Yoga for Women's Health Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 9

Clarity for Menopause Mind

55 min - Practice
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Cheri, with the help of Diana, guides us in a restorative practice with gentle movement designed to bring clarity of mind during menopause. With the changes in hormone fluctuation and sleep patterns, this practice will help to nourish and replenish your body, mind, and nervous system, as well as to support and restore your mental and emotional well-being.
What You'll Need: Mat, Eye PIllow, Square Bolster, Blanket (3), Strap


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(waves crashing) Namaste. I'm really glad that you're joining us today. Today we're gonna look at menopause mind and how to bring clarity to that troublesome challenge that comes with menopause where you can't remember things. You'll be mid-sentence and forget what you were gonna say, or lose your keys, or all those typical things that come with the changing fluctuation of hormones, also with not sleeping as well, perhaps if you're having a lot of hot flashes that can really affect your brain and how you rest. And your brain actually cleanses itself when you're sleeping and it needs that time to really restore itself.

That's one of the reasons I think these practices are so valuable and you'll notice that in the season for women's health, I'm bringing in a lot of the deep, long, shavasanas, final relaxations, some inversions which are really good for bringing blood flow to the brain, and cooling practices and breath work and things like that that will help you fare better through your menopause. Today Diane is with me and we're going to demonstrate together this practice for you. Or you'll be doing the demonstration. (laughter) So you'll wanna gather your props. You'll need a bolster, rectangular is preferable.

Three blankets. I like the cool eye pillow where you can leave it in a plastic bag in the freezer, pull it out for your practice. If that sounds good to you that's a nice thing to do at home. Aromatherapy and a strap. So we'll start with just a few moments of seated connection, scanning the body, and just bringing yourself into your practice.

So go ahead and close your eyes. And make sure that you feel comfortable, and if your legs need to outstretch, or come into butterfly or a different position feel free. And taking a few deep breaths. Bringing your awareness to the top of your head and gently scanning down through your inner body. And noticing in this moment today how you're feeling.

Noticing any places where tension has accumulated. And you may notice places that feel relaxed and spacious. And bringing your hands, one hand to the belly to your body, one hand to the heart, just take a moment to connect to yourself. As you would a friend and checking in. What else do you notice in this moment?

Perhaps how you're feeling emotionally. Has it been a challenging time, has it been an easy time, just feeling how you're doing in this moment. Taking a few long, deep inhalations and directing your breath down into the belly while your lower hand is resting and as you inhale at your belly, rise and expand, feel the chest lifting at the top of the inhalation. And then pouring the breath out from top to bottom. And just noticing that free flow of breath, breathing in fresh oxygen, breathing in positive energy.

Breathing out tension, breathing out stress. Anything you're ready to release. And more breath here. Lengthening the exhalation which is very calming for the nervous system. Slow, long exhalation.

And then let your feet slide forward a little bit and take a hold of your knees. We're gonna do a seated cat here. So you'll bring your hands to your knees, you'll inhale and draw your heart forward. If you like you can gaze up. As you exhale lean back, let the knees come up and stretch the space behind the heart.

Inhaling as the hips rock forward, lifting up through the heart, exhale as you lean back. Warming up the spine. And this is a nice gentle yoga to do before our first restorative pose. Inhaling. Each time feel free to go a little bit deeper perhaps.

Just three more. Flowing with the rhythm of your breath. As you exhale and pull back, engage the stomach muscles. And last time. And then sitting back nice and tall.

You may even want to recross your legs. The next movement's called the juicer. And it's a nice warm up for the mid body. And so just bringing your hands to your knees, you'll circle your ribcage. And as you circle your ribcage, just feel the chest also receiving this nice movement.

We also have lymph nodes in the body that are close to the surface of the skin. And the different yoga movements that we do help to milk the lymphatic system. And this is important for our health and well-being. So doesn't have it's own pump so it's these kinds of movements that help to milk and get that circulation through the lymphatic system. Just a few more in this direction.

