Yoga: An evening breathing space

A new online class will be available on Monday evenings, starting next week at 8.30 pm UTC. This is appropriate for everyone. If you are pregnant please have a chair available and some extra cushions. Thirty minutes of restorative postures with awareness of breath finishing with a reflective space.

For more information follow the link: An Evening Breathing Space

In Person Therapy during Lockdown #3

During Lockdown #3, I am able to practice on a one-to-one basis with clients but only for an identified mental or physical health condition or injury that is causing pain or having an adverse impact on mobility or quality of life. However, the current situation is serious and worrying. To agree that an appointment is necessary, the benefits of meeting must outweigh the risk.

With this in mind, I have decided to delay opening for in person appointments for two weeks. I assume that my client base will respect the Lockdown and therefore have minimal contact outside of their households. We will all effectively be isolating other than for shopping and daily exercise so the risk of viral transmission should be minimised.

From Tuesday, 19 January, if you need bodywork or reflexology to relieve pain or facilitate mobility, please email me to arrange an online assessment with a view to booking an appointment. Additionally, if you have been referred to me (or advised to access a therapy) by a medical practitioner including osteopaths and physios, I am seen as part of your healthcare plan and therefore permitted to work with you. You will not be able to book in person appointments via the booking service, I will do this for you following our assessment conversation. We may decide that we can work virtually through self-help techniques rather than in person.

With best wishes, Yvonne

cycles: winter solstice

Thanks for joining me on embodied woman, lovely to know you are there. The last few weeks in England have been wearisome with the pandemic seeming to get a new lease of life and needing to find our own way to support one another. I will be relieved to arrive at the winter solstice tomorrow. This is a time to grieve loss and remember the past year. A time to set intentions for the year to come. We can stand still with the sun, pause with gratitude and be grounded.

The yew tree is a symbol of the winter solstice. A tree that is said to be eternal; a place where ancestors were laid to rest so that their wisdom and knowledge was available to those who sought guidance and reassurance

I am will be recording a rough cut yoga practice for anyone to use. It’s function is to calm the nervous system and to allow time for the body to say what it needs and the mind to listen. It is a practice I use when I am feeling overwhelmed and tired, particularly if my sleep has been disturbed. You do not need to be particularly fit or have special equipment. You just need to be able to breathe.

The video will be a rough cut because I record practices once. There’s no editing or polishing. I don’t do perfection! Will post it in the next couple of days.

In the meantime, take a moment to feel the solstice tomorrow (1002 UTC/GMT) and allow yourself to acknowledge and honour the year that has been and to welcome and set your intentions for the year ahead. Sit with the breath and feel the sun stand still

Yvonne x

In Person Therapies

Lockdown ends at 12.01 am Wednesday 2 December. I am offering in-person appointments from 7 to 22 December. Please do book in if you would like an appointment before Christmas. If you are booked in but feel uncomfortable about meeting up, just let me know. We all need to do what is right for us in the spirit of self care and kindness to others.

There is a suggestion that the virus will spike again after Christmas. I do not know what this will mean in terms of future Tiers and lockdowns. Currently, I am able to work whichever Tier I live in but will take each day as it comes. My therapy room is only used for work and obviously we will need to work within guidelines: masks, handwashing, sanitising etc. I will be in touch 24 hours before your appointment to ask some screening questions

Gift Certificates are available for Therapies and Yoga

Coffee Pot Philosophy

I set up this space to meet students and clients who want to talk about yoga practice and its impact on our lives. I wonder if it could be a good place to start meeting with women who are perimenopausal, menopausal and post menopausal? I am finding yoga and the yoga sutras incredibly supportive and informative as I embrace perimenopause and would like to share my experience and understanding with others. What I am being told is that women do not talk about this stage of life. Are we making assumptions about one another? When I mention it to a woman, there seems to be no hesitation in sharing her story, sometimes very graphically.

I have considered a weekly yoga class but bringing yoga in as a daily practice is much more empowering. This can be an overwhelming prospect when life is already packed with work, relationships, family and menopause (in all its stages). So I would like to invite you to join me to discuss our relationship with ourselves and with the one of the most powerful changes we will navigate, using yoga to inform, support and empower. A yoga practice has many parts and you do not have to do it all. Finding one practice that you can embrace regularly is the key.

I am going to set up one session at a time. This will give us flexibility to see if it works for us and if it doesn’t, co-create something that does. I have chosen a topic to give us a container and direction for our first get together. I suspect we will meander and go off on tangents which is absolutely allowed!

