts for 28 minutes but please do hold the postures for less time if you are new to yoga or very tired and increase your timings in the postures as your strength increases.
I have used minimal props in the video, but please support your body to avoid strain. For example, in the first pose, if your knees are sore, put a blanket behind them and a cushion on your heels and use an extra height for your head. In the forward bends, take as much support as you need to allow your head and your back to relax. Use what you have (a chair, stool, cushions all work). I have not included a guided relaxation in the video, but please do relax in savasana for at least 5 minutes and listen to one of my relaxation audios to help you.
I had increased anxiety as I approached my menopause. Out of nowhere, my heart rate would increase and I would feel a tightening around my throat chakras. Japa meditation, where we mentally repeat a mantra or a sacred sound such as AUM (SO HUM is a good place to start – repeat SO as you breathe in, HUM as you breathe out) helped to quieten my overactive mind, and restorative postures gave me the time to feel with interest and kindness what was going on in my body, rather than react to try and get rid of those feelings.
Postmenopause my anxiety has subsided, and I have adjusted my meditation practice to focus on my body breathing or visualising my chakras (key energy centres). These practices have allowed me to dive deeper into my inner world and strengthen my connection with the divine by finding moments of stillness and spaciousness.
Yoga and meditation can help us feel stronger and more connected with ourselves and others, and through listening to what we need and accepting and loving ourselves, whatever may be happening, we can step into our postmenopausal period with more strength, more connection, and a deeper capacity to listen to what we really need. In this way, we can achieve the true transformation into a wise woman that is our birthright.