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  • Fully Fertile Holiday Package

    pulling down the moon gift image Embrace and enhance your fertility journey with our Fully Fertile Holiday Package! This gift includes Pulling Down the Moon’s own book Fully Fertile, our new Fully Fertile Companion Yoga DVD, a Universal Fertility Intention Bracelet from SheBeads, our Nourish ARTea blend and one box of 100 tea filters.

    Fully Fertile  &  Companion DVD

    Pulling Down the Moon Co-Founders Tami Quinn and Beth Heller created a holistic 12-week program for optimal fertility. Newly revised and updated.

    After writing our book,  Fully Fertile , we had lots of requests for a companion DVD that would allow the reader to move with ease from the written text and photographs into the yoga practice. All you’ll need is your yoga mat to begin this 12-week do-it-yourself in home fertility program that includes both the book and the companion yoga DVD.

    ARTeas Nourish with 100 Hemp Fiber, Biodegradable Tea Filters

    What better way to nurture yourself than with a warm, comforting cup of herbal tea? Pulling Down the Moon’s exclusive ARTeas are caffeine-free, fertility-friendly, and absolutely delicious.

    Nourish is a fortifying blend of partridge berry, raspberry leaves and blueberry may help strengthen and support a woman’s reproductive system.Nourish tea is recommended prior to stimulation.

    Universal Fertility Intention Bracelet

    Pulling Down the Moon announces a special partnership with renown bead maker and founder of She Beads, Sandy Rueve. She Beads are individually hand-rolled, clay bead jewelry sold at high end retailers all over the world.  Sandy has now birthed a new line of jewelry called, “Intention Beads.”  Working with nationally acclaimed astrologist, Barbara Schermer, Sandy has created give Fertility Intention Bracelets, all created during an astrologically auspicious time to conceive.

    Each bracelet is unique, colorful and adorned with silver and Swarovski crystals making it not only meaningful as a good luck charm but also an elegant part of your jewelry collection long after you’ve manifested your intention.
    Since bracelets are hand crafted and meant to be unique, colors will vary by bracelet.  Be surprised by receiving the bracelet you are meant to have.  You won’t be disappointed.

    Click here for more information.

  • Why Is Loss Such a Dirty Word?

    In our book, The Infertility Cleanse, I wrote about a blog post on that generated a small controversy.  The blog was about strategies for coping with miscarriage and loss, and it also appeared as the lead story in our monthly newsletter.   To our surprise, several readers wrote in to let us know they felt it was insensitive for us to write about loss in a general email and we should send those sorts of articles only to those women who have experienced a loss.  The heat of a few of the responses took us (well, me as the author of the piece) by surprise.  As someone who has experienced infertility, had many losses and worked for years with women who are trying to conceive, I thought my sensitivity chip was pretty much spot on.

    This blogging experience brought me to a deeper meditation on the topic of loss and what a dirty word “loss” has become in our society.  From childhood we learn that winning is the way of the world and that loss is somehow shameful.   For those of us who played sports or competed in academics, we may have learned that you “can’t win them all.” But this lesson was inevitably tied to getting up, brushing off and working harder to win the next challenge.  But some losses aren’t part of a game.  Some are completely out of our control like miscarriage or multiple failed IVFs and can leave us completely without context or coping mechanisms. In such cases the pain of loss becomes blurred with the shame of failure that we haven’t been able  to “brush it off” and win the next challenge.

    Over Thanksgiving I spent a week at the home of an out of town friend who had recently experienced an almost unspeakable loss.  Her daughter, a high school student, had committed suicide just before Christmas just three short years ago.  I was nervous about the visit, the rawness of spending a holiday like Thanksgiving in the face of such loss.  Would it be a week of sadness and tragedy?  Would I continually say the wrong thing?  Would I feel guilty that I had my beautiful boys at a time of year that centers around gratitude and joy?

    All of the questions mounted in my heart and throat as we got closer to our destination.  I realized I, too, was really uncomfortable with loss.  I didn’t want it around me, I didn’t want it to ruin my holiday and I didn’t want to have to judge myself the way for the way I was feeling…which was stressed out.

