My life was completely halted. I was stuck and grieving the loss of my own fertility on a daily basis. I knew I would be facing an uphill battle, and I tried to remain positive, to be strong, but I was buried in my own sorrow and I couldn’t see a clear path forward. Then, one late night, a random google search led me on a new journey, one that helped me realize I wasn't lost. Rather, I was exactly where I needed to be. This is the story about how my fertility journey became my destination.
The schedule for a women’s fertility yoga class popped up on my screen. I had never practiced yoga before and never really cared to. I wasn’t flexible or athletic, and I had zero patience. There I was, feeling lost and alone, stuck and confused. Oddly enough, the yoga studio was located right on my block! Was it a sign?
Regardless of location, it took me weeks to muster up the courage to cross the street and attend a class. Walking into the studio for the first time felt like my first productive move forward. This wasn’t the next step to getting pregnant; it wasn’t another protocol or doctor. This was about me. This was change. As I began to practice, yoga started to teach me to be flexible in more ways than one, and with that, I started to change my own narrative.
Many moons later I gave birth to my daughters and began to study yoga professionally. I decided to make a meaningful career leap into the fertility world. I started teaching classes to women from all different backgrounds and running peer-based fertility support groups. The work was and is endlessly rewarding. Knowing I can be there for someone in the toughest times gives me a deep sense of purpose and direction.
In the end, my fertility journey truly was an awakening. It forced me into self-exploration. I learned my triggers and what makes me tick. I had to work on myself as a person and learn to love who I was again.
So what is yoga all about? Fertility yoga can aid in conception in many ways. It can increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, help balance hormones and lower stress levels, but it is essentially an inner practice. Yoga is the act of giving yourself a great big hug. A hug filled with patience, kindness, and understanding.
By calming the mind with breath and movement you will learn more about yourself. As a result, you will become more confident in your ability to control your thoughts and emotions. This doesn’t mean everything will be great all the time, but you may just be able to stop the circuit of negative thoughts before they overtake you. It is a powerful practice - one where you can be involved in your own healing.
We are often told to limit our exercise while undergoing assisted reproductive therapies, but I am here to tell you that yoga is a safe physical and mental release even during treatment. Your medicinal protocol, diagnosis, goals, and personal journey all affect the type of postures you should or shouldn’t be practicing, but there are a handful of wonderful poses everyone can do in order to reboot and restore. Below are postures that helped me throughout my journey, and I hope they will help you, too:
Standing Forward Fold: Releases tension in the hamstrings and lower back. Helps balance hormones.
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Chair Pose: Get your heart rate up! Strengthens the muscles around the pelvis by firing up the core and quads.
Chatarunga (yogi push-up): Get warm and strong! Keep elbows tightly in towards your rib cage and lower down 90 degrees. Repeat multiple times to get your heart rate up!
Head to knee: Alleviates tension in the hamstrings, strengthens belly muscles, helps balance hormones, and aids in digestion.
Figure 4 (Piriformis Stretch): An emotional and physical release of the hips. Great for relieving soreness from PIO injections.
Heart Opener: Practice by rolling a blanket or towel underneath your shoulder blades. Recline and take deep breaths. Promotes feelings of peace and well-being. Opens the heart physically and mentally. Legs can be in any orientation. Here, my feet are apart and knees together to help release the lower back.
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Restorative Child's Pose: Whether with props or basic child’s pose, this is a restful, feel good posture for any time of day.
Legs Up the Wall: A must-do during the two week wait! Can be done daily for 5-15 minutes. Increases blood flow to the uterus. Also a wonderful place to meditate. Do not practice during your period.
Reclined Savasana: Use any props to create a comfortable reclined resting pose. Here I use a bolster and 2 blocks. Legs can be in any position. Option to wrap a blanket around your ankles to help open the hips gently.
Dalia Sabari lives in New York City with her husband, two daughters and two rescue pups. She serves as the fertility yoga instructor for several Reproductive Endocrinology offices in New York. Dalia discovered yoga in 2011 when having difficulty conceiving. Since then, yoga has become her passion and a tool to help keep her clients healthy, mindful and strong. Dalia's teaching focuses on a deep mind-body connection as well as a physical and mental well being. Support, love and a sense of humor are weaved into every class Dalia teaches. Dalia sees clients privately in NYC or for Skype sessions for those who aren't local. For more information visit her website at www.yotility.com.