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Mind Over Matter in a Flash

Mind Over Matter in a Flash

Cool your inner summer heat with meditation and breathwork  

We hear stories of yogis who can regulate their body temperatures through meditation, and breathing exercises called pranayama. More and more, Westerners are picking up on these ancient techniques, and researchers have been wondering whether or not they work for women with hot flashes. Good news: clinical trials show that they do! These practices are easy, free, and available to anyone willing to give them a try. So why not sit down, close your eyes, and see if you can cool down your own hot flashes and anxiety, too?

Turn on the air

Pranayama is the ancient yogic practice of using your breath to enhance your health. Specific breathing exercises have been passed down through the generations for practically every physical issue. Here are a few we pulled from the sacred archives for you.

Sheetali Pranayama has been practiced for centuries because of its power to cool your core body temperature and calm stress. Here’s how you do it:

Sit in a comfortable position, preferably with your back straight.

  • Close your eyes and allow your body to relax.
  • Bring the sides of your tongue up, rolling it into a tube shape.
  • Stick the end of your tongue out just past your pursed lips.
  • Take a long inhalation through your rolled tongue, as though you’re sipping the air through a straw.
  • Notice the cool sensation of the airflow over your tongue
  • Pull your tongue back in and close your mouth.
  • Exhale through your nose
  • Repeat 7-15 times
  • When you’re through, take one long, deep breath in and out through your nostrils.

If you’re in a hurry, here are a couple of other simple pranic practices you can use to breathe yourself cooler in a flash:

  • Simple cooling breath: Inhale through closed teeth and open lips. Exhale through your nose. Repeat several times.
  • Left nostril breathing: Close off the right nostril with your thumb and breathe gently in and out through the left nostril only. Pause briefly after each inhalation and each exhalation. Repeat several times.

Breathwork + Meditation

While pranayama is a precise practice of controlling the breath, breathwork exercises are designed to release control and set your mind on a new journey.  

Breathwork and meditation coach Jenna Reiss works privately with clients and facilitates women’s circles, using a 2-step technique is designed to create different reactions within your body that change its temperature by releasing certain forms of energy, such as those associated with past trauma.

While her personal guidance is an integral part of her complete program, Jenna encourages women to try this technique on their own for cooling hot flashes and calming menopause related anxiety:

  • Lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Take one breath into the belly through an open mouth
  • Without exhaling, take a second breath into the upper chest through your still open mouth
  • Repeat for at least 2 minutes. (FYI, Jenna says the magic happens at the 15 minute mark.)
  • When you finish the exercise, return to your normal breathing pattern and rest for at least five minutes.

“The magic happens at the 15 minute mark,” Jenna says. “And if you really want to cool off, try splashing your skin with water and meditating while wet!”

If you’re one of the many people who find it difficult to meditate on your own, Jenna offers an online audioguide

Mindfulness Meditation

The power of mind over the matter of hot flashes is real, and studies show how meditation can significantly reduce the amount women are bothered by hot flashes and night sweats.

By focusing on what’s happening inside you physically, emotionally and mentally, you become aware the differences between thoughts, feelings, and sensations. This allows you to react more thoughtfully and calmly to situations in your life.

Fitness and Meditation teacher Amber Susa, owner of Allomi studio in Redondo Beach, CA recommends closing your eyes and envisioning yourself in an environment that makes you feel cool, and experiencing it with all five senses.

For example:

  • Imagine yourself sitting at the edge of the ocean
  • Feel the cool breeze on your face, and the mist from the water on your skin, and imagine the feeling of the breeze flowing over it
  • Hear the sounds of the water as the tide comes in and out
  • Smell the salty air, and taste the drops of salt water that touch your mouth as the waves approach and recede.
  • As you splash the water on your arms and your face, you feel relieved and healed
  • Focus on a calming phrase (mantra) such as “I am in control. My body is my ally. I’m connected to my body and I feel coolness within,” and repeat it mentally.

Do a search on YouTube and you’ll find guided meditations specifically for hot flashes and night sweats. You can also try a meditation app like Headspace, or Clarity which is designed specifically for women dealing with menopause.

“Mindfulness meditation not only helps you control inner heat, it also helps you stay calm, Amber says.“ When there’s overheating there's anxiety. You panic because you have no control and that makes it worse. When you trust the rhythms of the body and its natural intelligence, you just feel better all around.

 

Sood, R, Sood, A, Wolf, SL, Linquist, BM, Liu, H, Sloan, JA, Satele, DV, Loprinzi, CL, Barton DL, Paced breathing compared with usual breathing for hot flashes.

 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30868921

Carson, James W. Carson Kimberly M, Porter, Laura S. Keefe, Francis J, Seewaldt, Victoria L Yoga of Awareness program for menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors: results from a randomized trial

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00520-009-0587-5

Kozhevnikov M, Elliott J, Shephard J, Gramann K (2013) Neurocognitive and Somatic Components of Temperature Increases during g-Tummo Meditation: Legend and Reality. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58244. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0058244

Carmody JF, Crawford S, Salmoirago-Blotcher E, Leung K, Churchill L, Olendzki N. Mindfulness training for coping with hot flashes: results of a randomized trial. Menopause. 2011;18(6):611–620. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e318204a05c

Avis N; Legault, C; Russell, G;Weaver, K; Danhauer, S  A Pilot Study of Integral Yoga for Menopausal Hot Flashes 2015  doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000191

5 WAYS TO BEAT THE HEAT WITH SMARTS & STYLE

5 WAYS TO BEAT THE HEAT WITH SMARTS & STYLE

Summer can be hot enough without hot flashes, and when you add them to the mix, it can feel downright sweltering. But with a few smart and stylish habit changes, you can find yourself cooler and just might discover a new favorite workout routine or wardrobe addition. Check out our five simple ways to stay cool during the hottest days of the year.


