Yoga for Women's Health Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Menopausal Symptom Relief

50 min - Practice
9 likes
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Description

Cheri, with the help of Diane, shares a more active restorative practice to help relieve the symptoms of menopause. This gentle practice targets the hips, hamstrings, and side body, nourishing the pelvis and soothing the nervous system. You will feel more energized, balanced, and held in a calm embrace.
What You'll Need: Mat, Eye PIllow, Square Bolster, Blanket (4)

Transcript

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(surf breaking) Namaste and welcome back. Today we'll show a practice that's great for menopause relief of symptoms, various symptoms that you may have. And this is a little more of an active practice and stretching some of the areas where we get really tight, like the hips and the low back and the pelvic region, the inner groin area. Remember that you can always take it at your own pace. You can let a pose go if it doesn't work and do something else, so feel free to modify as you go along.

Diane is here with me today, and she'll be assisting. And for your props, you'll need an extra blanket. So if you have four blankets, that's great. An eye pillow, some aromatherapy, and your rectangular bolster. We're gonna start actually right where we are, giving our hips a little bit of a stretch before we go into some of the deeper, restorative hip openers.

And so you'll start by just bringing your feet slightly out in front of you, and then bring your knees closer together. Now depending on your flexibility, you may look down and not see a square but more of a triangle, that's okay. See what feels the best. For a deeper variation, you can flex the feet a little bit and if you drew a line from knee to knee, hip to hip, you would see a square between these points. Then you'll take a nice, deep inhalation, lifting up through the chest, and as you exhale, take your hands to the floor in front of you and just gently walk yourself out, draping yourself over your legs.

And as you come into this first pose, release your neck, go just as far as feels comfortable. And take a few deep breaths. You may notice how this stretches the low back and the area behind the heart. And there's some sayings that our heart, the front of our heart, represents how we greet the world with our energy and the back of the heart represents our connection with self. So this is a time to nurture yourself, to connect with your own heart, and so being aware of the back of your heart and if there's any tension there.

Breathing into that area. Softening the shoulders, releasing the base of the skull, and taking a few more deep breaths here. Feeling the pull of gravity encouraging you to relax down. Then you'll take a nice long inhalation, and as you exhale, you can just walk yourself back in, rolling up one vertebrae at a time. The head's the last thing to lift, pause for a moment, noticing what you feel.

And then you can bring your hands behind you and recross your legs. Again bringing the knees a little closer together, so making the square or triangle between the legs. Taking a deep inhalation, lifting up through the heart, the crown of the head, and as you exhale, walking forward and then draping forward over the legs. Because you're gonna be here for a few breaths, just taking baby steps as you go forward as far as feels comfortable for you. Now you may notice this pose will stretch the areas that are tight, so you may feel it in your hips, your low back.

Notice where you feel the tension and start to breathe a soft breath into that area. Relaxing with each exhalation into the pull of gravity, taking long, deep inhalations and long, slow exhalations. I find a place that is often tense is just right at the base of the skull, the occiput. So let that go, and at the end of the practice today we'll be doing a little massage for that area. Just a few more breaths here.

And then as you're ready to come up, you'll slowly roll up one vertebrae at a time, pressing your hands into the floor. Your head comes up last and taking a moment to sit. Just feel the effects of the forward fold. So forward folds are good for menopause. When you're not hot flashing, they're great for cooling and quieting the mind and resting and stretching the back of the body.

So we'll take one blanket and you'll open it up. I like the hard edge, not the fringed edge, towards the front of the mat. So with this blanket placed lengthwise on your mat, it creates additional padding for your knees in this next pose. Before you come into the pose, you'll take a blanket and you'll roll it. You'll make just a nice, long roll.

So from the square to a roll. You'll place that next to your mat because you're actually gonna pull it under you for swan pose, also known as pigeon in traditional yoga teaching. So you'll come onto your hands and knees, and your hands are gonna be right at the top of this blanket line. So you'll bring your palms down, good. Fingers widely spread.

