Yoga for menopause and pre-meno
If you’re anything like me and the dreaded pre-meno has come to visit more recently, then you will be pleased to note that there are some fab yoga for menopause practices which can ease all those bizarre symptoms that you might be beginning to notice. Over the past few years, I’ve come to realise that the old waist thickening, afternoon energy slumps and grumpy mood swings along with a whole host of other pretty peculiar symptoms need to be tackled. I’ve mostly opted for medical intervention (which I will share more with you in a later post) but am also super excited to share some specific yoga advice from yoga guru and all around lovely person Lise Jolly.
We met recently on jury duty, and you couldn’t shut us up. With a pile of shared interests and two jury selections together under our belts, we thought it would be fun to team up to share some of the amazing tips which Lise had been dolling out during dull jury room breaks which when put into practice I found actually worked for me. Lise started practising as a yogi around 4 years ago after a long career as an artist and designer. She had practised yoga herself for over 30 years and then took the plunge to train in the exercise that she loves and became a Yoga Alliance Registered Teacher. She is also currently restoring a beautiful Moorish Cortijo: Finca-Blanca in The Cabo de Gata, Spain. (World Heritage Site). Where eventually her dream is to make “Finca-Blanca a place to retreat from the stresses and pressures of 21st Century life. A place to reconnect, swim, eat, yoga, reflect, relax. A place to enjoy the real pleasures of life. A place to simply BE. ”
On her yoga ethos…
Practising yoga has so many positives. It will bring back your mojo, your glow, help diminish those wrinkles and reduce cellulite. Not only that but it will also improve posture and flexibility, make you strong physically emotionally and mentally. You will also find that it helps reduce fatigue, alleviate mild depression, relight your fires, tone that bod of yours, bring you happiness inside out, teach you to love yourself, and will help you through all of life ups and downs.
What’s more, it is the ONLY ‘sport’ I know where you can be better at 80 than 20
Not surprisingly then it has been and continues to be, my ‘go to’ practice for life.”
On yoga and the menopause…
The Peri-Menopause and Menopause come along, and you wonder why no-one ever told you that the fact that you feel so out of sorts, emotional, tired, depressed, worried you have a terminal illness, desperate for solitude, achy, crampy, headachy, hot and cold, dripping wet at night, suffering from insomnia – is all because of the Menopause! When it happened to me, I could not believe that I had never heard anything about it before. After all, it is a MAJOR life changing time for half the worlds’ population and can last for years! Luckily for me, I had yoga. Yoga is definitely what got me through to the other side.
So here’s what practising Yoga during Peri-Menopause and Menopause can help you with:
- Balance hormonal changes by balancing the endocrine system
- Relieve hot flushes, night sweats and other symptoms
- Support pelvic health and cope with common problems such as heavy and irregular bleeding and fibroids
- Alleviate stress and its related physical and emotional symptoms
- Alleviate anxiety, mood swings, depression and fatigue
- Strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis/bone loss
- Create cardiovascular health and prevent heart disease
- Strengthen your immune system
- Improve your overall sense of well-being (which is often knocked sideways by menopause) – physically, emotionally and spiritually
- Carry you gently through the menopause without the need for HRT or any other unnatural products
- Create the quiet and solitude that many women crave at this time in their lives
So here is an easy to follow practice from Lise specifically tailored to help those menopausal symptoms and help you feel human again.
Before you begin: find somewhere quiet and away from everyone and everything – gift yourself some time just for you. Wear comfortable layers, put on some music that you love and leave the world behind you.
Learn and use SITALI BREATH – to cool your body, fight those hot flushes, calm hunger and thirst and cultivate a love for solitude.
Sitali breath also reduces fatigue, bad breath, fevers and high blood pressure. Not bad for something so simple.
How to Practice Sitali
- Sit in a comfortable position with the head, neck, and spine in alignment.
- Close your eyes, breathe diaphragmatically for several minutes, then open the mouth and form the lips into an “O.”
- Curl the tongue lengthwise and project it out of the mouth (about 3/4 of an inch).
- Inhale deeply across the tongue and into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.
- Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as the abdomen, and lower ribs expand.
- Withdraw the tongue and close the mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils.
Continue for 2 to 3 minutes, return to diaphragmatic breathing for several more, and repeat the cooling breath for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Gradually you can work your way up to a 10-minute practice.
Can’t Curl Your Tongue? Try SITKARI
- Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.
- Gently press your lower and upper teeth together and separate your lips as much as you comfortably can, so your teeth are exposed to the air.
- Inhale slowly through the gaps in the teeth and focus on the hissing sound of the breath.
- Close the mouth and slowly exhale through the nose.
Repeat up to 20 times.
In addition to its cooling effects, Sitkari balances the endocrine system and builds vitality.
NOTE: because sitali and sitkari reduce body temperature, they are best practised during hot weather or after a vigorous asana or heating pranayama practice.
2. SUPPORTED LEGS UP THE WALL OR TREE POSE (VIPARITA KARANI) – THE GREAT REJUVENATOR
A refreshing, restful, restorative, and easy inversion to help cool the body and balance the hormones. Considered to be THE MOST healing of the yoga restorative poses. Simply lie on your back and raise your legs up a wall.
- Bathes the endocrine system
- Reduces stress on the heart
- Reduces blood pressure as the weight of the blood in the feet, legs and abdomen stimulate blood pressure receptors on the neck and chest to reduce the constriction of the arteries throughout the body, thereby reducing blood pressure.
