When I do yoga practice,
I am free falling to intention
Taking flight, my heart lifts me up-
side down looking at my feet
In this space anything is possible
Drunk with anticipation.
On 3 January 2018, I made a commitment to myself to practice regular yoga classes, three to four times per week. Each Iyengar class is one and half-hours long, so that’s about four and half to six hours of yoga per week.
My teachers wax lyrical of the analogies of life = yoga = life. From my experience thus far: They a right!
Over the past four years, I’ve been half-hearted about yoga and also incapacitated with broken bones and poor eyesight. Now I am well enough to make a regular Namaste.
I am a reformed gym junkie. My gym routine started at 5.30am with 30 minutes of cardio, 30 minutes of weight training and 5 minutes of cool down and stretches. In this punitive daily routine, there was not a great deal of love. I was completely and utterly exhausted! I thought that ‘pain was gain’ and that to workout hard I would reap rewards. Instead I was totally depleted and angry because I was so sleep deprived.
During this period I was also having sleepless nights, dripping with the sweat of hot flushes. It felt as if I was working out 24/7 as I embarked on understanding a new phenomenon -“menopause”. The gym was all I had ever known to enhance my fitness and I did not want to give it up.
One of my values is natural health, that is, a belief that nature will take its course.
In the two years of menopause, however, sexual intercourse became painful. It seemed that two things I totally loved, exercise and sex, were suddenly causing me great pain. I was very upset.
Finding my life seemingly difficult, I went to DR GOOGLE in search of answers, I recall reading that when the old way of doing no longer works, then “change the channel”; in other words: adopt a new strategy.
For 30 years, or thereabouts, I had been an early morning gym junkie; pumping iron, pumping up the ego, seeking confidence. I believed that I needed strength, big muscles, more exercise and to go faster! Yoga is the opposite; go slow, energy directed with poise and intention without strength or brut force. Mind over matter and the adage of less IS more! So I have since adopted a new strategy. I am reinventing myself as a new aged yogi.
For two years I endured painful sex. I saw doctors and sex therapists. I was told that there must be something wrong with my marriage. I should seek counseling. Try black kohosh that might help, but unfortunately it made my hot flushes worse. Then, I should try hormone replacement therapy, but I could not bring myself to take it, for all the hideous side effects. What about mood stabilizers? They might help me feel better about myself.
I endured ultrasounds, digital exploration and assessments, perhaps it’s being caused by your titled pelvis? What? What about estrogen creams strategically applied? Do you use KY jelly, try coconut oil! So many unknowns in all this exploration!
One medicine prescribed, appropriately named VAGIFEM LOW together with applicator. A pill applied up the vagina. (Someone has the great job of coming up with names for these products, that subsequently ignore the side effects.) Naming just a few:
- Genital infections
- Weight gain (that’s a side effect of ALL menopausal drugs)
- Genital itching
For every action there’s a reaction, every choice you make there’s consequence, you take a gamble with your health, you have to be prepared for the repercussions.
Am I paranoid or demonstrating common sense? Do I take a risk and try the medicine, knowing that it might not solve the problem, or do I continue to bear the pain? The medicines were about replacing something that was missing in my body. The depletion of hormones was a natural process. Surely my natural body sequence will eventually find it’s own rhythm? From experience, each time I took something it kind of messed with my hormones.
If menopause is a right of passage for us women, then everything that comes with it is part of what needs to happen. Do we want to numb our intuition? Or ignore the ‘natural process’? Menopause is there to teach us something, if we don’t get sick and die in the process, it’s a time of transformation, coming into being, finding the voice, knowing the self and being the truth. This phase is an evolution of the female psyche.
Butterflies were my first chosen symbol of the recognition for menopause, however I have since changed it to a bee, thanks to Tex, my partner and husband of 27 years- I asked him to design me a logo for my business Kindred Link. To my surprise he presented me with a bee.
I asked him why a bee?
To which he replied like you:
- It’s hardworking
- It’s social
- And if you mess with it, it stings!
See, I knew it wasn’t my relationship that was suffering, and he knows me better than I know myself. The bee is my ideal metaphor for menopause.
Over the last two months I have made a commitment to regular yoga practice and these are my observations so far:
- That I have a greater appreciation of my beautiful body
- That I have more energy because I sleep more deeply
- For the first time in two years intercourse is pain-free
- No more hot flushes
- I perceive difficulties with greater clarity
- I express my talents effortlessly
- I love my life and those who share it with me
- I feel an overwhelming sense of peace, happiness and positivity
- I know who I am
- I know what I want
Recently I slipped into a two day depression, tripped by a workplace incident, my old self blamed, shamed and at fault. Yoga took me out of this low mood with a new perspective, that I am responsible for myself, but not for how others understand me. While these times will come again, it is restoring the self, expanding the wisdom and removing attachment, which is important.
I am a work in progress, after all, and so I continue to find the lessons, looking at my feet above my head, free falling.