I was blown away with disbelief and frustration when my years of healthy food choices and active lifestyle were not enough to keep me from the menopausal madness as my body transitioned. So what's a yogi to do when her body is wracked with pain, her body weight continues to climb, her body odor is as bad as a team of football players after a game, even right after showering, hot flashes fire her up like an inferno then leave her in a cold sweat, and no matter how exhasuted she is, sleep is elusive?
My blood work showed my cortisol levels too high, my adrenal glands depleted, and I was classified as pre-diabetic. Pre-diabetic?! How could that be.
MY doctor explained that our adrenal glands typically make up the hormone difference when our ovaries stop. But with my adrenal glands already over worked, they were unable to make that difference for me. My overworked adrenal glands, from years of living in fight or flight, thought I was in danger, so they kept producing cortisol. Years of teaching fitness and high intensity type classes also contributed to my excess cortisol.
There is so much to learn on this topic alone. Here's an article if you would like to learn more about cortisol and the body.
According to my doctor my first priority was to reduce stress. (Just because we might not think we are stressed does not mean our bodies agree.) My next priority was to improve my quality and quantity of sleep. It was clear I was on a long road to recovery and there weren't any shortcuts.
Along my journey I tried CBD supplements, they left me severly constipated with minimal benefits. My bloodwork rulled out the need for melatonin. I went on Standard Process supplements from my doctor. While I was confident in them and their quality, they were cost prohibitive for the long term. So I got more consistent with my daily nutrition, including my supplements from Melaleuca. Knowing my body absorbs liquids better than pills, I added liquid extracts from Pure Herbs. Reach out if you want to know specific supplements/herbs. Alll in all, I was supporting my daily nutritional needs, my liver, adrenal glands and endocrine system.
I also limited alcohol consumption, especially wine. Sad day since I love a quality wine! Alcohol disrupts my sleep, and increases my body temperature. I know it's not the best choice for my liver either. An occaisional, home-made margarita with fresh lime juice, a squeeze of agave nectar and a shot of pure tequila became my social drink. FYI: not all tequila is created equal. I did try the Dry Farms subscription wines. They are organic and do not have added sugar or other additives. My body did much better with them, but I decided not to continue. I really don't need the alcohol.
Next piece to my puzzle was STRESS. I went into full menopause during COVID, so I became very protective around what I listened to. This meant I did my best to avoid the debates, arguments and other emotional triggers so prevalent at that time. My body already felt like it was under attack, I did not need everyone elses fears and frustrations.
While my health has improved, I'm not clear sailing yet. I continue to guard my mental and emotional health and well-being; and I think each of us would benefit from doing the same. Night sweats, hot flashes and ridiculous body odor are things of the past. My sleep has greatly improved, and I am proactive in protecting my sleep. I look forward to a great night's sleep, every night, and trust the steps I'm taking to get there. My weight has stabilized, and maybe one day my body will be healthy enough to release the excess. While some days I'm pain free, and other days I'm not, I know it's a journey and I choose to stay the course.
Yoga is so much more than the physical shapes/postures, aka: asanas. Breath work, aka: pranyama has helped me soothe and nurture my nervous system. So has meditation, especially Yoga Nidra. For over 6 months after we moved, my yoga practice consisted of meditation and pranyama. I wasn't teaching and I truly needed this pause to help myself heal. I find the yogic principles Ahimsa: non-harm, and Svadhyaya: self-study, encouraging and supportive as I release my previous expectations and shift to the practice I need at this time.
Yoga, like life, is fluid. When we learn to go with the flow and honor our bodies, yoga meets us right where we are. Since I have added yoga asanas, I prefer and need the slower options of Yin and Restorative Yoga. I also prefer to teach them, along with Gentle Yoga. These are great options when we are healing physically, mentally and emotionally.
Resistance on the other hand, leads to a great deal of unnecessary suffering. There is no value in beating myself up for being in a different place. Slowing down and giving my body what is needs to heal, also reduces stress and suffering.
So what's a yogi to do when menopause madness wrecks havoc? Whatever she needs to honor her body. This is the only way she can honor her practice and heal her body.
You know what's so cool about this journey? Finding others who appreciate a slower practice. I have been teaching public classes at a college and a new yoga studio for a few months now. And I know I have found my people. They tell me all the time how grateful they are for my classes. Most of them are also in a place where they are protecting and honoring their bodies.
The private clients who find me, both young and older, want and need slower classes designed to meet them where they are. So I bring them personalized practices to address being a beginner, depersonalization, trauma, chronic pain and tension, osteoporosis, headaches, anxiety and depression, to name a few.
Whether it's menopause or another health/life challenge, yoga can support you. Let's chat and see if we should be working together. Book your complimentary session here.