Tag Archives: yoga

Silly Saturday

here’s a little song what I wrote:

Down dog and up dog and parsvakonasana
plank pose and cat pose and sweat trickling down my nose
chanting old mantras and feeling the zing
these are a few of my favourite things

When the dog (pose) bites, when the bee (breath) stings
when I’m feeling stiff
I simply remember my favourite things
and get back on to… the mat.

(Of course you knew to sing that to the tune of the song from the Sound of Music right?)

First time I’ve been back to yoga in ages. It was great. Made me come over all creative.

Silliness over. Normal programming will resume sometime in the next few days.

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My top tips for life after IVF

*Ok, it’s early days for me, and of course it’s not just the end of IVF, but the end of the road for me in terms of having my own child (miracles notwithstanding*).

So these are working for me, for now. Kind of. This week has been hard though, I’ve not been sleeping well, I’m getting up super early, and I went back to work. Ugh. Generally feeling very sorry for myself. I was fine in the week or so before, but the pain has returned, and it’s taken a new shape.

Of course everyone’s different so please feel free to comment on what works for you in similar shitty, unhappy and generally lonely circumstances – in fact, please do comment, I need all the ideas I can get!

  • Do stuff. Make an effort not to sit at home and wallow in your sadness. By getting out and about you remember that life’s pretty good actually. Your friends are there to entertain you and accompany you on excursions to see and do things – going to the art gallery, seeing music, going to the cinema, going to a market or a festival. I know it’s not going to erase your pain, but it will lessen it for a while.
  • When sadness hits though, don’t ignore it. Honour it, go into it, feel whatever feelings, think whatever thoughts come up. Sometimes they may not even be (seemingly) connected to your loss, but they are.
  • Think about volunteering. It could be with disadvantaged children, or a political or ecological cause you are passionate about. Helping other people is really satisfying. The Dalai Lama says “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”, “the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes”. To put this into action, I have just applied for the Big Sister program through the YWCA, where you mentor a young girl . And you know, I know this will be good for whichever young girl is put in my charge, but it will also be just as satisfying – maybe more so – for me.
  • I’m looking into permanent fostering, with a view to adoption in the future. I thought  adoption in Australia was impossible for me, and it is if I wanted to adopt a baby or small child that was deliberately put up for adoption.  Because there aren’t any in this country, and intercountry adoption costs up to $40,000 and can take up to eight years, which is fricking ridiculous. But fostering a child seems to be a way that can work, and also saves a child from harm. There are issues, which I’ll cover in a later post, but they are not insurmountable.
  • Read. Whatever you like really, but uplifting, inspirational books or articles that give you ideas for living well. Think Deepak Chopra, or well-written fiction that connects you to amazing stories – “we read to know we are not alone” as C.S. Lewis (apparently) said. At least he did in that really sad movie I saw years ago (Shadowlands). I’m currently reading “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan and just finished Jeffery Eugenides’ “The Marriage Plot”, both engaging, beautifully written and thought provoking. Or read my friend Fanny Blake’s book “What Women Want” which is a really fun read (shameless plug!).
  • Meditate. Ok, I admit I am not even doing this one. It’s hard to establish the habit, then if you’re really tired (I am) you’re likely to nod off, and if you’re really sad (I am) you’re likely to just sit there and sob. Still, it’s key. Really. Listen to me trying to cajole myself into stepping away from the keyboard and sitting. The best thing to do is find a guided meditation CD, or log onto the Chopra Centre’s website – they have a 21 day meditation challenge they run often which is a good way to start/restart.
  • Do yoga. I know I bang on about it, but it’s about stilling your mind, connecting with your body – which you might think has betrayed you, but it hasn’t, finding a sense of connection with stillness.

Good luck, and let me know of any other ideas.

*I mean, I might actually meet a real, live MAN, have actual SEX, and fall pregnant naturally. Wow, what a concept. I’m not ruling it out, but on the empirical data I have accumulated so far in my life… but things can change in an instant, so I’m not ruling anything out.

*I *think* the photo is from Garance Dore, hope i’m crediting that correctly.