And you always wanna go both ways so we'll come back through center and go the other direction. And noticing how it feels for you. Breathing deeply, loosening everything up and it can be nice to let the head get loose with the movement, especially if you hold a lot of tension in your neck or your shoulders. Just a few more. And one last time.

And then come back to center. And take a moment to feel the gentle yoga and how the energy's flowing. Relaxing the muscles. So for the first restorative pose in this series, you'll take your blanket folded in half so from this fold just fold it in a nice half fold. And you'll place it at the middle of your mat.

And then you'll take your bolster and you'll bring it where your legs will go for supported bridge pose. Now typically for bridge pose, we use the blankets underneath the legs and we use the bolster underneath the back but we're doing a gentle variation today with just one blanket. We're holding it for a nice long time and I really like it like this but if you feel like you'd prefer a little more height, then you're absolutely welcome to put two blankets. So it's your choice but I'm going to show it with one for the gentler variation. Then you'll come to sit at the top of that blanket.

I also find it's nice to put one more blanket cross-wise at the top where your head will be. And you'll place your legs up on top and you'll sit straddling the blanket. So just one more blanket cross-wise where your head will be so there's a little softness under your head. And then you can stretch your legs up on top of the bolster and just make sure that the heels are supported. If the heels aren't supported, then you can push the bolster forward.

So for those of you that are tall, you may need to do that. Good. And then we'll strap the legs in. So you wanna undo your strap, make sure that it's open and then wrap it around the mid-thigh, and you'll take it through and you'll want it to be fairly firm. So one of the reasons that this pose is so beneficial for quieting the mind, is it creates a craniosacral still point by slightly internally rotating the legs with the hold here.

Then you'll keep your knees bent a little bit and you'll slowly lower back. Now as you come back again you're gonna want the shoulders touching the floor, and the top edge of the blanket right beneath the scapula, the shoulder blades. So that's actually a little low I think. Yeah. So you can scoot to find just the right place.

If it's too low, you're not gonna get the same opening in the chest. So you want it right beneath the bra strap line, that top edge of the blanket. And you want the strap fairly firm, so it creates that internal rotation, affecting in a positive way the craniosacral still point. Now for some people, they like to take the arms out to the sides or overhead, or down by the side. See what feels the best for you.

And you can place your eye pillow over your eyes. And because this is a gentle variation of the supported bridge pose, you may enjoy having a blanket under your head here. There's not a lot of weight into the neck, but it's up to you. So feel what feels right. If you like you can always take your third blanket and place it right under your head, maybe a small roll under the neck.

The other thing I sometimes do is just take the top part of the blanket and roll it under and put it right under the neck. If you need a little bit of a support under your neck, that can be a nice choice. Then from here, settling into the support of the blanket and the bolster. Let your whole body get heavy and sink down. This is a time that you've made to rest your mind, to bring clarity.

A time of letting go of the stressors of life. And so just take a few moments to imagine any thoughts that arise, anything that may be transpiring in your life that you've been thinking of, that you're ready to let go of. Just let them float away like clouds in the sky. And each time a thought comes, just letting it go. You can take a few deep breaths, breathing in.

Breath of peace and relaxation. And with each exhalation, feel your body sinking into the support beneath you. Growing wonderfully relaxed. And just watching the mind and if it starts to get active, just putting that thought in a cloud and letting it float from you. And inviting this to be a time of quieting the mind.

Bringing clarity to the mind. You may notice the eyes floating on the surface of the brain and just allowing this whole area, skull, the facial muscles, the brain itself to relax. Softening the muscles of the jaw, mouth, the tongue relaxing. Feel the mind growing calm and quiet, peaceful and relaxed. There's nothing to do.

Just a time of being and resting. In the essence of clarity. Gently and slowly begin to deepen your breath. And noticing how your body feels as you breath into it here. Feeling how open the heart feels, the front body.