    But from the moment we walked through the door it was clear this was a very special gathering.  There was true sadness – yes – but there was also a very pure kind of light that we sometimes find when everything has been stripped away and people are simply together, being there for each other and grateful for the opportunity share life.  The strength of my friend and her husband was inspiring. No one “put on a brave face,” tears flowed but stories of their daughter flowed as well.  Laughter rang.  The ladies did yoga and the guys played soccer in the yard.  The meals were delicious and we cooked and ate with relish.  And not for one moment did one soul there take anything for granted.

    Our two-day drive home from Colorado was a meditative time for me.  As I reflected on the powerful wave of gratitude that had washed through me the previous week I tried to understand why it felt different from holidays past.  This Thanksgiving, facing my fear of loss meant I had to drop my “conditions:”  I didn’t spend time worrying about things that could go wrong or the bad things could happen at any time to “steal” my happiness away.  How could I do that in the face of such strength and courage?   When we got closer to Illinois, and I passed an exit for Peace Road (that’s the photo above), I had a little epiphany.  This vacation had dissolved just a little bit the patterns of holding, grasping and fearing that often lie just beneath my joy and keep it from being truly radiant.  For several days I felt the lightness of simply being. To be truly present and grateful we must somehow learn not to fear loss.

    So epiphanies are insights, not extreme make-overs.  Learning not to fear loss is a life’s work.  It is the work of enlightenment that spiritual teachers like Jesus and the Buddha have been trying to teach for ages.  Tonight before I sleep I will say prayers for health and happiness.  I will do everything in my power to keep my loved ones safe and sound.  I will work hard to make Pulling Down the Moon a good place to be.  That’s a very human thing to do – and I do believe prayers help and our intentions shape our lives.

    Yet watching my friend live her loss as pain, but not failure, I have been deeply moved.

    Loss is pain, not failure.  Failure is the judgement that we place on our own efforts.  Loss can also reveal courage, strength and love that has not yet known it’s own strength.  And when the fear of loss disappears, the richness of the present moment is revealed.  Somehow I saw this distinction more clearly this weekend.  And that is something for which I am truly thankful.

  • Acupuncture Before and After Embryo Transfer

    Karisa Grudi, one of our licensed acupuncturists at Pulling Down the Moon Shady Grove, sat down with us to discuss a little bit about the German Protocol and why it is so important for women who have embryo transfers:

    Q. Karisa, can you give us an idea of what the German Protocol is?

    A. The German Protocol is a series of two acupuncture treatments that are performed on the day of IVF transfer.  The treatments are scheduled before and after the embryo transfer on the same day.  The German Protocol is based off of a study that was performed in Germany, 2006.  In the study of 160 participants, one group received IVF transfer only while the second group received IVF transfer with two acupuncture treatments (before and after transfer).  The pregnancy results showed 42% in the acupuncture group compared to 26% in the control group.

    Q. How does this particular type of acupuncture help increase a couple’s chances of conceiving?

    A. In the German study, a select number of acupuncture points were used to help with the efficacy of pregnancy.   Those same points from the study are used in the clinic.  Certain points on the leg have a direct connection to the uterus and ovaries.  Those points help to bring blood flow locally to the uterus to help lessen contractions associated with the actual implantation of the embryo.  Points are also selected to decrease stress and help relax the body and mind.  In addition, points are selected on the ear to further help with relaxation, uterine blood flow and endocrine functioning.

    Q. Is it helpful for all types of cycles in which an embryo transfer is taking place?

    A. Yes, it is definitely helpful for all IVF cycles, including those with donor egg and/or donor sperm.  Again, the focus is the same on the day of IVF transfer – to bring blood flow locally to the uterus, to help relax the body and mind, and to help with endocrine functioning.

    At Pulling Down the Moon Shady Grove, Karisa and our other licensed acupuncturists strive to provide everyone with individualized care, whatever their circumstances may be. The German Protocol is just one of the many ways acupuncture can help you on your journey. We hope you will join us!

    Featured Products and Services:

    Pregnancy Prep Program

    Pregnancy Prep Program

    Click here to learn more about our Pregnancy Prep Program, supplements to support optimal nutrition for women who are trying to conceive.

  • “Nourishing Up” for Fertility

    Healthy Dinner by Beth Heller, M.S.

    Nutrition was a big topic at this year’s American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference.  Concepts under discussion included the potential role of inflammation in both male and female fertility and the possible value of antioxidants like resveratrol and omega-3 fatty acids in reversing damage done by environmental toxins.  Another very simple yet compelling idea was presented by Dr. Gil Wilshire from Missouri.  Dr. Wilshire contends that many women, even obese women, are not getting sufficient nutrition for good fertility.  Put simply, the typical low-fat, USDA Food Guide diet that we have all been programmed to eat, is low in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for our body’s health and reproduction.

