By now you may be starting to see a theme emerge from my blog (there are only two previous posts, thus far; so please check them out, if you’re keen to Master Your Menopause). In brief, we’re here to demonstrate the merits of practising yoga for controlling the symptoms of menopause. But, as with anything we try to “control” in life, whether it’s addictions, bad habits, over-eating, smoking, drinking – you name it – you will always find it’s pointless without getting into the right frame of mind from the outset. Am I right? So, you will see, my initial focus for helping women to improve their quality of life reflects just that – a change of mindset.
However, since publishing last week’s blog post – Change Your Mind – I’ve had some chance to reflect on its message. And, I do realise that, for many, it’s not as simple as I may have made it sound! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not back-tracking. The post was supposed to be motivational; something to have a think about and consider giving a try. After all, those pesky menopause symptoms aren’t going to go away any time soon and you’ve tried everything else, right? So, what’s the harm?
Then I got to thinking, perhaps the message was somewhat harsh – I certainly don’t mean to come across as trite, far from it.
What is alright for some, is not alright for others.
I shared a blog post on Facebook earlier, all about one woman’s dreadful struggle with her menopause symptoms and the tremendous impact they have had on her and her family’s life. I thank this woman for sharing her plight, which both highlights the different ways menopause can affect us, from one woman to the next, and prompts us not to hide away, embarrassed of how it makes us feel and behave, but to be more open and able to discuss our symptoms without ridicule or shame (#unshamethechange!).
So, today, instead, I am taking a softer approach. Drawing upon some good old yoga philosophy. Without going into an in-depth history of yoga, I’ll just refer back to circa 300-400 BCE!
Patanjali’s mystical teachings are still relevant today…
Compiled by Patanjali (whom I referred to in last week’s blog, responsible for churning out the Yoga Sutras), the Eight Limbs of Yoga provide the guidelines that a follower of Patanjali’s method of yoga (also known as Raja (or Royal) yoga) should follow. By practising (not just reading about!) these mystical teachings, one experiences a purification of the mind and body (and, thus, allows the condition of yoga to arise – a full awakening of the Self – but we’ll save that part for another day!). Revered as a bit of a saint in India, Patanjali’s mystical teachings on the subject of all things yoga make an awful lot of sense, even by today’s standards.
So, on the chart below, if you find the first of the Eight Limbs – namely the Yamas – these are a list of all the behaviours (“restraints” in Sanskrit) we are instructed to display toward others.
The 8 Limbs of Yoga
The first Yama listed is Ahimsa, meaning non-violence or do no harm. And this teaches us how to behave, in thought, word and deed, toward our fellow human-beings, toward nature and the environment surrounding us. Interestingly this also forms part of the Hippocratic Oath (the physicians’ code of ethics, written around the same era).
My message today, however, takes this principle one step further – being kind to yourself…
As one who seems to suffer from the effects of the changing seasons (let alone menopause symptoms!), I have noticed a particular sluggishness of late, both in mind (can’t remember what I was going to say or do) and body (no get-up-and-go)!
Try a little yoga…
So, here’s a yoga technique you can practice with little or no effort, but which offers a multitude of benefits.
Called Viparita karani or Legs-Up-The-Wall pose – this a passive, supported variation of the Shoulderstand (which you could do instead, if you are already practiced in the posture).
First sit adjacent to the wall, then swivel and lie back, ensuring your bottom is touching the wall as you raise your legs. You can place a cushion or bolster underneath the hips, if preferred. Arms can be by your side or outstretched behind your head.
It’s been said that taking just 10 minutes out of your busy day to practice this restorative posture is as good as the rest you get from a full night’s sleep…..
I do believe it’s a good all-rounder – both for relieving physical aches and pains as well as mental revival.
You can keep your legs vertical against the wall or open them out into a “V” shape to get an extra stretch to the inner thigh – but take care not to strain your low back or groin. A belt strapped around your legs/above the knees might help prevent over-stretching and enable a more supported posture.
Add a little meditation and aromatherapy…
Try it whilst listening to some calming music or treat yourself to a meditation audio.
In addition to music or meditation whilst trying this out, why not vaporise some refreshing essential oils. As I write this, I’ve dusted off my old burner and have some peppermint and rosemary on the go – excellent for clearing the head (and nasal passages) and uplifting mood – but you could also use lemon, grapefruit, may chang, clary sage or ginger (or a combination). Take care not to use these stimulating oils too close to bedtime otherwise you might be up all night! Substitute lavender and mandarin instead!
And some nutrition too…
I’ve also resisted the desire to have a second cup of coffee (something we all succumb to in times of fatigue and stress) and have poured myself a soothing peppermint tea instead. You could also try roibos (red bush) tea, which is naturally decaffeinated, green tea or lime & ginger for an extra kick.
And if your habit is also to reach for the biscuit tin for a pick-me-up, try something that’ll give you a slow-release form of energy, like an oatcake with peanut butter (or hummus or cottage cheese) instead. Perhaps, a banana (or other piece of fresh fruit) with a few brazil nuts or a handful of seeds might do the trick. Whatever snack you choose, the aim should be to accompany your carbs with some protein. This will stop you “spiking” your blood sugars and keep energy levels more constant.
If you’ve found the above of use, or you have further questions, please feel free to get in touch with us in the comments below. Equally, if you have stories to share, or would like to hear from like-minded people, why not join us in our private Facebook Group – Changelings – you’d be so welcome.
Until next time, enjoy being kind to yourself!