September is national Yoga Month, a national observance designated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Carinn Jade has practiced yoga for 8 years and has obtained many teaching certifications in the last five years. During that time she spent a great portion of her studies researching yoga for infertility, yoga with babies and yoga for toddlers.
Yoga for Infertility includes practices for the body, mind and spirit recognizing that all aspects of a person’s mind and body are integrated and connected. All disease (or inefficiency in the operation of the mind and body) typically stems from a communication failure along these lines. This practice seeks to re-establish that communication – to feel one with ourselves (physically) and with the world around us (in our thoughts and in our feelings).
Hip Openers: On a physical level, poses that encourage hip opening (inner and outer, standing or seated) target the pelvis and reproductive organs leading to an increase in blood flow and prana. Opening the hips and the pelvis by releasing blockages and increasing flexibility are vital to encourage fertility.
Hip openers have powerful effects that run deeper than the physical. Many people store unconscious tension and emotion in the hips and over time these things build up without release. This release can be vital in restoring fertility. Hip openers also promote patience, supporting the focus and fortitude required to sit with and bear tension, conflict or difficulty in life.
Inversions: On a physical level, inversions, where the head is below the heart level, have many benefits. Especially important to healthy fertility is the balancing of hormonal systems in our body that may not be functioning properly (before or, perhaps as a result of, the process of trying to conceive) – the thyroid, thymus, lymphatic systems, pituitary and pineal glands. Even more simply, going upside down can help people change their perspective – literally and through the process of trying to conceive.
Restorative: Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard has done extensive research on what he has termed “the relaxation response,” the opposite (but equally essential) survival mechanism of the “fight-or-flight-response.” In his studies, he found the body has the ability to heal and rejuvenate itself through messages sent to the parasympathetic nervous system. A passive attitude is essential to elicit this relaxation. It requires an attempt to let go of all distractions and thoughts with an emphasis on the desire – that is to say that the attempt to block all other thoughts and distractions does not need to be “successful” you just have to want to clear the mind.
Resting poses bring forth the passive release of the body. They encourage muscular rest and release and good neutral alignment. Energetically they are cooling and soothing, and support withdrawal of the outward senses.
Infertility is not an illness that needs to be cured. Conception is a miracle influenced by countless factors. Even under “optimal conditions” there is no guarantee conception will occur. This does not mean, however, that you can’t do anything about infertility. Yoga can optimize fertility, make you aware of negative patterns, reconnect with the physical body that you feel is failing you, and tune in to your body’s own healing qualities and intuition. It is your task to find union – in whatever form works for you – to support you on this challenging journey to conceive.