Menopause yoga, helping to avoid women pressing pause on their career.
There are around 4.3 million women aged 50 and over working in the UK and the biggest increase over the last 30 years, has been for women aged 55-59.
While this is great news, according to figures quoted during a World Menopause Day Debate in the UK House of Commons last year, about 50% of working women say menopausal symptoms make it difficult to do their jobs, and 10% give up work altogether as a result.
Many women are not prepared for menopause, nor know much about it. We want to avoid almost 3rd of working women in the core ‘menopause age’ having to reluctantly take time out of the working week to alleviate menopausal symptoms. That accounts to 14 million working days lost.
Memory loss, brain fog and other cognitive effects can wreak havoc on professional confidence and have caused many successful and high-powered business women to give up work, either because they simply couldn’t cope any more, or believed themselves to be “losing their mind”.
Menopause doesn’t have to be the end of a quality life, with the right support, there’s no need for women to press pause on their career.
So what is yoga for menopause, how is it different to traditional yoga and how will it help alleviate some of the 34 varying symptoms?
We asked our resident menopause expert, Petra Coveney, who is a highly experienced instructor and specialises in Women’s Wellness. She is a member of the British Menopause Society, works directly with menopause specialists, as well as training yoga teachers in menopause yoga so she can help to reach more women across the UK.
Which types are Yoga are beneficial?
Yoga in general benefits women going through menopause because it helps to stretch muscles, release stress and tension, and helps build muscle and bone density – both of which deplete after menopause. Certain styles of dynamic yoga can also help women on a weight loss program, that also includes nutritional guidance.
Which yoga should women avoid during menopause?
There are many different styles of modern yoga ranging from Hot Yoga (in 40-degree heat), to Ashtanga and Dynamic Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga…to name but a few! Not all of these styles of yoga are suitable for women going through menopause and can exacerbate their symptoms, making them feel worse.
If a woman experiences frequent hot flushes, she is not going to want to attend a Hot Yoga class, Ashtanga or Dynamic yoga, which heat the body. Similarly, a woman who is experiencing debilitating fatigue and headaches, will not benefit from a fast-paced dynamic and dehydrating class. A woman experiencing sudden rushes of rage or anger, will struggle to stay still in Restorative or Yin Yoga and a woman who needs to build muscle and bone density, will need a style of yoga that involves strengthening and balance poses.
Petra explains, that the style of yoga a woman practices may vary depending on her symptoms. Which is why it is so important for women to be aware of how they are feeling and listening to your body is very important.
So, how is Menopause Yoga (MY) different?
MY is both an approach and a method. The approach aims to Educate and Empower women to, eventually, accept and Embrace the menopause as an opportunity for personal development and better health. We do this through Women’s Circle discussions that break down the taboo of talking about menopause, sharing factual information on the latest medical advice, treatments, foods to avoid or increase and complementary therapies, so that women can make informed decisions. A core element of this is journal writing so that women become more aware of their individual symptoms, triggers and relief strategies.
The method includes a toolbox of techniques:
Specially adapted yoga poses that help women to manage their menopause symptoms. There are also two set yoga sequences that women can learn and practice at home: the Moon sequence that helps balance the endocrine system to relieve the hormonal stress that exacerbates menopause symptoms; the Sun sequence that manage hot flushes, heat and rage while also building muscle strength and bone density.
Breathing practices that either calm and balance the nervous system; energise the body or create mental clarity.
Meditation exercises that incorporate eastern pranayama and western Mindfulness
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) that has been specially adapted for menopause symptoms such as hot flushes.
We know that stress and substances such as alcohol, sugar and caffeine exacerbate women’s symptoms, especially hot flushes, fatigue and sleep deprivation, so there are easy lifestyle changes they can make to manage their symptoms. What you wear, eat, drink and do affects your daily experience and ability to work and enjoy life.
Petra’s workshops provide the space, knowledge and a toolkit of techniques that women can use to feel empowered during and after menopause.
We help to bring women together, to support each other through this dramatic transformation, to share experiences, create community and realise they are not alone. By empowering women with the right knowledge and information, we can help to make their menopause a positive journey and experience.