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The Yoga Blog

Is Yoga Growing With Women In Menopause?

I offer my Yoga for the Stages of Menopause Teacher Training around the world because every teacher WILL encounter women and men affected by the late reproductive stage, perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause. Yes, even men!

I encourage you to unapologetically mention when necessary (at the very least) how the stages of menopause may be affecting your students physically, mentally and emotionally. I train teachers to know how the practices we put at our students’ disposal may exacerbate or support their changing experiences and health. 

Just as we would mention contraindications for pregnancy, menstrual bleeding, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and injury, or be mindful to teach from a trauma-informed perspective, we should also be aware and speak of the vulnerabilities of the midlife woman’s body and sensibilities.

Thousands of years ago, Yoga was not particularly concerned about contraindications etc. We now accept that we need to be informed, to a degree, of where care needs to be taken and modifications offered. This is because our students trust us and because we know Yoga has wide-reaching and often profound effects physically, energetically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. 

The only difference between menopause and some of the things we protect more in class is that it does/will affect ALL your students. Because all of them will experience or love someone who encounters the huge transformation of this universal life stage.

Though I see improvements, Yoga for Menopause (or even just an acknowledgement of a need for its presence in Yoga teacher’s education) hasn’t entirely made it onto the Yoga map. When I began teaching Yoga in 2004, it was NEVER mentioned in my training, nor in any subsequent pieces of training that I have taken over nearly two decades. 

When I began specialising in Yoga for Menopause, I had to create it myself. I felt like a lone voice in undiscovered territory. And the more I uncovered the potential value of an informed and adapted Yoga in this life phase, the more incomprehensible this desert of awareness and support seemed to be! 

What was going on?!

Shame, embarrassment, disinterest and/or a lack of knowledge stop us from speaking about some things. Unfortunately, around the world (even in Yoga), shame, embarrassment, disinterest and/or a lack of knowledge still exist about the midlife transition, about how menopause can and should affect how we teach and practice. Why this is the case is a whole other blog!

Students and even teachers I work with feel shame and loss of self-confidence due to their changing reactions to Yoga, exercise, diet, and other expectations. I have clients who have given up their beloved Yoga because of this. Yet Yoga for Menopause can address many women’s struggles in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.

Let’s begin to change this silence by addressing shame: The experience of the stages of menopause is not shameful, and nor is its severity shameful. Women’s struggles are not a sign of how well or poorly she looks after her health or how empowered or disempowered she is. 

No! It is a nuanced and complex transition influenced by individual genetics, biochemistry, life load, trauma history, past and present illnesses, culture, environment and more. No one thing can nullify the varying effect of these contributing factors, and no one thing can alleviate the resulting struggles. But they can and should be held by the doctors, teachers, therapists and beloveds in a woman’s life. 

The women in our classes should be able to trust us. To hold their experiences in safe hands and to be part of the movement to deconstruct the shame, secrecy, disinterest and even derision they have been culture-bound to expect.

How can you begin to help? 

  • Realising that your menopause experience is not a marker of how fabulous or rubbish a Yogi you are, you can begin to dismantle shame by speaking of your own experience.
  • Show your students that you are not disinterested by deliberately opening discussion about/mentioning menopause, offering space for their experiences to be heard if they care to share.
  • Listen to your passion: the intelligent and inquiring minds that I see in the teachers who have taken my training lead me to know that you can get fascinated and inspired by menopause. You don’t have to learn from me, but please… learn. 
  • Aim to soothe through realistic learning: I educate about the stages of menopause, keeping abreast of research developments and of international guidelines in the medical world, and by maintaining a careful eye on the quality or otherwise of the offerings of those who seek to profit from it, often through fear-mongering and/or unrealistic promises.

Yoga teachers are uniquely placed to hold space for the women whose nervous systems need soothing and whose bones, joints, brains and hearts need extra care. These women are beginning to demand informed, realistic, tailored support from those they trust with their well-being, and that support is growing. 

Let’s not get left behind because what Yoga for Menopause can offer may be more widely valuable than any other practice. We are witnessing the solid but delicate birth of the menopause-aware generation. Yoga can and should grow with this new world.

Want to learn more about yoga for menopause? Join the further training course by Yinstinct coming up in November 2022

Niamh Daly https://yinstinctyoga.com/ has been teaching Yoga since 2004 and is a registered Senior Teacher and Teacher Trainer. In 2015, before the media frenzy about menopause, she began to develop what became Yoga for Menopause. Launching Certificate in Teaching Yoga for the Stages of Menopause in 2020, she has trained hundreds of Yoga teachers around the world on how to adapt Yoga to support women in this phase of life.

She holds an Advanced Diploma in Nutrition Coaching and is a Pilates Mat I & II teacher. She delivers CPD to Pilates Instructors, Personal Trainers and Health Coaches in her Menopause Awareness and Strategies for Fitness Professionals. She teaches privately, as well as classes, workshops and retreats.

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