"Listen to your body". How many times have you heard a yoga teacher say it?
If you are approaching menopause or already menopausal, this is a great opportunity to follow that advice and tune in to the wisdom of your body.
Those who already practice and study Yoga may be familiar with the concept of Kundalini.
Kundalini is regarded as the root of all spiritual experiences. As a special kind of energy it is known in many ancient cultures, including Tibetan, Indian, Sumerian, Chinese, Irish, Aztec, Greek, though under different names. Kundalini is said to be hot, fast, powerful, and large. It exists within the earth, within all life, and within each person. Psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung called kundalini 'anima'.
It is usually represented as a serpent coiled at the base of the spine, but women's mystery stories locate it in the uterus.
As a long-time student of yoga, I couldn't help noticing the many similarities between menopausal symptoms and the well-known esoteric goal of "awakening of the kundalini."
Indian yogis spend lifetimes learning to activate, or wake up, their kundalini. This is also called "achieving enlightenment." When they succeed, a surge of super-heated energy goes up the spine, throughout the nerves, dilating blood vessels. As kundalini continues to travel up the spine, it changes the functioning of the endocrine, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. Not just in yogis, but in any woman who allows herself to become aware of it.
Menopause has often been described as a kind of enlightenment in many spiritual traditions and one of the best definitions of hot flashes that i have found is "kundalini training sessions".
At menopause you stop losing energy through regular monthly bleeding. If it sits in the pelvis for many years, it can dry out the vagina, erode the integrity of the hips, contribute to bladder weakness, and depress sexual desire.
But if the kundalini is guided (by thought or by hot flashes, for instance) up the spine, then it confers enlightenment. But not all at once.
As the kundalini rises, it must pass through six more energy gates/chakras. At each gate, symptoms relating to the chakra may occur. As may shamanic abilities that could cause the menopausal woman (or her family and friends) to think that she is going crazy. She has never been more sane. After kundalini awakens it becomes impossible to continue believing that external reality is the sole reality.
No wonder old women are honored and feared in many traditional societies.
If the energy centers triggered by kundalini are resistant to being activated, symptoms may get worse. Pain, bloating, indigestion, heart palpitations, thyroid malfunctions, headaches, and memory loss are all associated with resistance to the passage of kundalini.
When menopausal symptoms are understood as energy movement (or lack of it), women feel more at ease. Instead of feeling victimized by her body, the menopausal woman can use her symptoms as a way to pinpoint areas that need special nourishment. Quiet time alone in nature, sitting in a comfortable yoga pose listening to soothing music, and meditation allow thoughts and feelings to arise and open the way for the flow of kundalini.