1. Slip Into Something Breathable

When it comes to summer fashion, you can stay looking hot, but dress cool. Free-flowing styles made from breathable fabrics are a good place to start. So, for summer staples like tanks, T-shirts, and sundresses, shop for cotton options.

However, if a cotton sundress is a little too casual for an event like a wedding or a summer night out, slip into a more refined linen dress, which is not only a cool option but classic one. Accessorize it with a belt of your choice for a breezy, beautiful look. Also, be sure to round out your wardrobe rotation with other pieces like chiffon broomstick skirts, balloon-sleeve blouses, and crochet tops for a look that’s both on trend and temperature-friendly.

2. Switch to Water Workouts

If the summer heat is making you feel sluggish and not motivated to work out and sweat even more than you already are, try switching up your workouts to incorporate some pool time. Not only will the cool water feel great, but swimming laps and other water workouts can provide both a cardio workout and resistance training that’s great for bone health.

3. Grab a Cool-Me-Down Pick-Me-Up

If you need a cup of hot coffee or tea to get going in the morning or pick you up in the afternoon, you could find that it not only peps you up but heats you up too. However, by switching to a glass of smooth and refreshing cold brew coffee or iced tea, you can keep your daily ritual and keep your cool.

It’s simple to make a week’s worth of either cold brew coffee or iced tea and keep it cold and ready in your fridge. And for an extra cool sip, try making ice cubes out of your brew. That way when the summer heat starts to melt your ice, your drink won’t get watered down. Just remember to keep an eye on your caffeine intake—cold brew coffee often contains more caffeine than regular coffee.

4. Make the Bed You Want to Lie 

Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean the heat does. For a cool, comfortable night of sleep, make your bed with breathable cotton sheets and for extra heat relief try a cooling gel mattress cover and pillow.

If you have a ceiling fan in your room, set it to rotate counter-clockwise to blow cool air down on you. And if you don’t have a ceiling fan, you can create a cooling crosswind by directing a fan to blow out of a room or window, with another fan across the room directing air toward the first fan.

5. Get to the Pulse Points

For a more direct way to cool down quickly, try cooling your body at your pulse points, where your blood vessels are closest to your skin. You’ll find them on your ankles, neck, elbows, and the backs of your knees.1 Apply a cool, damp cloth or a cold compress to one or more of these points, and you’ll be able to bring down your internal temperature more effectively.


Sources

1Nursecore. Keeping Cool This Summer. Version current 10 August 2012. Internet: http://www.nursecore.com/2012/08/keeping-cool-this-summer/ (accessed 12 December 2018).

SIMPLE WAYS TO CELEBRATE THE SOLSTICE WITH SELF-CARE

SIMPLE WAYS TO CELEBRATE THE SOLSTICE WITH SELF-CARE

You’re probably not planning a trip to Stonehenge or designing a maypole for your backyard, but that doesn’t mean you need to let the longest day of the year go unnoticed. The solstice is a great time to look at refreshing your self-care routine. To help get you started, here are five ways to practice a little extra self-care all summer long.

1. Start your morning with a long walk
During the summer months, it can be difficult to get enough physical activity. Talking yourself into a strenuous workout when the temperatures are in the triple digits isn’t exactly easy. But by taking advantage of the summer’s extra sunlight with an early morning walk, you can beat the heat, enjoy a boost of endorphins, and get a little exercise to boot.

2. Meditate or practice yoga
Meditation has many benefits for women in menopause—including reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality. (For more on the benefits of meditation, check out 5 Ways to Naturally Manage Menopause Symptoms.) And your body will see those benefits no matter if you prefer a sedentary practice or a more active one, like yoga. In 2014, The United Nations declared June 21 the International Day of Yoga.1 And many yoga studios and community centers host special solstice practices to celebrate. Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced yogi, taking to the mat is a great way to practice self-care throughout the summer.

3. Tend (or start) your garden
Vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health, and the summer months are a great time to get some. Regularly setting aside a little time to tend to your garden allows you to take care of your plants and yourself at the same time. If you haven’t started your garden yet, it’s not too late. Annuals like impatiens and sunflowers grow well over the summer months, as do herbs like basil and sage and vegetables like squash and zucchini.

4. Set intentions
It’s been nearly six months since those New Year’s resolutions were made, and now is a great time to pause and take stock. Think about the steps you’ve taken and the goals you’ve made so far this year and think about what you’d like to accomplish next. This isn’t a time to beat yourself up over all of the things you haven’t done. It’s a time to celebrate the ones you have and set your sights on the ones you will.

5. Dinner alfresco
Whether it’s a picnic in the park or a full-blown garden party, the summer months are a great time to dine outdoors. Call up a friend or two (or three or four) and make plans to take advantage of the lingering sunlight in a way that suits your style. (If you’re looking for a few new, hot-weather-friendly recipes to add to your repertoire, check out 3 Summer Recipes for Making Menopause-Friendly Meals.) After successfully refreshing your self-care routine, it’s important to remember that celebrating your accomplishments is an accomplishment in itself.

Sources

1United Nations General Assembly. Resolution 69/131. International Day of Yoga. A/RES/69/131 11 December 2014. Internet: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/69/131 (accessed 6 December 2018).