Cover of "A Visit from the Goon Squad"

Cover of A Visit from the Goon Squad

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(My edition looks nothing like this)

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Want what you have

Want what you have

This phrase has been rolling around in my head for a few days now. It has a habit of popping into my head every few years and staying awhile, perhaps when I am in the throes of some particularly want-y sort of thing. Such as wanting to be pregnant. Such as wanting to have a child. Such as right now.

Want what you have – it’s a quote from a book called “I Am That” by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who lived all his life in Bombay and died in 1981, never having left that city. He was a teacher of eternal truths as simple as this. Want what you have.

And how hard is that? My colleague who is unhappy in her marriage envies me my “freedom”, and until I discovered she wasn’t happy, I wanted her life – or what I thought it was.

Want what you have. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. But I don’t want that. Not right now. I want to be tied down, to a baby who needs feeding and comforting and love. I want to be in a relationship, and to have to check in and see if “we” have anything planned tonight.

I live in a beautiful city, and in a great part of that beautiful city.

I have a good job, and earn good money.

I am resourceful, and know how to look after myself.

I have lovely friends.

I have a good, sound roof over my head, and it’s filled with nice things.

I eat nourishing and delicious food every day.

I have a good family, despite what I wrote the other day, and in their own way are caring and loving, and infinitely better than a lot of other units out there passing as families.

But. There are so many “buts” I could add to each one of those sentences, but I won’t because I keep coming back to  “want what you have”. And when I think about it like that it seems unbelievably ungrateful to say, yes, I have all those things, and yet I want more.

But I do. I want all those things to contain a child, and I really don’t think I am pregnant. I don’t know if I am imagining it or not, but I think I feel a vague heavy feeling in my belly, like my period may be about to start. And that devastates me. But there is a corner of my being that believes I am. Even through my sobbing (of which there has been plenty), there is a part of me that believes.

But the other night just before I switched off the light to go to sleep, I picked up a Deepak Chopra book that has been sitting on my bedside table for months now called “The Book of Secrets“. This book is obviously calling out my name, demanding to be read, because I bought this copy a few months ago, only to realise I had another edition of the same book sitting unread on my bookshelf, bought when I went to see Deepak speak in Sydney some years back.

I opened a random page, and two phrases jumped out at me.

The first was, “Nothing is random – my life is full of signs and symbols.”

The second was, “Whatever I pay attention to will grow.”

So, if nothing is random, and I have been placing a lifetime’s worth of attention into this moment, perhaps my period won’t arrive tomorrow, and perhaps that blood test on Monday will give me the sign I want to see.

I went to yoga this evening, and revelled in my strong body. Breathing and stretching and just being with my breath and body made me feel elated, almost euphoric. Not that the dark, and light, thoughts didn’t intrude, because they did. But my body and breath were at the forefront and my chattering, worrying mind got a bit of a break.

Cover of "I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisar...

Cover of I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta

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Yoga for fertility

I thought I would provide a few tips on how yoga can help in this fertility party a lot of us have going on, or anyone interested in yoga in general. I wrote an article on this for another website recently, so will summarise it here.

It all boils down to your body and mind needing to be in the best shape possible. Whether you want to increase or maintain your health and wellbeing for this time of your life, yoga can be a great aid and companion.

According to doctors, one of the greatest obstacles to fertility is stress, which has been shown to reduce the probability of conception.  Ever heard those stories about couples who had tried for years to conceive and after “giving up” or adopting, have fallen pregnant? I’ve heard those stories too. What yoga offers above all is relaxation, and research shows that participating in a “mind-body” type of program – which is exactly what yoga is – can positively affect fertility.

The classical definition of yoga is that it “stills the fluctuations of the mind”* – when our minds are busy worrying about what might have been or what could be in the future, we lose touch with the present moment, with the body, the breath and the self. Yoga is very effective in pulling you back to the now.

For women struggling to fall pregnant, the stress can be overwhelming. Yoga also teaches that suffering is caused by attachment to outcomes, and this is never more true than when trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant, or through the slog of IVF treatment.