And then you'll stretch your left knee toward your left wrist until it touches the back or the bottom of the wrist. Pivot your left heel over towards the right side of your mat and then take that blanket roll, before you come down, and bring it right under your hip and under the top of your right thigh. So it's at a little bit of an angle to really give you some support and height here. And then we're gonna come into some swan rolls, and this is just a nice warming pose. You'll inhale and you'll draw your heart forward and you'll exhale and go all the way down.

Keep your head down as you roll up one vertebrae at a time, and head's the last thing to lift. Deep inhalation, and exhale as you roll down. And just enjoy this movement. This is a really nice warming movement for the spine. It starts to take your weight into your hips here, so it begins to bring the stretch into the pose.

Just two more with deep breaths, flowing with your breath. Inhaling, rolling up. Good, exhaling all the way down. Let your neck relax completely as you roll up. And this time as you roll up, you'll bring your bolster into position right under your chest, and you'll bring that blanket in so it supports your chest.

And that's really important here. If your chest is just floating, it'll put more pressure in your neck. And then as you're ready, you can take a deep breath in, lengthening and coming down into resting swan. Feel free to adjust your props if you need to. Also I like to put a bed pillow sometimes over the top of the bolster if I'm at home practicing.

And just checking in with your hips, if one hip is much higher than the other just start to soften into that hip. Breathe into the tight areas and that can naturally happen if it's really tight or tense, but you can also do things like take your eye pillow underneath the hip, the other hip to kind of balance it out. So get creative with your props and see what works for you. The props are great. They create a support that literally holds us as we let go into these restorative poses, and that's just one of the great things about the restorative practice.

So as you're here and as you're softening into the pose, breathing into those areas that feel tight, any place that needs to open. I love this pose for women and for the health also of the pelvic floor. If you've had any trauma in the pelvis through giving birth or surgeries or any holding there, often this pose will generate energy and start to bring it up, kind of bubble it up to be met. And this can be a time of feeling that. Sometimes what I notice when I teach this in class is this is the time when people go off to go to the bathroom or, you know, because it's quite strong and intense.

So one of the teachings in this pose is to soften, to meet whatever's there with compassion and with tenderness and gentleness. And remember if there's any discomfort in this pose, if it's not feeling right for you or you have any knee tenderness, this is not a good pose to do if your knees bother you and if it's not comfortable. So always also bringing a certain level of nonviolence towards ourself as we practice. Remember you can always do thread the needle instead or knees to chest on your back and do some nice hip opening that way if your knees are talking to you here. So noticing the breath and taking a few breaths now into the pelvis and into the belly and into the genitals and the uterus and ovaries.

And even if you don't have your uterus and ovaries, you can breathe into that area, energetically sending breath prana to those areas. Softening into the pose, relaxing all the muscles and letting go. And taking the awareness of an inner smile into those places that may need healing, that gentle vibration of the smile energy. Warmth, tenderness, kindness, compassion. And taking just a few more breaths here.

And then as you feel ready to transition out of the pose, you'll slide your hands under your shoulders. You'll slowly start to come up, and as you come up, you'll turn your right toes under on the sticky mat. You'll bring your right knee up a few inches, and you're gonna step your left foot up and over the blanket roll as you come into down dog. So we're gonna leave the blanket roll here, and then feel free to step your feet about hip-width apart to release your neck, to open and broaden through the shoulders. Slightly wrapping the shoulders under a little bit.

And then lengthening through the side ribs, tilting the tailbone up if you're tight in your low back. You can also tilt the tailbone slightly down. You can see how it feels good for you here. And then reaching down through the legs, and just bicycle the legs a few times, pressing one heel towards the Earth and then shifting from leg to leg. Opening under the arms and really stretching there, too.

Just gonna take a moment here to stretch out the knees after that first side of swan, and then we'll do it once more after we do the second side. Good, and then coming back to center and slowly coming back down onto your knees. Good, and you can step now your right knee over the blanket, and you can pivot the heel in towards the, yeah. Moving that out of the way is a good idea so you have plenty of space. And you can pivot your heel in towards the pelvis.

