Find your tribe: The social benefits of menopause yoga by Petra Coveney

Find your tribe: The social benefits of menopause yoga by Petra Coveney

As we transition through menopause, the hormonal changes in our bodies also affect our mental health. The drop in estrogen causes a form of menopausal low mood that can lead to menopausal depression. It is important to make this distinction because the biochemical causes are different from other forms of depression due, for instance, to low serotonin and other psychological factors. Anti-depressants don’t usually work for menopausal women.

Low mood can lead to social isolation. It is very common for menopausal women to lose their self-confidence and even self-esteem, feel overwhelmed by hormonal imbalance – and simply not go out to see friends. This is the time when you most need to find your ‘tribe’ – other women who are going through menopause, women who understand what it feels like, who can support you, laugh with you, and help to lift your mood.

Two women doing yoga and smiling

Sangha - an Indian Sanskrit word meaning Community - is an important part of the yoga tradition and I am blessed by having a community of other yoga teachers and students who come to classes every week. When I created Menopause Yoga© and started Wellbeing workshops and day retreats, I made Sangha a central part of the women’s experience. These workshops always start with a Women’s Circle discussion that lasts an hour – and could go on for longer if we had time! The Women’s Circle and opportunity this affords for women to talk openly about their symptoms and experiences, is usually the part they enjoy most. Women who have never spoken about their symptoms, fears and worries before, suddenly come out of their shyness and the sound of animated chatter fills the room. Some women share deeply emotional and moving experiences, such as Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) either due to cancer or other illnesses necessitating a hysterectomy. This is especially sad for those women who want but can no longer have children. Others open-up about their depression and sense of worthlessness. Others say their menopausal brain fog and fatigue forced them to leave well-paid jobs that supported not only themselves but their whole family. And there are women who express their sense of lost sexuality and problems of painful intercourse due to vaginal dryness and low libido.
Often there are tears. We sit in our Women’s Circles… and we listen…acknowledge…affirm…and sometimes hug. And within one hour those women who were strangers no longer feel alone – because they have found their ‘tribe.’ In the past, menopausal women would not have sat in isolation in their box houses; they would have been part of tight-knit communities that shared knowledge and supported each other. My Mantra is to use Menopause Yoga and Wellbeing to Educate & Empower Women so that they can Embrace menopause as an opportunity to pause…reassess their priorities in life… take time out for self-development…and enjoy this next stage of life.
After my workshops, women always ask me where they can practice Menopause Yoga where they live? The answer has been, sadly, that I am the only teacher. This is why I have now developed the UK’s first specialist Menopause Yoga Teacher Training course, which is accredited by the two main yoga bodies – the British Wheel of Yoga and Yoga Alliance. The first two courses launch in November 2019 and are already full. I have a waiting list of teachers who want to book onto extra courses that I will run in 2020. This is fantastic news – it means that teachers who are travelling long distances to attend this training will be taking it back to where they live. Some of them are coming from as far afield as Scotland, Greece, and Brazil! In future, wouldn’t it be wonderful if menopausal women all over the world were connected through their sense of belonging to a tribe. We wouldn’t feel alone and isolated any more. These women could pass on what they have learned to Educate others, feel Empowered by this knowledge and, I hope, Embrace this transformational stage in their lives.

Written by Petra Coveney founder of Menopause Yoga© @Menopause_Yoga Petra’s next workshop is a day retreat on Sunday October 13th, from 10am-4pm, hosted at Triyoga Studio, in Kingly Court, Soho, central London. It costs £75.00 and comes with a goodie bag of gifts including samples of YES products. To book, contact Triyoga via their website: and search workshops/ Petra Coveney. Or tel: 020 33623355.