And then when you feel ready to transition, you'll start by bending your knees and you can either just slide the strap right off your legs, which I find is the easiest thing to do at home, and place your feet on the bolster. And then slowly, remembering that you're up on a blanket, you're gonna roll onto your side. Whatever side feels most comfortable. So as you come onto your side and off the blanket, you can always scoot back a little bit towards the center of the mat. And then you'll take that blanket that was behind you, and you'll put it under your head.

So you can either lift up a little bit, pull it through and put it under your head, or sweep it around. Your right arm is gonna be straight out in front of you. So moving into a a warming pose for the shoulder, and this is great for milking the lymph through the breast tissue as well, you'll start by bringing the tips of your fingers to the top of your shoulder, so depending on what side you're lying on, just bringing tips of the fingers there. And then as if you were tracing the moon, drawing a circle on the ceiling with the point of your elbow, you'll reach it forward in front of you, good, and then up over head, and then back behind you, and then around. And so tracing that circle with the tip of your elbow, on the ceiling.

And you can go as wide or small into it. So some people make a grapefruit shaped moon on the ceiling, and some people it's a full large circle. So just feeling into what feels right for you. You can go back as far as feels good as the arm opens, reaching down. And this is a good place to start and kind of check in, and see how your shoulders are feeling.

If you've had a recent surgery, or a shoulder injury this is a good place to stay, and or you can start to straighten the arm. So you'll straighten the arm, reaching the arm forward, up over head, back and down. And one thing to be aware of here, is that as you reach forward to separate the shoulder blades as you reach up over the head, stretch along the side ribs. As you reach down, let the top of the shoulder pull down away from the ear, really to open that area. And so making that circle with that intention, to really stretch fully and deeply as you trace the moon on the ceiling with your fingertips now.

Breathing deeply. Enjoy the feeling of this movement. It's a warming pose. If you look at the shoulders, they're quite amazing how we can reach forward, all the way up, back, down, behind us. They're one of the most incredible of all the joints in the body.

Ball and socket joint. So experiencing that full rotation. Beautiful. And then when you're done, you're gonna relax this hand right to the top of your hip. And just take a moment to soften it there.

Relaxing and letting go. And now the right hand, if you're laying on your right side, your left hand if you're laying on your left side, is gonna come up and massage your shoulder. So you'll reach up into the trapezius and massage into those tight muscles that carry our purses and our bags and backpacks and the care of the world and people we love in our shoulders. Let all of that go for now. And as your massaging any tight areas working the points.

That's a really nice, relaxing massage to give to yourself. We forget we can massage ourselves. It's sure lovely to get to a wise pair of hands, a masseuse or a masseur but if you can't afford it, or you don't have the time, it's great to do your own self massage at home. And I sometimes do this in the middle of the night if I wake up with a hot flash and then I'm having a hard time going back to sleep, I'll massage some of these points that really help me relax and get back to sleep. And then walking your fingertips up to the base of the skull, and massaging those points right at the base of the skull.

And these are points that are great for headache, for heat, for calming for soothing, there's even insomnia points here. Sometimes when you're laying on your back you can massage these points with both hands but it's also nice to do it with one hand at a time. Just another couple of breaths here. Finding any place that feels like it really wants some massage. Take a moment to treat yourself.

And taking a nice long inhalation. And as you exhale you can release your hand. And we're gonna change sides now with the arm circles and with the self massage. So you'll roll onto your back, and you'll move all the way over onto your other side. Gonna pull that with you yeah.

And you can scooch your hips to the center of your mat, and you can bring your knees up at a right angle, and your bottom hand is gonna stretch straight out in front of you and your top hand you'll start with making a point with your elbow and bringing your fingers to the top of your shoulders. And then going forward, down towards your hip, back and around. Good. That'll work yeah. Breathing.

And think of tracing the moon on the sky, on the ceiling. So you're taking that point of your elbow and you're drawing it around. And yours might look completely different than what we're doing here, just feel into it. See what feels the best to you. What creates an openness.

