Yoga for World Menopause Day
To mark World Menopause Day on 18th October, MFML Yoga for Menopause teacher, Gabriella Espinosa explains to us what this transition in a woman’s life entails and how yoga can support you in this next stage of life.
The Journey into Menopause
I had never heard the word perimenopause mentioned 10 years ago when I was caught totally off guard with what I now know are common symptoms. Perimenopause means “around menopause” and marks the natural transition in a woman’s life usually in her 40s but as early as mid-30s. At this time your ovaries produce fewer eggs meaning you may not ovulate. Progesterone, your calming hormone, is abundant when you ovulate. It begins to fluctuate and then gradually decline causing symptoms such as irregular periods, anxiety, fatigue, irritability and insomnia.
Perimenopause can last between 3 – 10 years. Every woman’s journey is unique and determined by genetics, nutrient intake, digestive health, stress, exercise and emotional resiliency.
At the same time, oestrogen which makes you feel phenomenally female begins a roller coaster ride. This gives rise to hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain and brain fog just to name a few. It continues to decline and dips dramatically as you head into menopause which is marked when you have 12 months without a period.
How Yoga Supported my Journey
I had a fairly strong and active yoga practice but I found it frustrating when I started to experience the classic symptoms of perimenopause. I began to feel that my body was failing me. The practice I loved was no longer serving me. Restorative and yin styles of yoga offered me support. These helped ease the anxiety, irritability, low mood, fatigue and migraines around my irregular cycles. As I transitioned into menopause, breathwork helped with hot flushes, insomnia and brain fog. Specific yoga poses maintained my bone and joint strength. They also toned my pelvic floor, and offered me a sense of calm, grounding and clarity.
Importantly, this yoga practice, tailored to my hormonal needs, allowed me to be in a loving dialogue with my body. I was able to feel non-judgmentally what it is like to be in my body. I noticed the tone of my emotions and the quality of my thoughts. My yoga practice supported this daily inventory of my body world . I created space to welcome my experience in this stage of my life with compassion and acceptance.
The Benefits of Yoga in Menopause
In menopause women long to reconnect to their bodies and to find calm in the storm of symptoms – they want to reclaim their sense of vitality. Family, work and life pressures keep us in a constant state of doing versus being. This creates overwhelm, stress and fatigue, which can exacerbate the flurry of hormonal fluctuations. Yoga tailored to the menopause helps us listen to our body’s signals for rest, food, movement, connection and pleasure. The classes I have crafted for Movement for Modern Life address the common symptoms women experience in menopause, but importantly they offer each woman space to reflect on her unique journey and consider how she wants to transition into this next important chapter of life.
Breath Work and Menopause
Each class also incorporates breath work – either Pranayama or mindfulness based awareness – and somatic enquiry. At a time when women may feel disconnected from their bodies and frustrated with the lack of control they are experiencing, even a few minutes of breath work and awareness has the power to change the way we respond to any discomfort and to help you manage symptoms.
The therapeutic benefits and healing power of yoga, breath and somatic enquiry offer you the opportunity to manage your journey into menopause with greater ease. These practices when done as a form of mindful and contemplative movement invite you to listen and feel deeply within. They engage and open the natural intelligence of your body and awaken your innate wisdom. Connecting to your body in this way allows you to return to the sense of wholeness that is always present within us. When are able to connect to our bodies on this deeper level, this ripples out throughout our entire lives.
About Gabriella Espinosa:
Gabriella Espinosa is the founder of Women’s Body Wisdom. She holistically supporting women’s hormonal health during the natural transitions from perimenopause, menopause to postmenopause. Gabriella is inspired by her many years of practice and teaching yoga, breathwork, somatic movement and nutritional therapy. She is passionate about guiding women to connect with their bodies, take charge of their hormonal health and live their fullest potential.