I did a Fertility Yoga Teacher Training course yesterday. It was halfway through the day before I realised why I needed it. Then the tears came.
This is a difficult post to write, because I want to honour the grief and courage of women and couples who ache for a baby, often through long years of pain and heartbreak. My husband and I have been blessed with children. I have known the piercing sorrow of two miscarriages, but both these losses were followed by the joy of a pregnancy carried to term. I have nothing but silent respect for the many who are inexplicably denied such happiness. Your suffering humbles me.
And yet, and yet …. There was so much that I needed personally from yesterday’s workshop. It seems wrong and disrespectful to compare my own petty losses with the denial of life itself. I can only apologise for this. Please bear with me. But we all experience loss on some level, and much has been lost by many in these months of pandemic. This is an angry time. Frustrations and divisions are flaring like oxyacetylene torches. It is not surprising. People feel they have much to be angry about. Sometimes I do too.
Yoga and letting go
Yoga is not an angry practice. When I teach Yoga, I speak about letting go and being present with openness and compassion. Yoga can help us respond to life with grace. It can allow us to release anger and find the space beyond. Sometimes – often – I need this more than my students do.
Fertility and loss
A fertility journey is a story about loss. Loss of the belief that getting pregnant would be easy. Often loss of pregnancies and precious babies. Loss of confidence in one’s body. Loss of being in control. These losses, and many others, are real. Yoga cannot make them go away or pretend they never happened. But Yoga can make room for grieving, hopefully in a kinder place.
Surrender and letting go
Diane, our Fertility Yoga instructor, shared wisdom from the Restorative Yoga guru, Judith Lasater. Judith teaches that surrender and letting go are both responses to loss, but they are profoundly different. Surrender is waving the white flag to cruel circumstance. It is defeat and hopelessness, despairing in the face of an unstoppable outside force. Letting go, on the other hand, is a choice from within. Letting go is intentional, courageous and free. When we let go, we are responding with grace and love. We are allowing the story to unfold. Letting go is a powerful and creative decision. It is not easy.
My own little losses
I have been grieving my own little pandemic losses recently. They look trivial from the outside, but they are painful for me, and I believe we must all honour our own experience. I am sad because my children are missing their friends and their education. I miss my wider family, my church, my accustomed social interactions and time to myself in a quiet house. I am deeply disheartened by the body blows sustained by my fledgling business. And yes, I also miss my local swimming pool, visits to restaurants and cinemas, weekends away – all the small things.
Yesterday afternoon, as we sank into the deep rest of Restorative poses, I remembered that the gentle space of Yoga is here for me too. I am not on a fertility journey, but I have been offered the opportunity to let go of the things I cannot control. Letting go is never easy, and it usually needs repeating many times. My practice can support me into this release.
For some couples, the blessing of a child will one day arrive, often after much hope and sorrow. Others may sadly never give birth to a longed-for baby, but their journey can still lead to personal rebirth and unexpected beginnings. We all have the potential for remarkable creativity. Self-compassion and accepting the kindness of others can soften our armour and allow fresh beauty to grow.
A gift for healing
I hope to be able to support women and couples facing fertility challenges. To do so would be an honour and a blessing. But yesterday’s course was also a gift for my own healing. It was a precious reminder of my own need to keep choosing to let go of what no longer serves me. In this way I pray that I may to continue to serve others, in love, with compassion.
Karen Lawrence is a teacher of Yin and Restorative Yoga, Pregnancy Yoga and Fertility Yoga. Karen also offers Reflexology treatments. She lives and works in Billericay, Essex, UK. Classes are currently available online during the Covid 19 pandemic. You can learn more about Karen and her work at her website www.thecalmspace.co.uk
The Fertility Yoga Teacher Training which I attended was provided by YogaMama, Putney. You can see more about their training and courses at https://yogamama.co.uk/