Updated: Sep 8
Qigong offers a holistic and spiritual perspective on perimenopause and menopause, recognizing it as a natural phase in a woman's life that can be harmonized to enhance overall health and well-being. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Qigong refer to this phase in a woman's life as The Second Spring because it represents a time when women receive an invitation into more intuitive capacities of the heart. Becoming more authentic to herself, being her own leader, and perhaps a leader in her community.
Now, her energy is no longer focused on growing and sustaining a new physical life (childbearing), and her new focus can be on growing her inner life. There is a newfound focus on nourishing the self, the inner world, and inner truth. It's a time of significant change and can be filled with curiosity and discovery instead of being pathologized.
Here are some key aspects of the Qigong view of perimenopause:
New Directions: The uterus has a unique connection to the heart through the meridian known as Bao Mai, which translates to the "Uterus vessel." Each month, blood comes from the heart through the Bao Mai and settles into the uterus, providing nourishment for potential life and/or menstruation.
At the age of 49 and beyond, it is said that the extraordinary vessels that support menstruation (Ren Mai and Chong Mai) are emptied, and the flow starts to reverse directions- moving from the uterus to the heart. This change in direction causes profound changes on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
The blood that once moved through the female sex organs monthly is directed back to the heart. In TCM, the heart relates to our "soul's mandate" or our deepest, most intimate parts of self.
The Way of Water: During menopause, similar to puberty, the microcosmic orbit begins moving in the direction of the water path. The water path focuses on one's emotions, creativity, intuition, and inner world.
At the same time, the Kidney Jing decreases (vital essence energy), and the liver works to tonify the blood that was previously used for menstruation, bringing it back to the heart. Thus, the harmonization of all these organs is vital to manage perimenopausal symptoms.
Emotional Well-Being: Qigong recognizes the intimate connection between emotions and energy flow. Emotional imbalances can exacerbate perimenopausal symptoms. Qigong exercises like the microcosmic orbit and mindfulness techniques are practiced to help manage emotions and reduce stress during this incredibly potent transition.
Since the Liver and Kidneys are particularly vital to aging and the menopausal process, there are specific emotions to hold space for during this time. Unresolved anger and frustration may be highlighted, and internalized shame and guilt may also arise, as these emotions relate to the liver.
Additionally, fear, the negative emotion of the kidneys, may be present during this time. Try to hold space for whatever arises, the same way you would for an agitated and fearful adolescent during puberty! And on the positive side, you may feel a renewed sense of willpower and purpose!
Physical Symptoms: As women's bodies go through this transition, many physical symptoms may arise. Such as sleep disturbances, night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, and poor digestion.
Many of these symptoms, especially hot flashes, are said to be a result of Kidney Yin Deficiency, which in turn causes excess Kidney fire and overactive yang energy in the liver. During this time, it is important to be patient with your body and avoid turning frustration inward as much as possible, as anger can exacerbate symptoms.
Balancing Yin and Yang Energies: In Qigong, the emphasis lies on harmonizing the flow of Yin (calming, receptive energy) and Yang (active, transformative energy) within the body. During perimenopause, these energies can shift dramatically. Qigong practices can help restore yin/yang balance, alleviating symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
Nourishing Vital Energy (Qi): Qigong focuses on nurturing and cultivating Qi, the vital life force energy. As women undergo perimenopause, preserving and strengthening their Qi is a fundamental objective in Qigong practice. This can contribute to improved overall health and resilience by:
Improving Blood Circulation: Adequate blood circulation is essential for overall health, and Qigong exercises like the pump circulate energy throughout the entire body. Improved circulation can address symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and irregular menstrual cycles often experienced during perimenopause.
Supporting Digestive Health: Qigong acknowledges the significance of a healthy digestive system. Practices can aid in promoting efficient digestion and addressing issues such as weight gain and digestive discomfort.
Holistic Approach: Qigong takes a holistic and nourishing approach, considering the interplay between physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It encourages women to connect with their inner balance and vitality.
Long-Term Wellness: Qigong views perimenopause as a natural transition, not an ailment. It is a process of vital energy conservation, as the body no longer depletes jing (vital essence) through ovulation and menstruation and now focuses this vital essence on self -preservation. The intention is to empower women to navigate this phase gracefully while promoting enduring health and vitality.
How to Support Yourself in the Second Spring:
Listen to your Heart: Meditate on your soul's mandate and to what extent you have explored and fulfilled your deepest life purpose. It is time to reflect on the legacy that you are leaving in this world.
Be Gentle On Your Liver: By processing unresolved anger and resentments, or relating internalized shame and guilt and cutting out alcohol.
Rest and Restore: Overwork or being in chronic stress states at this time puts more strain on the liver, kidneys, and heart. So please prioritize peace, and rest.
Customize Your Qigong Practice: Qigong is adaptable to individual needs and abilities. Women can tailor their Qigong practice to suit their unique constitution, symptoms, and energy imbalances.
Move Qi through the Microcosmic Orbit (water path). The water path is naturally cooling, so moving energy through this path physically or with mental focus can feel really good.
It's important to remember that Qigong practice should be undertaken with guidance and instruction, especially during significant life transitions like perimenopause. Working with a Natural health provider like an acupuncturist, herbalist, or Qigong instructor who understands women's health can help you develop a personalized practice that aligns with your specific needs and goals. Integrating Qigong into one's overall lifestyle can complement Western medical care and provide valuable support during perimenopause.
Check out our related blog posts, where we discuss some of the possible benefits of consistent Qigong practice for peri and post-menopausal women and the top herbs to consider taking at this time.
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