An excerpt from The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility by Heather Grzych
Becoming a mother is the ultimate yoga practice.
My sisters, we are the torchbearers of one of the freakiest and most wonderful experiences a human can have—opening up and sharing the inside space of our bodies with another person and directly sharing a bloodstream, cells, energy, and nourishment.
The problem is: we’ve gotten so good at not getting pregnant for most of our lives that we have all sorts of issues when we actually want to get pregnant!
When a woman wants to have a child—whether it’s now or in the future—oftentimes a little thought crosses her mind: When is the right time for me to get pregnant? And if a woman has actually tried to get pregnant and is having difficulty, this thought shifts to: Why can’t I get pregnant? How can I get pregnant? Women these days seem to have a lot of fear and insecurity around conception, as evidenced by the increase in measures taken by women today to try to control the outcome. Women are confused about what is best for their fertility and are grasping for help.
Even big corporate employers these days have picked up on this collective fertility insecurity. Many of the most competitive companies are now offering egg-freezing benefits to women in the workplace—women who dedicate their time, energy, love, and attention during the most fertile years of their lives to their jobs, rather than to starting a family.
But, over history, many women have had children and never planned it. They never thought much about how it would interfere with their lives, how they would continue building their careers or maintain a deep connection with their partners. They just had sex and rolled the dice. However, women today don’t do anything by rolling the dice. Do we?
Modern women want to make sure everything is right when we do it. We love to strive. We love to make progress. We get a good degree, a good job, and a good performance review at work. When it comes to preparing for conception, we make no exception. We want to know if we’re fertile ahead of time. We go get our Pap smears, pee on ovulation strips, check our hormones, do yoga, undergo acupuncture treatments, and expect conception to happen immediately because we’re doing everything the way we were told to do it.
At the same time, as I mentioned, now women are masters of not getting pregnant. We have innumerable birth control options, and it’s become a societal norm to use them. Then we start to wonder what it really takes to turn it all around.
The good news is that, with a little care and attention—and some sexy lingerie—odds are, you can probably have a baby if you want to. I want to help you improve your overall health and your chances for conception so that you will have a better pregnancy and more ease as a mother down the road. Modern life has helped get you here, and now Ayurveda can help you better care for your fertility going forward.
The Misaligned Superwoman
Today, modern women are exhausted, confused, and burned out. Why else would we be so into yoga? We love burning ourselves out. Apparently, vacation time has been on a steady decline since 2000. A study done by Project: Time Off found that more than half of American workers left unused vacation days in 2018. And those who do take vacations frequently work while on them. With so many of us working like dogs, it’s no wonder we are suffering from stress, anxiety, digestive disorders, insomnia, substance abuse, and so forth. Really, people? Is this what we’ve decided is the American dream?
I’ve been guilty of it myself. I remember canceling a vacation once when my team at work was implementing a critical project, and I felt guilty leaving during such a difficult time. Guess what happened right after I called off this vacation? I got sick twice in one month. Oh, the irony: I canceled a vacation when I needed it most. I must have thought that no one else could function without me, or perhaps I didn’t want anyone to function without me. What an ego.
Truth is, if you work with a good team, then the moment you are out of the environment, people will shift around and start picking up the slack. Unless you are a key employee (this is fewer people than you may think), you are always replaceable, regardless of how late you work or how much time you put into that presentation.
Guess what happened when I left that job a year later? The work went on without me, as I went on my way with my work.
What have you done to burn yourself out in the past? What are you doing now?
A high percentage of people who experience stress (73 percent) report common psychological issues, such as irritability and anger, nervousness, lack of energy, or the urge to cry. An even higher percentage of people (77 percent) experience the common physical symptoms of stress, including fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, and even loss of sex drive. So many of us are truly misaligned today.
The wisdom of the body must be recaptured.
How we fill our free time is up to each of us. Some women will not take any time to relax or play, finding more and more opportunities to work themselves into the ground. Others are so lazy or so tired from work that they will sit in front of the TV all day or night.
It is important to look at yourself if either boredom or burnout is happening. They are two ends of the same spectrum. Either way, the wisdom of the body is being overridden by all the things you think you are supposed to be doing.
And this I can guarantee: However you are now, it’s going to get magnified if you have a baby. Every pattern you have presently will become exaggerated if you give birth to a child and don’t change your lifestyle because, in addition to having the same job, house payment, car payment, and so on, you will also have much more chaos and a tiny human depending on you who requires all the free time your sleep-deprived self can give.
What happened to listening to Mother Nature? Instead of being the intuitive goddesses women have been known to be throughout the ages, we are tiring ourselves out too much to truly listen. I can tell you where Mother Nature is: she’s inside your body, and she’s calling you home.
I’ve often wondered why we have so many yoga teachers today, myself included, and why the vast majority of yoga practitioners and teachers are women (which, oddly, is the complete opposite of how it is in India, where yoga was developed). Women are lost and confused. We are looking for more meaning. Things have gotten so crazy for us that we all need to go lie on the floor a couple of times a week and have some soothing voice tell us that everything is going to be okay, as long as we look within—and yet we don’t truly look within and have to keep going to yoga class every week for a little break from life.
This is not true healing. This is only a brief respite from the root causes. The world needs women to do yoga off their mats and go make themselves and the world a better place.