The power surge of a hot flash is pitta oriented: any over activity, stress or fatigue will aggravate blood vessels and nerve endings irritation. Oestrogen spikes and progesterone drops creating the vicious circle of adrenal exhaustion and lack of sleep (kapha). Gripping, holding onto or forcing exercise adds strain. The vata aspect is that we become ungrounded, distracted, forgetful and even more irritable/grumpy. The autonomic response is to gain weight. Peri-menopause brings not only irregularity of periods but unpredictability of emotions, a premenstrual syndrome type tension and anxiety. The roller coaster effect of hormones creates mood swings so attention to ATTITUDE is paramount.
Patience and acceptance seem to be my mantra of the moment or past few years.
Gentle restorative yoga addresses most symptoms. We pacify the sympathetic nervous system with:
Pranayama – long, slow, even full body Yogic breathing, to quieten and focus the mind ; Nadi Shodana, purifies and balances Ida & Pingala; Sithali to cool and refresh heat/flushes. Slower, deeper breathe regulates and increases lung capacity to reduce frequency and intensity of hot flushes. Concentrate on lengthening the exhalation as a form of release
Relaxation, savasan, mantra chanting and meditation reduce temperature, anxiety and depression. Any improvement will come from within rather than medicate from the exterior, although some supplementation has been shown to improve disposition:
Forwards bend - also calming, introspective and grounding
Hip opening asanas reduce physical pelvic tension, attitude of resisting/withholding; Baddha Konasana (seated & supine), Supta Virasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Inversions like Adho Mukha Svanasana, Prasarita Padottanasana, Uttanasana cool and calm, enable a feeling of being more centred and grounded in reality. They balance the pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid and parathyroid glands. Use blocks, bolsters, seat of a chair to help support and sustain asanas.
Pincha Mayurasana and backbends to energise and remember “I still have strength and vitality”!
Take it easy: Osteoporosis or bone loss is common: avoid excess, even forward bends can cause compression fractures of vertebrae & inversions increase pressure on the spin. No high impact pumps or balancing asanas where one could fall.
For everyday: Good healthy diet paying attention to food provenance, seasonal, fresh, raw. Green leafy vegetable for extra calcium, magnesium, Vit D, phytoestrogens in whole grains, nuts, flaxseed, carrots & chick peas. Herbal support such as black cohosh.
Most NB of all: Open heart attitude – be accepting of life and it’s milestones; listen to and be compassionate with yourself; take time out, then enjoy life as always. Skills and maturity bring serenity.
Hari Om Tat Sat,
Good reference literature: Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall, M.D.