Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. It is home to over 12,000 species of plants, 1,200 species of butterflies, 800 species of birds, 400 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 200 species of mammals. However, there was only one person on my yoga retreat to Costa Rica with an extra pack of birth control pills.
I had packed mosquito spray, Imodium, and Ben-gay, but didn’t foresee my pre-traumatic hot flash syndrome. All I could think about was 10-days without air conditioning accompanied by 80% jungle humidity and hot flashes.
Like a Betty Ford dropout, this was my second failed attempt to kick my synthetic HRT habit. I wanted to experience this yoga retreat pill free, meat free, GMO free, and in an organic state of body.
I knew that major studies linked HRT to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, strokes, and more. Nevertheless, I cast away my Kumbaya attitude when Jan offered me her extra pills. I ripped them open with my teeth like a stray dog tearing into a bag of trash lined with a chicken carcass.
Vinyasa flow would feel like Bikram yoga on the rainforest floor. My internal sweat faucet would be flowing freely doing yoga and Tai Chi three times day without any assistance from Midlife Mother Nature.
Strike Tree Pose to Put Out the Fire
However, the Universe provides. For every yin there is a yang. So though a woman’s skin temperature rises six degrees during a hot flash, yoga has been proven to reduce hot flashes and menopausal symptoms by 31%, according to a University of California study.
Hot flashes and night sweats occur when fluctuating estrogen levels confuse the hypothalamus, setting off a cascade of cooling mechanisms, including perspiration. Yoga helps reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Yoga also improves sleep quality: Harvard researchers find that yogis fell asleep 30% faster and woke 35% less often than non-yogis.
Upon request my yoga instructor at the Goddess Garden taught me three yoga poses known to reduce and prevent hot flashes.
1. Warrior One – Because it opens your body up at all points to increase air flow and because it puts you in a position of power , Warrior I reduces stress and is a great asana for menopausal women.
2. Tree Pose – Tree pose allows you to ground yourself and get rooted therefore helping you put out the fire or pitta dosha that comes uninvited along with menopause.
3. Corpse Pose – Corpse pose is an easy way to relax all the muscles in your body and find peace of mind by letting go.
I returned to the states in a pura vida state of mind or in Tica talk, “Knowing it’s all good.” Hot, cold, or warm.
Life is a sensory experience. I’m grateful to feel everything so fully. However, thanks to my yoga practice, I’m feeling 31% less self-generated heat.