Yoga has been part of my life since the tender age of 16. I loved movement as a child, I used to attend dancing lessons as a little girl. Movement and physical activity were my favourite subjects studied at school and after learning the spiritual aspects of yoga in my early twenties, I committed myself to regular practice. I went through a very rough marriage breakdown in my twenties and at the time I had no idea that yoga would help me with my physical and emotional challenges that I was facing. At the time I worked as a nutritionist and exercise coach with very long hours and had a daily yoga practice in the privacy of my own home. Everytime I would practice movement and flow, I would feel calm as if I could take on anything.
It was in my thirties, when life became a lot busier in work and life balance that yoga assisted me in my inner self, my inner beauty and confidence. I started to feel connected to my true self. When I reached my forties, I experienced my childbearing years , I faced hormonal imbalances, recovery from any intense situation took longer, I needed to rest more and yoga practice has helped me to manage all those situations. Yoga has helped me get through childbirth after 40, postrecovery from a C-section, breastfeeding both my children, and the emotional upheaval that came when I lost my second baby at 17 weeks of the pregnancy.
My philosophy on all of this is the art of yoga and its presence in my life. It is that simple, I never stopped practicing yoga, even though at times it was on and off. I work with women of all ages and stages of their life. My advice to them is get onto the YOGA BUS and don’t get off. Be open to the asana practice and allow it to work around you and your life. I offer women a practice that keeps them safe and secure within their own skin. There is no ego about the practice I offer, it supports all my students, helping them to weave each and every pose around their life.
As you read further in this blog, you will learn a little about yoga for an adolescent, practicing yoga as a mother,practicing yoga as a woman facing pre-menopause. You will also read about one of my students who is facing menopause and her experience with yoga.
Yoga offers so many benefits in all phases of a woman’s life. When a woman is going through intense hormonal changes, this is where she can feel deflated and not wanting to practice yoga. This is the most powerful time in her life and she needs yoga the most, at this present time. Those changes in the body chemistry can wreak havoc on your mood. Recently I read an article from ‘The Female Brain’, and there is supported evidence that during a practice like yoga, your body releases chemicals into the bloodstream and brings you a sense of well-being and contentment.
Regular yoga practice supports women physically, emotionally, and spiritually-keeping in mind that your practice is meeting your needs at each juncture is so important. While a challenging yoga practice can suit any age, you get the most out of your practice when it is tailored to the present-what I am saying here is a practice to suit your needs at this stage of your life and how you are feeling on any given day. I encourage my students to become present with their life actions, be in their body and connect to their emotions. This is the key to getting the most from my womens yoga practice and what it can offer you, all through your life.
The benefits of Yoga in Adolescent Years
The massive hormonal changes takes place during the turbulent years of adolescence, when the brain is producing neurochemicals and connects both brain and body and hormonal levels of estrogen and progesterone that are produced to create the fertile life for a young girl. These imbalances of hormones of puberty can result in impulsive behaviour, can bring on buzzing energy, mood swings, and troubled skin as well as a new focus on social connections, relationships and sexuality. Girls are very sensitive during this time and often unsure of how to deal with sexual attention from others. Yoga is an ancient practice that can assist a teenage girl, help her find peace within herself, find balance that allows her to hear the messages from her heart and make choices that resonate with her personal morals and values. A practice of movement and flow is beneficial for the teenage girl. I strongly believe that womens yoga, which caters for women of all ages and stages is vital for any teenager wanting to have calm and balance in her life.
The Benefits of Yoga for Young Adults
As a woman approaches her twenties and thirties and has not had children, she faces (PMS) pre-menstrual syndrome and the life issues of career, finding a life partner and creating a home. She may feel like her emotional wellbeing takes a few twists and turns. Her hormones come in to play a role with the balance of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Life for a women on this path has its ups and downs. The ups are that she may be more accommodating and the downs are the increased emotional sensitivity, more stress and mood changes. This is where the stress hormone cortisol can peak with demands in her life. An increased level of testosterone can make you feel aggressive and upset and can lead to depression. A restorative practice that offers forward bending, heart openers , back extensions and a supported inversion during savasana (relaxation) does wonders for the mood swings and (PMS). Life is busy, we are time poor and women who are in the midst of their study / career points in this phase of their life need yoga to help them manage their stress. It is a great time in their life to learn meditation, to help improve their sleep and memory. A much needed balance in their mind to cope with the drive of developing in their career, purchasing a home or even taking care of others.
