Hot Flash Yoga (TM)

One of the most annoying things about being a woman of a "certain" age (that age would be 46) is that you can't confess to being too warm or to being forgetful --even if these are lifelong traits of yours--without someone bringing up the dreaded M word --Menopause. I have not yet reached that part of my life, but I am already really sick of it.  It just seems like another demeaning way to dismiss a woman's behavior, attributing it to some hormonal/biological/gender-related frailty instead of thinking that just maybe, if I'm angry, it might just be because you're behaving like an arsehat and not because it's that time of the month or life or WHATEVER. 


Not that I feel strongly about this or anything.

So, it will come as a great surprise to you (as it did to me) to learn that on a recent Wednesday, at 11:30 in the morning, in the middle of a yoga class, I thought that I'd suddenly come down with the M. I was really focusing on my breath and trying to do the breathing each pose requires and suddenly, my core temperature shot up to what most have been close to the same temperature as the SURFACE OF THE SUN.  I was radiating heat and LORDY, I was sweating buckets.

It was super-glamorous, as you might imagine.

(I looked like I was in the cast WaterworldI had to mop up afterward.)

Luckily, the people in my yoga class love me and thought this was funny and not, you know, super gross.

I came home and consulted Dr. Google, which is normally a really big and bad mistake, but I figured, at least, I'd get some sense if this was normal or if I know...DYING.  (Dying in yoga class wouldn't be so bad for me--I'd die happy--but it might put something of a damper on my classmates' enjoyment.) There were several links with quotes like this:

The end result of the combination of practices that are used in Ashtanga Yoga is the generation of heat in the body and, in particular, the area of the abdomen. This heat has profound benefits, which range from the physical to the emotional, mental, and spiritual. The heat generated during the practice of Ashtanga Yoga helps to release tightness in muscles, ligaments, joints, and other parts of a man’s body, as well as in the internal organs. The heat actually allows the tissues in the body to soften so that previously constricted areas can remold themselves into more appropriate alignment. The release of areas of physical holding can be accompanied by the letting go of tight, restricted, or outmoded ways of feeling and thinking as well.
In addition to its effects on the soft tissue of the body, the generation of heat can also play an important role in spiritual development. Yogis have believed for centuries that a vital, primordial, creative energy known as kundalini, or “coiled serpent power,” lies dormant at the base of the spine. When aroused, this potential energy becomes activated. It rises up through a central channel in the body to unite with the power of cosmic consciousness that resides at the crown of the head, resulting in enlightenment and the release of tremendous amounts of creative energy. (See Chapter 7 for more information on the important role that kundalini plays in yoga philosophy.) A principal goal of yoga practices in general is to help awaken the dormant kundalini energy so that it may rise and lead to enlightenment. One way to help the kundalini awaken is to stoke the body with heat. Ashtanga Yoga is designed specifically to build up the internal heat in the body, particularly in the abdomen. This can contribute to the awakening of the kundalini energy.
The kind of yoga I do is really a form of Vinyasa yoga, though, so here's a link the mentions generating internal heat during Vinyasa. (What I experienced should not be confused with Bikram yoga, which is done in a super heated room --EXTERNAL heat. This was more like an internal nuclear reaction.)

Here's a link where someone was complaining about it.  I didn't feel sick, but I was incredibly spent afterward.  It's happened to me twice now, the second time a little less apocalyptic, and after each time, I had to take a 20 minute power nap.

So, I don't know.  I think it's a good thing, but I can't really talk to anyone about it because as soon as I do, people infer that I've hit Menopause, which makes me crazy in addition to being hot and bothered.
In other news: my lovely and exceptional daughter Jane (10) has been discovered. She wrote to Robert Burton Robinson, asking for permission to illustrate one of his stories on her blog. He not only said yes, he wrote her a very encouraging e-mail and linked to her from his website. I learn so much from her as an artist about what is possible when one doesn't impose limitations on oneself. She's amazing and I hope to be like her if I ever grow up.


Kathy Ireland said…
I am going to a rec. centre yoga class tonight. I certainly don't expect to achieve this level of....whatever it is that you've experienced but I am hoping for a nice sound sleep, at the very least. Wish me luck!
Congratulations - you must be doing it right! And I like that part about increasing the creative energy - keep working on your book. And HURRAY HURRAH for Jane! What an amazing girl she is - I hope she retains that self-confidence that anything is possible. (Because sometimes the ONLY stumbling blocks are our own doubts.) And for the author to link to her blog -- how impressive! This is only the beginning... she will do great things!
tanita✿davis said…
Oh, my word, I read Jane's stories.
Oh. My. Word.
Hello, creativity popping out of every pore!!?! She must be such a hoot to have in school.
tanita✿davis said…
Also, re the yoga heat:
I ALWAYS look like the cast of Waterworld doing yoga, but that's just the panic attacks...
shaatzie said…
Being labeled "menopausal" is part of a system that disenfranchises women. Sort of how we end getting paid less than men in the same job. I've found the best thing is to have a good support system of wise women to be there for us.

Perhaps the hot flashes of menopause are really occurring to usher in the incredible wisdom of women and how they reconstruct their lives after being there full time to take care of everyone else.
What if it's really a time of great blessing...and empowerment. Wouldn't that turn the tables on those that point to it as impending weakness!

Thank you for all your sharing.
That is so cool about Jane! And what a wonderful person that author must be!
I particularly love Jane's "Santa in the plumbing" picture. Memorable, to say the least...
Anonymous said…
Hot flashes are just hormonal fluctuations, and I've had fluctuations since I was 18.
I am a yoga practitioner and a teacher and I remember sweating like it was my job for the first five years of practice, and then it just stopped (gushing) and became more "normal" . I have to mop the floor after some students practice and others, not so much. It depends a lot on breath and also on diet and general health.
Embrace your "jumped in the pool" look and think of all the toxins leaving your body!
kathrynarata said…
I don't do yoga, but I'm only a week younger than you and I'm having the same hot flashes. I will now refer to them as evidence of my "coiled serpent power" instead of my "personal summers." In Texas, to be hotter than it is outside is saying something.
kathrynarata said…
I can't do yoga because of several physical issues, but I am only a week younger than you and I have the same hot flashes. However, I will now refer to them as evidence of my "coiled serpent power" instead of my "personal summers." In Texas, being hotter physically than it is outside is saying something.
Kathy Ireland said…
"Personal Summers" - I LOVE that!
Susan said…
As one who started peri-menopause in my early forties, please accept my point of view that it is not something to dread. The process can be a, excuse the pun, hot mess but the long term changes are not significant and not, in my mind or experience, defeminizing.

It is interesting that many women experience hot flashes or similar feelings during the practice of yoga and that the interpretation of those feelings is one of enlightenment and shifting into more authentic poses. In the long run that is how we are reshaped in mind and body to prepare for the next stages of our lives and women.

People who suggest that women are frail due to our hormones are very uneducated. I suggest reading the book "The Female Brain." An excellent read and a very enlightening one for mothers of daughters.
Bullwinkle said…
So much coolness in one post!!

Re: the yoga hot flash: EXCELLENT! I've done this a few times and it is exhausting. Give yourself a break after. Also, I love menopause :)

(As for the disenfranchising dimwits, argh. I try to ignore them. Some are more insistent than others.)

And as for Jane, Woooohooooo!!
Karen said…
C'mon, am I the only one who thinks menopause is the great excuse? Any time anything is wrong/bad/confusing/messed up/whatever happens ... blame the M word! It's the best excuse ever 'cuz no one can argue with you!

I'm not there yet but I use the label anyway when it's convenient :-)

Or maybe I'm just sick.