  • Topic: Stress, regularity and the menopause
  • Time: Monday 30 November @ 7.30 pm for an hour
  • Cost: £10.00 (full rate) / £7.00 (lower rate)
  • What you need:
    • a drink (optional) and comfy chair
    • privacy
    • zoom link (to be supplied)
  • What you don’t need:
    • any prior knowledge

If you want to come to the session but are unable to, there will be a recording available the following week so do still book in and I will send you the recording. I imagine there will be a flow between sessions as some ideas will generate more discussion and reflection than can be fitted into an hour

Please book online or contact me for information/to book: Contact

Resting the nervous system, begins with the breath

If you don’t have a regular yoga practice, you can start with this simple breathing practice: breathe in for a count of four and breathe out for a count of six, breathe through the nose with the lips closed and jaw relaxed. Try to just be for three minutes, counting each part of the breath and minimising the pauses

If you have a regular yoga practice try working with an inhale of four and exhale of six as you practice asana and pranayama. Allow the inhale to explore the body and open the space and allow the exhale to release restriction and connect to the ground

Whether you practice the movement of yoga or meditate everyday, once a week or once a year, consider taking at least three minutes to be mindful of your breath on a regular basis. The more you practice the shorter the time required to feel you are resting your nervous system. The muscles will release and you will be less likely to continue holding on to physical stress. This will allow the mind to rest too

You can work this into your day: while you’re boiling the kettle, waiting for the bus, in the shower, in the bath or in the room you’ve just walked into and can’t remember what you walked in there for …

Let me know how it goes

Menopause Jangle

I have been reading, researching and reflecting on the different phases we experience as women as well as considering different parts of the Yoga Sutras in relation to pregnancy and childbirth. What has struck me is how relevant these ideas are to any change in our lives. I am more sensitive to changes as a woman so am focusing on the female rather than male journey. Here’s my question:

Can we use yoga philosophy and practice to understand and support us during peri/menopause – one of the most important transitions in our lives as women?

I’m assuming you know the answer is yes

The Yoga Sutras is a classic yoga text ‘representing the foundation and pinnacle of the yoga tradition’. Although it was written about 2000 years ago, its teachings and observations are relevant to our practice and life today.

The starting point for walking this part of our journey, common to all women from about the age of 45 to 60, is to acknowledge it is happening. One of the most unhelpful aspects is that its acknowledgement is retrospective. Perimenopause has the same symptoms of menopause but with a regular or irregular menstrual cycle. This often means that women question their sanity and their health before considering that their hormone levels may be changing. Perimenopause tends to creep up on women and is often put down to multi-tasking or juggling life and work.

The menopause is only official when you have had a year without bleeding. You are post-menopausal when you hit the two year mark of no periods. After this time, women still report needing to adapt and being aware of changes occurring. I think for many women, the menopause happens to other women and when we start experiencing the first changes we do not connect to them. We are used to a monthly cycle anyway, to fluctuations in our energy and how our bodies feel and behave.

If your internal landscape is changing and you have higher levels of anxiety, issues with sleeping, general dryness, lack of motivation, fatigue, brain fog or aching muscles (other symptoms are also available), give yourself some space to consider whether you could be perimenopausal. A one off blood test will rarely be informative. Some women have minor and uncomfortable symptoms while others need a whole lifestyle change in order to manage day to day living. Whether you breeze through or slog your way through menopause, it’s big stuff:

  • The average age of menopause in the UK is 51 years
  • Perimenopause can begin in a woman’s forties and last from 5 to 10 years
  • Earlier menopause is possible and women under 40 years are diagnosed as having Premature Ovarian Sufficiency
Photo by Max Ravier on Pexels.com

I encourage you to talk to female friends and family about your and their experience of this time; there’s a lot of wisdom out there. I was astounded to be told that women don’t tend to talk about it however I think we are making assumptions about each other because when I’ve mentioned my own experience, women have not been shy to share theirs. It has been reassuring to talk to others, to share knowledge with sympathy and laughter.

As with any change in our bodies, stress has its role to play and stress has many faces. It can be emotional, mental and physical and each layer will affect the other. If we become aware of our stress triggers we can use our yoga practice to counterpose them. Our external and internal environment can cause us stress and the self-awareness and resilience from yoga practice is an excellent counterposture and support.

At this stage I am not sure what offering to make. Here are some options, let me know what would interest you:

  • Meeting up as a group (online for now) to chat about our experience of peri/menopause
    • as a weekly class with yoga practice
    • as a one off session
    • if either appeal, what time of day and which days would work for you?
  • Meeting one to one
  • Sharing blogs

I have changed my daily practice and I am reaping the rewards. This has not been done in isolation. In giving myself space to be gentle and to reflect on what I need, I have also accessed regular osteopathy and taken homeopathy. I seem to have curbed my hot flushes and improved my sleep. It all feels more manageable. I can be in it rather than feeling I have to get through it.

This blog hints at some of the elements of yoga philosophy and practice that have been useful for me so far:

  • Yoga – personal practice and cultivating a relationship with myself
  • Panca Maya – the five levels of being
  • Svadhaya – self reflection
  • Tapas – discipline, regularity
  • Parinama – change
  • The four stages of life/four parts of the breath
  • Meditation
  • Savasana and other posture work

I look forward to hearing your thoughts

Yvonne x

References:

Menopause: yoga practice (no.1)

I’ve been looking at different ways yoga is discussed in relationship to menopause and also looking at ideas about the menopause itself (I’ve listed my readings/listenings at the end of the blog). I’m ashamed to admit how little I knew about something that I am having a personal experience of. For some this experience is an amazing one (honestly), for others anywhere between a minor irritation to turning their world upside down. For me, I am coming to terms with insomnia, the power of hot flushes and exacerbated aches and pains.

