Hot flashes are no fun! Although I chose to get on hormone replacement therapy to deal with my many crippling menopause symptoms, I still get the occasional hot flash. It is an unpleasant feeling that -in my case- mimics an anxiety attack and while it´s happening, it seems like I may pass out or die of heat stroke!
Here are three easy ways I use yoga to offset these hot flashes, and also to cool myself down whenever I feel overheated for any reason, and also right before bed.
Also read: 4 Yoga poses for menopause relief
Sitali pranayam or cooling breath
Sit upright with your legs crossed, or take advantage of wherever you happen to be sitting at (think red light, doctor´s office … ). Keep your shoulders soft and relaxed. Close your eyes and place your hands on your legs, palms down, for a grounding sensation. Fold your tongue (if you watch the video in the link above, you will see Adrienne explaining how this is like a “taco tongue”), and if you can´t roll it, then stick it out of your mouth slightly, with your lips gently cradling it. Exhale deeply through your nose and then inhale through your mouth as if you were sipping through a straw (your tongue). You can hold the breath at the top for a few beats and then exhale through your nose. I like to mentally count to four as I inhale and exhale. Maybe for you it´s 5 or even 8. Do a few rounds of this breathing, until you cool down.
Seated bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana)
Pretty much any forward fold pose is going to cool you down, but one of my favorites for when I´m feeling a hot flash, is seated bound angle pose. Sit on the floor, on your mat or a folded blanket, and have a block or a bolster handy. Bend your knees, placing your feet on the ground, keeping your back erect. Then open your knees to the sides like a butterfly, while your feet are touching. You can hold your ankles with your hands. This pose is easier the farther forward your feet are in relation to your torso. On an exhale, gently fold forward, until your back starts to curve. The point is to relax into the pose as you fold forward. I like to rest my forehead on a yoga block or two, and stay in the pose for a few minutes. Inhale through the nose and focus on extending the exhale. This is also one of my favorite poses before bedtime.
Child´s pose (Balasana)
This has to be my favorite resting pose! It is calming and cooling and can be used both to offset a hot flash or to unwind at bedtime. Kneel with your feet together and sit on your heels. You can do child´s pose with your knees closed or open, your choice. Try it both ways and then stay where it´s comfortable for you. On an exhale, gently bring your chest to the ground and lay your torso on your thighs or between them. I like to rest my forehead on the mat and you can also chose to rest it on a yoga block. Your arms can be extended in front of you palms down, or also alongside your torso, with the palms up. I like to count the breaths in and out, breathing in through the nose for a count of four and exhaling (extending the exhale) for a count of four or more. You can also combine sitali breath with this pose for a greater cooling effect.
Also read: My yoga journey in my fifties