Archive for February, 2011

Yoga + Infertility = Baby?

Women battling infertility is a familiar (though harrowing) story these days. Women using yoga to reduce stress and love themselves better is another familiar story. So it comes as no surprise that yoga is helping women to cope with the physical and emotional stress of infertility and its treatments…

It’s also not a new idea. My ob/gyn, Dr. Eden Fromberg, opened Lila Wellness Center in New York several years ago to meet women’s pre-and post- (and pre- pre-) natal needs. And there have been programs such as Receptive Nest, and studios such as Brooklyn’s Bend & Bloom, helping women to reach full “bloom” in their childbearing years. Other renegade yoga specialists have been helping women for years to make the all-important mind-body connection necessary.

But the NYTime’s article this weekend, “Yoga as Stress Relief: An Aid for Infertility?” raises this issue with a new twist: once-skeptical fertility professionals (doctors) are giving yoga the green light. The tide is turning in how acceptable yoga is to support women in their quest to become pregnant.

Medical acceptance of yoga as a stress reliever for infertility patients is slowly growing. In 1990, when Dr. Domar first published research advocating a role for stress reduction in infertility treatment, “I wasn’t just laughed at by physicians,” she said. “I was laughed at by Resolve, the national infertility organization. They all said I was perpetuating a myth of ‘Just relax, and you’ll get pregnant.’ ” At the last meeting for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Dr. Domar, now on the national board of Resolve, gave multiple talks, including one about how to help the mind and body work together in infertile couples.

And this is a national phenomenon, not just a jag in New York or San Francisco where there are always a handful of people pushing the envelope.

Still, even with yoga’s help, infertility doesn’t sound like too much fun.

“A lot of people want to boil it down to ‘If you relax, it will happen,’ ” Ms. Petigara, a former in vitro fertilization patient who adopted a son, wrote in an e-mail. “I absolutely feel that yoga can have a very positive impact on infertility, but infertility is a lot more than ‘just relaxing.’ ”

Oh!!! As in, lie back and think of England? Well, yoga never was really about passivity.

If you happen to be dealing with infertility right now, you can attend the March 17th tele-seminar on “Yoga for Fertility” led by Jill Petigara, who teaches in the Philadelphia area. But you’ll have to Google the details.

Food for thought

Winter Yogi, Hot Yogi: the Sauna Factor

This has been a devastating winter in New York: cold, dark, icy, blizzardy. We’ve hauled out shapeless jackets. We’ve procured sensible, water-proof, slip-proof footwear. And worn them day, after day, after dark day.

Oy vey.

For the first time in 4 years, I don’t have a tropical destination this winter: no Costa Rica yoga retreat to lead. My teaching cohort has gone off in India for 6 weeks. So there’s no guaranteed relief this year: relief for lizard-like skin, plunging vitamin D levels, or the feeling of being embalmed in wool (boiled or cashmere makes no difference: I’m a summer girl; I like to feel my limbs free).

So imagine how grateful I am to the yoga centers nearby who had the brilliant idea of installing saunas. In this weather, it’s fantastic to be warm. It’s great to feel really HOT. It feels SO GOOD to sweat like a tropical plant opening up to a sweltering afternoon shower. And in a weird way, it’s great to suffer in the way opposite from the day-to-day suffering.

When Spa Castle (Korean spa in Queens) is too far away, the Russian baths are too skanky (or just too much cash), I know I can slip over to Kula Williamsburg or Greenhouse Holistic (N7 & Roebling), take a class, and douse my unhappy epidermis with dry heat until the leathery stiffness begins to give. And at Kula, I can also have some of Brownie’s delicious banana bread after (which is going to make bikini season a little harder to prepare for this year).

Ahhhhhh. Long live the convenient neighborhood sauna.