What simple nudge would you offer women who want to stay vibrant and healthy during midlife?
When asked what simple nudge I would offer women who want to stay vibrant and healthy during their midlife years it would be, be like the Mayan women and look forward to your menopause. In many cultures, menopause is seen as an empowering time, a time of respect, freedom, wisdom and transformation for women.
In China, a woman’s menopause is referred to as the ‘second spring’ and is viewed as a positive life stage. In Northern Thailand the people celebrate with a menopause ceremony as do some other cultures.
Menopause is a natural process and another stage of a women’s life, but many women are not prepared for this stage of their lives. Of course, you don’t know how menopause will affect you until it happens.
Don’t wait for the menopause to hit you, be prepared and informed, empower and educate yourself. Discuss openly with friends, family, your GP or menopause specialist who can support you and help you find the right mindset and begin to prepare for this stage of your life.
Most people believe that peri menopause begins a few years before menopause however, your body can begin preparing for menopause approximately 12 years before perimenopause.
The average age of menopause is 50 but every woman is unique, some women can experience menopause in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, if a woman has a hysterectomy then that too can have an impact on menopause and menopausal symptoms.
Remember we are all unique, symptoms will be different for every woman. Some women sail through the menopause with few symptoms compared to other women who may experience many symptoms.
How to Prepare Your Body and Mind
As a yoga for menopause teacher and practitioner myself, I would recommend a regular yoga and meditation practice, not only is yoga a mindful practice it has many benefits for our physical, mental and emotional health, in essence it is a ‘mind body’ practice and teaches us many self-care and self help tools and techniques.
Yoga is a practice of self-enquiry, practicing yoga cultivates self-awareness, and helps us tune into our thoughts, feelings, emotions and how those things affect our body.
Yoga fosters a subtle observation and awareness of our body's mechanics and energy. It focuses our mind on the 'moment' so we are completely present to what is happening in the ‘now’ without judgement or expectation.
The practice of yoga, teaches us to learn how to be kind and compassionate to ourselves, to learn to relax and breathe correctly and to tackle life’s challenges with a calm approach.
Many of the yoga practices can help alleviate some hormonal and menopausal symptoms and can support sleep and pelvic floor issues, which are two of the most common symptoms experienced during menopause.
Meditation is thought to work via its effects on our ‘sympathetic nervous system’, where it lowers heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure amongst many other physical symptoms and has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve our overall wellbeing, helps us find clarity and focus and can be a creative and reflective practice.
Just for the record, meditation doesn’t have to be practiced sitting, you can take a walk and experience it as a walking meditation, gardening can be a very mindful and meditative practice too.
There is a misnomer that the purpose of meditation is to ‘empty the mind’, that takes a lot of skill and practice and some practitioners will find it easy whereas others will find their minds are so active that attempting to quieten the mind is like trying to tame the wind. Approach your yoga and meditation with curiosity and an open mind and observe your thoughts with detachment.
Yoga is empowering, it empowers us to take control of our health and healing and to tune in to how we are feeling at any moment. It provides us with a multifaceted 'toolkit' which we can call upon at any time to address specific issues that we may be experiencing in a non-invasive and holistic way.