Yoga for fertility programs generally concentrate on the stress-relieving and relaxing effects of a practice, so if you can find a yoga studio that offers “restorative” yoga, get there quick-sticks. Restorative yoga usually involve using props such as bolsters, blankets, belts and chairs to support some well-known poses so that the body and mind are free to completely relax.

But renowned yoga teacher Geeta Iyengar, daughter of BKS Iyengar, also advocates a number of poses that have beneficial effects on the reproductive system.

Her recommendations include poses that stimulate the thyroid such as

Sarvangâsana

(shoulderstand). Dysfunction of the thyroid gland can upset the balance of the body’s reproductive hormones.

Sarvangasana, sometimes called the “queen of all asanas” (headstand is the king) is believed to directly affect the thyroid, due to the firm chin lock (also known as jalandhara bandha) which increases blood supply. Geeta Iyenagr also says the pose also develops “the feminine qualities of patience and emotional stability”. Anyone need patience, much?

Other poses with similar, chin-locking effects and which are suitable for beginners are setu bandha (bridge pose) and janu sirsasana (head-to-knee pose).

Poses that bring increased circulation to the pelvic region and reproductive organs are also recommended. Try baddha konasana(bound angle pose) and

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana

Image by tarnalberry via Flickr

supta baddha konasana for similar benefits but with the added bonus of being supremely relaxing.

Supported supta virasana (reclining hero pose) also opens the pelvic region and ensures circulation. I find this one almost impossible though as it’s too strong on my lower back – but everyone’s different.

While I can’t guarantee you will fall pregnant by following any of this, it can certainly have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.

If you’ve never done yoga before, I recommend you head along to your local yoga studio to get expert guidance from an experienced teacher, rather than trying these by yourself.

*Yogas chitta vrtti nirodah

PS. If you do want to know more, just leave me a comment. I can “talk” you through a few poses – supta baddha konasana is easy to do at home and really relaxing.

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Yoga girl

Had to share this … I may have used some of these exact phrases – eek.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-8IPDR4Khc

Funny and a little bit true.

(OK so I’m not too sure how to embed a you tube video into WordPress – this didn’t seem to work the way I planned.)

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Kinda stressy

I’m finding this cycle really difficult, and I’m not sure why.  It’s a whole lot easier that a stimulated cycle – minimal drugs, no surgery, and after all, it’s my third run at it so I should be getting better at the whole thing.

But I feel stressed. Like there should be more to it.  I only have to inject 50 units of Gonal-f (no Lucrin this cycle). Last stim cycle I had to inject 600 units, so 50 feels like nothing. Surely it’s not enough to do anything? But of course it is – I think it’s supposed to help the uterine lining to thicken up to make it nice n comfy for its visitor.

I think the reality that this is my third and final go is sinking in and I’m thinking more and more of failure. Not consciously so much as feeling. I don’t want to think negatively – I do feel it will work this time. But I’m nervous somehow. I just feel a bit overwhelmed.

And I scratched my new car on day 2. DAY TWO! And today, day 3 of my new car, I left the lights on. When I got back to my new car, six or so hours, two cups of tea, Tim Tams, cafe lunch, bookshop browsing, and two hours sighing over Ryan and George in The Ides of March later, the battery was flat.  Even though the car beeps when i open the door when the lights are on. I don’t know where my mind was when I got out of the car – stressed somewhere. Luckily I happened to park right next door to a mechanic’s so he jump started my car. Then I stressed all the way home that I’d hurt the car.

And it’s been raining all week, literally all week. Which has added to my stress and is really, really depressing.

And I’m thinking why on earth did I sign up for ICLW because I’m really busy this week and next and have had hardly any time to sit and read all those blogs and commenting six times and that’s stressing me out as well. I didn’t realise these few weeks would be so busy and I’ve just made them busier. I’m doing a course for work this coming Monday and next Monday, which means I will have to go into work on the weekends to get some work done, and I’ve decided to try and flog old stock from a business I started a few years ago so I’ve booked the next four Sundays at the markets. Which is really hard work, but I really need to sell some of that stock to pay for the car and replenish my depleted bank account.

And a guy I went out with six months ago and disappeared without a trace texted me last night. WTF.

