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YOGA THROUGH THE AGES

“Life is like a kaleidoscope of seasons, each one a unique and beautiful experience."

-Anon


Insights by Susan Caldwell


As in nature, the continuum of our life can be divided into seasons. These can be classified biologically from birth and infancy infancy to adolescence (our growth and developmental phase), adulthood or matrescence (motherhood) into middle age (maintenance) and our senior years (protection).


The Triple Goddess is a symbolic way to illustrate the different aspects of personality which exists within each woman throughout her life.


The Maiden
represents
youth
romantic love
& sexual adventure

New beginnings, growth, exploration and excitement. The maiden is represented as joyous: learning and discovering. She is forging her identity. The Maiden is moving into her power and is represented by the

waxing moon.



The Mother
represents the fullness of creation
birth & nourishment

She is feeling fulfilment and stability, sexual love and power. She integrates multiple life roles into her identity. The Mother is practicing her power and is associated with the full moon.


The Matriarch “the Wise Woman”
represents the accumulation of
wisdom, self-development, transition

A crossroads, deliberation and a deeply protective figure. The Matriarch becomes her power and is

represented by the waning moon.


It is essential that we support our bodies and our minds through the different physical and emotional demands and challenges which meet us at each of these life stages.

“Each season brings something new to our lives - a chance to explore and discover."
-Anon


YOGA FOR LIFE STAGES


Our movement practice, being a complete holistic approach across mind body and spirit can support us to move through these chapters of life in good health, poise and self-assuredness.


Maiden Stage

We are born with great flexibility, during our youth we start to build muscularity and co-ordination thus strengthening the bones and creating proprioception.

Yang or sun practices are beneficial during this time as they lean towards strength, balance and co- ordination whilst maintaining our flexibility. We are building our personal power.


Mother Stage

We are searching (and often struggling) for the balance between Yang and Yin in our life . We may be living in our sympathetic system (fight or flight) and so we need to allow ourselves to find rest. More Yin or moon restorative practices which are things like pranayama and meditation, together with the Yang practices bring balance back into our body, our mind, and importantly our nervous system.

We endeavour to establish physical, emotional and mental endurance whilst being kind to ourselves, in order to live in our power.


Wise Woman Stage

This is often a bewildering stage as it’s another season of transition within the body and in life both physically and emotionally .We may tend to build too much stability, stiffening and slowing down. It's important to work on balance, flexibility and co-ordination at this time.


HOW YOGA HELPS

Perimenopause and Menopause often occur in the Wise Woman Life Stage . Here we want to outline some yoga practices which can help counteract some of the symptoms of this evolutionary time.


- Hormone Regulation

Practicing certain yoga poses helps to stimulate the endocrine system, which is responsible for hormone production and regulation. Yogic movement is known to balance hormonal fluctuations which occur during this season.


- Breath Techniques

Alternate nostril breathing and extended exhales as we see in Pilates and Yoga help to bring our body and our nervous system back into balance.


- Bone Density

The risk of osteoporosis increases with age, due to the decrease in oestrogen levels. Weight bearing poses such as standing poses and inversions, like Downward-facing Dog or Adho Mukha Shvanasana can help stimulate bone growth and increase bone density which in turn reduces the risk of osteoporosis.


- Hot Flash Management

Hot flashes and night sweats are common experiences during perimenopause and menopause. Breath techniques can be incorporated into our daily routine and specifically when we experience a hot flash. Techniques such as Sitali breath; diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing help regulate the body temperature whilst promoting relaxation and reducing the intensity and frequency of hot flashes.


- Sleep Disturbances/Fatigue

Disturbed sleep and insomnia can often be part of this life stage. Relaxation through certain yoga poses, breath work and guided meditation or yoga nidra before sleep can calm the mind and move the body into its relaxation phase thus allowing a better quality of sleep .


Many women suffer from fatigue during this life stage, yoga with its union of breath and movement boosts energy levels and helps overcome feelings of fatigue and lethargy. It is also known to decrease Stress, Anxiety, feelings of Depression and Mood swings.

This life stage brings significant hormonal changes and often lifestyle changes which can lead to stress and anxiety. In Yoga we practicing pranayama or breathing exercises, meditation as well as restorative yin poses to help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm and well -being. Dynamic movement releases endorphins and the actives our parasympathetic system (rest and digest) to bring us back into harmony.


HOW WE YOGA

Balance

As we move into the later stages of life, often our balance becomes more precarious .Yoga is an excellent practice for improving balance and

stability. We incorporate specific yoga poses and sequences into our routine so we can enhance balance, coordination and core strength.


Developing our “Drishti“ our focus or single pointed concentration helps greatly with maintaining our physical and mental balance.

Mobility

As oestrogen levels decline there may be a gradual decrease in muscle mass and strength for some women which results in suffering from joint pain and stiffness.

The Asana practice builds both strength and flexibility, resulting in an increased range of motion and mobility .

The correlation between mobility and longevity has been widely documented.

At each of our life’s natural seasons the yoga practice through all its 8 limbs: Yamas and Niyamas (lifestyle), Asana (movement) Pranayama (breath-work), Pratyahara (withdrawing from the senses/over stimuli), Dharana (focus) and Dhyana (meditation) can teach us to quieten the mind, to listen to our bodies so we can hear what they need. We can learn to find balance, to find our true self and to move into a sense of overall calm and wellbeing (Samadhi).


When the body comes out of balance at whatever stage of life (as it will), we can move back into balance and find our inner joy through movement, breath and expression, both in the studio and within.


The changing of the seasons marks our journey through life, embracing
and learning from each experience.

Words by Susan Caldwell

Published by Umoya Studio

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