Welcome to chapter 2 of our blog series celebrating phenomenal women who have used their second spring to transform their lives - and through their business focus, the lives of women transitioning through the menopause.
Gabriella Espinosa is a Women’s Body Wisdom guide. Her business is designed to holistically support women’s hormonal health during the natural transitions from peri-menopause to menopause. Inspired by Gabriella’s passion for and training in nutritional therapy, yoga, meditation and somatic movement, her business is committed to guiding women to connect with their bodies, take charge of their health and live their fullest potential. Critically, Gabriella Espinosa works actively to collaborate on initiatives to support the inclusivity of women from diverse cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds where the topic of hormonal health can be more challenging to bring into the open.
We hope you enjoy the read as much as we enjoyed the conversation. With love, the MPowder team.
1. First, tell us a little bit about your work in Women’s Body Wisdom. What led you to focus on the menopause transition in your practice?
‘My purpose is to help women tune into the innate wisdom of their bodies. I believe that when we are able to do this we can intimately connect to the world around us and live fuller and more pleasurable lives. I have spent the last 12 years informing and inspiring women to develop greater awareness of their physical and emotional bodies and embrace their whole selves through the practices of yoga, meditation and breathwork.
As women we experience hormonal shifts during key phases of our life that can take us into unfamiliar territories of fluctuating emotions and uncomfortable physical sensations;
“We have been conditioned to believe that our bodies are no longer working, that we are broken or need to be fixed. Menopause is one of these shifts in which a new narrative is essential to experience our bodies differently. I feel the time is now to embrace this natural and life affirming transition and to connect with the rich and multi-layered aspects of being female.”
I guide women to make time and space to reconnect with their bodies, shift existing narratives and access resources which provide greater understanding of their inherent body intelligence. I offer tools steeped in the yoga tradition as well as modern somatic based practices along with practical applications of nutrition and lifestyle to address stress, fatigue, brain and bone health.
When women start to shift their own attitudes and perceptions about their bodies, they are able to make healthy and informed decisions. When you feel well within yourself you are able to be of highest service to your relationships, families, communities and the workplace.
I lead yoga classes, women’s circles, workshops and retreats. I also work one-to-one with women. Critical to my approach is my focus on ‘you’ - your health history, your lifestyle, your sense of purpose, your relationship with food and your perception of self care.’
2. Your business is focused on managing the menopause transition holistically - playing close attention to lifestyle, nutrition, meditation as well as yoga. Why do you think this broad perspective on health is important?
‘My own experience of moving into peri-menopause in my early forties totally caught me off guard. I was an ambitious career driven woman in my 20s-30s . When I happily started a family at the age of 36, I applied the same drive and ambition to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife and an entrepreneur launching my yoga career and teaching back-to-back classes. All this was at the expense of my health. I put myself last; not sleeping enough or nourishing myself properly.
By my early 40’s I was running on empty, ignoring the creeping anxiety, the heart palpitations, achy joints, low libido and forgetfulness. I was totally unaware about the peri-menopause, much less the menopause when a stressful family event brought me down, compromising my immune system and leading to an autoimmune condition called Graves Hyperthyroid, which causes the thyroid to attack itself. This stopped me in my tracks, made me reevaluate my priorities and take charge of my health.
I had always been very resourceful. I enjoy figuring things out. Just as I did during my pregnancies, I read as much as I could about my condition and sought advice from doctors, nutritionists and alternative health specialists.
I completely changed my diet, balanced my gut health, scaled back my teaching and started turning to breathing practices, meditation and more contemplative styles of yoga like Yin and Restorative. This made a huge difference, but still during all this time no one raised the red flag of menopause. It was actually a male endocrinologist on Harley St who was also a yoga practitioner that advised me to look at my hormone and bone health. That was a light bulb moment for me;
“I realised the intricate links between my immune health, my gut health and my hormonal health. I became increasingly interested in the power of the human body to heal. So, I enrolled to study nutritional therapy at the College of Naturopathic Medicine. I took a deep dive into the fascinating science of our body systems and the role nutrition, lifestyle, emotional and environmental factors play in optimising health.”
It was the psycho-emotional element of health conditions that most piqued my interest. I realised that a lot of the women coming into my student clinics had some emotional turning point in their lives that triggered their condition and made them feel disconnected from their bodies. The guidance and practices that I offer aim to take women on a journey of self-exploration and self-knowing. It may not always be comfortable but it is in those places of discomfort where our greatest learning and healing lies.’
