“Congratulations, looks like you’re pregnant”—many women will try anything to hear those magic words whether it be fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization.
Recently, however, some women facing fertility issues have been increasingly turning to alternative methods like yoga and acupuncture for fertility, and some spas and studios offering these services are right around the corner.
Most yoga instructors and acupuncturists will remind you that one cannot expect either method to be the “magic bullet” when trying to conceive, but that they are rather a way to relax the mind and body.
Sara Shelley, an instructor who specializes in pregnancy and fertility yoga at Willow Street Yoga Center in Takoma Park, said that while there is no study proving that yoga increases pregnancy rates, there is some supportive evidence that suggests that incorporating mind-body techniques like yoga, meditation, and stress coping skills, might imporve the odds.
“It’s important not to give any guarantees, but I do hear of women getting pregnant, often within six months of the class,” Shelley said.
Yoga for fertility, set to begin Monday at Willow Street, differs from a regular yoga class primarily because of it’s intetnion–every woman is focusing her time, energy, mind and body with the sole intention of creating a healthy environment for new life, said Shelley.
“We tend to associate yoga with just the poses but that’s just the tip of the iceberg so to speak,” said Shelley.
This class is designed to give special attention to the postures, breathing and meditations that help open and direct energy down the reproductive organs, and also brings women together who are struggling with similar issues and going through the same processes, said Shelley.
“These experiences, combined with the yoga practices and coping skills she will be learning, can only serve to enhance her fertility journey,” said Shelley.
Connectivity of the mind and body is also central to the services that that acupuncturist Tori Paide offers at The Still Point spa in Takoma Park. Still Point now offers a wide range of fertility services from massages, to herbal medicine, but began first with acupuncture.
Fertility acupuncture services at The Still Point can help to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle, improve blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, and reduce stress, said Paide, Still Point owner. The spa’s Web site explains several different fertility treatments like “assisting your natural cycle” and “supporting IU/IVF.”
Paide said that women seeking fertility acupuncture must be patient and realize that the services will not always help them conceive, but she added that in most cases her fertility clients do conceive.
“I have many many more women who have gotten pregnant than who haven’t,” said Paide. “I can count number of women who have not gotten on one hand. I always mind their expectations. I don’t take full credit if they do get pregnant and I don’t take blame when they don’t.”
Acupuncture alone is not always the key, said Paide, as she often recommends herbal remedies, exercise, meditation, and diet changes to her clients.
“What’s nice about the acupuncture relationship with Tori, whether you do short clinic or a longer treatment, there’s a building understanding that she has about you,” said Jodi Balis, 33, of Silver Spring, who is almost 13 weeks pregnant and started going to Still Point in February 2010.
Balis said that The Still Point has been a resource beyond acupuncture as Tori recommended Circle Bloom meditation CDs, and talked to her about “life issues,” not just infertility.
Yoga and acupuncture may not be for everybody, but if you are going through the stress of infertility, these local resources may offer you the chance to unwind and reconnect with your body.