Iyengar Yoga Tradition - Balancing Rocks Yoga Studio Singapore

The Iyengar Yoga Tradition


Pregnancy, Fertility Challenges, and more...

Posted by Eng Kiat on July 7, 2014 at 4:05 AM

The organic outreach continues...  

Similar to a subject like mathematics where there are different syllabus like algebra, geometry, etc. And within algebra, there are sub-syllabus like linear algebra, elementary algebra, abstract algebra, etc.

In a similar manner in my yoga knowledge sharing endeavour (which is a subset of my learning endeavour) I am currently embarking on is the 'annamaya kosa' syllabus.

Within this syllabus, one sub-syllabus that has been gaining awareness and momentum is around "pregnancy, fertility challenges, and more..."

In the early days (2010-2012) 

During this period of time, once in a while (4 months thereabout) there will be a student sharing her joy of being a mother soon or to have another newborn soon.

And most of the time, they will asked me a question "Did yoga help?". And many times I will reply with a smile perhaps "Yes, don't you know?".

On occassions during classes, I do dropped hints such as "this pose is good for the ladies", etc. Hopefully they will pick up the inference while they are doing, executing the poses.

This was how it was during this period. Student suspecting their chances improved due to the practice as they have been trying for some time but just wasn't able to fully confirm it. 

The early evolution (late 2012-2013)

This is the period where things started to happen more deliberate and lesser by 'oh, it happened'.

a) Ms W - She started class with the studio 2 months after her miscarriage. She was in her early 40s. Though she had a girl 4 years earlier, she was having difficulty to conceive the next child.

One condition she developed after her incident was symptoms of incontinence. To build up her confidence with what yoga can offer. We dealt with the incontinence issue first, and within 2-3 months, sustainable improvements became apparent. With the increase in confidence with yoga, we embarked on improving the Organic Body (a term refers to the body parts related to the various organs) first.

Ms W is a diligent person. She practised what was taught in the class at home and even posted photos to show me (in case the poses practised were done wrongly).

The good news is she delivered a healthy baby (a few days post estimated due date). Her journey lasted from 1st August 2012 to 6th December 2013. At the moment she is having 'fun' taking care of her baby at home since she doesn't have a domestic helper.

b) Ms HQ - She became the 1st person to walk into the studio already pregnant. This happened in Jan 2013. The interesting fact is that her colleague had been asking her to come for classes for almost 2 years before she finally took the plunge. And the reason was -- she couldn't bear with the Back Pain she was having anymore.

At that time, the studio doesn't offer any class that caters to the needs of the pregnant ladies. As a result, she has to join one of the existing group class. This begins the journey that I have to conduct 2 different classes in the same class setting.

Like almost all before her, she didn't really embrace the idea that the class will help her. However, she experienced more than 60% relieve after her 1st session. With this personal experience, she made it a point not to miss any session till April 2013 for her delivery.

As of today, she is back in the class without a tummy anymore.

c) Ms K - She is a wife of a student that has been with me since 2011. I was told she had a highly intense workout routine such as Muay Thai, body combat, etc when she was not pregnant. That's one reason why she didn't joined her partner earlier as the classes seemed too soft for her.

However, during her pregnancy with her twins, the back pain was too much for her to bear and she was also having the nauseating feeling frequently, and finally she succumbed to coming to the studio in March 2013. Having two inside the body definitely makes the load a lot heavier to deal with.

She managed to keep a good routine of twice a week for 2 months. The family moved overseas as her hubby was posted to another location, and the good news is she delivered in June 2013 as estimated.

Though the working period with this mother was a short one, however it gave her sufficient first-hand experience to turn herself from a skeptic to a beneficier of this subject. 

d) Ms P - She started the class together with her husband. They wanted to do something together. Only after starting the class, I realised the hubby has been seeing a chiro for his back problem, and Ms P do have back issues for a while too. The hubby was a ex-colleague of mine and we have conversations earlier about what I am doing. And am happy to see them coming for class.

They started in Jan 2013, and by late Feb/early March, I was told she was pregnant. This sounds like one of those earlier stories I have in the early days. By now I not have a pregnant lady in this small group of 3 but a new member - sister-in-law has joined in. Now, it got interesting a class for 3 different sets of needs and conditions. The group kept a pretty consistent weekly session with me till end Nov 2013 as I head off to Pune for my own learning. And a cute baby gal was delivered around Christmas time.

Though I have yet to see this couple since, the sister-in-law has become a deligent student. 

A formal Platform formed and the arrival of challenging cases (late 2013-2014 onwards)

Around August 2013, I know the studio will only start to receive more students with this needs. On top of that, within the current student pool many have indicated they would like to be 'helped' too.

Hence a 'Pre-Prenatal & Prenatal' program was conceived.

In the context of yoga, the periods before and during pregnancy are equally important.

There are quite a few poses that are highly beneficial for the physical and mental well being for the mother-to-be.

