Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life is a balancing act


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The ancient Indians viewed menopause as a movement into maturity, or the vata stage of life. This is a time of inner examination, vision and growth. Maturity brings poise, self-awareness, self-confidence, a sense of peace and contentment and yet the transition to maturity often wrecks havoc in women's life.

It takes time to change one's priorities, patience, courage and determination to embark in the long journey of self-discovery. As you move into maturity, you may feel thrown off balance at first, confused, anxious and even angry. Menopause and perimenopause symptoms are characteristically indicators of high vata dominance. Yoga and Ayurveda can help you grow into your new Self while limiting the discomforts that many women experience during this transition.

During a vata-dominated menopause, you will likely be experiencing any of the following symptoms:
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Mild hot flashes
  • Depression
  • Poor skin tone
  • Constipation
  • Vaginal dryness
There are numerous Ayurvedic herbs for treating vata imbalance. Some anti-vata herbs, such as cumin, cardamom, fennel and ginseng, can be used freely in cooking and teas but only a certified Ayurvedic doctor would be able to find  the best phytotherapeutic formulation to treat your vata imbalance.

Along with tridosha-balancing treatments and lifestyle changes suggested by Ayurveda, many women benefit from practices like meditation and yoga.

While teaching yoga to menopausal women i noticed that they invariably struggle with balancing poses, such as Vrkasana (Tree Pose). That is because a vata dominance exacerbates a sense of restlessness, both mentally and physically. In order to master, and get the most out of balancing poses, here are some useful tips:
  • Distribute weight evenly on your feet. This will help you plant your feet more securely on the floor. Additionally, spread your toes for a better contact with the floor. 
  • Maintain proper body alignment. Standing poses: hips, knees and ankles in one line. 
  • Keep your eyes focused. Look at any stationary object and don’t bring your gaze away. Keeping balance with eyes closed or focused on something moving is much harder.  
  • Engage your abs. Your abs play a crucial role in keeping yourself balanced during yoga. Strengthen your abs and you’ll find it easier to find the balance point within your body. 
  • Visualize! In order to maintain balance visualized yourself as a tree and imagine roots firmly anchoring you to the ground.

Don’t give up if you can’t master perfect balance at once. Try practicing next to a wall and gradually make your way away from it as you become more sure of your balance. If you suffer from high blood pressure don't raise your arms above your head. 
It's best to practice Vrkasana in the morning rather than at night.