You can slide the blanket roll at an angle, so it's gonna go under the thigh and tuck under your right hip. And then as you're ready here you can come through your swan rolls, inhaling, lifting the chest. Exhale, bending the elbows and softly releasing down. Let your head go all the way down and then rolling up one vertebrae at a time. Your head is the last thing to lift.

And then think of the ribcage telescoping forward as you exhale down. Good, inhaling up. Your hands can be wherever they feel most comfortable. Watch that you're not tightening around your shoulders. You wanna keep your shoulders pulled down away from the ears, exhaling down.

And I like to bring my elbows in a little bit. I find it kind of helps to telescope the ribs as you're pulling forward. Exhaling down, or whatever works for you. Let's do two more. And one side may be different form the other, too.

Just honoring what feels right for you. Good, and then as you come up this time, you'll bring that bolster right up close so the blanket's under your chest. You'll inhale, and as you exhale you'll soften forward, and you can position it wherever it feels best. I usually like to turn my head towards the bent knee. Good, and then making sure that the bolster, the position of it, your arms feel comfortable and just letting everything soften here.

Breathing deeply. And noticing as you change sides how this side feels. Notice if there's any tension being held in the hip, and begin to direct a soft, cleansing breath into that hip. Breathing in, relaxation, softening into the pose and then sinking down into the pull of gravity, letting gravity have your body here. And then coming back to explore the areas that you're feeling.

Can be nice to visit the pelvis and the organs of reproduction, bringing your focus and your breath here. This can really help to open energy. One of the things I love about swan, swan rolls, and resting swan is it actually activates a lot of meridians in the body. Not just a few but several at one time. So we're getting an opening through the back leg, through the stomach spleen, running up the front, bladder, the governing vessel, even the gallbladder liver.

And when you're up and rolling the rollings swans, it really opens the front body. So feel that energy building in the pelvis. Feel the vital energy activated through this pose and begin to breathe it into the pelvis. Feel it bathing the organs. And if this is a challenging pose for you, explore softening into it, welcoming it to your body.

Welcoming the pose rather than fighting it. See if you can really enjoy it, and if you're not enjoying it, that's okay too. Sometimes I've been known to scream in this pose and to go into the emotional holding in the body in this pose, so this can be a good place to process too and to feel what's going on. Keep relaxing, breathing, and softening, and meeting whatever you're discovering in your meditation as you explore within these very tender places. Bringing your kindness, your compassion, turning that towards yourself.

And feeling the gift that your breath holds as you sweep it through the belly, through the pelvis. Bathing these areas with prana, with chi, with pure energy. Taking just a few more moments here, bringing in that inner smile, that gentleness of the smile, and feel as if your inner body is receiving that and feeling an inner lightness. Take a few deep breaths and preparing to release into your downward facing dog on this side. So you'll slide your hands under your shoulders and you'll draw that left knee up a little bit.

You'll turn your left toes under and you'll lift up and you'll reach your right leg over the blanket and you'll come into down dog. And just working it out, let your hips swing from side to side, taking the dog that feels good to you. Taking a few nice deep breaths here as you bicycle the legs and stretch out. Good, and then coming back to neutral. And then you can come back onto your knees and you'll take one blanket, and you can always take the blanket that was on top of your bolster if you like, and you'll just place it to your right side.

And this is going to go under your sitz bones. So if you want a little bit of height, maybe just one blanket folded in half. If you want more, you can take two. Your bolster's gonna go to the inside of your legs, and your legs are gonna go into dragonfly. Now what I recommend is getting your heels on your sticky mat, so you can always scoot back a little bit if you need to with your support.

Good, first starting with a warming pose. This is called hip circles, and you'll put your hands on top of your bolster and just begin to draw a circle. And you can let your head relax as you do the circular movement. This begins to take some stretch into the hips, which is really nice. So if it feels good, you can close your eyes and just circle in a way that feels really nice to you.

