Discovering Fertile Yoga While Trying to Conceive
Timing is everything. Or lack of timing. I'm off by about a month, as it's October and I just remembered that September was National Yoga Month.
I spent quite a few Septembers in treatment. And I'm so thankful for the day that I rediscovered yoga while in fertility treatment. It filled me in a way that nothing else did while I was trying to conceive.
Yoga changed my life. With no exaggeration, it may have actually saved my life. An old tired joke I only brag about on special occasions is that while yoga may have saved my life, without a doubt it saved my husband’s life.
Before you get the wrong idea, my husband rarely, if ever, does yoga. He would simply rather not. Yoga is not for everyone, although the benefits are available to anyone even if they do not enjoy the practice. I suspect that the people who do not like yoga have not tried enough different types of classes. I actually do believe there is a yoga class out there for everyone.
Yoga saved my husband’s life not because he participated or practiced yoga but because I did. I was so angry, hurt and resentful that I was lashing out at everyone in my life. Especially those closest to me, including my husband.
So how did yoga save his life?
Relief from Fertility Treatment Stress
The practice relieved stress. Mine. Accumulated from life but more specifically from fertility treatment stress. My heart rate was lower at the end of class in Sivasana than it was first thing in the morning. I felt calmer, less reactive and more capable of handling the frustrations of life.
I felt good about my body, which I was so angry at for failing me in the quest to become pregnant and ultimately create a family. I got to feel my body, in loving and tender ways, even though I couldn’t get pregnant. This was huge. I enjoyed the moments of movement and meditation, unattached to TRYING TO CONCEIVE.
And while I enjoyed the movement and poses of yoga while I was in class, I also found that I was more relaxed and fit even out of class. I felt stronger and more comfortable in my own skin. I breathed more deeply. I ate less because I was less anxious and even a little less sad so my weight came down, lowering my BMI. Because I felt better about my body, I started walking again which created better cardiovascular health.
All of this was great. It was only the tip of the iceberg.
The biggest piece of all was the calm that came through the practice of yoga.
I felt calmer. I breathed more easily. I was less reactive and much less angry.
I felt peaceful.
All those benefits and it saved my husband’s life as well.
If there is no class around you that is dedicated to fertility and yoga, find yourself a gentle, restorative class.
What have you got to lose?
Weight, stress, anxiety, anger and sadness.
Please, do yourself a favor. Give yourself a gift.
Give yoga a try.
CT Fertile Yoga at RMA
I founded and created Fertile Yoga six plus years ago. It was so that I could share and pass on what I had found and discovered for myself. I felt in some ways that I'd found the magic key.
Fertile Yoga, offered through Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), free and open to the public, is available three days a week. Wednesday in Trumbulll at RMACT's office from 5:45-6:45. Thursday in Norwalk at RMACT's office from 5:45-7:00. Friday in Bethel at Yogaspace from 6-7:15. Join me.
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Infertility Trouble With a Capital I
What do you do when you get into trouble? Whether it's trouble with your primary relationship, work, feeling stuck, infertility trouble or your own personal version of trouble; what do you do?
That was the question that I was asked in a yoga class yesterday by a beloved teacher, Mary Gerdes. She always asks the question that I need to hear, that resonates deep within and bubbles up with something new.
What do I do when I get into trouble?
LOL. Just being honest. I completely realize that it is not helpful, nor conducive to solving problems. I get that.
Experiencing Infertility - A Look Back
When I think back to experiencing infertility though, that’s exactly what I did. First month, I was sure I would be pregnant. Same with the second and third month. I was pretty confident until the ninth month. The ninth month hit hard, most probably because that’s the gestation time of a baby. By the ninth month of trying with no baby, the realization that something was needed beyond having loving sexual relations with my husband was undeniable.
Trouble was Infertility with a capitol I.
And so off to panic I went.
I didn’t know what to do first, who to listen to, what to pay attention to; that wasn’t for lack of reliable sources and available help. That was due to the panic that had ensued and clouded my thinking and ability to discern what was helpful from what was unhelpful.
Breath and Awareness
Mary asked and answered the question yesterday. What do you do when you get into trouble?
