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Yoga for IVF


Negative behavioural patterns doing IVF

I’m really interested in patterns in behaviour. Particularly the negative patterns that we all hold and may as yet be unaware of. At one point in the middle of doing an IVf cycle I was walking down a really steep hill daily, around a large oval and then back up again.  Nuts! Looking back I know there was a number of things going on. I resented being in the situation that I was in, I blamed myself for my fertility problems, I was punishing myself for stopping work. I have often been hard on myself and these emotions of resentment, blame and guilt manifested again when I had fertility issues. (Interestingly they are also the emotions of the 2nd chakra when it’s out of balance, and the 2nd chakra is related to fertility).  It’s only in retrospect I can see what is going on. Are there things that you are doing that is not additive to the process for successfully conceiving? What patterns do you have in your life that have come to the fore in your current situation.  Is there anything you can do to change these behaviours now that you’re aware of them.  When I think back now, with the benefit of hindsight I should have done the opposite.  Been kind to myself, given myself a break, knowing that I was doing my best.

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Find a blessing through the practice

I was chatting to a friend who has been through a lot with fertility treatments. We were talking about how some people take part in much alcohol fuelled partying, drink 4 cups of coffee a day and still manage to pop kids out one after another like smarties. How can this be?  It seems so unfair!

All I can think is that each of us has different paths to travel, and for those of us with fertility issues, this is ours.  We can choose to focus on what we don’t have yet, or we can trust that having put everything in place to have a healthy baby, they are on their way to us.

By doing our practices, breathing deeply from the belly and turning on our rest-and-digest system, by doing our gentle yoga asana poses to move the blood around the reproductive organs, by saying our mantras and affirmations and reminding ourselves to stay present – all these things help to bring our baby to us. It’s from our practice that our belief emerges.  Practice, practice, practice, make it a priority, let these techniques and poses work for you to draw your baby closer.

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Shoulderstand fertility. How turning upside down can help make us more fertile

Shoulder-stand is often talked about when you google ‘poses for fertility’.  I love this pose but for those newer to yoga I wouldn’t recommend you practice it without supervision.  If you already have some experience a good option is to practice against the wall.  Take your time getting into the pose.  Once you’re there keep the head and neck still, close the eyes and breathe through the nose for 8 slow breaths.

There are loads of great benefits to practicing supported shoulder-stand; like helping to turn off the adrenal glands, calm the mind and relieve mild depression.  Most importantly it helps to balance our hormones particularly the pituitary gland – the master controller of all our glands.  The pituitary secretes its own hormones and hormones from the thyroid, stress hormones and the ovaries and testis.  In terms of our fertility it allows the brain to speak to the ovaries to secrete hormones FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone) which we need to create good eggs.  In yoga we believe that when you have your head lower than your heart you flush your pituitary gland with fresh oxygenated blood helping to regulate it.  Supported shoulder-stand is one good way to achieve this.

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bhramari pranayama ‘bee breath’ benefits to calm the mind

Sometimes what we say to ourselves around our fertility can be so harsh.  I am so guilty of this.  If you had a friend that said half the things you say to yourself you probably wouldn’t be friends with them any more.  When my mind feels negative and I feel like I’m in a loop which I can’t get out of I practice ‘bhramari’ (in sanscrit it means ‘black bee’) breath.  It’s an ancient yogic technique which helps to calm the mind a clear the thoughts, and it’s really easy to do.

Stick your first finger in your ears and place the rest of the fingers on your head. Close your eyes.  Hum to the end of the breath and as you do this see if you can make the spot in the centre of your forehead reverberate (this is a relaxation spot we all have).  Move your tongue around your mouth as you hum to find the best spot. Do 8 rounds slowly, and try to keep the breath nice and even, no straining, and the spine long.  When you finish relax the hands on your lap and feel the effects of the practice.

It always makes me feel calmer and my mind feels wonderfully still.  How does it make you feel?

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Best yoga pose for anger

If you can’t be kind to yourself, then try and be gentle. If you’re angry with the situation that you’re in and you’re unable to forgive the past, it’s ok. Just noticing that you are angry is a form of kindness.  When you are ready, maybe you can speak to someone about how you are feeling – a good friend or therapist. When we talk about how we are feeling this often helps to start healing. What you say to yourself now and your thoughts and feelings will not be like this forever.  Remember everything is a process. This too will pass.

