2 February 2008

Choices (My Love Affair With Yoga)

I started practicing yoga almost nine years ago. It was something that I was always curious about and I just had a feeling that I would enjoy it, so signing up for my first class was a pretty easy decision. 

I remember being about four or five and watching the yoga lady on PBS and trying to emulate what she was doing and thinking that it was so much fun. You see I was blessed with incredible flexibility and most yoga postures come easily. Since university I've tried running, weight training, aerobics classes and power walking, but nothing made me as happy as coming to my yoga mat. 

I signed up for my first class in order to help me get over a bad boyfriend (which I didn't get rid of until a few years later, but the intention was there), and I just kept going. Even though I stopped going to formal classes for a few years I continued with my daily practice every morning when I got up. I always tell my students that if I didn't do yoga before going to work that I wouldn't be so nice (sometimes I'm sure they wanted to tell me to do a couple of downward dogs to chill out, but no one ever told me that out loud!). 

Two years ago while reading Chatelaine I saw a blurb about a study to do with yoga and infertility. According to the study women that practiced yoga had a better chance conceiving because the practice helped them stay calm.  We had just started TTC and I thought that it was a sign from above that I should return to my yoga practice in a formal setting. Lucky for me I found a studio that wasn't too far from home that offered a $20 unlimited trial for a week.

After doing five classes in one week I was hooked. I started going almost every day, at least until my body gave out and I injured my back. My wonderful chiropractor told me to lay off and take it easy so I started going every other day. I signed up for a year-long membership and I've been a regular ever since. 

Not only do I love my yoga practice, but my yoga mat is the one place I don't have to think of my barren uterus or my friends that are getting pregnant (two more announced their news last week). I've graduated to the more challenging classes where there is no room for thinking and I leave the studio absolutely exhausted, but feeling accomplished. I've also made some really good friends -- the "regulars" that are also at the studio as often as I am. 

Yoga has brought so many gifts to my life. Having a fit body aside, it has also taught me how to speak to myself more kindly, and how to accept my body for what it is and can do. One of my teachers once said, "It's only yoga." during a particularly difficult class. And that is exactly how I'm trying to approach my infertility. Also I'm reminded that suffering is only temporary -- even if I'm in the most challenging pose, I know that eventually I will get out of the pose and the discomfort will stop. 

At the end of class last Thursday, the instructor read from the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The excerpt was about a poor man that had collected a bag of grain over a long period of time. When he had filled up his bag of grain he hoisted it with a long rope over the rafters of his house. In the middle of the night a rat chewed through the rope and the bag of grain killed him in his sleep even before he reaped the fortunes of his grain. The message of the story was that suffering is a choice -- he could've eaten the grain instead of hoarding it, and thus avoid getting crushed underneath it -- and that as human beings we have freedom to choose the state that we're in. 

That's how I see our childlessness. I'm choosing to see this time as a time of discovery, not of mourning. I've spent over two years crying out at the universe with anger and jealousy, and it's gotten me nowhere.  2008 is either going to bring me a belly baby or on the road to adopting one. That's my choice. 

I don't want to get crushed under that bag of grain, I've worked too hard to get here. 


  1. I have always wanted to give yoga a try, but I have never done it. I am not very coordinated and I am afraid I will look like an idiot!

  2. It is wonderful that you have found something that brings you joy, serenity and perspective in your journey through infertility. That is truly a gift.

  3. Jellybelly! I hope you don't mind, but I just read through your blog, and I have to say we have a lot in common.

    For over a year, I've been doing TCM and yoga as my main approach to treating unexplained IF (my guy's great, I've got strange but unexplained stuff going on like mild hypothyroidism). I found that TCM really improved my cycles, mood and health, and that yoga is a wonderful refuge and resource for dealing with all the many feelings that come up. My TCM stuff works better when I follow dietary recommendations carefully, btw. One piece of unsolicited and likely unnecessary assive: Don't do what I did and try every non-TCM supplement in Radine Lewis' book like wheat grass or royal jelly or what have you. I did, and some did more harm than good. Ask your TCM doc first. :)

    I noticed something else you've been writing about that I went through, too: The feeling that an emotional blockage might be preventing pregnancy. I have a very particular view on that front: After trying this out, I don't think it's true. I accessed all sorts of deep traumas and dealt extensively with my ambivalence about becoming a mom in therapy. I've worked through a lot, feel a thousand times freer, but I'm still not pregnant. My guy and I have decided to try an RE and see what happens.

    But what I learned was something really valuable: that I didn't have to try so hard, as my mind wasn't the issue. That my natural anger and jealousy were okay. That some obsessiveness and heartbreak are to be expected. This has made my life a lot more peaceful.

    I hope that your journey brings similar riches and transformations and, of course, ultimate success. I will read along. Oh, and once again, forgive the unsolicited assvice.

  4. HI, I found your blog through Shinejil's blog. Your recent entry makes me really long to take up Yoga again. I enjoy it very much but have slacked off since we dropped our health club membership, although I do a few downward-dogs in the morning. I remember reading that yoga can release emotional blocks, and I have had a few situations where I got done with class and found myself crying as I cooled down in child's pose.

  5. jellybelly- this is totally unrelated to the topic at hand, but you have officially been tagged! Check out my blog at the post titled "The Post In Which Mrs. X Is Chatty" for the details.