What do you do when you’re happy?
What do you do when you’re disappointed?
I could go on, but you get the idea. We breathe whatever emotion we are in, whatever situation is raging or loving around us. We breathe.
I’m not saying we always pay attention to the breath; that was Mary’s point.
My point is, actually, no matter what? We breathe. That’s what we were born to do. To keep breathing no matter what, otherwise, we are no longer alive.
Mary’s point, as interpreted by me, was “can we bring our focus to our breath when we are in trouble?” We will be breathing or hyperventilating as the case may be, but we will be breathing. We can’t get into trouble and just not breathe, then there’s a whole lot more trouble.
We breathe because we were designed to breathe every moment of our lives. We have to, there is no choice. Bringing attention to our breath, that’s different.
When I pay attention to my breath, even as my panic rises, I pause. I consider. It gives me just that amount of time for the panic to recede and a sort of reason to return. Not everything is worthy of panic. Ramping things down is healthy, physically and emotionally. Cognitively, we make better decisions when panic is not the ruling force.
I wish I had known in the middle of infertility that even though I felt panicked, there was a pause that was available. A place and a way to settle myself that didn’t count on anything except my breath and awareness.
Thanks Mary, for a glorious class as always. I appreciate always the physical movement of yoga. If I had to pick though, I’d pick the question brought up and reinvestigated in the practice.
What do you do when you’re in trouble?
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Infertility and the Day After Thanksgiving
Whether you are choosing to indulge in shopping or relaxing into peaceful serenity or some combination of the two, the day after Thanksgiving is just that: the day after. It may have been a lovely day or a rough day or some variation. Fertility announcements abound at this time of the year and putting on a happy face when you are feeling sad for yourself is not always easy. Nor is it gentle on our own hearts.
Overindulging can take on a lot of forms. Eating is only one. Whether we eat because it’s delicious or because we’re sad or happy or any other feeling, we do sometimes overdo it.
Wearing a mask for too long is burdensome and emotionally exhausting. We wear a mask when we feel one way and say and act another way. That can be over indulging too; not honoring yourself and your feelings as valid and important.
We tend to overindulge on holidays, in so many ways. We create an idea, based on the past about how the holiday “should” be. Or we decide how we want it to be. Rarely are we available to experience the moments as they are. That’s over indulging too, one of my favorite kinds, where our fantasies become more tangible than our realities.
An Invitation to Yoga Nidra and Finding Your Center
The Friday after Thanksgiving, I teach a way to achieve Yoga Nidra instead of any of my regular classes. It’s become a tradition up at PhysEd in New Milford, CT, for my students who are used to a vigorous class to come, practice lightly and then repose into Savasana for almost an hour.
That’s almost 60 minutes of lying down, having arranged the physical body as comfortably as possible, and sinking into yoga sleep. My favorite definition of Yoga Nidra from Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati is below:
Yoga Nidra means Yogic Sleep. It is a state of conscious Deep Sleep. In Meditation, you remain in the Waking state of consciousness, and gently focus the mind, while allowing thought patterns, emotions, sensations, and images to arise and go on. However, in Yoga Nidra, you leave the Waking state, go past the Dreaming state, and go to Deep Sleep, yet remain awake. While Yoga Nidra is a state that is very relaxing, it is also used by Yogis to purify the Samskaras, the deep impressions that are the driving force behind Karma.
According to the definition of Yoga Nidra and what it is and what it is not, I do not teach or facilitate Yoga Nidra. I create pathways of getting there by using guided meditation to achieve this. I am excited to be teaching Yoga Nidra in a more traditional way this Friday. I hope to have you join me.
On Friday night, Fertile Yoga will meet twice, once from 6-7:15 and then from 7:30-8:30. You are welcome to one or the other or both.
It will be my first foray into a more traditional Yoga Nidra. I would love to have your company.
