Yoga, meditation, daydreaming, creative pursuits, and analysing our dreams all support this growing inner awareness. From my research, a lot of women have good self-awareness. Their greatest diffi culty is taking the steps to bring into their life what they wish for. “It often takes a lot of courage for a woman to consider her own needs and desires and to, at times, put them ahead of her loved ones. Her loved ones can fi nd her desire to meet her own needs challenging as it often upsets their world.” Pieta Devine, yoga teacher and founder of Core Align Yoga in northern NSW, says guiding yourself through midlife requires patience and dedication. “If you are having a hard time, I would recommend a 12-month yoga strategy that works with the body, mind and heart. Certain poses help you feel stronger, physically and in your own self-confi dence.”
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Pieta, who teaches Vinyasa-style yoga with traditional Ashtanga poses, says her asana and pranayama practice has been invaluable. She recently faced her own midlife challenges, in her late 30s, coping with a divorce, moving, and raising her two young children. “During this time thoughts of disappointment, loneliness, anger, sadness and anxiety fi lled my head. By relating each of Patanjali’s fi ve obstacles, or Kleshas, to my own experience I found clarity in the choices I made. To reduce stress, the body and mind must be treated as one. The tension associated with stress is stored mainly in the muscles, diaphragm and nervous system. When these areas are relaxed, stress is reduced. Deep, slower breathing allows an intake of oxygen and removes stress from the body and mind. “Around our midlife years, we lack time to come back to our own true nature.
We forget who we really are … a mother/father, sister/brother, friend, daughter/son, colleague, as our lives have been fi lled up with so many things. We rarely stop to just be in the silence of life, remembering our true selves rather than a personality that has been infl uenced by our circumstances and peers. If we stopped and listened to this silence for at least 20 minutes a day, there would be so much space in our minds.” Dr Oscar Serrallach, author and specialist in post-natal depression which incorporates the elements of the midlife crisis, says the challenge is that we have to start moving forward based on the foundations we have created in four areas of our lives: virtual, social, psychological, and physical. During a time when a person can rue the dwindling of youth, and life might seem confusing, he says, “If that foundation isn’t stable, you can really struggle.” Dr Serrallach, who is in his mid-40s and runs the Mullumbimby Integrated Medical Centre, praises yoga as a “complete” practice. “Yoga asanas strengthen posture and lymphatic fl ow and pranayama tones hormones and boosts adrenals. Yoga is very accessible and allows us to spend time in the here and now with our body, mind, and spirit.”