Perhaps the most common question we get at the Moon is “where should I start?” Women and couples are interested in doing everything they can to increase their odds of conceiving. But among all the services available – nutrition counseling, acupuncture, yoga for fertility and massage – where to begin? For the answer to this question, stay tuned to our blog this week as we discuss the different treatments we offer at Pulling Down the Moon and who will best benefit from these treatments.
The most important thing to recognize, though, is that using holistic treatment for fertility requires your participation. Unlike a medical regimen, where you simply follow the directions your doctor provides, holistic treatment asks you to become involved in identifying and correcting physical, mental and emotional imbalances in your life. In a sense, these treatments require you to be part of the treatment team. This is true even if you are also using medical fertility treatments in addition to holistics.
The other point to make about holistic therapy is that it can take some time to work. Treatments like acupuncture have shown short-term benefit (as few as two acupuncture treatments have been shown to increase IVF success rates), but studies using a longer treatment time frame actually have much more impressive results. Nutrition changes can also be effective immediately, especially in terms of improving gut function, but other more long-term effects (potential improvement in egg or sperm quality, reduced inflammation, ovulation induction in PCOS) can take several months to achieve. We feel great for a few hours after yoga or a massage – but longer term practice of these modalities actually leads to a lasting calm in which our body and mind can begin to heal themselves.
So what’s right for you? Stay tuned to our blog this week for a deeper exploration of what holistic fertility techniqes are right for you. Also, feel free to post your questions. We’ve got experts standing by.
The most recent issue of Body Sense Magazine features Pulling Down the Moon’s Massage Director Meredith Nathan on the topic of how massage can help you lose weight. When we asked Meredith about this topic, she came up with three ways massage helps us meet our weight loss goals right off the bat:
1. Massage lowers stress hormone levels. Stress hormones like cortisol can increase our appetite, especially for sweet foods, and make our body more prone to gain weight around the middle. Reducing stress reduces “stress eating” and mindless munching.
2. Massage helps to release the aches, pains and to heal chronic injuries so we are more apt to get up and move our bodies.
3. For those of us who like to treat ourselves for good work and good behavior, massage is calorie free and ultimately makes us feel better about a job well done than a hot fudge sundae.
My brother Ted Bilich, a D.C.-area attorney and Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown, writes and teaches about the importance of goals, how to set them and how to achieve them. He has a ton of great info on his blog (www.tedbilich.com), but being the P.I.T.A. little sister, I thought I’d try and stump him with a question: what advice would he give to goal-oriented people who are up against something that is out of their control (ie. getting pregnant)? It’s a relevent question since many of the women in the Pulling Down the Moon community (including Tami and myself) are very goal-oriented. In fact, for many of us, getting pregnant is the first goal we haven’t been able to achieve despite all efforts.
Within a few hours Ted came up with a response that I found thoughtful and inspiring (read the whole piece here). What interested me the most was his inclusion of the concept of flow, which resonates deeply with yoga and holistic medicine. Ted writes:
“…Seek the benefits of flow by finding ways to appreciate the value of the process itself. As Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers points out, outsized success ordinarily requires substantial practice. Mastery tends to require thousands of hours of study, and someone will not devote hours and hours if they don’t find some way to love the process. The concept of flow captures that notion. Our favorite experiences tend to be those that challenge us sufficiently that we lose ourselves in the moment.”
So from a Pulling Down the Moon perspective, flow is what happens when we begin to embrace the journey of trying to conceive. Not because it’s fun or because we want to struggle with infertility, but because that is what life is putting on our plate in this moment. Flow is what our fertility acupuncturists try to achieve when they place needles on the body to direct the movement of life energy in our bodies. When we begin to eat right, excercise right, address areas of dis-ease our life (stress, anger, emotionality) we enter a flow that is greater than trying to get pregnant. The benefit of these practices is that they do, as Ted writes, “bring one’s vital statistics into target zones,” that may improve our odds of getting pregnant.
But if we’re lucky, we find these practices challenge us in a way that allows us to lose ourselves in the present moment, amazed and enchanted by the process of living life at a deeper, more mindful level. In PDtM, our six week yoga class we study breathing, meditation and even philosophy to help us experience the concept of flow. On a very basic level, our bodies can also help to unlock the door to the present. Check out the video below, a sequence of postures that we call our Moon Salute. This practice stretches the hips and groin, makes the low back more supple, opens the heart and calms the body and mind with rythmic breathing. One one level it fits the criteria of “bringing our vital stats into the fertility zone,” yet it’s also beautiful experience in and of itself. When we focus on the breath and the movement, letting the outside world fall away, we find entry into flow. Asana (yoga posture) practice isn’t the only way to get there…there’s journaling, painting, gardening, cooking, singing…the list goes on.
