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Embracing Menopause: Yoga as a Path to Peace and Power
Yoga Can Soothe, Balance, and Rejuvenate
During this Time of Change

By Susan Winter Ward

Winter Ward photo

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The Baby Boomers are hitting 50, and in a big way! In the next 10 to 15 years, about 45 million American women will go through menopause. When thousands of people voice concerns about social issues, its news. When millions of women are going through menopause at the same time its a sociological hot flash! What might be the effects of such an unprecedented shift? Hang on, guys, its a country of menopausal women on the move!

As a generation we've always done things our way. Experimenting, pushing the edges, and demanding social change. The entire US economy, seeing dollar signs spinning from our sheer numbers, catered to our desires and needs. From Gerber's Baby Food to the first hot cars, Corvettes and Thunderbirds, our generation has steered major business decisions. Now, how will the menopause phenomena be addressed in our culture? How shall we view ourselves as we transition through this phase of maturity? We need to consider what it all means and how we want it to be.

Recently, I saw an ad in a prominent newspaper which targets the "senior" population. Its headline blazed the implication that estrogen loss caused physical, mental and psychological degeneration. The ad implied that the "findings" were the results of studies conducted by a research institute specializing in women's health. A closer look revealed that there was no actual study to support the frightening implications, and that the ad was actually run by a major drug company that manufactures estrogen replacement drugs. Are we to believe that menopause is a disease that needs to be treated with pharmaceuticals? Are we willing to give our power away to the fear of the loss of our beauty, sexuality and our value as creative women?

I don't buy it! Our generation of women will decide what menopause means and do it in our unique way. The physical changes associated with menopause are not a disease, but a natural transition from the child-bearing years to the closure of that time of life. Its just as natural as the onset of menstruation. In fact, we may look on menopause as a blessing, as freedom from the fluctuations of our hormonal cycles, the end of menstrual cramps, the end of tampons! We can focus our energy and become more creative, more empowered, wiser and more deeply beautiful.

Worldwide, native cultures honor and celebrate this stage of life. Some Native American cultures call women who have completed their last moon cycle "women of wisdom," a position of power and respect. We can claim our position as the "elder women." We've experienced life, given birth, raised children, created careers, and have gained wisdom from our journeys. Now we'll take responsibility for how we approach and process our menopause experience.

We can stop looking toward fashion magazines to determine our value. We'll inwardly honor ourselves and create a new concept of beauty and power. We'll bury the Barbie doll image of beauty and claim a deeper, more spiritual definition of our inner beauty expressed outwardly. Enough of the "blond" jokes, we can wear our silver hair as our crowning glory. Laugh lines on our faces reveal our joy; frown lines reveal our intensity. Its all a matter of perspective; we can create an attitude of honoring our authentic selves.

We can appreciate menopause as our special time for physical, emotional and spiritual reassessment and loving care. We can take responsibility for how we want to live the rest of our lives and honor who we are. This is a time when extra psychological, hormonal and spiritual support is invaluable, and we have a priceless gift to us from India. A rejuvenating, relaxing, energizing, revitalizing "fountain of youth" called yoga. With yoga we can balance our energies physically, emotionally and spiritually as we go through menopause.

Yoga balances the endocrine system which controls our body's production of hormones. It calms the nervous system, reducing stress and the aggravation of hot flashes. Yoga is a weight-bearing exercise, strengthening our bones and preventing osteoporosis. Yoga also massages the reproductive organs, relieves pelvic congestion and headaches, boosts the immune system, reduces fatigue, and smoothes out mood swings. The deep breathing that goes hand in hand with asana (yoga poses) oxygenates the blood, cleansing the organs and respiratory system, nourishing the nervous system. Yoga creates strength and flexibility in our bodies, calms our minds and centers us in our hearts. Yoga soothes, balances and rejuvenates all parts of us, bringing us to wholeness, allowing us to shine.

Feel the Power of Yoga with this Simple Pose:
Stand or sit up straight with your feet hip width apart. In the spirit of celebration, inhale deeply, lift your heart, and raise your arms out to your sides, palms facing upward. Then raise them all the way and up overhead, palms facing each other. As you lift, imagine pulling energy up through your feet, through your body, and let it flow out your fingertips. Inhaling, feel your ribs expand and separate as you lengthen your waist. Let your face shine upward. Maintain the lift as you breathe--extend your fingertips up and your shoulders down. Lifting and expanding, take 3-5 full breaths. On the exhale, consciously lower your arms. Can you feel it? Energy! Power!

Just an hour of yoga three times a week is enough to make a difference. Make a committment to yourself to take two or three classes a week for a month, then assess how you feel. You'll surely notice the difference. The benefits of a yoga practice have been demonstrated over 5,000 years. It works--if you do it!

Susan Winter Ward is an internationally recognized yoga instructor, author, and video producer. She is the creator of Yoga for the Young at Heart, an accessible and inspiring collection of yoga programs, videos, audio tapes, CD-ROMs, books, and television programs, as well as exciting vacation retreats. Susan has appeared on the cover of Yoga Journal as well as other national publications, and has been featured in and written articles for a variety of national periodicals. Her accessible instructional yoga products are available at www.yogaheart.com.


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