Menopause and Peri-Menopause

Yesterday I was reminded how important our perspective on our lives is.

I attended a yoga conference on working with yoga through our time of “the change.” Just the title should have cued me into the negative connotation this training would entail. At the conference were three women and the instructor. We were all at that age where we had either been through menopause or were peri-menopausal. Being a group of yoga teachers, we came seeking a positive perspective for this very important time in our lives. Many of our students are also experiencing the same things we are. We wanted to embrace our feminine mystique as we enter the next stage of cronyism. After all, this is a time of our power. A time for much more freedom in our lives. We enter our time of wisdom during “the change.” That’s what we were seeking: confirmation that this time in our lives was just as important as any other time in our lives, and it is meant to be embraced.

Instead, the instructor talked about our cranky, puffy bodies. And to be honest, that is exactly how we feel, but instead of embracing those bodies, or setting a course for “riding through” this time with more ease, we spent the time cursing these changes.

And I mean cursing. Our instructor went into great detail describing her cursing at her kids, her sweating while working as a flight attendant, and her telling her husband to pull down her nightie when he was through with her.

Now, as a woman who has been peri-menopausal for several years, I can honestly say that I could understand where she was coming from. I have found myself biting my tongue from time to time with my kids. I have found myself feeling fatigued while teaching a third yoga class for the day. And I can honestly say that I once told my husband that my sex drive had dwindled down to nothing for about three months. (It improved afterward).

But what we didn’t hear in class was how yoga helped us through this time in our lives, and I want to be very clear, yoga IS helping me through this time. When my hot flashes get out of control, I have learned to take my poses down to modifications or to sit out a series of poses. I spend more time at the beginning and ending of classes practicing breathing techniques. That is a great way to reduce stress and fatigue and those rattled thoughts we have during menopause and peri-menopause.

I don’t want to suggest that the conference was all bad. Our instructor led us through an excellent morning class for menopausal women, and she was great about going over all her notes and suggestions for some new poses which we absolutely loved. And while our afternoon PMS class was short, she brought us into some very comforting poses that included pillows and blankets and props. All so supportive and nurturing.

The physical aspects of the class were right on, and something I can take back to my classes today, but the emotional and mental aspects were not embraced or even, dare I say it, celebrated.

The good news is that I had recently read the latest issue of Yoga Journal, and they had several articles this month, celebrating yoga teachers and students who are peri-menopausal and menopausal. And Yoga Alliance sent me some very inspiring short videos about how yoga has transformed people all over the world. (See this week’s Current Newsletter >> to watch the clip.)

I will say it out loud: we can laugh at our changing bodies, but let’s also celebrate them. Let’s recognize the aspects of “the change” that we can celebrate and enjoy, including our personal freedom and ability to say what we need to say without questioning ourselves as we did when we were younger versions of ourselves.


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