Good, and I like to actually take my head in a half-circle forward as I do this 'cause it gets so tight in the neck. It's not as good for the neck to a swing back as you're circling, but to do a half ear to ear is really nice. Good, ear to ear, and then go the other way. Breathing and just feeling the movement from within. Enjoy loosening everything up.

Good, and the next time you circle, let your head relax a little bit more forward and down. Just a few more, releasing the neck. Ear to ear, ear to shoulder, good. And then you'll come back to center. You'll move your bolster and your blanket all the way over to the inside of your right leg.

And so you'll line it with the right leg and you'll take your right hand to the top of the blanket. just where you can get a hold of it, and you'll take your left arm and you'll inhale and stretch it up. As you exhale, you can release over into a nice lateral bend. The nice thing about holding the blanket here is it helps you to draw your right ribcage through as your left arm goes overhead, reaching through the fingertips and releasing your right ear towards your right shoulder. So watch that you're not holding your head up.

And then anchoring down through that left hip and breathing through the left side of the body. What's important is how the pose feels to you, so finding for you that perfect amount of stretch and opening. Don't go further than you can while keeping your breath deep. So if your breath is shallow and short, come up a little bit and try it at a little higher position. Good, and then to come out of the pose, you'll press your right hand down, you'll sweep your left hand up, and just take a moment to pause.

Relax your shoulders, lengthen through the crown of the head. Good, and then sweeping your bolster and blanket to the left side. And getting your left hand hooked into the blanket, sitting up nice and tall. Don't lean too far forward because you want to also really lift up nice and tall here. Good, and then right arm sweeps up, and you can go over into your lateral bend.

Anchoring down through the right hip, rolling the right shoulder forward, and pulling on that blanket to get a little more rotation here to really get into the right side. So these poses help create what we call a squeeze and soak effect in yoga. Organs on the right side, or the left side here in this position, are getting squeezed and massaged while this area's getting soaked with fresh blood and energy, so it's a really nice stretch. We'll just take a couple more breaths here. Opening, good.

Breathing, enjoying, nice. And then when you're done, you'll press your left hand down, you'll sweep your right hand up. Good, and you'll come back, sitting nice and tall, and you can now bring the bolster in front of you. And you can bring it as close as you need to. And then feel free to pull the flesh away your sitz bones as you prepare to come forward.

And then pressing down through the bolster, take a moment to lengthen the spine. So just lifting straight up, good. Take a deep breath. Feel your spine getting nice and long, and then let your pelvis rotate forward as you bring your elbows to the top of the bolster and the thumbs into the brow as it meets the nose. And I've been doing this a lot for this particular season because it's so good for quieting the mind.

It's good for calming the nervous system. It's a wonderful point that you can massage when you're worried, when you're tense, and for a lot of people this variation is just a wonderful place to be to open, to relax, to stretch the back and to start to open the hips. Depending on your flexibility, you're welcome to go forward, go deeper. I like using the bolster under the chest and head when I do this, but you don't have to. You can also just move it out of the way if you'd like.

The support of the bolster, whether its under your elbows or under your chest or head, is quite nice for giving that feeling of being held. And so let yourself feel the support underneath you, under your hips. As you come forward, breathing into the stretch, enjoying the opening you're feeling in your legs. And especially after the swan pose, it's really nice to stretch the backs of the knees and open the legs. Resting swan.

So if you tend to be anxious, have anxiety, you're not sleeping well, if you feel some depression along with some of the symptoms that you're experiencing with menopause, this can be a really good sequence 'cause it moves energy. But it's also good for quieting and calming and soothing. And each woman is so unique in what they experience. Some people have hot flashes and some don't, but I think it's about 80% of women have hot flashes, so putting your eye pillow in the freezer and having it handy for your home practice is great. You can put it on the back of your neck here, and it's a really nice cooling, supportive prop to have.

