There’s a myth that menopausal women can’t do hot yoga!
I know this because I used to believe I’d suffocate and die (or kill someone) if I had to endure stepping into a 105-degree room, let alone struggling to twist my body into incomprehensible shapes for 90 minutes while in that heated room. To me, that sounded like the definition of torture.
So how did I go from that steadfast belief to being featured in this month’s Bikram Hot Yoga Vancouver’s newsletter?
Personally, I blame my husband. 🙂 Let me back up …. In November of 2015, Peter, and I had recently changed to eating a whole food, plant based diet and we felt great. In 6 months I had easily lost 25 stubborn pounds that had been bothering me for years.
I was thrilled about the weight loss, but my goal was health.
I knew in order to be healthy and continue to lose the extra weight I still carried, I needed to include some form of consistent exercise.
As I pondered and rejected the unsustainable forms of exercise I’d tried in the past (things like; soccer, running, walking, barre3, hiring a personal trainer, joining a gym, etc.), I watched my husband quietly get up at 5 a.m. to go to hot yoga three times a week.
He looked so content and refreshed each morning and throughout the work day. (We work together.) He was excited to talk to me about his experiences with hot yoga — and wise not to pressure me into going with him. I listened but was not moved to try it myself.
That was until I overheard a respected colleague advising a client that, “in order to achieve your goals, sooner or later you have to do something you don’t want to do”. It immediately hit me. Here I was trying to achieve health and optimum weight but I was dragging my feet when it came to making the necessary changes to incorporate regular exercise. When I asked myself what I didn’t want to do, the first thing that popped into my mind was HOT YOGA!
So off I went. Peter tried his best to prepare me for the heat and the class format. I expected to try it three times and conclude “it’s not for me” and pat myself on the back for trying something new. To my surprise, by the third class I can honestly say I loved it.
Yes, having hot flashes in a hot room sucks. But the truth is having hot flashes anywhere sucks. At least I’m already sweaty and don’t have to hide it in the hot yoga studio.
For me, the benefits of yoga far outweigh any temporary discomfort caused by having a hot flash. I’ve noticed changes in my balance, coordination, flexibility, strength, and muscle tone. Scientific studies have shown that people who practice yoga regularly experience measurable health benefits which may include the lowering of; blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI. 
As an acupuncturist and holistic health care provider, I prefer and recommend natural forms of preventative medicine that recognize the body-mind connection. Hot yoga is a form of therapeutic exercise that fits nicely with this approach to health.
As of this writing I’ve been going to hot yoga with Peter three mornings a week for the past 8 months. I look forward to the classes even when getting out of bed at 5 a.m. is difficult. I always look forward to learning from the yoga instructors. Their dedication, enthusiasm and commitment along with their gentle but firm words of encouragement make me feel like anything is possible.
I like that they encourage us to be curious. Ask ourselves, what body did I bring to class today? They guide and prompt us to adjust our awareness. Don’t judge. Let go. Breathe. These are all life lessons, rolled into one hot, sweaty 90-minute class. And in those instances when I do have an intense hot flash, I find my focus is less and less on relieving the heat from my body and more and more on stretching my mind to move beyond my body. There is a comforting freedom in those rare moments when I’m able to be present in that space.
The pervasive myth that menopausal women can’t possibly tolerate hot yoga needs to be exposed so more women are inspired to give it a try. The worst that can happen is you feel really, really, REALLY hot. But that’s happening anyway. So you might as well take advantage of the benefits of yoga.
Plus, I’ve learned that being in a room surrounded by a bunch hot, sweaty people who care about their health (and who don’t care that I’m a little hotter and sweatier), is a very liberating experience!
NOTE: I’ll be doing a free informal online class (webinar) called “Hot Women In Hot Yoga!” for menopausal women who are interested in learning more about the challenges and benefits of hot yoga, acupuncture and plant based eating. You are invited to join me in the discussion, ask questions and offer insights. It’s free and sure to be fun!
Register here: [This event has ended. Contact Lisa to request an encore presentation.]
Lisa and Peter Hanfileti own and operate Points of Origin, PLLC, a holistic health care clinic providing acupuncture and private health consultation services. For more information you can go to their website at https://pointsoforigin.com. They live in Vancouver with their dog and 2 cats and are delighted to be part of the hot yoga community. Namaste!
 Chu P, Gotink R, Yeh G, Goldie S, Hunink M. “The effectiveness of yoga in modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Eur J Prevent Cardiol published online ahead of print 2014; DOI:10.1177/2047487314562741.