Whether you have indulged too vigorously in food, or drink, or happiness or sadness, Yoga Nidra will be a way to recenter yourself. To find your way back home.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Fertile Yoga and Hitting the Reset Button
I was struggling yesterday with feelings that I was uncomfortable with: fear, anger and resentment. Those very strong feelings inhibited me from speaking at times as I did not want to come across in an angry or hurtful way. That was a good thing as there are few apologies that I need to make today. I almost wrote no apologies; unfortunately that is not true. Still, there are fewer apologies to make than if I had spoken my “mind” yesterday instead of refraining.
Fertile Yoga in Trumbull helped me press a reset button. Speaking with the women in class, each of them lovingly inspiring the others to manage the disappointments of fertility treatment, reminded me of the power of connection with ourselves and others.
Rarely is there a perfect balance of connections with our selves and others. Last night felt like one of those times. We talked, we laughed, we cried, we listened, we heard one another. We shared strength and listened in awe (yes, really, awe), to each other’s life stories.
And then we practiced yoga and went deep into those connections. We met ourselves and we saw the reflection of the others in class. We saw, despite the outside visual differences, how intrinsically alike we were. We reflected back to one another our strength, endurance and beauty.
The room became like a wall of mirrors. Not like in an amusement park, all distorted and somewhat evil-looking, but as if you were seeing 100, 1,000, 10,000 images of yourself exactly as you were in the moment. Back into the ages and out generations into the future. Those reflections of ourselves only possible with the mirrors that the others held up for us.
Our unity, in the power of being together and sharing in an authentic and real way. Our confidences shared in both an intimate and universal way. We all love. We all hurt. We all dream. We all are loved.
It is safe to say that last night in class I received as much as I gave as I saw the inspirational and unconditional love given freely. And despite the outward differences of the women in class, we were truly woven together.
Coping with Fertility Treatment
Fertility treatment is astonishingly hard. It is made so much easier as a shared burden.
Thanks to my wonderful Fertile Yoga ladies in Trumbull for that astonishing reminder last night. I learned something from you.
Please visit our events calendar to find classes near you. Right now, we have Fertile Yoga classes available in Norwalk and Brookfield/Danbury as well as Trumbull.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Yoga and Fertility: National Yoga Month Acknowledgements
September is National Yoga Month, something I did not know until a lovely person at Resolve New England asked me to write a blog about yoga and fertility. September is also PCOS Awareness Month, which I did know and have put up several blogs about, including the one on Monday, where RMACT board-certified reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Joshua Hurwitz writes about PCOS.
September being National Yoga Month doesn’t negate the fact that for me, every month is yoga month. As I shared in the Resolve New England blog, which has yet to be released, yoga saved my life while I was in fertility treatment.
Fertile Yoga for the Patient Community: Multiple Meanings
Fertile Yoga is my offering back to the patient fertility community. That can be read in more than one way, can’t it? We are patients, while in fertility treatment, with our doctors and fertility programs. We are also patient with our yoga practices while in treatment. And yet, we are not always patient; in fact, impatience is one of the hallmarks of a fertility patient.
Our impatience comes from our unknowing. We hear the percentages of the possibilities of becoming pregnant on any given cycle. Whether they are twelve per cent or seventy per cent, or anywhere in between, they are never one hundred per cent. Even when the percentages are high, as in the seventies, there is still that fear that you or I will be in the thirty percent or so that will not have the positive pregnancy test.
And so there is Fertile Yoga, where practice makes perfect. Where coming into practice is perfect, one hundred per cent. You don’t need to be able to touch your toes or even your shins or knees. You don’t need to be able to get your arms above your hands or your finger tips to touch. You don’t need to be able to sit on the floor comfortably; that’s why we have chairs. You don’t need to be flexible physically or emotionally. You just need to walk in the door to get the benefit.
You Need Only to Breathe . . .
The only thing that you need for Fertile Yoga is to breathe. Which, I guarantee, whether you do well or badly, you will do in class. Our breath keeps us company our entire lives, with or without our attention. To do perfect Fertile Yoga, you need only to breathe. Something you are already doing.
As we bring attention to our breath, there is the possibility that we will let other things go. Our focus becomes the breath and other things become unfocused, at least for a moment. As we string together moments of noticing our breath, we also become less focused on those other things. And so it goes. That can be a huge relief when our brains have been spinning around and around trying to figure out what one cannot actually figure out.
