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Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause:
A Guide to Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Health at Midlife and Beyond

by Suza Francina
2003

In a Western society that celebrates youth and disregards the wisdom of its elders, menopause can be a devastating experience for a woman. Disturbing physical symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia and sexual dysfunction combine with the psychological upsets of being considered "over the hill" and "past your prime." In many indigenous cultures, menopause is seen as a woman's transition into wisdom - she now commands more attention and respect than she did before. In America, menopause is seen as a sort of death. Everyone wants to remain a maiden - who wants to be a crone? No wonder hormone replacement therapy was so popular for so long... until the HRT study that had to be halted in 2002 because the increased risk of breast cancer made it dangerous to proceed.

What's really needed in this society is not drugs, but an attitude overhaul when it comes to aging, especially where women are concerned. Forging a path are books such as this one to help women cope with a transition that is not always comfortable for body and soul. Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of menopause and perimenopause from a Yogic point of view. Iyengar is one of the styles of Yoga that has therapeutic applications and author Suza Francina addresses the concerns of menopausal women chapter by chapter via a wealth of restorative postures. She offers Asanas that can help ease problems like hot flashes, and which promote pelvic, bone and heart health. For the spirit, there are inspiring tales of women who relate their own experiences with menopause and Yoga - these ladies have learned to honor this change in their lives and they share intimate, revealing aspects of what they went through. In addition, Francina examines breast cancer and heart disease, and the role Yoga can play in helping women face these life-threatening conditions. Yoga is never presented as a be-all and end-all treatment, of course, but as a supplement to other treatments and care.

Out of all physical practices, Yoga is perhaps the best suited towards women going through the menopausal transition. The whole endocrine system is thrown out of balance at this time, and Yoga specifically addresses this. It's a weight bearing exercise, which is good for the bones. It's a calming practice that relieves stress and it's a great activity for women who find they want to slow down a bit. It's surprising that there is so little out there that explores the benefits that Yoga can have for women at this time in their lives. Francina's book is not only sorely needed, it's long overdue.

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