Yoga, Fertility and the Stress Response

I was recently asked to write a blog on Yoga, Fertility and the Stress Response for my friends at  Lake Point Chiropractic for their “Be Fertile” month.  I adore my  Lake Pointe family of caregivers, they have supported me personally for years as I worked to heal my autoimmune condition, heal my gut, through my pregnancy, and with my kiddo as well. I regularly send my students and clients to work with them, as we have very common beliefs around healing holistically. So, I was honored to be a part of their fertility awareness month!

Are you stuck in a stress response?

As Americans we live in a very fast paced world. We are a go, go, go society. We are deeply connected to our technology, and continually “plugged in” 24/7. In our culture, for decades now, we have been an instant gratification type of society as well, which creates quite a dilemma in our bodies.

More always seems to be the “better” choice; more stuff, more time at work, more time online, more binge watching, and more time with technology. We rarely shut off. Our hearts are racing, we often are short tempered, eat meals in our cars, and rarely allow ourselves really good breaks.

Food in America exacerbates this stress crazy cycle. The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is full of sugar, quick carbohydrates, little nutrition, and leaves us craving more of those things. The result, is a pace we can not sustain. We easily burn out, we gain weight, experience hormone imbalance, dis-ease and imbalance creep in, and we don’t know how to unwind, and slow down. This 24/7 lifestyle has become an epidemic for unhealthy living.

Is this a reflection of the stress in your life?

From a fertility perspective, living in a 24/7 cycle sends confusing messages to our bodies. Racing through life sends a message that you are “not safe”. It’s a startling message to send to your body, and one that most of us are unaware of, but this is truly what your body hears. This 24/7 cycle activates the “fight, flight or freeze” side of the nervous system. This part of the nervous system puts us in a reactionary state, which is essentially a state where our body is in survival mode. The deeper version of this imbalance is that it becomes a chronic stress pattern.

Survival mode means our bodies are only trying to survive, the other functions of the body like digestion and reproduction, take a back seat. When we are in that survival mode, it’s like our bodies are being chased by a tiger over and over again.  This tiger chasing craziness is what leads us to feel  “unsafe” in our bodies. It’s not necessarily that our minds always have the awareness of this feeling of not being safe. It’s the innate cave woman reaction in our body that confuses functions like our reproduction and for that reason can literally put our reproduction on pause.

Are you being chased by a tiger?

If you find yourself in the position of trying to conceive, but struggling in some way, then breaking the chronic stress cycle is paramount. Awareness is always more than half of the battle, so thank yourself for taking the time to read this, and learn more about the cycle you are likely living in.

So, what do we do?

It takes conscious effort to step out of this pattern and break the stress cycle. Observing how much time you are working or overworking, taking inventory of your regular self care routine, observing family obligations, paying attention to how much screen time you are logging in, are all important things to get in check to break the chronic stress. Here are a few questions you could ask yourself… Is it time for a new job? Do I need to set better work or family boundaries? Do I need to enact a self care routine? Is it time for a yoga practice?

Do I need to break up with my phone?

One of my favorite ways to break stress patterns is through yoga. Yoga aligns the body mind and spirit, breaks the cycle of living in fight, flight or freeze, and tells the body that it is SAFE once again. Yoga shifts our bodies into the parasympathetic side (or “rest and digest”) part of the nervous system and away from the fight or flight response. Rest and digest is where our tissues soften, we can breathe deeply, our heart beat slows down, and where our digestion and reproduction can turn on once again.

Activating the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system is key to turning on our reproduction, it also helps us to keep our hormones in balance, temper inflammation, and keep dis-ease at bay. All things that can contribute to the stress cycle as well as fertility issues. I have found restorative yoga, gentle yoga, yin yoga, and yoga nidra to be the best practices to activate “rest and digest” side of the nervous system.

Is it your turn to shift your nervous system?

Are you living in a chronic stress cycle? What changes can you make in your life to break the fight, flight and freeze cycle? Yoga, a walk, time with a wonderful friend, a cup of tea (and no technology)?

Take the opportunity to  check in with how you are living. Consciously set intentions on breaking the chronic stress patterns, and remember that when you do so with a buddy or a community, you deepen that commitment exponentially.

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