Manage Stress with Yoga for Fertility
The World Health Organization’s World Report on Disabilities ranked infertility as the fifth largest serious global disability. In the industrialized world, infertility affects 10 to 15 percent of couples and individuals trying to conceive.
That number is on the rise. There is an epidemic of families struggling with this diagnosis, which has been described as one of the most upsetting experiences in a person’s life. Yet the complexity of the loss is largely unrecognized. It’s very common for families and friends to dismiss or underestimate the stress associated with the cycle of uncertainty, waiting, and grief.
An infertility diagnosis can lower self-esteem. It can create or exacerbate marital problems and can lead to feelings of isolation. All of this will inevitably exacerbate grief and stress. In 2018 author, energy, and radio show host, Nancy Mae interviewed me on her News for the Soul radio show “Life Transitions.” We talked about my four-year struggle with infertility, the associated grief and isolation, and my journey of becoming a mother. If you’re struggling with infertility know that you’re not alone and there is hope!
How Yoga for Fertility Can Help
As I was living through the merciless cycle of infertility I became more dedicated to my yoga practice. In many ways, it was a lifeline for me. Physically it gave me a sense of ease and comfort in my body. Energetically it helped me stay grounded and centered. Emotionally and spiritually it allowed me to listen more deeply to my heart, which helped build my self-esteem and clarify my own attitudes toward motherhood. This deeper connection with my Self became an emotional bridge from infertility through pregnancy and motherhood.
There are many ways that yoga and yoga therapy can support women as they travel this path. Yoga can help manage stress, process grief/loss, and increase blood flow to reproductive organs to name a few benefits. It is also very beneficial for preparing the body and mind for pregnancy if that is part of your journey. Yoga for fertility can support you if you are seeking medical and alternative fertility treatments, considering adoption, or anything in between.
How to Practice Yoga for Fertility
We tend to think of yoga as a movement practice, and there are absolutely great benefits to gentle yoga for fertility movement practice. In particular, poses and movements that help release tension in the hips and pelvis and open the heart are helpful. Beyond movement and postures, meditation and mudras are two of my favorite ways to support the emotional complexities of infertility.
One of my favorite yoga for fertility practices is to sit quietly holding a mudra. While I’m holding the mudra I will set an intention for my wellness (body, mind, or spirit). Mudras for fertility are said to help channel energy to reproductive organs and promote overall wellness. I don’t always feel the energy of a mudra but they always help me cultivate mindfulness with awareness on a heartfelt intention or wish for myself.
This mudra can be used alongside yoga poses. It is balancing and supports you as you transition through each stage of your cycle. When held at the pubic bone it may enhance circulation in the pelvis and promote a sense of empowerment.
How to Practice Kirtan Kriya
Meditation has been shown to have many benefits but for a beginner, it can be hard to know where to start and the thought of clearing the mind seems impossible when you’re under a huge amount of stress. I recommend finding a short guided meditation that focuses on feeling whole, positive, and hopeful. The Kirtan Kriya is a simple moving meditation I recommend to many clients dealing with stress and chronic conditions. For this practice, we use the mantra “Sa Ta Na Ma” combined with movement in the hands. Here’s how to practice:
- Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and completely relax your shoulders with your hand in your lap or at your sides if you’re lying down.
- Bring the tip of your thumb to your pinky finger saying the mantra “Sa”
- Bring the tip of your thumb to your ring finger saying the mantra “Ta”
- Bring the tip of your thumb to your middle finger saying the mantra “Na”
- Bring the tip of your thumb to your index finger saying the mantra “Ma”
I’ve heard several translations for the mantra. The one I like best is “All (Sa) this (Ta) is (Na) enough (Ma).” This brings a sense of equanimity and acceptance. We don’t have to accept what is going on with us. We just need to accept that right now, this moment is all there is. This kind of present-centered awareness helps clear the mind and release stress. Releasing stress is one of the most important ways you can optimize your body for fertility.