I like to really stretch along the side of the body as I reach up and pull way back to open the chest. But you can see what works for your shoulder and your body in this moment. And then go ahead and straighten the arm if you'd like or stay with the elbow pointing. They're drawing the moon, tracing the moon. And feeling the movement in your shoulder as you reach down see if you can draw the top of your shoulder, away from your earlobe as you reach forward let your shoulder blades separate.

Breathing deeply. Feeling the movement from within. And what's happening as you trace the moon. Massage the chest and breast region. Just a few more.

And this last time the arm will circle all the way around and then you'll let your hand rest on top of your hip and you'll reach up with your bottom hand to massage the other shoulder. Otherwise it would get jealous. We want to make sure to always do both sides. So massaging along the top of the trapezius. Letting go of all that gets carried.

And this can be a nice breath and meditation to do as your massaging the muscles, Inviting the muscles to soften and really releasing what you're letting go of, consciously breathing it out. And I find that the neck and shoulders are a place where many of us because of tablets and computers get very compressed here. So this is also really nice practice if you're needing to unwind after stress of working, sitting, reading, gazing at a computer screen. Just letting your mind really grow clear and releasing accumulated tension. And coming up to the neck, working and massaging the muscles along the neck.

And also right at the point at the base of the occiput on the side of the skull. Another very relaxing place to massage. And breathing deeply as you're doing this. Staying relaxed, softening. These self-care practices are so wonderful when you're going through menopause.

To come back to your mat, to keep nurturing yourself, to keep releasing the tension and the stress. Sometimes if I don't sleep well if I do a really nice long menopause practice which we're doing here and certainly in other segments for this season, it helps me as if I've had a good night sleep. And they find that when we relax consciously, even when we're still awake, different parts of the brain actually respond and different brainwave patterns, alpha patterns and things move into harmony and balance so it's very very good if you're having trouble sleeping. These practices. And then when you're done you can release.

And you're going to bring your top hand to the floor and slowly come up. And just let your head be the last thing to come up especially with all that neck and shoulder releasing. So rolling up to seated. And then you'll sit facing the way that you are if you're comfortable. I'm moving her this way just so you can see a little better.

So you can sit whichever way works for you. Sitting on top of a folded blanket. Extending your legs. Actually before we fully extend them bend them just a little bit. Go ahead and take a blanket roll and place it right under the backs of your knees as you extend your legs.

And I find this is nice for a gentler variation of the forward fold. Restorative variation of paschimottanasana. So the bolster can go right on top of your legs and just like for any forward fold it can be really nice to take a moment to pull the flesh up to help create a little forward rotation in the pelvis. And if you're tight in your hamstrings or in your hip flexors, that might be a little bit challenging, but we'll start here by pressing your hands into the bolster and lifting and lengthening so you're activating some of the back muscles. And then as you're ready you'll come forward and place your elbows on top of the bolster with your hands in prayer position.

Your thumbs will press the brows it meets the nose, and this will help to create a very nice calming for the mind. This is one of the calm the spirit points in Chinese medicine. And you know an interesting note in Chinese medicine is the belief is when you're going through menopause is that you're yang gets out of balance. Your yin gets depleted. So it's a very important time for women to focus on yin restoration and restorative yoga is perfect for that.

It actually nourishes the yin, it nourishes the kidney chi. And watch how much yang you're finding in your life. If you're pushing, you're striving, you're always trying to rush where you're going, one of the best things you can do is to slow down, and to give yourself more time to get places and to make some space in your schedule and make some time for you, like practices like this. So you're welcome to stay here, and especially if you're feeling tight in your body, or at this point in time you can go forward into a deeper variation if you'd like. See what feels the best to you.

