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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
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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