Bliss Baby Yoga Fertility Yoga specialist, Tanya Neate, shares the benefits of yoga in supporting women on their journey to conceive.
“Allow yourself to settle, make yourself comfortable and begin to take the breath deep down to your belly.” Tegan sits bolt upright, her expression is one of anguish and tears instantly begin to flow.
It’s such a common cue in a yoga class. “Allow the belly to soften and receive the breath.” It is supposed to induce a sense of relaxation, but for Tegan the simple act of connecting to her belly opened her up to overwhelming emotion and grief. This is a part of herself she has shut down, disconnected from, handed over to the medical experts, this is the heart of her anguish and crushing disappointment. It hurts too much.
Tegan had only very recently experienced a second miscarriage and had decided to try a Fertility Yoga class to help her deal with the overwhelming stress, try to experience relaxation and restore health to her reproductive system. She and her husband started trying to conceive early in their marriage, and were shocked to learn that this was not going to be a smooth road for them. She was in a state of grief and at the point of feeling completely consumed by the situation. Infertility was affecting every aspect of her life and she felt it was changing her as a person. As a couple, they were facing a life crisis, all their hopes and dreams of having a family was under threat.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 Australian couples experience challenges when trying to conceive.*
With so many people dealing with the challenges of infertility, it is a sad reality that a feeling of isolation is a very common side effect. There can be a distancing within the partnership and certainly from friends and family, who may be busy creating their own families. Ordinarily family and friends would rally around distressed loved ones but infertility is very often silent and the pain kept private.
When first joining a fertility yoga class, many women are surprised by the comfort and relief felt just being in a room with other women who share their experience.
There is something very powerful that happens when women look around them in class and know they are not alone. They may be strangers to each other at first but there is a deep understanding between them. The fact that Tegan wasn’t the only one in tears during that yoga class offered some comfort and supported a bond between two women who has just met.
During what is an emotionally turbulent time, many women find their fertility yoga class becomes an anchor in their week. It can be a time to pause, grieve, restore faith, release tension, frustration, anger, and offer themselves love, nurturing and nourishment, or just forget about it all and bliss out! It’s also a chance to draw on the support and knowledge of others, especially with regard to treatments, dealing with specialists and the day to day realities of the ART process.
A yoga class designed specifically to support women experiencing infertility offers them a whole toolkit of powerful practices to choose from.
The women are empowered with the knowledge of how to release pent up physical, mental and emotional tension. They explore how to move physical stagnation and energetic blockages to increase circulation and blood flow to their reproductive organs. They learn to alter their yoga practice to support the natural rhythm of their menstrual cycle. A significant component of the class is devoted to discovering how to calm and focus their minds with visualisation, breath work and meditation. There is a great emphasis on the restorative yoga practices, so women can learn to activate their body’s own natural relaxation response, relieving them from a state of chronic stress.
When so much is out of their control, reconnecting to their higher Self and really listening to their own body’s wisdom enables women to connect with a source of intelligence and strength they never imagined they had. With the clarity that yoga gifts us, they are able to make the decisions they need to make.
As a fertility yoga teacher, I see powerful transformations happen with these women as they attend each week. There are many happy outcomes, such as with Tegan, who now has a beautiful, chubby cheeked, baby boy to cherish. There are also those who come to choose different paths to parenthood and are also now blessed with family. For some the journey continues and my hope is that yoga can help ease the way.
*The Fertility Society of Australia