In my personal experience if these poses are not introduced prior to one's pregnancy, the fear of learning them for the 1st time during pregnancy is extremely high.

As a result, many mothers-to-be missed out on the chance to experience the benefits brought forth by these poses and also the chance to deal with certain conditions that arise commonly during pregnancy.

a) Pre-Prenatal & Prenatal Program - launched on Jan 2014.

The 1st cycle of the program started with 3 pregnant ladies, and the rest in preparation stage.  

As of today (8th July 2014), 2 mothers have delivered and 1 in her 39th week. 

And 3 new pregnancies in recent weeks (last 3 weeks - and this prompted me to blog this ongoing story).

b) Ms F (39th week) - She has been learning at the studio for more than 1.5 years. She suffered from back pain ever since she was pregnant with her first child.

She started class soon learning that the classes will improve her back. Her open-mindedness lead her to relieve of the constant back pain that has nagged her for than 2+ years. Having experiencing the benefits, she continued her regular class routine, and for her 2nd pregnancy she had not experience any morning sickness nor back pain - which she ocassionally shared with her fellow class-mates in the prenatal program. 

On top of the that, she continues with her practice of Headstand (Rope Sirsasana) and Shoulder stand (Chair Sarvangasana) and continue to enjoy the soothing effects of these poses. As she moved towards the 40th week, I will update the last segment accordingly.

c) Ms M - She started with the studio in July 2013.

She was first referred by her colleague 2 years earlier (her colleague brings her daughter to the studio for her scoliosis condition) as Ms M too have scoliosis and was having back pain and discomfort. Like many others, she has chosen to delay the visit as she was undergoing other treatments. Finally she turn up at the studio July 2013.

As she was working near the studio, she quickly became a regular and was able to experience sustained improvement pretty soon - end August 2013.

However her personalised 'treatment' routine was disrupted around this time, as she had to undergo her 1st IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) procedure - as this was her last resort as she was already in her late 30s.  

Though I was more than willing to help her but knowing that it took her 2 years to step across the road to come to the studio, I thought it was better to just shared real-life cases that have been helped by embracing the practice of yoga. Unfortunately for her, the IVF was declared a failure. It took about a month before she was able to revert to a routine that deals with her intial 'call for help'. And I took this opportunity to include practices that would help her to fulfill her dream to become a mom.

In Dec 25 2013, while I was in Pune (amidst my yearly pilgrimage for my own learning) I whatsapped Ms M to get her to hold her 2nd IVF procedure till late March 2014. The offer was turn down as the husband refused to delay. Strangely enough around 6th or 7th Janurary, I received a phone message from Ms M informing me : "I will not be going for IVF procedure". I was surprised thinking that the couple has finally open up to the suggestion I have offered earlier.

It turned out that she was pregnant for the 1st time and moreover naturally. Though it was good news I was worried for her as the I felt more improvements needed and that's why I suggested she worked with me for another 3 months but nonetheless crossed my fingers for her. Unfortunately what I feared happened.

Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise for Ms M. After the unfortunate incident, her confidence in the practices, that we have been working on, went up a few notches. And 2.5 months later she was once again pregnant naturally. For the first few weeks, we continue to work through the practices on a regular basis.

However, due to her work nature, she can be away for 10 days or more at a stretch and she changed job when she was about 9th week pregnant, and missed her practices while she was getting herself oriented with the new organisation.  

(Similar to how it happens when I helped someone with his/her shoulders  - they never stop doing the stuff such as golfing or weight-lifting that would worsen the conditions and they wonder why the conditions revisit them after missing them for some time)

As of this this week, it will be the 20th week of her pregnancy, and I won't see her for 2 weeks as she will be on holiday and work. Looks like we have to wait for her to return to continue so that we can work on a condition of the fetus that was picked up on an earlier checkup she had.

Like what my teachers would say : "Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured".

Hopefully with the mini-breaks here and there, I will be able to report back here around the 40th week - that's 20 weeks from now.

d) Ms S - She came to the studio in Sep 2013. She has a similar story to Ms M. When she first stepped into the studio she couldn't even bent forward for more than 15 degrees as her back will seize up and she will be in pain.

On top of that, she has such cruciating pain during her period that she can be bed-ridden for 1 to 2 days. And the improvement that we managed to achieve sometime in Jan 2014 was to cut down on her dependence on Panadol for pain relief - cutting down from 20+ tablets to about 4 for the first 2 days of her menstrual period.  

During her time with me from Sep 2013 to Feb 2014, I witnessed her going through the IUI (Intra-Uterine insemination) procedure twice and failing both times. If it took most people a long time to be open to improving their backs through yoga, how much more open the person is to deal with her fertility issues.

However I did share with her that in the process of improving her condition with the menstrual cramp issue, the system related to fertility will be improved too. I saw that there were still doubts with her hence we continue to work with what she felt was important at that time.

Around mid Feb, she was pregnant naturally for the 1st time after trying many methods prior. However, she was experiencing some bleeding. 


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