Wonderful that it is September and National Yoga Month. Perfect for the announcement that Fertile Yoga will be commencing in RMACT’s new, beautiful office in Trumbull, CT in October. See the earlier blog this week about our new CT fertility center in Trumbull.
Starting in October, on Wednesdays, from 5:45-7:00 p.m., Fertile Yoga will be practiced in Trumbull, at 115 Technology Drive.
Fertile Yoga will be continuing on Thursday nights, at 20 Glover Avenue, Norwalk CT, from 5:45-7:00 p.m. and on Fridays at Yogaspace from 6:00-7:15 p.m.
Three opportunities to practice Fertile Yoga every single week. Each class supported by RMACT. Free and open to the public.
Please always check our online events calendar about classes to make sure that they are meeting on the day and time that you are going.
I look forward to meeting and sharing practice with you.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Healing and Yoga: Messages from the Newtown Yoga Festival
Expression, healing, compassion, empathy and forgiveness. That is what is so often needed for those of us experiencing infertility. Or cancer. Or the loss of a loved one.
Or a tragedy.
All messages given and received in Newtown, CT on Saturday, August 24, 2013.
I was honored to have been able to volunteer for the first annual Newtown Yoga Festival.
Ever since the shootings that took place on December 14, 2012, I’ve wondered how I can support my community. I consider Newtown, Sandy Hook, my community as I live six minutes away in Brookfield. I know Newtown as well as I know the town I live in. It’s an arbitrary geographical/political boundary that makes it a different town.
I’ve prayed for the families who lost children, sisters, brothers, spouse, friends and colleagues. I’ve dedicated teaching and my own practice many times for those grieving. When the residents of Sandy Hook and Newtown asked for us to give them some privacy, I respected that and stayed away. There have been fundraisers and awareness-building gatherings that I have attended.
Still, there’s been a nagging feeling that there was more to do.
And then one of my mentors, a beloved teacher of mine, Karen Pierce, asked for volunteers.
The Newtown Yoga Festival. With all proceeds to go to the Sandy Hook Promise.
With love and devotion a festival was created, not to celebrate, but to heal.
Not to forget, but to start to forgive.
Forgiveness starts with ourselves. From within.
It was my honor and privilege to have served on Saturday for the Newtown Yoga Festival.
Healing and forgiveness come from within, Seane Corne said, over and over again, eloquently, passionately and tenderly.
Healing Around Infertility: Try Something New
Do you have healing that is needed around your infertility? Is your focus only about becoming pregnant and ignoring the trauma that occurs with disappointment, frustration, loss and grief?
Try something simple, something new. Come to Ladies Night In for some peer support (this Thursday, August 29, in Norwalk, CT at 6:45 p.m.). A group of women who have been through similar experiences, talking, sharing, supporting, crying and laughing.
Try Fertile Yoga, for a gentle, restorative class that soothes the spirit, dedicated just to you (right before Ladies Night In, in Norwalk, from 5:45-6:45 p.m.).
Make an appointment with our mental health professionals, experienced in infertility counseling, Lisa Tuttle or Melissa Kelleher. They will help ease your pain and find a way to live more fully into your life.
Reclaim your own life. Finding healing and forgiveness and offer it out.
We all need it.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Fertility Treatment Thoughts from the Heart
There are all kinds of ways to express the feelings that we have that are sometimes overwhelming. I write. I draw. I paint. I practice yoga. I read. I pray and meditate. I cry. I laugh.
One of our own, a patient here at RMACT, shared a beautiful piece of writing with me. With her permission, I am printing it here, unedited and signed with her initials only. Thoughts on fertility treatment. ~Lisa
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
By choice, I haven’t had alcohol in over six months. I thought it would help my fertility. Despite my unfortunate excitement to drink away my sorrow, I lost the taste for my once-cherished Chianti.
Even in the luxurious Waterford crystal glass, allowing the wine to breathe, my taste buds revolted with each smothering sip. I persevered, and finished the glass, never receiving the numbness of intoxication that could have compensated for my newly unearthed distaste of red wine.
