Feel more zen and make this time more bearable with these gentle yoga moves
Meditative, calming and restorative – there’s a reason why many women practise yoga, and these qualities alone make it the perfect remedy to help ease you through the big M. “The menopause is stressful on your mind, body and emotions. Yoga, meditation and pranayama can help hugely,” says yoga teacher Carolyn Cowan (carolyncowan.com). “When you feel over-heated, anxious or out of balance with yourself, internally and externally, you contract physically within your intestines, stomach, liver and chest area. During the menopause, feelings are intensified, especially the negative ones. By moving your body and stretching, there is a release of tension that will open up the contracted internal states within your fascia,organs and hormonal flow. Your stress hormones are lowered and you’re naturally in balance within yourself. The mind and the body both respond well to slow movements and the very cool, gentle breath – both of which calm down your sympathetic nervous system and heart rate to synchronise into a deep sense of peace. All of this affects your interpersonal relations, leaving you feeling miraculously soothed!” Carolyn, who teaches kundalini yoga, has developed this sequence of gentle and balancing yoga moves that could help to ease these emotional upheavals experienced during the menopause.
1. Sit cross-legged on the floor, or on a pillow with your hands resting in your lap. 2. If you can, roll your tongue and stick it out as far as you can with your eyes closed. Inhale very slowly and then exhale gently through your nose. Not everyone can roll their tongue, so if you can’t, breathe over your tongue with it pushed out as far as it can. The breath naturally soothes, relaxes all the internal organs and lowers cortisol (the major stress hormone in the body). 3. Try three to five minutes of this.
1. Lie on your stomach with your legs stretched behind you and place your hands shoulderwidth apart on the floor. 2. Inhale and raise your chin and chest off the floor. Keep your shoulders low and elbows soft, so all focus is in the centre of your torso Hold this pose briefly. 3. Exhale and lower down, rhythmically alternating between the positions for two minutes. If you find sleep difficult or tend to wake in the night, this move helps hugely. Inhaling through pursed lips helps to cool the liver and relieve anger and irritation.
1. Start by lying on your stomach with your arms by your sides. Next, bring your heels as close as you can to your buttocks and slowly reach behind to take hold of both your feet. 2. Now, inhale and rhythmically raise your body up, lifting your chin as you go. Your position should mimic that of a bow, hence the name of the pose. Hold this for 20-30 seconds. 3. Gently lower back down on the exhale. Try 10 reps.
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