Menopause can be one of the most feared and distressing times of a woman’s life, but with the right approach it can also be one of the most liberating. Nasty symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia and irritability can all be avoided with a healthy diet, a few lifestyle changes and movement. Practice the follow sequence daily (morning is best) to help regulate the hormonal changes in the body.
- Enjoy small, light grain-based meals with lots of fruit and vegetables. Avoid animal products, especially meat, which create ‘fire’ in the body; alcohol, especially wine; and too much salt in your diet.
- Have cold showers in the morning.
- Move! Walking, running, swimming, dancing will all help.
A note on breathing: for repetitive moves breathe in through the nose and exhale through the mouth. For holding poses, breathe in and out through the nose. See how to do the exercises here.
- Single leg lifts
Increases internal pressure in the belly, improves digestion and elimination, and strengthens the core back and abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back with your arms stretched above your head and your legs straight. Stretch the palms of your hands, tuck your chin towards your chest (so the back of your neck is long), pull your toes back and push through your heels. Inhale. Exhale and lift one leg straight towards the ceiling. Inhale, bring the leg down and repeat on the other leg. Repeat 10 times.
Note: Keep your toes pulled back and heels pushed out to help protect your lower back.
- Little boat pose
Helps to reduce stress and anxiety, and is a very good weight loss exercise.
Lie on your back with your hands interlaced behind your back and your legs stretched out in front of you. Touch your toes together with your heels out so that your feet are pigeon-toed. Inhale, then as you exhale lift your torso and legs just off the ground and squeeze your elbows in towards each other. Hold, breathing in and out through your nose. Aim to hold for up to 5-10 breaths.
- Plough preparatory pose
Tones the lower belly and pelvic floor allowing the spine, which contracts during menopause, to lengthen.
Lie on your back with your arms beside you and your palms pressed into the floor. Tuck your chin in to lengthen your neck, stretch your heels. Inhale. Exhale as you lift your legs to a 45-degree angle and press your lower back into the floor. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds, (building up over time to hold for more than two minutes to strengthen the belly). Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Exhale and slowly lower your legs to the floor.
- Kidney toner
The kidneys need pressure to function properly. This exercise balances the kidneys, tones the lower back and increases the flexibility of the spine.
From a kneeling position push your hips forward and place your right hand on your lower back with your fingers facing down and press firmly into the kidney area. Inhale. As you exhale, stretch your left arm above your head keeping the arm aligned with your ear. Keep stretching the arm up as you push the hips further forward. Repeat on the opposite side, and then go to the harder side and hold for 10 breaths.
- Child’s pose
Stretches the sacrum and improves blood flow to the lower back.
From a kneeling position, fold forward with your knees together and rest your chest on your thighs, your forehead on the ground (or a pillow), and your arms beside you. Rest in this pose for as long as you feel comfortable.
This article was first published in body+soul (NewsLifeMedia, Australia) 2014.