- Allows blood and lymph to pool in the belly, soaking the reproductive organs in oxygen.
- Refreshes the heart and lungs – by taking the pressure off the heart as venous blood flows naturally towards it.
- Restores depleted energy and rebuilds energy reserves
- Has a deeply relaxing effect during times of stress and tension
- Counteracts gravity and gives the organs space
- Reduces swelling in the feet and legs
CAUTIONS: do not practice if you suffer from heart problems, neck problems, eye pressure, retinal problems or a hiatal hernia.
3. SUPPORTED GODDESS POSE (SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA) – THE RESTORATIVE POSE FOR WOMEN – ESPECIALLY DURING THE MENOPAUSE AND PERI-M
Find a quiet place, stay in this delicious pose for ten minutes or longer, listen to music you love, take some deep breaths and just let it all go…this is THE pose that got me through the anxiety, and what I can only describe as the weirdness of the Peri-menopause (when you no longer seem to know your body or mind!)
- Opens the chest, abdomen and pelvis allowing the body to relax deeply
- Regulates and balances the menstrual cycle and eases the symptoms associated with the menopause
- Places the abdomen, uterus, ovaries and womb in a position that frees these areas of constriction and tension that inhibit balanced hormonal activity.
- Blood flow is directed into the pelvis, bathing the reproductive organs and glands and helping balance hormone function.
- The centring, balancing effect of this pose helps reduce mood swings and depression.
- Highly beneficial to those with high blood pressure, headaches and breathing problems.
Stay in the pose for as long as you feel comfortable – working up to at least 10 minutes
4. SUPPORTED DEEP RELAXATION POSE (SUPPORTED SAVASANA) – THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES DURING THE M-PAUSE
- Opens the chest and helps remove depression, as well as physical and mental fatigue
- Teaches us the art of deep relaxation and divine rest – allowing the mind and body a chance to integrate and also let go of the past
- Treats high blood pressure
- Relieves a migraine and stress-related headaches
- Eases breathing problems
- Helpful for insomnia – especially if practised just before going to bed
Stay in the pose for 5 – 10 minutes for maximum effect
5. BOUND ANGLE POSE (BADDHA KONASANA)
- A key pose for easing a wide range of perimenopause and menopause symptoms
- Tones the kidneys, alleviates urinary and uterine disorders
- Strengthens the bladder and uterus
- Eases menstrual problems such as cramps, heavy bleeding and heaviness in the abdomen
- Helps blood circulate in and around the pelvic region
- Helps lift and tone your uterus
- Massages the organs of the reproductive system
- Stimulates the ovaries
- Calming and Centering
Stay in the pose for several minutes or longer – with a straight spine, soft shoulders and relaxed face – breath slowly and deeply
N.B.Remember to think about a straight rather than slouched spine.
6. SUPPORTED DOWN-DOG (ADHO MUKHA SAVASANA)
- Inverts the internal organs and increases blood flow to the head
- With the help of an experienced teacher you can learn to use this pose to help lift and tone your uterus, improve circulation to your pelvis and strengthen your pelvic floor – always a plus
- Tones all the systems of the body, thus impacting the endocrine glands
- A key pose for the upper body – strengthens the bones in the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders – thus helping to prevent osteoporosis
- Placing your head on the bolster makes it so much more restful
- Relieves mild depression
- Diminishes fatigue
- Improves mental clarity and focus
- Relieves the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause
If you are not used to inversions – only hold for a minute or so and work your way up to 5 minutes IF that feels good for you.
7. SUPPORTED CHILD’S POSE (ADHO MUKHA VIRASANA) – HUGGING THE BOLSTER
This is THE Pose that all my students adore and NEVER EVER want to come out of – it’s a ‘give yourself a hug’ pose. Enjoy for as long as you want – just remember to move your head from side to side to keep the neck soft and tension at bay.
- For those moments when you feel you are falling off the menopausal bridge and wish you could just stay in bed or run off and leave the world and all its demand behind…
- Gives you the opportunity to take a break and detach yourself from the sometimes seemingly impossible demands of life.
- Comforting, restful pose
- Helps calm your nerves and emotions
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Releases tension from your back, neck and shoulders
N.B. If you are new to yoga here are Lise’s top tips
- Listen to YOUR body and only do what feels right for you
- Remember YOGA is NOT a competition
- It is YOUR practice no one else’s
- NEVER EVER compare yourself to ‘Bendy Wendy’ over there
- Pain in Yoga is NOT gain – if you feel pain, listen to your body NOT the teacher and STOP
- Slow and steady all the way
- Be patient with your body
- Yoga begins with the Breath
- Breathe in and out of the nose (unless I tell you not to)
- Breathe slow and steady at your own pace
- Inhale deep into the abdomen and expand your Buddha Belly (yup, let it all out)
- Exhale and use those abs to squeeze the air out of those beautiful lungs of yours
- Take real care coming into and out of asanas (poses) as this is when most injuries occur
- Always bring your body back to centre before moving into another pose
- Take your time
- Breathe into the pose and the muscles you are using – breathe and let the body go…
With thanks to Lise for her fab workout – to find out more about her private yoga sessions and her amazing retreat project follow her Instagram @lise.jolly
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