I wanted to sleep, but the sugar of the wine and my screaming cat, caused a seven a.m. rise and shine. So I headed to fertility-unfriendly, hot yoga to sweat out the toxins.
The class was so crowded, I had to squeeze myself into the front corner - between the person behind me, the left wall, the front window display and the yoga instructor.
Each of the thirty-or-so times I inverted into downward facing dog, my necklace dangled, and its circle charm inscribed “believe” and the baby’s feet inside it kicked my face.
In the exact moment that I noticed the smell of rotting flowers, the instructor said “I’m so sorry that you’re almost doing your yoga into dead flowers. They lasted over a week. I guess it’s time to throw them out.”
Two frozen embryos were transferred. In a little over a week, the good news of my doubling beta subsided, only to learn the progression of my pregnancy had ceased.
In my meditative state, I pondered how Sheryl Crow might write this verse into her hit song “Isn’t it Ironic.” According to my body, I guess it’s time to throw them out.
A Chance to Speak Out About Infertility
It's time. Back in the dark ages, no one talked about infertility and fertility treatment. Well, almost no one. Here and now, guess what? Many of us still don't talk about infertility and fertility treatment. Two major side effects of infertility; isolation and shame.
There are many reasons not to talk about infertility. If you're reading this, you may recognize your reason on this list; shame, privacy, insurance coverage, fear of pity, avoiding unhelpful help, easier, sparing the other person(s) pain, thinking that you will be pregnant soon enough so it's not necessary, jealousy and envy, not wanting to be the topic of conversation. And more. It's a partial list, your reasons may not appear there.
Celebrities Talk Too, Including Mrs. New York
I had all those reasons. But I had something else too. A big mouth. Which, it turned out, was a good thing. It got me out of myself and into volunteering. These days infertility is all over the news. Even the celebrities talk about it, embarassing as it could be for them, even damaging to their public personas. Still, they talk about it. Check out Mrs. New York in our photo.
I started talking a long time ago. I started volunteering. I started writing. I did interviews. I did television shows. This was over twenty years ago. I haven't stopped since. My biggest reward is to see infertility conversation out of the closet. To see it discussed on all major media and social media platforms. It just isn't enough though. It's time. We need you. I need you.
Please Join the Conversation at Fertile Yoga on March 11, 2013
I was asked to be interviewed by a very sympathetic television reporter. She would like to video a Fertile Yoga class, on March 11, at 11:30 am. Most likely the class will be taught at Blackbird Yoga, in Georgetown CT, about 20 minutes north of Norwalk and 20 minutes south of Danbury.
I need you. I need you to come and take class that day. If you can find a way to be comfortable, we would arrange for you to be interviewed as well. This is an opportunity to come out of the closet. To be with a group of people, acknowledging this very prevalent (one out of six people will face the challenge of infertility) health problem.
Come be part of the solution. Bring infertility just a little bit more out of the closet. Find your own voice and let it be heard. My email address, if you are interested, is email@example.com. Please put in the subject line ~ Fertile Yoga - It's time. For those of you who participate, there will be a little concrete sign of our gratitude.
8 Common Excuses for Not Wanting to Practice Fertile Yoga
I hear a lot of excuses. I make a LOT of excuses. Excuses about why I don't do something. Excuses about why I do some things. Here are a couple of really special excuses about not practicing Fertile Yoga:
- I'd rather swim in a tank full of sharks than do yoga
- I'm not flexible
- Yoga's too weird
- I'm too tired
- I'm too anxious
- My husband/wife/partner/best friend/mother/sister doesn't think it's a good idea
- I don't have the right clothes
- I can't afford it (Fertile Yoga is free of charge in two locations)
Recognize yourself? I know with a simple twist, those are excuses that I have used myself, many times, about many things I've wanted to avoid doing. Except for the tank full of sharks thing, that one, so far, I've not used. I'm looking closely at excuse number 7 today. I don't have the right clothes.
In Fertile Yoga, I've seen students come to class with the perfect, most stylish yoga clothes. I've seen t-shirts and sweats that are more than a decade old. Some students come straight from work and practice in class in dress pants and sweaters. Some come from home, in jeans. I've had students show up in dresses, skirts, leggings, and almost every other combination you can imagine. With the exception of elegant evening wear, I thought I had seen it all.