And some of you may enjoy just having your hands on the floor to really let your shoulders release, or adding an additional blanket under your forehead on top of the bolster, or you can stay as you are. I love this point, it's such a good point to calm and quiet the mind. So just noticing the breath and the back of your body, feeling the sensation of the forward bend. And the forward bend also in Chinese medicine activates the largest meridian in the body, the bladder meridian, which is treated for things like back pain and all kinds of various challenges so it's a wonderful, kind of nourishing chi flowing treatment to help activate that flow. And because we sit a lot we kind of close off the energy in the back of the knees.

So creating a spaciousness there and an openness for the energy to flow from the heels all the way up to the corners of the eyes. You might feel that energy as you breathe into the shape that you're in. Let your shoulders soften, let your jaw relax. All the places that you're so used to helping and raising up. In poses like this you can let them settle down.

Let them relax. And taking a few deep breaths. And as you feel ready to release, you can just let your hands release, slowly come up, sitting tall. Feel the effects of the pose. And then go ahead and bend your knees.

And you'll remove the blanket that was under your knees. You can put that blanket down in front of you length-wise. And then you'll turn around and you'll take one blanket for your head and you'll put it back behind you. But before you come back, you'll take your two blankets, your two additional blankets and you'll fold them from the square fold to half and then roll. It's called floating star.

Final relaxation. So this is a nice opener for the pelvis and the hips. And we'll take both blankets folded in half, rolled to make a nice roll, and then you'll take your knees right over the blanket rolls. And scooting your tailbone down towards the bottom line of that blanket so that when you come back you have support. Gotta bring that flat.

And I like to just put the blanket flat back behind you, or folded in half is fine too, but then as you're readying as you come back, you can always, and you're welcome to put your hands by your sides for support. You can make a roll, or if it feels better you can always fold it in half. So you can see what you prefer. Does that feel? So just finding for you at home what works.

And this is a nice time to place your eye pillow over your eyes. And one of the wonderful things that has been discovered recently about aromatherapy is that rosemary is very good for helping memory. Which I believe initially too rosemary there's some sayings about it being to help you remember someone or it has this very old from the wisdom traditions. So I recommend using some rosemary for clarity of the mind, for any time you wanna feel clear, lemon is good, peppermint is good, balsam fir is a wonderful aromatherapy for mind clarity. And then feel free to give yourself a drop.

And again if you're not using aromatherapy you're welcome to just put your hands on your body or take a few deep breaths. You can also cover yourself. I know most of my students that are going through menopause prefer to just rest without a blanket, but you're welcome to use one of your blankets over you. And then resting your hands, either in an open position, palms turned up opening to receive. And feel how open your body is here.

And how open the mind is, the spaciousness, the clarity. And inviting and visualizing crystal clear light flowing right in through the third eye. It can be whatever color comes to you. Whatever feels the best to you. And visualize it pouring into the brain, pituitary, pineal gland, bringing clarity and harmony.

Supporting balancing from within. Feel this light as it fills your face radiating a glow from your skin. And feel it moving through your inner body expanding within you. Radiant light, clarity, crystal clear energy. Feel this light also inviting your body to relax more deeply, as it flows through the muscles, and even into the bones of the body.

Feel these areas relaxing and letting go. And allowing your breath to slowly deepen. Coming back breath by breath feeling restored. Feeling a new clarity of mind and a peacefulness within. And you can begin to waken gentle movement.

Feel free to stretch in whatever way feels good to you. If you feel like stretching up overhead with your arms or circling the ankles. And then eventually you'll draw your knees one at a time towards your chest. And holding the knees and perhaps rocking for a moment from side to side. And then making your way gently onto your side where take a few deep breaths.

Feeling the gifts of your practice. Noticing any changes that may have taken place. And then when you feel ready you can make your way up slowly and take a seated position. And as you take your seated position, find a comfortable placement for your legs, you can rest your hands on your legs and lifting up through the heart, the crown of the head, and softening the shoulders down. Bringing the hands into Anjali mudra at the heart.

Together we'll chant three ohms, sending the vibration of the ohm into the inner temple, into the mind, the body, inhale. (chanting) Gently open your eyes. Namaste. Namaste.


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