Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yoga for Fertility

Image Source: Love to Know Yoga
I haven’t talked much about fertility or trying to conceive on the blog yet. I’ve got a few posts in draft form that I’ve used sort of been using like a diary, but I just can’t seem to hit publish. I don’t know if I’m afraid of jinxing the current cycle (or in my case non-existent cycle) or if I’m afraid that I’m not ” infertile enough” to begin sharing my journey.  It’s probably more of the latter…

But this weekend, I attended a workshop where I thought sharing my experience far outweighed any shyness I may have talking about the subject on this large platform. 

I had read a couple of Babble posts (here and here) a few months ago about how certain Yoga poses can be beneficial to fertility. Now I am by no means a Yogi… I practice every once in awhile at a 24 Hour Fitness Yoga class (which some may argue isn’t even real yoga!). I would attend because I found it to be a great way to center my mind and body after a busy day. I can’t always do all the poses, but just focusing on my breath and the sensations in my body always seem to put me at peace.

In any case, I began doing some research into Yoga for Fertility, to see if there were any classes on it in my area. Lucky for me, I live in a very culturally diverse area where yoga and meditation classes abound. I found Kat Atkinson, a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher, who also just so happens to offer a monthly Yoga for Fertility practice in Berkeley.

Now, attending something like this definitely puts me out of my comfort zone (similar to the meditation class I attended earlier this year). So it took me a couple of months of just looking at the enrollment screen before I actually paid the $25 fee and reserved my spot. I kept thinking that maybe I would be pregnant and wouldn’t need it!

So yesterday, I put on my comfy new yoga pants and long sleeve yoga shirt (I wanted to look the part! Hehe) and I drove to the Yoga Tree (formerly Yoga Mandala) in Berkeley. I got their a little early since I didn’t want the anxiety of rushing and trying to find parking over excite me. Being the first one there, I entered the studio and looked at the myriad of yoga dvds, books, and clothes being sold. A few more women trickled in and finally the doors to the inner studio where we would be practicing opened.
I entered the studio, still a little anxious about the whole process. The studio provided blankets, blocks and straps that I picked up with the rest of the women (eight in all). I was hoping that I wasn’t in for some sort of hard core yoga class, because these were all tools that I was NOT used to using!  

Kat started the class by explaining a little about how yoga can help fertility and what we would be doing in the class. We started with a restorative pose where we did the butterfly and then laid back (see below). We held it for quite awhile so we could center ourselves and create an intention for the practice. Now I’m not overly spiritual on a daily basis and I don’t meditate as often as I probably should, but I wanted to be fully present for the class so that I could retain any possible benefit from it.

Image Source: Yoga Journal
After gently coming out of the pose, Kat invited us all to sit and introduce ourselves in this comforting and accepting space. She told us of her own struggles with infertility and how she felt many of the same things that we are also feeling. She reiterated the fact that it is important to be happy with ourselves as we are, whether or not we have a child. That we are whole women, regardless.  She said that even though her yoga practice didn’t in the end result in a second child for her, the emotional benefits she has gained were SO worth it. Everyone else introduced themselves in turn – one about to do her first round of IVF, two who just completed their second rounds of Clomid without success (just like me!), three or four who had miscarried - some multiple times, and one women who want to try a holistic and clean approach to fertility after all the drugs. 

I must tell you how comforting this part of the workshop was. To be around people who understand what I am going through. To be told it’s ok to cry and release those feelings even if I’m just starting my journey. To be told its ok to have feelings of sadness and jealousy when others around you get pregnant. A few of the girls were part of a support group at Kaiser, something I think I need to look into within my own medical group. Although sometimes it’s scary to see how long some of these women have been trying without success, again the benefit of being in a group of people who understand far outweighed the fear.

The rest of the practice continued much like a normal yoga class, but the meditations and poses were all for those who are trying to conceive or are in early pregnancy (lots of opening the hips and pelvic floor!). I’m a bit bummed that I can’t remember them all off the top of my head, but Kat is supposed to send out an email with info on how to create your own “Home Practice”. She offers personal sessions with people, but she stressed that she does it only to ensure that the student can become self sufficient in creating their own home practice. She also said she is recording something for download in the New Year so that students can have a guided session at home (much easier in my opinion then doing it on your own!).

I will definitely be going back next month, regardless of where I am in the trying to conceive process and I would recommend it to others. Kat, the instructor, was awesome!

The whole afternoon reiterated the fact that it is so important to seek out others who are going through similar struggles for support and friendship. WE ARE NOT ALONE! 

Have any of you hears of or tried practicing Yoga for Fertility?

P.S. - If anyone in the Bay Area is interested, the next monthly practice is December 4th and you can already sign up if you go here.


  1. Jen I would love to go to something like that!! Berkeley is kinda hard for me to get to but I'll have to research if there's something like that here around San Mateo. Trust me girl, I know what you're going through and if you ever need to talk/vent about it you can always email me :)

    I know what you mean about having a support system like that and talking with women who are struggling with infertility as well. Have you heard of this forum? http://www.fertilethoughts.com/forums/lifes-journey/343535-hypothalamic-amenorrhea-4847.html
    All the women there are going through some sort of infertility and it's helped me so much talking with them and hearing their advice. And when you're ready, I would love to read your posts you have saved in trying to conceive. It's been hard for me to talk about but it's therapeutic to let it out and we can all learn from one another :)

  2. Thanks for the encouragement Shayla! Hopefully you can find a similar class or workshop on the Peninsula. Thanks for the info on the forum. I'll have to look into it. :-)