So you'll take just a few more deep breaths. And then when you feel ready, you'll slowly, you can just move the bolster out of the way as you come up. So just nice and slow, moving it forward maybe, just sliding it out in front of you, and then you'll turn around to bring your feet towards the bottom end of your yoga spot. You'll take one of your blankets back behind you, and this'll become your head and neck support. Good, and we're gonna actually take one blanket here to sit on for a seated spinal twist before we go into the final relaxation.

So you can just sit up on a folded blanket. You can draw your right knee in toward your chest and extend your left leg. Now if it's uncomfortable at all to have the leg extended without a roll underneath it, you can always use a rolled blanket underneath the back of the knee. And the right knee can be as close toward your chest as feels comfortable. And taking a moment to lift up through the heart, through the crown of the head, and then you can keep a hold with your left hand that right knee, and then inhale and bring the hand open to the floor behind you.

And as you exhale, gently start to move into your twist. So the right shoulder moves back, the left shoulder moves forward. And see if you can keep your chin right in alignment with your sternum, so rather than turning your head, you're gonna start with your head facing forward a little bit, yeah. And as you start to bring yourself into the twist, don't necessarily bring it into your neck right away. Just take a few breaths here.

Breathing deeply, good. And then if you don't have any neck issues and it feels okay to go into a deeper twisting through your neck, you're welcome to then gaze over your right shoulder. That's it. Think of your heart as continuing to lift. We find that the spine actually twists more effortlessly when it's long, so that's why we wanna keep that lift, pressing the sitz bones down and taking just a few more breaths here.

Seated twists are really, really nice. Nice poses for getting ready for your final relaxation. And then you'll inhale. Then as you exhale, you'll come back to center. As you come back to center, just hold your right knee with both hands and sit nice and tall and feel what happens.

I always like to stop in between poses and take a moment to feel the effects of the posture, the gifts of the pose. And then you can slowly straighten your right leg out in front of you. Bring your left knee into your chest, holding your knee with both hands, placing your foot firmly on the floor and lengthening through the spine before you move into your twist. And then you can clasp your left knee with your right hand. And you'll take a deep inhalation, sweeping the hand back, bringing the fingertips to the floor, and as you exhale start to draw the left shoulder back, keeping your chin in alignment with your breastbone.

Good. And as you soften your shoulders, feel the heart lifting and allow the left shoulder to draw back and the right shoulder to draw through in your twist. And as you're holding, if you don't have any neck issues, then you're welcome to take your gaze over your left shoulder. Good, and feel the continued grounding through the pelvis and lengthening through the spine. Beautiful, taking just a few more breaths here.

Feel the wringing out of the organs. Very good for the adrenals, the kidneys, the belly, the lymph system. Even the energetic body is wrung out here. And you'll take a nice deep inhalation. And as you exhale, you can slowly come back to center and hold that knee with both hands, sitting nice and tall, lengthening through the heart and softening the shoulders.

And then as you feel ready, you can release your left leg. Good, and just take a moment to point and flex the feet. We wanna keep our ankles flexible, especially as we age for balance and keeping our feet healthy as well. And then release. And you'll scoot forward now so your sitz bones are at the front of that blanket.

You'll come right off the blanket you were sitting on. You'll bring that in front of you and you'll just make a nice roll with it. You can just roll it up, yeah. And then your bolster you'll bring under your knees, and you'll put the blanket roll in front of the bolster. And with your tailbone at the bottom of this soft blanket underneath you, you'll tuck your chin toward your chest.

You might want to put your eye pillow on your upper thigh so you know where it is. You'll slowly recline all the way back coming into a reclining position. And at this time, feel free to make a roll with your neck blanket or you can fold it in half. See what feels best to you. And then you can place your eye pillow over your eyes.

And if you feel that you might get cool, it's always a good idea. I know that even if you're hot flashing, sometimes you'll get really wet and then you'll cool down, so in final relaxation, if you're not hot, you might wanna place your blanket over you so that it keeps you nice and cool. Nice and warm rather. And of course you can always throw it off if you need to, which is a common occurrence when you're having hot flashes is throwing the blankets off. So we'll put a little aromatherapy now in your hand.