There are some great yoga poses to get anger out of the body like wood chopper pose.  The most powerful part of the pose is to visualise what you want to get rid of that’s making you angry.  It might simply be ‘everything’.  (Sometimes there are so many things that just mentioning one isn’t nearly cathartic enough.  Actually, it does’t matter what it is, it’s the release that’s the important bit). Stand with your feet mat distance apart, straighten your arms and hold your hands together as if you are holding onto an axe.  Tuck your chin in and exhale.  Inhale, raise your arms above your head and open up your throat.  As you exhale sweep your arms down and through your legs, and at the same time make a loud ‘haaa’ noise from your belly.  Come up half way and sweep your arms through your legs again with a loud ‘haaa’ sound.  Do this one more time then come to stand.  Breathe and feel the effects of the practice.  Do this 3 times and notice if you feel calmer.  It’s a great one to do if you’ve had a bad day.  Get rid of the tension in the body, don’t let it sit there.  Get it out to feel calmer and happier.

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What lies within us counts. Listen to it.

I get so mad every time I hear someone say “my doctor told me I have a… 5% chance   of conceiving / eggs of a sixty year old / early menopause at 35 / an outside chance of this working”. It’s so irresponsible.  It seems to me that these phrases are for the benefit of the doctor (so there is no repercussion if it doesn’t work), rather than benefitting the the patient.

If someone has said this to you how do you react? It’s hard to have the courage to say “that’s not me” or “I don’t think so”. If you have been told this type of thing, see if you can create another mantra for yourself like “I am healthy and fertile”, or “I am on my way to creating a healthy baby”. Turn off that doubting voice and tune in that inner wisdom within you.

Remember, we are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors.  Our bodies know what to do. See if you can tune in to that deep sense inside you which, if you listen carefully, can help you get from where you are now, to where you want to be.

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Geeta Iyengar’s best fertility yoga pose

Geeta Iyengar, the daughter of one of the fathers of yoga BKS Iyengar, has a strong focus on yoga for women. She believes this pose (bound angle pose) is a “blessing for women”. It helps to soften and open the hips, stimulates the abdominals and increases circulation in the pelvis. It helps the ovaries to function properly and balances menstruation. To make it more comfortable sit up on a blanket so that your hips are higher than your knees. Stay breathing through the nose for 6 slow breaths.

 

If you’re interested in reading more about Geeta and her approach to women’s yoga read ‘Yoga – a Gem for Women’ by Geeta Iyengar.

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Best yoga pose for fertility

Another wonderful pose for fertility – cobra pose. It helps to tone the ovaries and uterus and regulate menstrual problems. If you’re feeling low and need a boost do this pose. As you raise your torso you squeeze into your adrenal glands which helps to calm the whole system and turn off your stress hormones.

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Heated yoga and pregnancy. Is it helpful?

At one point I was teaching hot yoga as well as normal hatha yoga.  I was teaching about 7 classes a week in this hot room (28 degrees, so not bikram hot, but hot enough).  I had a great mentor who was working in this particular studio and I was keen to learn from him.  When they offered me classes to teach I jumped at the chance.  There is no doubt that teaching a dynamic practice keeps you fit.  You sweat and work hard and you come out feeling the rush of endorphins like you’ve really worked out (this really is a sort of gym yoga, for those that don’t want to go to the gym but still want to sweat).  But is this type of practice conducive for getting pregnant?

I’m often asked if it’s OK to do strenuous exercise when you’re trying to conceive eg. dynamic or hot yoga, gym sessions, running etc. My advice would be not to. Stick to all things gentle – yoga, walking, swimming are all great. We are trying to cool the body, calm it down and soften the belly (think of that beautiful round moon, the ultimate feminine energy). It’s about getting the flow going, the breath relaxed, the blood circulating – not practices that heat the body, tighten or strengthen.

When I finally realised that although it might be working on one level (ie. keeping me very fit), it wasn’t good for successfully conceiving.  I changed so many things in my life, it’s hard for me to say what it was that made it possible for us to have our twins.  All I can say is that when I finally did give up my heated classes I fell pregnant.  Who knows if that was it, but one thing is for certain I’m sure giving up the heated practice helped.

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2nd chakra. Let the juices flow…

The 2nd chakra which rules our fertility is a ‘water’ element. I like to think about it like a flowing stream moving down the mountain, light, playful and fluid. It’s all about movement and flow. Fear is the opposite to this. When we have negative or frightening experiences we feel stuck and tight, our breath is shallow and constricted. Spend some quiet time focusing on the breath – close the eyes, feel the air moving thru the nostrils, breathe from the belly count down from 10 to one. Slowly. The breath is key to getting the juices flowing.

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Contact

  • user_white c/o Qi Yoga, 9 The Corso, Manly, Sydney 2095
    Tel: (02) 9976 6880
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