This first blog considers the idea that Menopause is a retrospective diagnosis. The first signs that you are moving towards menopause begin years before: this is the perimenopause (peri = around). You might be really lucky and float through this time serenely but for many women this is not the case.

The first symptoms often include hot flushes (flashes) usually at night but not always. Some women experience cold flushes. Then you might have some of the following: palpitations, migraines, insomnia, irritability, fatigue and anxiety. This can lead to brain fog and memory loss. You might also experience aching muscles and stiffening joints. And just to make you feel really great vaginal dryness, in fact dryness anywhere can be an issue, as well as urinary tract infections. Periods can remain unaffected but as we progress along our path, periods are often erratic, heavier and last for longer. All of this can affect our interactions with our partners, family, friends and most importantly ourselves. (It’s odd to reach 48 and be given a new internal landscape.)

The symptoms are not always in this order and is perimenopause missed or misdiagnosed. Due to periods not being affected, women begin to believe something is seriously wrong. Your GP may take a blood test to check hormone levels but as our hormone levels are changing all the time, particularly from the age of 45, a one off test may return a result that your levels are normal (on that day). Some women end up having tests for dementia or cancer. Some women are put on anti-depressants.

The average age of menopause is 51 years with perimenopause beginning for most women in their mid 40s. You are said to be menopausal when your periods have ceased for one year. You are post menopausal at the end of the second year. The periomenopause deserves as much, if not more, attention than the menopause. The symptoms for perimenopause and menopause are the same. A third of our lives is experienced after menopause. This time deserves more attention.

At this stage I want to say that I have a mixed reaction to labels. They are not always helpful. We can live to a label and we can confuse our identity with the label. For example, if you have an illness, you are not that illness; you are still you. My reason for listing possible symptoms is to inform and to question if you experiencing symptoms of peri/menopause but thinking they are due to relationships, work demands or illness?

One of the most upsetting facts I read about this time is women do not talk about it. That is what I have read, is it true? During my lifetime what we talk about has changed, I had no idea that the menopause was a taboo subject; perhaps that explains why I didn’t know much about it. I thought it was because it was on a ‘need to know basis’ like childbirth and losing your virginity … One podcast I listened to said that the Me Too movement opened yoga studios up to accept yoga classes that focused on menopause. Was a movement really necessary for half the world’s population to be given permission to talk about this huge transition they go through or is this an English thing?

If you have teenage beings in your life, you will know the impact of puberty. The importance of giving these adolescents space to find out about themselves, to be out there but also to retreat. They have excess energy at times but also need time to rest and sleep. What if we reframe perimenopause/menopause and give ourselves and other women the possibility of space, freedom to explore and rest? The issue with menopause being a retrospective diagnosis is that it is possible for as many as five years of disruption to occur before we give ourselves permission to step into a new phase of life. Menopause is the culmination of a lot of changes and challenges including forty years of a monthly hormonal journey. I’ve always been lucky with my periods but the last couple of years I have needed to give myself a day to be weary rather than soldiering on.

In a podcast hosted by Dr Louise Newson, Petra Coveney explains that in Traditional Chinese Medicine Spring relates to our youth, Summer to adulthood, Autumn is the perimenopause and Winter the menopause. We are then ready to step into our second Spring. This presents a rather lovely image.

The common thread through my reading/listening has been that women need to give themselves permission to stop. To stop multitasking. To stop pushing themselves to finish the list of jobs. To stop. So here is your first peri/menopause yoga practice:

Daily afternoon/early evening practice: lying in supported savasana for twenty minutes (I was given this practice by wise woman and yoga teacher, Gail Charlton)

I think it will be the most challenging practice. I can hear all of your excuses not to do it because they are my excuses too and they can be summarised as one: I don’t have time.

M a k e t i m e

I have seen women brought to their knees because they did not feel they had time. The nervous system is involved in all of the symptoms listed and it demands respect. The hormones and nervous system work together and when they are compromised, we crash. Fatigue is no joke. Fatigue is not the same as tiredness. It will rule your life. Give yourself permission to stop. Give yourself permission even if you think you are in control … in fact particularly if you think you are in control.

And finally, let me know how your practice goes. I will be sharing more information and more practices soon

Enjoy, Yvonne x

Getting Started

Just getting the website up and running. This will run alongside the embodied health website but focus on all things womb. Contributions, ideas and discussions welcome. Have a look around and tell me what you think or feel or both!

I’m hoping you can like the site … this should become apparent once I’ve posted the blog!

Happy Friday!