“When you feel your body has betrayed you, there can be a lot of anger and depression, you feel out of control” says Brenda Strong, the first national spokesperson for the American Fertility Association. A yoga practitioner and teacher for 23 years, Brenda developed the program Strong Yoga® 4Fertility, drawing from her own experiences with infertility and her research in working with women. Since 1998, she has taught her gentle and effective program for women trying to conceive at the Mind Body Institute at UCLA and at Two Hearts Yoga. It has since led to DVDs, workshops, retreats, teacher trainings, and the development of props designed for nourishing reproductive organs.
- In your experience, what is the connection between yoga and fertility?
There is inevitable stress that accompanies the fertility journey. Yoga is a way to release the tension in and around the reproductive organs with specific asanas that enhance circulation and release adhesions and energetic blocks. Yoga can help balance hormones and correct amenorrhea, putting a woman back in a regular cycle. Yoga also helps women and couples to be present and have intimacy without it having to be about sex. I have a DVD dedicated to Partner Yoga, Strong Yoga®4Partners.
- What makes the biggest difference for women who practice yoga and are trying to conceive?
By practicing yoga with others who are in similar situations, women know they aren’t alone in their journey and feel supported and safe. Yoga helps restore trust in their bodies and intimacy with their partners during conception difficulties.
- What do you focus on most when leading yoga for fertility?
We combine asana, restorative postures, and specific pranayama techniques accompanied by visualization and meditation. We also use the Strong Yoga® Fertility Ball to activate the vessel of conception points through acupressure to release tension in the pelvis and hips. The emphasis is on releasing tension and building energy rather than creating muscular strength. You might say that instead of teaching “Power Yoga,” we teach “Em-power Yoga.”
- How did you develop The Fertility Ball?
It was literally a download during one of my meditations. I began to research acupressure points combined with yoga asana with Dr. Daoshing Ni, the author of The Tao of Fertility. He confirmed how accurate the yoga program was in relationship to acupuncture and fertility. This is one of the most powerful tools we can give women to enhance their own fertility. Acupressure with the Fertility Ball is an effective way to prepare the body prior to IVF transfer by increasing circulation and healthy tissue.
- What is your biggest success story?
There are many, but I was stopped in a Whole Foods parking lot once by a man with tears in his eyes. He told me what a difference Strong Yoga® had made for his wife, who had multiple failed IVF cycles. He didn’t recognize her because of her stress. After a Four Fields? workshop, she regained a sense of calm, purpose, and confidence; shortly afterward, they were successful with IVF and are now the proud parents of a beautiful daughter.
Brenda Strong will be leading a Strong Yoga® 4Fertility Teacher Training and a Couples Workshop in Monterey, California in August, 2013. For more information visit Yoga4fertility.com
Although you will find Olivia Kvitne teaching Hot Power and Hot Yin classes, she specializes in Pre-natal yoga and is a Yoga Warriors instructor, leading yoga workshops for active military and veterans struggling with PTSD: theyogaabbey.com
Olivia Kvitne is a Los Angeles yoga instructor specializing in yoga therapy for veterans struggling with PTSD. One of the influences in her life was her grandfather, a WWII vet, and later a psychiatrist who embraced using the mind to heal the body: TheYogaAbbey.com @OliviaKvitne