This month, we speak to yoga experts Naomi and Angie. They specialise in beginner’s yoga, vinyasa flow, mother and baby, teen and family yoga and after training with Petra Coveney’s Menopause Yoga Teacher Training, they now also run monthly Menopause Yoga Workshops in Edinburgh and beyond. Here they are sharing their 5 simple positive steps you can take to get 2020 off to a great start.
January can seem like the longest month, but it does come with a silver lining. This extra long month gives us plenty of time to get organised, do what needs to be done to take the best care of ourselves, and recharge our energy.
The transition to menopause can feel like an obstacle ridden path but we are so fortunate to be going through the menopause at this time as the menopause is being demystified as more and more women speak publicly about their personal journey. The fantastic news is that there is lots of support and information out there.
I am a yoga teacher so self-care for me involves some daily home yoga, going to a class or just practicing some paced breathing such as square breathing or four-part which I explain further below.
1. Yoga and Paced breathing
Dr Louise Newson who specialises in menopause health says: “Yoga is fantastic exercise for the entire body. It can improve some of the symptoms of menopause including sleep disturbance, fatigue, low mood, and anxiety”.
Yoga or focussed movement with breath and constructive rest help us to recover from the daily setbacks as well as aiding digestion, encouraging the rest and digest side of the nervous system and bringing a grounded sense of equanimity and balance.
If you’re interested in learning more, check social media for local yoga classes, you could treat yourself to a yoga mat and eye pillow which you could use also use at home.
If you’re practicing at home in your own time, these poses can help during the menopause:
Forward Folds: Either a seated forward fold over bent or extended legs (Paschimottanasana) or folding forwards from a standing position (Uttanasana) can help to calm the mind.
Hip openers and thigh stretches: Try a reclined butterfly pose (Supta Baddha Konasana), lizard pose (Utthan Pristhasana) or goddess pose (Malasana). These work well to soothe hot flushes, release anger and promote good sleep.
Finally if you are feeling lethargic and unmotivated, try a chest lift or backbend, a few rounds of cat (Majariasana) and cow (Bitilasana), some cobra poses (Bhujangasana) or a camel pose (Ustrasana) which can help shift a low mood or prepare you to face the world.
Try square breathing (4-part breath) for clarity and focus; Find a comfortable seated position or lie down, relax and close your eyes. Visualise a square shape. This breath follows the 4 equal sides of an imaginary square. Start by breathing in deeply for a count of 4 seconds (longer if you prefer), hold the inhale for 4, exhale steadily for 4 and retain the exhale for 4. Do at least 5 rounds. Afterwards remain still, breathe normally and notice how you feel.
2. Go shopping
Eating regularly and nourishing yourself with good food can make a world of difference to our overall health. Try frozen berries, dates, avocados, watercress, sweet potatoes, pistachios, red lentils and wild rice which will pep you up if you are feeling depleted.
Plan a trip to your local independent health food shop and treat yourself to some herbal teas, seeds and nuts to add to breakfasts and salads. Have a look in the essential oil section to find an uplifting or calming oil as well as exploring the fermented foods section – Kombucha, Kimchi, Kefir and Sourdough feed the biome and support your gut health.
Check out the supplements available for menopause too, there’s some great options out there and if you need some advice, talk to the staff as they are always knowledgeable and happy to help.
3. Enlist help and enjoy the world!
Ask for help at home and at work to lighten your load which will ease the way. I read a recent newspaper interview with the 50-year-old photographer Elinor Carruci who has a new book “Midlife” and when asked about her menopause transition she says: “I’m just speaking my mind more. I approach and talk to people more. I say to my kids: I’m not crazy guys, I’m just reaching out to the world. I have fewer years as I grow older. Just let me enjoy the world.”
4. Grab your headphones and get outside
Whether the weather is good or bad try to get outside for a walk and some fresh air at least once a day, first thing in the morning is best so you can catch some light. I use my phone as a step counter and make sure I walk 10,000 steps per day. I usually listen to some music or a podcast. You could try Liz Earle’s, Dr Louise Newson’s, or Lori Massicot’s To 50 & Beyond. Or I’ll meet up with a friend so we can walk and talk.
When you come home, make a pot of tea and get stuck into the wonderful TV series “Better Things”, in the most recent season the main character Sam and her friends are menopausal and very funny!
Keep a daily diary that explores thoughts, feelings, menopause symptoms and events. This is a valuable stress management and self-exploration tool.
And finally, bedtime restorative yoga. When you get into bed tonight, lie on your back with a pillow supporting your hips, place your legs up the wall (Viparita Karani) and breathe here for at least five minutes, release and roll onto your side, lie here and breathe. Sleep well 😊
Naomi and Angie run monthly Menopause Yoga Workshops in Edinburgh and beyond. Their next workshop is on Saturday 14th March 2020 at Beetroot Sauvage in Edinburgh. For details email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow them on Instagram @yagahealthedinburgh