Menopause, the Second Spring
Can you feel it in the air, Spring? Go on stick your head outside the door, feel the sun beams on your face, see the new shoots pushing up from the ground, smell the whiff of freedom as restrictions slowly start to ease, this symphony for the senses all equals a smile on the face and warmth in the heart. What does spring mean to you?
Now, if you or anyone you know has been managing menopause through the pandemic, you/they may be wondering what the onset of spring has to do with menopause. Here's some facts: women make up just over half the world's population, all women will at some point in their life go through the menopause, the average age of menopause in the UK is 51, although early onset can be as young as 20s for some, symptoms vary in each woman, some navigate it with no symptoms at all, most women will experience some/many of the estimated 200+ symptoms, some will have symptoms so severe that they will not be able to function as they once did, hold down a job, manage a family, live the life they once knew. Yet when you look at how much research is undertaken into better management of the menopause, it isn't that much I can tell you.
It's no surprise then that the western medical model is just to medicate women (I'm not referring to HRT here which can be a life saver for many women, I'm talking anti-depressants). There really does need to be another way to navigate this time for women, it is after all a right of passage. In Traditional Chinese Medicine they talk of menopause as the 'second spring' that we go through stages, life cycles, much like the menstruating woman, much like the feminine archetypes, the arrival of post menopause years is not so much of an ending but a new beginning -
"we are designed to easily move from one life cycle to the next. From puberty through menopause, we come full circle, closing the feminine loop to live one-third of our lives in wisdom and power" (Creating and Maintaining Balance).
I love this, I too see it as a reawakening rather than an ending. If we focus on endings it can all feel a bit hopeless, that we are going through these difficult changes for what? The end? Oh no my dear, post menopause is just the beginning.
So how can yoga support you through menopause? Here, let me explain:
Pre Menopause: the most fundamental gift yoga can give you is an understanding of your body. But if we take that a little deeper, a little further, as a woman, knowing your menstrual cycle is a gift to a more optimised life. So, if you came to one of my classes for menstrual cycle awareness, each week the practice would be different - slow and grounded during your bleed, awakening/flowing in the week that follows (also known as spring) hot and fiery during ovulation then, embodied/deep during the phase many women experience PMS. Knowing your cycle is knowing your body and key to navigating your Perimenopause
Perimenopause, an extension of the above but with more awareness on your emerging symptoms. The first clue will be that your period might become a bit more irregular, or you start to experience hot flushes or sleepless nights (these are usually the first symptoms of the onset of menopause)
Menopause, officially 12 months since your last bleed but I'm afraid not necessarily the end of the symptoms. Yoga for Menopause is all about managing those symptoms and as things progress new symptoms may arise, vaginal atrophy being one as estrogen's production has dropped significantly, the wall of the vagina can become weaker/thinner which not only makes sex uncomfortable, it can make women feel less than sensual/desirable particularly with the often resulting symptom of stress incontinence. It's not all doom and gloom I promise (and I am speaking from a place of personal experience). Join one of my classes each designed to manage symptoms but most importantly to combat how they make you feel.
Post Menopause, the second spring, remember those green shoots we were talking about? Well that's what awaits you here. This time is really about reawakening, stepping into your personal power, reigniting the sensual flame (for more on this join me for my Awakening Shakti workshop in May). If the average age of Menopause is 51 and the average life expectancy for women is 84 then you have a whole lot of years to enjoy this time of wisdom and guess what? Any kind of yoga is right for you at this stage of womanhood (health permitting) join me for a class or workshop and welcome in the Crone energy - she rocks (and so do you!!)