Any person who has experienced infertility knows ALL about stress. There’s that GIGANTIC biological clock ticking away in your head while your life becomes overrun by endless doctor appointments, needles, blood work, and test results. Your friends and family tell you to just relax which only adds to your anxiety. The longing to become a mother, to hold your very own baby in your arms, literally makes your heart ache with a pain so profound it feels like its going to swallow you whole. And, inevitably, you just can’t seem to catch your breath anymore. How can yoga help? Through its connection to the breath. In the practice of yoga, the breath holds a place of honor. The breath is sacred in yogic philosophy because it is the pathway by which life-force energy (also called prana), is moved throughout the body, nourishing and healing it cell by cell. Prana is considered divine, the spark that illuminates all life on earth. When we engage in the physical practice of yoga – a sequence of movements linked to the breath – we are able to let go of our thought patterns that keep us stuck. We see and feel the joy in the present moment. There is no worry about the future or anxiety about the past, we simply let go and just BREATHE! Breathing deeply, we feel the body’s movements… the heart beating… the lungs expanding and contracting… without attachment. And something inside of us opens up. We reconnect to our soul. We begin to see ourselves in a new, more peaceful light. The practice also has a powerful calming effect on the nervous system and helps detoxify the body. Another amazing side effect is that it supports our endocrine system, allowing hormones to balance naturally.
The following poses are very powerful for releasing stored up emotion and tension in the body, bringing peace and calm to the practitioner. You can safely do them in the privacy of your own home whenever you wish. I suggest that you listen to soft music while you do these poses, creating an atmosphere of peace and healing.
Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall pose):
I think this is one of the most powerful restorative poses in yoga. It helps to calm the nervous system, while drawing life-force energy (prana) to your sexual organs as well as your heart center and brain. This pose stimulates your ovaries, as well as your pituitary, hypothalamus, and pineal glands – all incredibly important for proper hormone balance in the body.
Place a folded blanket two inches or so from a wall. Sit on the blanket, lower your back to the floor, and walk your legs up the wall until your hips are as close to the wall as you can get them. Flex your feet and extend your arms out to the side, opening your heart center. (If you are menstruating, do not use a blanket.) Now breathe. Deeply breathe and imagine the energy cascading down from your feet into your uterus and ovaries nourishing them with every breath. Then the energy flows to your heart center and continues on to your third eye center (the space in between your eyebrows). Imagine the energy as a golden white light cascading down your legs, nourishing your womb, heart and third eye. Try to hold the pose for 15 to 20 breaths.
Supta Hasta Padangusthasana variation (Also called Reclining Half Pigeon pose):
I love this pose because it helps release tight hips, and we tend to hold negative emotion and past trauma in that tightness. This pose helps bring energy flow and circulation to the sexual organs, nourishing and healing them.
Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor hip distance apart. Cross your right ankle on your left knee. Now lift your bottom leg off the floor drawing your knee toward your torso. Reach through the center hole made my your legs and interlace your fingers on the back of your leg. (If this hurts your right knee, place your foot back on the floor and breathe from here.) Breathe deeply for 10 to 20 breaths. Release your leg and do the opposite side. Notice if you are holding any tension in your jaw or neck during this pose. Breathe and relax into any tight places in the body. Do not raise your head off the floor during this stretch.
There are also very powerful breathing techniques called Pranayama that can bring deep peace and healing to the practitioner when practiced regularly. Find a qualified yoga instructor who can show you the proper way to do these breathing exercises before attempting them at home.
by Cynthia Powers-Broccolli
Yoga for Fertility Instructor at Syracuse CNY Healing Arts Center
Tuesdays, 5:30-7:00 pm Yoga for Fertility (class meets afterward for 45 minutes of sharing and creating community with one other – optional)
Call 315-671-5755 for more information.