You can put some oil there if you'd like, and some of the blends that are especially good for menopause are clary sage, rose geranium. Wonderful rose is great. Ylang ylang is wonderful. So then cupping your hands over your nose and taking a few deep breaths. This can be a nice time to anoint yourself in a sacred way, just taking your hands to the places that you wanna send good energy to, to connect with.

Now this can be a nice time to place your hands on your belly. One of the mudras that I love is yoni mudra. The yoni, the shape of the uterus, and you rest your hands right over your ovaries. Your palms over each ovary, your fingertips pointing down towards the genitals, and the thumbs touching. And so placing your hands on your low belly and begin to just take a few breaths into that area, feeling the breath and the warmth of your hands flowing in with each breath.

And you'll feel any time the hands come into a mudra, there's a connection of energy, it connects the circuits any place that you touch. And so feeling the circuity of energy flowing through the hands and then flowing down into your body. Feel this energy soothing, relaxing the whole pelvis, bringing a healing energy to this area. And as your ovaries are bathed in this pure energy flowing from your hands, feel them moving into harmony. Harmony and balance.

Feel the breath, creating a gentle rise and fall of your belly and of your hands in yoni mudra. And in many of the wisdom traditions, the second chakra savasana, it's also the dantian, the hara. It's a place of power, a place of energy. Great passion, great vitality. So as you're going through this change of menopause, celebrating the changes, meeting it with passion and compassion.

And as that wonderful light and energy fills your body and continues to flow from your hands, feel your breath flowing as if flowing in through the pores of your skin. Feel your whole body breathing, its gentle expanding and softening. And letting go of any places of holding or tension or resistance. Meeting your body with that beautiful breeze of your breath flowing through the inner landscapes. And feeling how alive you are in this moment, filled with life force energy.

Feeling the transformation of what you're experiencing in your body, the healing that it offers and the changes. Reflecting here on the gifts of your age. Gifts that come, the wisdom, the strength, the self-knowledge. Celebrating the gifts of where you are in this moment. Allow your breath now to gently deepen.

Reawakening with each breath. Returning from your deep relaxation feeling rested, restored, rejuvenated. Then you can begin to awaken movement, wiggling your fingers and toes, turning your head from side to side. Feel free to stretch in whatever way feels good to you. And then feel free to draw your knees toward your chest and take a few moments to rock a little bit from side to side.

And then gently making your way over onto your side, whatever side feels the best, and take a moment to give yourself a loving embrace, the kind of embrace you give to a dear friend. Someone you adore. Wrap your arms around yourself and just take a moment to connect, noticing how you feel. Feeling the free flow of energy, of light, moving through you. And then when you're ready, you can slowly come to take a seated position.

Sitting up on your bolster or you could take a folded blanket under your hips. Sitting up nice and tall. Bringing your hands into your heart into anjali mudra. And slightly bowing towards your own heart and towards everything that has brought you to this moment in your life. Honoring the light, the divine within you.

Namaste. Namaste. Namaste.

Comments

2 people like this.
Hi Cherie thank you for this wonderful series...you have such a wonderful soothing voice. On another note I wondered where you found those beautiful blue blankets? Thank you again. I hope a season 2 is in the works
Hi Caroline, glad to hear you enjoy this series, and your request for a season 2 has been noted. Thanks so much for sharing! xo
Hi Caroline, Thanks for your note! I’m so glad you find my voice soothing. 💗
The bright blue blankets were purchased many years ago through Huggermugger.
Warmest wishes on your yogic journey.
Dear Cheri
I so appreciate your practice and help especially during menopause.
You are a life saver! I will keep coming back to the matt with you!
Many many many thanks!
Hi Sue,  I'm so glad to be offering some support as you go through menopause. It's a very big experience and we need to support each other through it! Take good care of yourself. I'm so glad to know I'll be on the mat with you!  All the best!

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