What and when exactly is ‘post menopause’?! What are the symptoms and what is the best yoga practices in this life stage?
Petra Coveney, founder of Menopause Yoga explains what the post menopause stage is and shares suggestions for yoga post menopause below. (Also read more about yoga for menopause in the Movement for Modern Life complete guide).
What is Post Menopause?
Post Menopause is a medical term that simply means after your menopause – in other words, after your menstrual periods have stopped for more than a year. If you don’t have periods due to contraception or the mirena coil then doctors usually go by your age. If you are in your mid to late 50’s you are probably in post menopause (although I have worked with women aged 59 who still had monthly bleeds). We are wonderfully unique.
In post menopause, there may have some residual symptoms for a few years (such as hot flushes, brain fog or anxiety, joint pain and insomnia). However, we generally start to feel more stable as our body and mind is no longer at the mercy of the monthly hormonal upheavals or painful periods.
Yes, there are some long-term serious health risks that you need to be aware of, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis that weakens your bone strength, sarcopenia loss of muscle tone, diabetes, cancer and low mood that can swing from loss of joy to depression.
We may need medical intervention for these, but there are also lifestyle changes that can be made, especially in terms of exercise:
- Increasing the level of physical activity
- Add resistance training
- Start weight lifting or weight bearing exercise. [Try this Strength & Empowerment Class with Petra]
Also nourish the body with Mediterranean style foods that feeds our bones, brain, heart and muscles:
- Increase your levels of protein (including oily fish is you are not vegan),
- calcium and isoflavones through green leaf vegetables, nuts, seeds and unprocessed tofu or soy products.
- sunshine for your vitamin D
- You’ll benefit from reducing alcohol, sugar, salt and caffeine.
Stress negatively affects our bones, brain, heart and energy levels especially if sleep is also reduced.
The menopause really is an opportunity to wake up and start taking great care of our long-term health and happiness. This includes our mental health as it has an impact too so let’s start embracing this change.
Positive Perspective on Menopause and Beyond
It’s important for us to be positive about this awesome stage of life – and grateful. Did you know that in 1821, women lived in the UK to the average age of 51. But in 2021, women lived on average to the age of 81. That’s 30 extra years of life for us to enjoy. Do you want to just survive, or THRIVE in those extra years?
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), they reframed post menopause as our Second Spring – like a rebirth. This is a time when we can start to feel reenergised, a sense of renewal and reprioritise what is truly important, what matters to us. What have we not yet done with our lives? and can we seize the day and embrace our Second Spring?
The wisdom of TCM, says that the energy that you previously lost through menstruating can now be cycled back to your heart. This can feed your creativity helping you to find both a renewed sense of energy and passion or zest for life.
Teenager to Queenager
Many women I’ve worked with find that they start thinking about their teenage self and what their passions and dreams were in that pre-pubescent time of life when the world was their oyster and life felt limitless.
In menopause Yoga we say that there is a renewed link between your inner Teenager and your Queenager self.
I’ve worked with women who felt depressed in post menopause, but through our Second Spring meditation they then listened to their younger self and followed their passions. One woman who had a teen passion for ponies clubbed together with some friends to keep a horse at a nearby stables where they went riding at the weekends. A woman travel journalist said she felt her wings had been clipped by becoming a parent, but she later told me he was taking a ‘gap year’ with her 18 year old daughter to travel the world and write a book together. Another woman sent me a photo of herself dressed in leather on a Harley Davidson motorbike; she was driving around India with her husband. There are many more stories like these.
What is your story? What did your teenage self want to experience? Is now a time to revisit these dreams, or have they shifted?
Yoga Post Menopause
The style of yoga we need in our post-menopause needs to help is develop stronger bones, muscles, heart and mental health. This will also help us feel a greater sense of physical strength and emotional empowerment. We also need to include balance poses that help us retain our proprioception or spatial awareness. This will help us avoid falls that can lead to bone fractures. We also need poses that engage our back muscles will help prevent the spinal kyphosis. As the Royal Osteoporosis Society suggests, we need exercises that is: Strong, Steady and Stable.
I’m 8 years into my post menopause and I love to feel strong. I’m sure you will too. We can also add in some heart-opening poses that expand our lungs, lift our mood and create more space for new experiences. This style of yoga can be uplifting. And you don’t need to be an advanced practitioner. You’ll find several classes on MFML for different levels from beginners to level 2.
Yoga Post Menopause: Strengthening Poses
- Standing hatha yoga poses: Warrior 2 (virabhadrasana II), Chair pose, Triangle, high goddess squat.
- Mat based strength poses: plank (phalankasana), forearm plank, side plank, boat pose.
- Balance poses: Tree (vrksasana),Warrior 3 pose (virabhadrasana III).
- Heart opening and Back strengthening poses: Sphinx pose, Cobra, (bujangasana), Locust (salabasana), bridge pose (setu bandhasana)
Yoga Post Menopause: Restorative poses
- Mountain brook pose
- Supported fish pose
- Reclined supported cobbler pose (salamba supta badha konasana)
Yoga Post Menopause: Breathwork (pranayama)
- Breath of Joy
- Kapalabhati (slowly)
- Bastrika (slowly)
Yoga Post Menopause: Meditations
- Gratitude or Joy focus.
- Second Spring visualisation.
If you’d like to practice with Petra, there are some Menopause Yoga classes and techniques on the MFML website,and these are included in the Menopause for Modern Life Course. We hope you find these helpful.
This yoga for menopause course brings together specialist contributors and offers yoga classes, audio interviews, facts, guidance and community. The course is suitable for anyone interested in understanding more about menopause, women going through perimenopause and menopause.
Petra is the founder of Menopause Yoga – the world’s first specialist yoga practice designed to support women on their Menopause journey. Founded in 2013, Menopause Yoga unites the latest western medical science with eastern wellbeing, and is grounded in many years of research and work with menopausal women.
Petra says: “Menopause Yoga educates and empowers women with knowledge about The Menopause so that they can embrace the changes in their minds, bodies and emotions.”