We challenge you now to practice this Moon Salute video every day for a week and come back with your comments and questions. The flow is a wonderful place to be, and that’s what our community at Pulling Down the Moon is all about. The babies are just a really big bonus! Be present, be positive…be part of the flow. Beth
I just wanted to say Thank You for teaching the yoga classes at Pulling Down the Moon! I have had many different yoga teachers and you have been my favorite! Thanks for sharing your laughter and smiles with us. You do a wonderful job of creating healing energy in the room. Pulling Down the Moon is such an amazing place with such a calming presence for me. They, and all the women who take classes there, are lucky to have you.
I really do think the whole ‘protocol’ at PDTM made the difference this time. I can't thank you enough for having the vision to have started that wonderful place!
I have really enjoyed the current class and really look forward to it. It’s like two hours of solace for me. I had miscarried two weeks before the class started and wasn’t really looking forward to opening up and talking about my experience. Perhaps that’s why I was so overly emotional on the first day and I just kept telling myself “I’m not ready to talk about this, I’m just not ready”. But opening up that first day was what I really needed. It increases the load that one carries if you keep it all in. I wish I had started the class when I began my first two cycles, perhaps it would have made coping with the experience a lot easier – and I would have found a better outlet than eating my sorrows away on a Portillo’s hot dog, fries and vanilla shakes!
I am also happy to report that my test came back positive as well! I know that this positive first step is due to our class and to all of the other phenomenal support services at Pulling Down The Moon.
Hi! I actually wanted to let you know that I'm pregnant! I had taken your yoga for fertility class back in May-June and then I went through IVF in the late July/early August timeframe. Fortunately it worked and I'm now about 11 1/2 weeks along so almost into the second trimester. I'm now seeing my regular OB/GYN and had my last appt at FCI in mid-September. I really believe that your class helped me and I got so much out of it - I've been recommending it to lots of people too!
I absolutely think that I wouldn't have made it into the hands of the right doctors had it not been for your advice. Every time I have felt defeated by this process, Anna and the rest of your staff has always brought me right back to a positive place full of hope. I know it's still very early in my pregnancy, but I will be forever grateful for the Pulling Down the Moon family. I definitely still plan on continuing with acupuncture throughout the pregnancy and am excited to share this part of our journey to parenthood with Anna and the rest of your team. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
You would be so proud of me, my sister was sharing how stressed she has been so I told her about my yoga practice and meditation and how life changing it was, so I think I have her sold. Who would have thought, me spreading the good news of yoga...Thought that would make you smile.
First, let me thank you for recommending the yoga class. It has been such a positive experience - a safe place where I have bonded with others in a similar situation. Very calming and combined with the acupuncture, diet and massage - I'm in a much better place.
I am at the 5 month period now and go in for my 20 week ultrasound next Monday. It's not easy doing this when you're old, but I am so grateful to even have this opportunity. I credit so much to the Moon, and thank you and everyone I've worked with for the support and kindness. I still meet with 3 members of my yoga group every month to catch up. It has been wonderful.
You are doing such impactful work with Pdtm. The class, the nutritionist, the massages - they all helped immensely. Thank you for creating such a special place.
My twins were born 3/25/09, thanks in part to IVF at FCI and the wonderful caring treatment I received at your office (Lots of Accupunture with Lisa, a few appointments with Yong, Yoga for Fertility class last August with Jenilyn, massages with Meredith and Nutritional advice from Lauren). Everyone on staff is so well versed in the fertility issues and treatments and completely upbeat and positive in what is a very dark time for so many of us. I can't say enough about how much I learned and, more importantly, appreciated the emotional support and understanding I received at PDtM. I've recommened it to about a million people. THANK YOU!!
My husband and I have been posted abroad so I am dealing with IF from afar with fewer resources and support. It has been challenging, but I was thrilled when I saw your book on the bookshelf and have been following some of the suggestions. Please tell the authors that the Moon Salute sequence is being practiced virtually every day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! Even though I have been practicing yoga, doing acupuncture and herbs and changing my diet for over a year now, the book has been tremendous helpful in giving fertility-specific advice which I have not found anywhere else. I have found this book to be invaluable.
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