So I’ve kind of been in mourning lately.
My life has gone into overdrive since my son was born in December 2013, especially since he reached toddlerhood 2 years ago. A lot of things have gone by the wayside, including time with friends, reading books for fun, going regularly to the movies or out to dinner, traveling.
And my yoga practice.
Yep, my faithful, consistent, devoted yoga practice is practically non-existent right now. I haven’t been to a class in more than a year, and while I try to practice at home, I just don’t always make it (in fact, I usually don’t).
I love yoga and I miss it so much; hence, the mourning.
I’ve shared with you before that in addition to being a big part of my life for more than 20 years, yoga was a huge part of my fertility journey. Trying to conceive demanded a lot of my attention, but it didn’t keep me from practicing yoga.
In fact, my practice flourished during that time. I craved going to the studio to release my stress and tension around trying to conceive. It was also a wonderful time to reconnect with my innermost self, as well as connect with my future baby.
Yoga is beneficial for fertility in so many ways:
- Stimulates blood flow to the reproductive organs. Blood is the life force for the inside of our body, supplying nourishment to our internal organs. Nourishment to the uterus strengthens the endometrium (the uterine lining), facilitating implantation and early embryonic development.
- Supports the endocrine system. Responsible for the production of hormones, the endocrine system is massively important when trying to conceive. Yoga can help support the endocrine system, keeping our hormones balanced and our cycles normal.
- Gives the benefits of exercise without overtaxing our bodies. Moderate exercise is great for when trying to conceive but when we overdo it could be harmful for our efforts in conception. This is because exercise that’s too strenuous can put too much undue stress on our bodies and can affect our hormone levels and ovulation. Yoga is perfect because by its very nature, you’re always honoring yourself and your body. While we do push ourselves in yoga, we’re never doing more than we can do at any given time. We’re getting what we need while still supporting our bodies.
I personally loved yoga during the time of trying to conceive for even more reasons:
- It helped me manage my stress. I’m no stranger to stress, unfortunately – probably like you – but trying to conceive brought a type of stress I’d never experienced before. There’s so much to keep track of, from medications that have to be taken at certain times, to all the doctor visits, blood draws and ultrasounds. There’s also the unquestionable stress caused by all the emotions wrapped up in it – I wanted that baby so badly! Yoga was an amazing respite from all that stress. Sometimes I didn’t realize how stressed I actually was until I got to class, and I always felt calmer and more centered at the end.
- It reminded me to breathe. When we become a bundle of nerves, we automatically hold our breath. We don’t even realize it’s happening, but it’s a natural reaction to tension. A core tenet of yoga is the breath. No matter how complicated a pose you’re doing, how twisted like a pretzel you feel, your teacher is there to remind you to keep breathing. Breathing helps lower our heart rate and blood pressure, and helps keep us calm, so it’s a really good idea to keep breathing! I noticed that yogic breathing helped me stay calm when giving myself my injectable medications and during my IUI procedures.
- It taught me how to listen to my body. A yoga practice requires us to constantly be in tune with what our bodies are telling us. The state of our body and what our body needs changes from day to day, so no two yoga practice sessions are the same. We always need to be modifying during the practice to give our bodies what they need. The fertility journey is one of learning about our bodies as well, from understanding our menstrual cycles to knowing how much stress our bodies can handle from the journey.
- It helped me stay focused on the present. In the fertility journey, we often express regrets over the past (“I should have started trying to have a baby when I was younger”) or ruminate over the future (“What if this cycle doesn’t work?”). The fact is that the present moment is all that we have. Yoga helps keep us grounded in the present moment, whether we’re in relaxation, teetering in our tree pose, or mindfully driving home after class. In keeping up a regular practice, this focus on the present extends into other areas of your life as well.
- It was a form of exercise I could actually keep up with. You know that exercise isn’t my favorite hobby! I know it’s important for staying healthy and sane, but sometimes I feel like going to the gym is torture. I was initially drawn to yoga in the ‘90s because it seemed like a type of exercise that would be accessible to me, and like something I could actually do.
- It helped me connect with my future baby. Yoga is a rejuvenating and restorative practice. Unlike other types of exercise, it doesn’t deplete us when we do it. After a practice, I would lay in final relaxation, eyes closed and breathing, and focus on my future baby. I would let him or her know that I was ready for him or her to come to me. Through this practice I knew that my baby would find its way to me, at the right time and in the right way.
If you haven’t checked out yoga yet to help you on your fertility journey, I wholeheartedly recommend it! Find a place near you that offers classes and sign up for one. Lots of studios offer the first class free so you can try it out with no obligation.
Yoga is also a great practice to start now, because with its amazing physical, mental and spiritual benefits I described above, it’ll keep helping you through your pregnancy and in preparing for childbirth.
I’m ready to stop mourning and get my practice going again! The really great thing about yoga is that like any good relationship, after a break you can always pick back up right where you left off.