A sense of community is essential to optimal health, and yoga provides an ideal group experience that can offer a sense of belonging and connection. Dr Serrallach says midlife changes can include a decline in our physiology, hormone function, and energy levels. “It can be a challenge to stay healthy. All men and women have masculine and feminine hormones and both have testosterone, progesterone, and oestrogen.” A drop in testosterone levels can affect “how comfortable you are in your skin” and your confidence. Dr Serrallach focuses on micro-nutrient health (vitamins and minerals), macro-nutrient health (protein, fats, carbohydrates), organ function (poor digestive health and liver overload) and hormone levels in combination with a framework he calls S.P.A.N: sleep, purpose, activity and nutrition. Addressing these often-neglected areas during our midlife and regenerating their depletion can boost a person’s overall vitality.
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He says men and women both face challenges at midlife: post-natal depression often affects women during the midlife years and many men still believe they have to be the breadwinner. “For a man going into his 40s, there can be the realisation that his life is based on quite a hollow, capitalistic framework. It’s a very full-on time. Who does a man talk to? It can be devastating.” Matt Worley, yoga teacher at the Yoga Loft in Newcastle, spoke to me from India where he is furthering his practice. “Many men have lost the connection with self and without that connection how can they genuinely and truly connect and support others?” Matt says. “From that loss of connection with self, awareness of our own health deteriorates.
Men can then look for an escape through bad diet choices or using drugs. Yoga empowers one to overcome the obstacles of the mind so the self may experience its own true nature.” Former Melbourne psychologist and author of Understanding the Mid-Life Crisis, Dr Peter O’Connor, says men and women face a massive transition from the age of 35. He labels it: S.I.R: separation (from what you know); initiation (of a new phase); and returning (to yourself). “I see midlife as the initiation into true adulthood. But it is a transition, not a fatal disease. Midlife is the start of the remainder of your journey and it is important not to see it as a disaster but as a tremendous opportunity to mature into a grown-up.”