Editor’s Note: Peri-menopause and menopause are a time of great change for women. Hormonal shifts can cause sleeplessness, hot flashes, and many other uncomfortable symptoms. Women can find a lot of relief by practice Kundalini yoga for their menopause symptoms. Yoga teacher Julie Eisenberg several kriyas and meditations from Kundalini yoga for the menopause transitition.
Hot flashes, moodiness, weight gain, memory loss, sleep disturbances….these are all potential symptoms of peri-menopause, the stage of life during which women transition into menopause. As our reproductive years wind down, individual women experience peri-menopause very differently. Some women barely notice a change, realizing only that their menstrual cycles have shifted and their periods eventually stop. Others endure years of on-going (and sometimes challenging) physical and emotional changes. Regardless of the severity of the symptoms, yoga is an effective way to help stay centered during this stage of life.
Women may enter peri-menopause as early as their late 30’s up until their late 50’s. As we age, our hormones begin to fluctuate, and these hormonal ups and downs cause the physical and emotional aspects of peri-menopause. However, it’s important to remember that the onset of menopause is not a disease; it’s a completely normal part of a woman’s life. So as we work to deal with the mood changes and physical effects, we need to remember to treat ourselves with kindness and pay attention to what our bodies are telling us.
One of the first signs that our body is preparing for menopause is a shift in sleep cycles. Many women complain of waking up in the middle of the night, the need to get up frequently to urinate, or night sweats. Then anxiety sets in and it’s hard to fall back asleep. Meditation is often very helpful here, especially working with a simple mantra, such as Wahe Guru. You may want to keep an Ipod near your bed and set a mantra to repeat on it, to play through the night. So Purkh is one of my favorites for this. While it is said that if a woman recites this bani eleven times a day for any man it has the power to make him a saint and dissolve any negativity between them, I also find it to be a very empowering mantra for women in general–and relaxing enough to sleep with!
Yoga and meditation are also helpful to stabilize mood swings during this time of life. Menopause is often compared to adolescence; hormones may fluctuate strongly and abruptly. The pituitary gland, located approximately in the middle of the brow and corresponding to the Sixth or Ajna Chakra, regulates the body’s hormonal secretions. Fortunately, Kundalini Yoga is a powerful tool for working on the pituitary, especially as related to eye position (drishti). For example, in the Meditation for the Sixth Chakra, found in the manual Physical Wisdom, you simply sit and focus on the tip of the nose for 11 minutes a day during the sunrise hours, and it’s said you can control your entire glandular system this way. There are also some excellent meditations for the Sixth Chakra in the book Meditation as Medicine.
Memory loss is a big challenge for many women during peri-menopause. Thankfully, research shows that this is a reversible symptom, but it can be very disconcerting. Kriyas to balance the brain, such as those found in Kundalini Yoga for Youth and Joy, may be helpful to train the mind to focus a little better during this time of life. And of course the Kirtan Kriya is one of the most important tools that Kundalini has provided us: Clinical research has shown that practicing Kirtan Kriya for just 12 minutes a day can improve cognition and activate parts of the brain that are central to memory.
As the body ages, we might begin to notice that we have less energy for the high-powered yoga that we were practicing before. This is a time of life to honor the body and pay attention to what it is asking for. There are some wonderful gentle but empowering kriyas and meditations in I Am a Woman, such as the Kriya for a Calm and Open Heart and the Meditation to Balance the Moon Centers, that can be adopted as a daily practice to help keep the body relaxed and energized. A daily practice of Sat Kriya is also very helpful, to balance the energy of the Second Chakra and strengthen the pelvic floor.
If all else fails, remember that this is a temporary phase in life. The symptoms eventually begin to fade away, memory returns, sleep normalizes, and we have the opportunity to embrace our new stage of life: as mature women, with many adventures still waiting for us!