Every woman at some point will experience the menopause and every woman will have a unique experience of it. Menopause is entirely linked to a change in hormones and hormones affect just about every cell in the body.
What is a Menopause?
Menopause is when a woman’s ovaries retire from producing eggs and their periods have stopped for 12 successive months. Perimenopause is the phase before this happens and can last years.
Before the onset of perimenopause, a woman’s menstrual cycle is regulated each month by the hypothalamus, a small structure at the base of the brain that regulates many bodily functions, including appetite and temperature. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to produce important hormones for reproduction, and those hormones in turn stimulate production of oestrogen and progesterone in the ovaries. During perimenopause, the ovaries and pituitary gland engage in a kind of tug-of-war. The ovaries decrease hormone production, while the pituitary gland, sensing low hormone levels, continues to spur on the ovaries. This frenetic struggle causes erratic hormonal fluctuations—too much oestrogen , which revs the body’s motors, followed by spikes of progesterone, which slows the body. So, it’s no wonder that women feel this conflict and unease, which then manifests in an array of symptoms from hot flushes and night sweats, to anxiety, insomnia and fatigue to name a few.
The Then and The Now
A French physician coined the term menopause in 1821. In the 1930’s it was described as a ‘deficiency disease’. In contrast, ancient tribes viewed the older woman as the wise woman and sage of the tribe. Over the years there’s been a lot of misconception, shame and stigma attached to this phase of a woman’s life but that is now changing. Medical, media and alternative therapies are stepping up and recognising the need to promote a healthy understanding of menopause which is gaining momentum to support women through these transitional years. TV programs, blogs, podcasts, social media, workshops and menopause yoga retreats are now available.
Help at Hand
As every woman has a different history and body type, there is not one formula that suits all. Some will take HRT (hormone replacement therapy) some will take herbal remedies, some will try acupuncture, others will try NLP and some will turn to yoga, some will try everything!
How Yoga can Help the Menopause
On a personal level, I’m in the perimenopause phase and have been for over five years. I’m 52 and actually feel pretty good. There’s a reason why I feel pretty good with only the odd off day. YOGA! Yoga has been in my life for 20 years and delivered many, many benefits. I’ve been teaching yoga now for over 10 years
In 2020, we live in a world bombarded with information and imagery, conditioned to do more and have more, available 24/7 on umpteen communication platforms, so it’s no wonder that our hormones are in a state of imbalance. Then the menopause arrives, and we simply feel overwhelmed with a fatigued system! You may be lucky enough to sail through, however there’s no shame in reaching out and saying ‘I NEED HELP!’ Yoga has been known to balance the body mind systems whilst strengthening and toning the body. It has been around for thousands of years and has become a popular component in modern life. I really believe it can assist us with many of the symptoms of menopause such as anxiety, mood swings, hot flushes, fatigue, insomnia, low libido and so on.
Diet, meditation and taking on less stress are also big factors in helping a woman go through menopause with greater ease.
Yoga Classes in Brighton
My classes and workshops offer breathing / paranayma techniques to bring us back to neutral and into the sympathetic nervous system of calm and rest. Yoga postures focus on squeezing, stretching and nourishing the endocrine glands, especially the ovaries, adrenals, thyroid and pituitary. To slow down and take on less is key so that we’re not flooding our system with the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol. It’s better to encourage the production of the sex hormones of oestrogen and progesterone and limit stress levels.
Want to attend a yoga session?
Classes start on 20 Oct, every Tues 1-2pm live and via Zoom