And I’ve hardly had time to go to yoga, which is really stressing me oout. Breathe. Breathe deeply.

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My top 10 tips for surviving IVF

I thought I would share with you how I’ve got through this (in the absence of wine! ha ha). Hope they are helpful and tell you something you don’t already know.

1. Acupuncture – weekly then twice weekly. Find a clinic that specialises in IVF. My experience was that the acupuncture almost completely eliminated any side effects. Read here for more info.

2. Yoga – if you’re a fitness junkie who likes to flog your body doing cardio, I reckon it’s time to be kind to yourself (see point 5). Yoga allows you to flex and strengthen not just your body but your mind. You mind being your greatest asset or worst enemy, sometimes simultaneously. The stillness and focus that comes from a yoga practice can help you recognise this. And ooh it’s good to stretch and work those joints if you are still feeling some side effects despite having acupuncture.

3. Meditation – by continually bringing your mind back to the “now”, you access calm and quiet, free from anticipation of the future and memories of the past. I also use it for goal-setting – visualising exactly what I want (while calm and relaxed) and then sending that intention to god/the universe/the field of all possibility (whatever appeals to you) to sort it out. Then let go of the attachment to the outcome.

4. Rest – lots

5. Be kind to yourself, even treat yourself to a pampering. Recognise that yes, you do have  a lot going on right now, so it’s not the time to be running marathons/ moving/putting in long hours at the office/helping out friends who won’t help themselves/keeping the house in perfect order… or whatever else takes you away from yourself. Have a massage, go to a yoga class (see point 2), go for a walk in nature.

6. Someone to offload to – your partner, or if you’re doing this solo like me, a sympathetic friend. Support is crucial.

7.  Lots of healthy food – I read a book called The Fertility Diet by Sarah Dobbyn which I found very useful. Not that I followed every one of her rules but it’s still good to keep in the back of your mind.

8. Remember your life outside of IVF.

9. Stay positive. No point otherwise.

10. I’m going to go all yoga on you again and say, “Tapas, swadhyaya, isvara pranidhana” which roughly translates (or the way I have learnt it anyway) as do all you can, gain as much self knowledge as you can, but know that sometimes, you have to surrender to a higher power. And I know that’s a hard one.

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The bitch is back

I really thought I was pregnant.

When my period* didn’t come as scheduled on Thursday, I couldn’t quite believe it. I’ve never been late in my life. Through the day I checked. No sign!

Friday – still no sign! Oh my God, I’m pregnant!

I had a blood test first thing Friday morning.

All through the day my excitement mounted. No sign of bleeding. I won’t believe it till I get the call from the clinic, I thought. But I did believe it. I believed it so much that I bought a dress and a loose flowing cardigan that I thought could take me from now to at least the end of the year and hide any bump. But I was sensible – they are normal clothes that look great now anyway, just in case I was being overly optimistic.

I had a hair appointment, followed by an osteo appointment to try and sort out my still-stuffed digestive system.

I was feeling so happy that I nearly blurted out my news to the hairdresser, who I barely know. I only go there because it’s cheap and I can’t afford my good hairdresser right now.

So when the clinic called, I was confused by the nurse’s tone of voice. I knew it wasn’t good news, but I there was no sign of my period, so – I must be pregnant right?

No. I’m not.

There was a level of hcG in my blood that indicated that the embryos had tried to implant. But they hadn’t. And I guess that level was still there, which was why there was no sign of my period.

What could I do, I was sitting in the hairdresser’s chair with hair colour slapped over my scalp. I couldn’t run to the loo and howl. I just had to sit there, tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t even speak when the hairdresser asked if everything was ok. I wanted to say, “I’ve just had some bad news, that’s all” but I couldn’t even get that out. I had to sit there for another 45 minutes getting my hair washed and blow dried before I could get the fuck out of there.

Thank god I had the osteo appointment afterwards –  Jamie is the loveliest man and a great osteo, and really smart and he’s into yoga and alternative healing, as well as being clever enough to be applying to med school. He gave me a big, big hug and then treated me. Face down on the table and with my eyes closed I really felt like the table was moving back and forth. I had to keep opening my eyes and looking down to the floor to make sure I was stationary. Jamie said I was in shock and after the treatment gave me some Bach remedy for shock and put me in a separate room so I could do what I needed to do.