The Benefits of Yoga for the Childbearing Years
Yoga provides a slew of mind and body benefits for mothers-to-be and new mothers easing back into a workout regime. In fact, as a mother of two young children yoga taught me to condition my body to slow down and make a mind/body connection. I learnt that this was a vital part of my recovery from birthing children. The benefits of yoga in preparation for physical transition is unparalleled. Yoga helped me prepare my mind and body for the athletic event that is birth. Pre-natal yoga is amazing for strengthening the middle & lower back and abdominals. Yoga comes into play during labour when using your hands and your knees which then relieve stress from the lower back. Pelvic rock movements are great for manipulating the pelvic outlet and helps the baby move into a position for birth. I found during my postnatal phase that yoga was my go to exercise when my baby was asleep. It was quiet time for me and all I needed was a mat. During my postnatal phase, yoga was so beneficial for the strengthening of my abdominal region and also working on my kegel exercises which helped to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. And sometimes when my baby was awake they would join in my practice by me holding them and lying then down on the mat while I stretch. These moments I treasured in my childbearing years.
The Benefits of Yoga for Menopausal Women
My mother, has taught me the values of embracing the changes in my body. I clearly remember when menopause came into her life , where it took a whole 24 hours – it was a journey of 12 months after her final period (bleeding). But this phase of her life lasted for years. The perimenopause passage can take place between the ages of 42-55, when a woman can go from normal menses to none at all. Some of my closest friends in my life are facing erratic cycling of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that has lead to insomnia, hot flashes, fatigue, PMS, depression, irritability, anxiety, and low libido. As a woman you can get attached to your menstrual cycle and not want to face menopause or you can choose to be ready for some new hormonal changes that will be intense but get through it by restoring and unwinding the body. My advice to my closest friends has been this “it is vital to practice some(pranayama) breathing techniques , yoga or meditation” . I offer women in my life on a personal and professional basis a restorative practice that unwinds with yoga nidra (yogic sleep). The intention of this wonderful practice is to be present with with their body and practice with where it is at not where it should be. This practice offers some twists for release of fatigue and depression; forward bends for destressing and cooling their energy. This wonderful practice is mellow and offers restorative poses that are longer-held. The perimenopause phase can take a women into physical and emotional upheaval. For me this phase has commenced in my life after having my second child. I can sometimes have mood swings and night sweats. So my personal practice has become very feminine and restorative. It helps me balance my hormones and my emotional wellbeing. I take time to practice meditation daily so that I am being a blissful mother and not living in rage. I love to practice forward bends and inversions for calmness in my soul and the wonders of backbends and pranayama are my feel good, confident boosters. “now you can see why I am in LOVE with yoga”
The Benefits of Yoga Post-Menopause
Becoming a practitioner of womens yoga is a blessing in my life. It is my bliss! It is with gratitude that I have been able to witness the challenges & experiences of special women in my life who have gone through all these phases. My mother , my grandmother and aunts. I watched my mother experience a drop in her levels of estrogen and oxytocin (her love hormone). She started to feel aches and pains in her joints and was experiencing postmenopausal weakness of her bones . She once said to me “I have done the hard yards of working and raising my children”. She was now free of monthly changes, and can start to feel a renewed zest for life. She inspired me to want to understand women on a hormonal basis. Through my teachings of yoga for the womanly journey, I often talk about the poses and benefits to their bones and their joints. I bring anatomy into my classes and I offer plenty of weight-bearing poses to help my post-menopause women restore and rejuvenate. We focus on range of motion and flexibility, adding props when ever it is needed. Ommi Yoga offers a private, sacred space that givens women a taste of quietness, meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques). “we as women have given our lives to so many others for so long that now it is just about coming home to your soul”. Yoga for the womanly journey is about ageing gracefully not about deterioration. This is Ommi Yoga!
A message to my Yoginis. Even though some of you are able to maintain a strong practice and may be approaching your fifties or sixties, the pose that is practiced on the mat or against a wall or using a chair is really what matters. It is not about how advanced the pose is. I know from my experience that at any age or shape you can transform mind, body, and heart. At Ommi Yoga I love to teach my favourite calming poses like seated forward bend but I also encourage rest in between poses, so you are all being aware and appreciative. Yoga for me is bliss and happiness every day of my life.
Much love, nora