3. Who is your ideal client?
'My ideal client is a woman who has been too busy to make her health a priority. She has been focused on building a career or raising a family (or both). She senses she has lost touch with her body, and is yearning to reconnect with its vibrancy and pleasure. She is open to this very personal exploration of moving from her thinking body into her feeling body with curiosity, compassion, acceptance and love.’
4. How do you define success for your business and yourself individually?
‘I want to be a source of information, guidance and inspiration in women’s body wisdom. I would love to see my current work leading women’s circles, yoga and movement classes, wellness workshops and retreats as a collaborative effort with other like-minded and equally knowledgeable specialists. And I would like to scale my reach to women of all cultural and socio economic backgrounds and to create inclusive spaces where we gather to honour our feminine nature, share wisdom and empower each other.’
5. What correlation, if any, do you see between your age and your ambition?
‘For as long as I can remember, I have been driven by the ambition to serve others. I had an inspiring role model in my mother, who found a way to set up her own business caring for cancer patients in such a way that allowed her to stay true to her values, provide a livelihood for the family and be present for her three daughters. In my early career I worked in the public sector doing outreach to communities of colour and helping to develop public/legislative policy. I then transitioned to the private sector in Asia and facilitated cross-cultural communications with my American parent company. Later, the events that led to the health challenges in my 40s have served as a doorway to channel the lessons of my personal experience in the interest of serving and empowering other women.’
6. Has the menopause transition influenced your outlook towards work and life?
‘My health challenges, the personal exploration of my own body wisdom and my ongoing learning about women’s hormones, the importance of nutrition and how it impacts the transition into menopause, deeply informs my passion to inspire women to take charge of their health:
"The journey into menopause is too often shrouded in silence, secrecy and misinformation. I want to shine a light on this dark side of women’s health. I want to guide women through the various layers of their being to empower them to take charge of their transition into the menopause.”
Knowing that you are not alone and that you are innately equipped with the resources and wisdom to move into the remembrance of wholeness is incredibly life affirming.'
7. What do you wish your younger self had known about:
Life – ‘Nurture your relationships with family and friends and seek mentors to guide you.'
Love – ‘Cultivate intimacy with yourself first - a meaningful sense of presence and connection with your emotions, sensations and thoughts - and love will flourish.’
Health – ‘Know your body - what it does and what it feels and from this place, be your own best advocate.’
Work – ‘Let your purpose inform your why for getting up every morning to do what you do.’
8. What would be your key advice to women entering the peri-menopause today?
‘My main advice is KNOW YOUR BODY. From periods to pregnancy and giving birth, through peri-menopause and beyond, our knowledge and awareness of our own bodies is so important in how we respond to its signals of pleasure and wellness, as well as to signs that things are changing and potentially that something is just not right;
“Knowledge empowers us to be our own best advocates for our health and wellbeing. So educate yourself on how your cycles and hormones function and the key role that nutrition, exercise and lifestyle play in supporting you through hormonal transitions.”
My top recommendations would be:
1. Sign up to workshops, read…research! I recommend The Gynae Geek by Dr Anita Mitra, The Natural Health Bible for Women by Dr Marilyn Glenville and The Perimenopause & Menopause Workbook by Kathryn Simpson.
2. Seek the guidance of a Nutritional Therapist to help you evaluate your diet and lifestyle. Understand the measures you can take to bolster your nutrient intake for optimal health, improve your exercise routine, sleep and stress levels.
3. Talk to other women either by joining a Facebook group, starting your own WhatsAp group or joining a women’s circle. Throughout history, we have gathered in circles to honour our experience as women, to empower each other and share wisdom. These safe and sacred collective gatherings can be incredibly supportive especially as we navigate unfamiliar landscapes.
4. Finally, and most importantly, engage in a daily practice of noticing your breath and the moment by moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations. Make time to pause and ask; “How am I feeling in my body right now?”
When we operate from this place of deep bodily wisdom we are better able to create positive change within ourselves, our relationships, workplace and community. I offer my clients practical tools which they can do at home or in the office for as little as 15 minutes at a time to connect with their physical and emotional landscape and come into this place of deep knowing.’
9. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the MPowder community about our Second Spring?
‘Know that you are not alone on this journey. You already have the resources and bodily wisdom to ride the ebbs and flow of this transition whilst moving into a greater sense of joy, intimacy and meaningful connection with yourself and the world around you.’