I really thought it would work. I was so confident and positive. I meditated, visualised. Did yoga and ate well. I felt – or thought I felt – calm about the whole thing. Not stressed or clinging or desperate. I really thought it would work.

And I’m sure this is nothing like what a miscarriage feels like, but I feel a bit that way nonetheless, because really thought it would work, and I really thought I was pregnant.

What next?

Right now I’m really sad and disappointed. I think I’ll try again, I feel I owe it to myself. When I first put this plan in motion I thought I’d give it three goes, but that was when I thought I would get enough embryos to freeze for three goes. I certainly didn’t plan on paying for three attempts. But once is not enough, as they say in the classics (James Bond anyway. I was in a Bond film once – true story). I’ll go and see the doctor sometime this week, and work out what Plan B, Take 2 is.

I went for a swim this morning (at Bronte, that’s the pic), then to yoga. I was reminded  again how powerful yoga is to work emotions out of your body, because if you don’t work them out, they get stuck, and so does your body and so does your mind. Sometimes they get so stuck they make you sick. And I was reminded again that the discipline – of whatever it is – getting up early to go for a swim when I would have rather stayed in bed – makes you do things that ultimately make you feel better than short term pleasures.

PS. I’m also really sad I may not have the chance to choose the same donor again. I was a bit in love with the idea of that donor’s baby. A lot in love.

PPS. My period came yesterday morning. At least it seems to have sorted out my digestive issues. The bitch.

* Note that I just can’t use the abbreviations and euphemisms so common on blogs and forums such as these. It’s not Auntie Flow, or AF, I’ve never called it such a school girl thing in my life (mind you, I’m quite happy to call it “the bitch” on this occasion). And this is not a BFN – big fat negative – I’m just not pregnant. I’m an editor and writer, and as an editor I’m a bit anal about plain English, saying what you mean, not obscuring, spelling things out. Euphemisms give me the shits anyway. Rant over.

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How low can you go …

… before you do the LIMBO rock?

This week I’ve vacillated between:

Oh my god, I’m so excited I’m going to have a baby … to

I’m pretty sure I am … to

I really hope I am… to

FUCK I hope I’m not … to

What the hell was I thinking, I’m 46 years old (birthday was on Sunday, thanks for the birthday wishes…) and I’m going to have to work for the REST OF MY LIFE and will never have any free time again and I’ll never be able to afford to buy a property and I’ll be the oldest mother on the school pick up and how am I going to do this by myself and, and, and…

So this week can’t go fast enough.

I need to know! I’m in limbo and it’s a weird place to be – all plans for the future – even as close as the weekend – have two paths that stretch out into the misty distance. One that involves a baby, one that involves going back to my “old” life. And to be honest, both have their appeal.

Perhaps that sounds strange – after all, I have thought a lot about this, hoped and dreamed about this, planned this, paid a lot to get here. But I think it’s normal – any kind of life change brings fear, and there is no greater life change than having a baby, whatever your situation. You can’t really get your head around the reality of it – the abstract is fine, but the reality? It’s scary.

And there’s no point in reading all the “two-week wait” sites, working out which symptoms I may or may not be feeling – I AM feeling some pregnancy symptoms but that’s because I am injecting myself with hcG – the pregnancy hormone. So I’m just left with the wait.

Oh and I’m beginning to feel almost healthy again after the trauma of the past 2 weeks. Yesterday I even had wine. Three glasses! Well, the thing is, no less than four girlfriends have confided that before they knew they were pregnant they had had a couple of benders – completely mullered. And as one of their doctors said, if it’s going to stick, it’s going to stick. And I figure by now, it’s either stuck or it hasn’t.

What day is it?

Every limbo boy and girl, all around the limbo world…

Yoga, I think, is the order of the day. At least I’ll be flexible enough to get under that limbo pole, no matter how low it goes. And meditation, to let go of attachment to the outcome.

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