A few months ago i attended a 3-day intensive Yoga Therapy workshop with Judy Krupp. A great learning opportunity for yoga teachers who are interested in the therapeutic potential of yoga.
During a lunch break we got a chance to share our experience of treating a wide range of physical and psychological conditions with yoga. One young woman told us of her difficulty at dealing with a middle-age student who invariably broke down in tears during her practice.
Having no idea of the emotional challenges faced by this particular student, she wasn't well equipped to deal with her meltdown.
Besides Judy Krupp, i was the only woman there who had some idea of what the menopause (or perimenoapuse in my case) does to our minds, let alone our bodies. I suggested that maybe this woman had turned to yoga at the suggestion of her doctor who was probably just as clueless about her emotional needs.
I stopped counting the number of newspaper articles recommending yoga to menopausal women as if it was a panacea for all our issues, from hot flashes to osteoporosis.
Well, they are doing a great disservice to both yoga and women because there are very few classes that cater specifically for menopausal women.
Unless our menopausal woman is lucky enough to find one of them, or to be able to afford a private teacher, she would be shortchanged by your typical, multi-level yoga class.
Bursting in tears when faced with a challenging yoga pose, hurting herself by trying to emulate a 25 y/o teacher, fainting in a Bikram yoga class, or running a mile at the sight of pretty young things bending like a pretzel are some of the experiences menopausal women share only in the safe anonimity of internet forums.
I don't want to rubbish the "try yoga, it may help" advice, because yoga DOES help, but my advice would be a lot more specific: try Viniyoga with an experienced teacher who has gone through the menopause herself and benefited from yoga.
Join a "Yoga for Menopause" class if one is offered near where you live, otherwise get a group of menopausal women together and hire a private teacher who is qualified to cater for your physical and emotional needs.
A general yoga class is not the solution. Actually, it can become yet another problem if it dents your confidence and you stop in the nearest bar to order a double Scotch after holding back your tears in class.