An article in the New York Times last Sunday explored the growing trend of fertility yoga. The gist of the piece is that while there’s no evidence that yoga helps with fertility, women love the classes and fertility experts are recommending them more and more.
It’s not just the promise of stress relief that draws women struggling with infertility to the mat– though that’s a big part of it– but the much-needed community these specialized classes can provide.
The same can be said for all the “mommy” yogas–from fertility to prenatal to postpartum to “mommy and me.” The yoga studio can be a destination for women who seek support, without going to a “support group,” per se.
There is the breath, there is the authenticity, the focus, the shutting down of internal chatter about success, failure, longing, disappointment. And then there is the other kind of chatter. The kind in the changing room or in the parking lot afterwards.
Tami Quinn, co-founder of Pulling Down the Moon, a company with holistic fertility centers, told the New York Times, “If you say come to my support group, women going through infertility are like, ‘I don’t need some hokey support group’ or ‘I’m not that bad.’ But with yoga they are getting support and they don’t even realize it.”
Apply this to new moms and it fits: New parenthood can be so isolating. So difficult. But you mention getting out to a new mother’s SUPPORT group, and people think, yikes, that’s hokey or maybe a little severe. I may be sad, bored, confused and worried but I don’t need intervention.
But we do! Conceiving, gestating and caring for babies is meant to be a community effort. Postpartum depression is very much entangled with how much support a woman gets. I often call new mothers’ support groups just “new mom groups.” Sure, they are all about support, but maybe dropping that word makes the gathering more of an innocent chit-chat than a, “My name is Ceridwen, and I’m a mother” kind of affair.
Having said that, I do think it’s sad that “getting support” is often seen as a sign of failure. Now that I’m a seasoned mother I seek out support whenever I can: From mothers, from professionals, from daycares, schools, playground conversation.You get good at it. But as a young working woman who is about to be or just was pregnant, asking for help can seem like just a horrifying idea!
The designated yoga class– fertility, prenatal, mommy and me– is a perfect way for women to find the support they need in a kind of seamless, subtle way. It can provide a gentle launch into a world where asking for help is often the very best thing you can do.