Depression, anxiety, fatigue, hot flushes – these are just some of the symptoms associated with entering into the menopause.
And while HRT and more are commonly used to help offset the impact of hormonal imbalances that come as a result of ‘the change’, there are also a number of alternative treatments that are fast capturing the public interest.
One such area is mindful breathing. Author of the Menopause Manual (Haynes Publishing £12.99) Dr Louise Newson, outlines one such technique that can help to calm the body and mind, and reveals what makes it so uniquely helpful for menopausal women. Here’s how to do it step-by-step.
Alternate nostril breathing
Alternate nostril breathing (or nadi shodhana) is a breathing technique commonly used at the beginning or end of yoga practice. Hillary Clinton has talked about how alternate nostril breathing helped bring about inner calm after the 2016 US election.
It’s a nice exercise to try at the end of a hectic day to help clear your mind, and is especially useful to relax you if you have trouble sleeping.
1 Sit tall in a chair or crossed legged on the floor in a quiet room (closing your eyes if you wish).
2 Practise a few long breaths breathing in and out through your nostrils.
3 Place your left hand on your left knee and bring your right hand up towards your face.
4 Exhale completely and use your right thumb to gently close your right nostril.
5 Inhale through your left nostril and use your right ring finger to close your left nostril.
6 Open your right nostril again and exhale.
7 Inhale through your right nostril, then close the nostril again.
8 Open your left nostril and exhale.
9 Repeat for a few minutes each morning and evening
Commenting on the above, Dr.Newson says, “The menopause can cause many different symptoms and it is usually the psychological symptoms of the menopause that affect women the worst. It can be very common for women to feel more anxious due to the low hormone levels that occur.
“Our breathing technique is very important for our mental health and wellbeing. When people feel anxious, they often find that their breathing becomes faster and more shallow which can lead to lightheadedness and then any anxiety is compounded.
“Alternate nostril breathing can be a very effective way to clear the mind and help focus on our breathing. Many people find this can be very powerful at calming the way we feel. There are other breathing techniques which focus on visualising the breath and slowing the rate of breathing down. Being in control of our breathing is key to reducing anxiety and being in control of difficult situations.”