Can Your Practice Help You Conceive?
Most couples begin the process of trying to conceive (TTC) with a thrill of nervous anticipation. There’s a sense of having made the decision to create something greater than the sum of the two of you, and that something is a SOMEONE that represents all the best parts of your love. Having made the big decision, the expectation is that your healthy bodies will comply to produce your love-child. A sperm will meet an egg (ovum) somewhere, and voila, a healthy baby will begin to be born. Only, it doesn’t always happen that way.
For 16% of Canadian couples (1 in 6), infertility and the assisted reproductive technology (ART) used to treat it, means jumping down a rabbit-hole of anxiety and pain. As one of those people, I remember feeling that I was somehow hiding a shameful dirty secret. Every hormone I injected, every procedure I endured, placed me in a position of such raw vulnerability that it was barely tolerable - and I am one of the lucky ones. After four years, endless drugs, miscarriages and two rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), we gave birth to our daughter, and three years later to our son. During all of it, yoga was my safe haven.
So how can yoga help?
Moderate exercise enhances fertility. There is a lot of great research demonstrating that fertility is negatively affected by either too much or too little fat – so couch potatoes and extreme athletes may both disrupt their hormones and have trouble getting pregnant. A gentle yoga practice hits the sweet spot by enhancing muscle tone, encouraging endorphin release and infusing the reproductive organs with blood and oxygen. (Slow Hatha, Yin Yoga, Yin-Yang, Restorative Yoga)
Yoga mitigates stress. Women suffer in silence as they try to get pregnant, whether they are using ART or not. Gentle yoga practices offer women a safe space where they can befriend their bodies. Slow, conscious movement and deep breathing will facilitate the relaxation response and over time, women can make peace with the present moment and whatever it brings.
Yoga is an evidence-based complementary tool for facilitating fertility. Alice Domar’s famous mind-body fertility program has been collecting data on women for over 20 years. Researchers have demonstrated that participation in the program leads to conception for 50% of previously infertile women within six months and 95% of women within two years. Restorative yoga is one of the key components in this 10-week course.
Yoga Therapy can be prescribed for the individual. Each woman comes to yoga with her own biography – which is often mapped out in her physiology. A yoga therapist can offer a personalized daily practice that takes into account the side effects of fertility treatment. For example, a woman on ovulation-inducing drugs may have enlarged ovaries and be at risk for injury post-procedure. A Yoga Therapist can give her a practice that is safe, therapeutic and efficacious.
Tracey Soghrati, practices yoga therapy, the art and science of mind-body integration.Tracey Soghrati BSc., BSc.N, RN, RYT is a yoga therapist, mother and lover of life. www.soghratiyoga.com