When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s menopause was always called “the change” and now that I am in my late 50s I actually can really relate to that.
Looking back the changes started at around about 40. It started with these intense hot flushes that came when I felt excited or sometimes when I had a cup of tea. They started at my feet and like a wave rolled through my body and within a minute or so they were forgotten. As I headed to my later 40’s they got more intense and lasted longer, with the comical stripping off clothes in the middle of the supermarket aisle. This continued and with that came the night sweats, which woke me up in a pool of sweat and were deeply unattractive and extremely unsexy.
At 49 I discovered hot Bikram yoga, it was love at first sweat and highly addictive. I started going regularly and then I noticed something magic happening. My flushes stopped as did my night sweats, my skin became softer and I didn’t need moisturiser or deodorant.
How could sweating profusely for 90 minutes in 40-degree heat and 40% humidity eliminate the hot flushes during the day and the night sweats? There is no medical evidence as to why this should happen, but there are plenty of testimonials of this happening to other women too! But certainly with out doubt, coping with the hot room means your body copes with hot flushes more effectively.
My belief is that when you do the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercise sequence in these hot and humid conditions, you move, twist and stretch every organ in your body. You are calming down your nervous system with your regular & conscious breathing and the switch from breathing at the top of your lungs into your diaphragm means you are burning fat rather than glucose and you are producing less cortisol. You are doing a high-intensity work out building strength and flexibility. There are 11 backward bends in the sequence and in addition some intense side stretching, which have certainly helped with my waist. Throughout this, you are sweating profusely and detoxify completely.
As a side note, cortisol is known as the stress hormone that acts like adrenaline… which can lead havoc on the nervous system by interrupting sleep, causing anxiety and also enabling the body to store fat around the middle. In fact, increased cortisol has been linked to hot flushes… so basically when you consciously breathe deeply you can stop the production of cortisol.
I think it’s fair to say that Bikram yoga is the gateway drug to yoga, its where you build strength, flexibility and the addiction for YOGA. See you in the hot room soon.
By Lucy Blenkinsopp