Practicing Yoga With Mrs. New York
Then I had the privilage and honor of teaching a fertile yoga class at the conference on January 26, "Dreams, Angels and Miracles- The Building Blocks of Life". (Thanks Fran Meadows!) Enter Mrs. New York. Is she not gorgeous? And dressed as she was, did she not have the perfect excuse to excuse herself from class? She didn't. Hysha Robinson Nesmith, Mrs. New York, 2013, struggling with infertility and fertility treatment herself, sat herself down in her beautiful, pleated dress, with her tiara sitting gently on her head and with a sash wrapped around her and practiced with us.
She didn't offer any excuses. She just sat right down and participated. With a tiara, a sash and a smile. Like many of us, she was willing to try Fertile Yoga, with the idea of it enhancing her chances of becoming pregnant. Knowing that it would help decrease her stress levels. Hearing that it could lower her pulse rate and soften her anxiety. Understanding that at the very least, practicing Fertile Yoga could offer her an hour or so of focusing on all the beautiful, healthy ways that her body, mind and heart worked. To bring focus to her breath and her heartbeat. To be reminded that she is a beautiful, strong, vibrant women.
And she reminded me. It doesn't matter how you show up to Fertile Yoga. Wear your most fashionable yoga clothes or your most comfortable pajama bottoms. Wear your heart on your sleeve or bring your most stoic face. Just come. However you are. With or without a tiara. You are most welcome. Fertile Yoga, I hope to see you there.
Extraordinary Questions, Ordinary Moments
Extraordinary questions appear, often with no warning. And then they are there. Sometimes there's time to think and sometimes there is only time to answer. Straight from the heart.
I met a woman yesterday before teaching a fertile yoga class. A student. It turns out, a teacher as well.
She's been coming to class regularly now for several months, so it was not our first meeting. Often she comes with a friend who is so close that I mistook them for sisters. I find out that they are sisters, of the heart, although not by blood.
There are meetings and then there are meetings.
I had formally met her. Knew her name. Knew that she was trying out yoga. That she was enjoying it. Knew that her downward facing dog was getting longer and brigher. I knew what she looked like, from the outside. I had met her.
And then there are meetings.
She approached me before class yesterday. It was one of the few times that I was early to teach that class. I had some time that I didn't quite know what to do with, that I hadn't filled up. Unusual for me. Normally I would have taken a walk or a shower perhaps. Or gotten on the treadmill or read or written. I had felt unsettled and so I had come into the studio early to come to my own center before teaching.
Things happen for a reason. It turns out, over and over again, that this is true.
She wanted to know if she could ask me a question. I looked at her and saw the whole world open up, through the windows of her eyes. I knew in that instant that this perfectly ordinary woman was going to ask me the extraordinary.
And she did.
I wondered occasionally whether my students understood how deeply I meant what I expressed in class; how my beliefs came out in my words to them, meant to support and encourage and even help them find new places within themselves.
She was brave enough to ask. And the question that she chose was extraordinary.
"Do you really believe what you say about our physical selves being only our containers, holding our truest selves?"
Yes. I really believe that.
She went on. Of course she did.
"What do you believe happens to us after we pass?"
Extraordinary human being.
She had a daughter. A beautiful daughter, I saw a picture. Her daughter has died.
Her quiet presence in my classes had started to be a root for me to build the practice.
We get asked extraordinary questions, in the most ordinary of moments.
And it matters what we say then. It matters that we respond in a way that offers support and love and compassion with our entire being.
Asking Questions About Infertility: Also Straight to the Heart
Here are a few more. If you have dealt with infertility in any way, you know these answers must also come straight from the heart.
- When is enough, enough? How many cycles of IVF or IUI is the right amount of effort for you?
- What words do you use to share information about donor egg or donor sperm with your child? At what age?
- Can you turn your sights to adoption if fertility treatment doesn't work?
We recognize extraordinary questions when we hear them. Do we realize that we are extraordinary enough to answer them?