How yoga can help when shitty things happen...
I originally started to write this blog post specifically for the fertility journey, because along the path to parenthood a lot of shitty things can happen (and also beautiful – but that is for another day).
However, there are a lot of other shitty shitty things happening right now with reproductive rights and privacy in the United States. So I’m putting this out there for you if you’re in an activated state and you’re struggling to get out of it to move forward.
I’m angry, devastated & scared of what will happen next – on so many levels. I also know that living in a state of anger, fear, and devastation is no way to exist if we want to move forward in a positive way.
So rather than going political with this blog, I am choosing to go practical.
Because healing and making sense of life is where yoga truly shines.
So how can yoga help us to mindfully and purposefully get us out of this reactive downward spiral and into positive action forwards?
Below are some of the yogic principles that I am utilizing to move through these very valid emotions that I’m feeling so that I don’t get stuck in them. So that I can move forward with life and absorb the good that is happening while also fighting for a better future.
What am I consuming?
According to ayurveda and yoga we consume with all our senses. How we receive and digest what we hear, see, touch, taste and smell should be taken into consideration. Basically – everything we surround ourselves with.
Sight and sound are particularly powerful with social media & the news.
If you are a dooms scroller and love to read all the comments to get worked up, or you love to consult Dr. Google about everything – please recognize that what you take in will need to be digested by YOU – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Please – stop scrolling first thing in the morning and right before bed. You will be amazed at what a HUGE difference this will make to your overall mental health!
Move your phone out of your room so it’s not the first thing you reach for in the morning. You can find another way to tell the time… there are these things called clocks and watches that do the job quite nicely ;)!
Sleep is the nectar that nourishes our whole self. Sacrificing it to the social media conglomerate for free is not good for your mental, emotional, physical and reproductive health. Don’t let them take it.
Of course it is important to be informed of what is happening in the world. I use a once a day news digest (I like The Skimm) . I get one email a day with all the major happenings and try to call it quits after that (although some days are definitely harder when there is so much going on!).
Am I using discernment?
In yoga there is much talk of discernment and how to categorize and make sense of what is happening around us.
Ganesha, the elephant headed Hindu God known for being the ‘overcomer of obstacles’ is also the God of categories – and this is how he inspires resolution of hardship: discernment and categorization.
For example – what is within your control? One of the biggest lessons in yoga, revolving around Karma, (which in itself is a whole life’s worth of study) is that you have control only of your actions and do not control the outcome.
Within a yogic framework, you aspire for action that causes the least harm – not ‘no harm’.
You can discern the words coming out of your mouth, as well as what you choose to consume, where you lay your attention, and who you spend time with.
And a huge one – please be discerning with where you are getting your news from.
Which direction is my energy flowing? Inwards or outwards?
When the outside world is so loud and grabs our attention – all of our energy begins to move outwards, and we live in a more reactive state (instead of responsive). When we are reactive we are often not using our powers of discernment and mindfulness of action.
Our energy is used more effectively when it is moving inward to nourish and nurture. Taking pause – breathing – and being quiet can move us inward.
For many, meditation in the morning is a wonderful way to start the day – bringing evenness and stabilizing mental energies. Morning is great because you are already in a relatively calm state and the influences of the day have not affected you yet.
Meditation can be for 1 minute to as long as you want. It can be seated in a chair or on the floor. It can be in silence, or guided, or with soothing music. I’ve got a few here on soundcloud for free if you need somewhere to start.
For many, meditation can be overwhelming – it is hard to sit with yourself and your thoughts. I get this and remind myself often that “I am not my thoughts”. If you find that sitting in meditation is activating your stress response – try some mindful walking.
Moving the body mindfully can be just as meditative as sitting still. Preferably in nature please! Place one foot in front of the other. Feel the foot peel off the ground. Notice the sounds, smells, and sights around you. Touch the tree bark and smell the flowers. Consume this with all your senses!
Am I working with the flow of nature?
How well do you know yourself, your behaviors, and your go to operating mode? If you haven’t yet taken the Dosha Quiz on my website – now is a great time! This is a short fun quiz that will help you make sense of yourself and how you move through life. And it will provide some insight into your fertility journey, how you approach it, and what are some great yoga poses for you. (Note the categorizing here to make sense of life!)
Knowing your dosha can be extremely helpful for understanding your default reaction to bad news.
For example – if you are Vata (air + ether) you may be inclined to move to anxiety and fear when faced with bad news. Pitta (fire + water) can often be fiery with rage and frustration when dealing with adversity, while Kapha (water + earth) are more likely to feel down or depressed as they take longer to digest the things going on around them.
We all have our soft points and strengths – and when shitty things happen, it’s good to know where they lie so that we can make sense of our reactions.
Vata folks are creative, adventurous, and personable.
Pitta folks are amazing at problem-solving and getting things done. They lead with passion and heart.
Kapha folks are steady and grounded, tend to see the larger picture and are forgiving and confidant.
In the face of our polarizing political climate – it’s hard to know what to do. You want to do it all – or may feel guilty for not doing it all. This often can lead to inaction.
Gather your strengths and direct your energy through them.
If you are politically minded and vocal – do this! If you are more private but still want to use your voice – you call the politicians and sign the petitions. If you have the means to donate money to help with the cause – do this. If you live near a city that has marches – do this. If you quietly & personally support those experiencing the hardships of these times – continue doing this.
And of course – please vote like you’ve never voted before.
Applying all this to fertility
The concepts of Consumption, Discernment, Energetic Flow, and Knowing Yourself can be easily applied to your fertility journey.
What are you taking in? Where are you getting your information? Which direction is your energy flowing? Are you working with your dosha and nature? These are extremely important for moving out of a reaction mode and into a responsive mode.
***I understand that the complexity of the rulings are affecting people and their fertility treatment in so many different ways. Those in racial minorities, low socio-economic, or marginalized groups will be the most affected by this and other rulings.