    Dr. Wilshire was preaching to the choir on this one.  That the poor quality of our modern diet – from the over consumption of fast foods and overly processed meals, to the belief that “low-fat means healthy” – puts all of us at risk for less than optimal nutritional status  is a cornerstone of our fertility nutrition programming at Pulling Down the Moon.  What was especially compelling, though, was Dr. Gil’s use of the concept of “feeding up” in his discussion.  This idea is old as the hills but almost universally accepted in the medical community:  women get pregnant when they are “feeding up” rather than paring down.

    The female body is keenly aware of “energy balance,” an evolutionary mechanism that ensures the survival of the human species.  When calories are scarce, bodies begin to shut down non-essential body functions…like reproduction.  Food, however, is much more than calories.  It is also the way our body gets essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fats needed for healthy body function.  If a woman is consuming a diet rich in calories but poor in nutrients, she can become malnourished.  Hence an obese woman who lives on processed foods can have plenty of calories but still be “starving.”  And the slender woman who has been told by her fertility doctor to gain some weight in order to conceive may benefit more from shifting to a highly nutritious diet and lowering the intensity of her activity than from simply packing on pounds.

    Rather than “feeding up,” we like to say that women get pregnant when they are “nourishing up.”  Importantly, the process of nourishing up can take place without the gain or loss of a single pound.  It begins with a very healthy diet and  good digestion so that essential nutrients are not only present, they are being absorbed and assimilated.  Calorie counting is secondary to this objective, even for the obese woman who needs to lose weight.  In general we believe that certain nutritional supplements  (including a high-quality prenatal vitamin, a probiotic to support digestion and omega-3 fats) can help support the objective of “nourishing up” but the focus should be a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, minimally processed grains and healthy fats.

    We also know that nourishment can come in many ways – including the nourishment of true relaxation that comes with yoga practice, nourishment through channeling chi throughout the body during an acupuncture session or the healing touch of massage and reiki.  Changing the intensity and intention of our exercise program from “burning and racing” to “energizing and strengthening” can also make a difference.

    At a high-tech conference like ASRM it was encouraging to see nutrition on the table, so to speak.  It was clear, however, that nutrition will never get the attention of research dollars.  Many more people attended the class on Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) than the class about nutrition.  Doing nutrition research is complicated and funding is scarce because unlike drug research, where there’s potential to patent and produce a pharmaceutical drug that will make billions of dollars, a healthy diet can’t be patented and won’t make anyone rich.  Conflicts of interest are everywhere.   Governmental agencies that are charged with making nutritional recommendations are also charged with protecting the economic interests of food manufacturers.   Our national nutrition association, the American Dietetic Association, is partnering with companies like Coca Cola to get women to drink more Diet Coke in order to prevent heart disease.  Yikes!

    So what are we to do?  In the face of misinformation we must begin to live the truth and spread the word.  Have you made changes to your diet that fly in the face of the Dietary Guidelines for America?  Have you switched to full fat dairy and sworn off fat-free yogurt?  Have you switched to a more nourishing lifestyle through yoga, acupuncture or other practice?  If you have, please share your stories and we will feature them in our blog and on via social media.  Send your storied to subject line:  Nourishing Up.  You can include your name or let me know that you’d like to remain anonymous.

  • Fat: Fertility Friend or Foe?

    Margaret Wertheim M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

    by Margaret Wertheim, MS, RD, LDN

    There has been much debate about what the ideal diet is for weight loss, optimum health and of course, fertility. After listening to many qualified speakers at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Orlando last week, I realized that there are quite a few uncertainties. However, there are some things that we know for sure. As humans we are very adaptable and can survive eating just about anything, but that does not mean we are thriving . When you’re trying to conceive, it’s essential that the body’s most basic needs are being met. In other words, adequately nourishing your body and meeting your vitamin and mineral requirements is a must.

    Throughout the 1980s, it was drilled into our heads that we should follow a very low-fat and high carb diet, based on the somewhat misguided notion that eating fat makes you fat. This type of diet has fallen out of favor for the most part. The pendulum swung back the other way to the Atkins diet, full of protein and fat with minimal carbs. I think there is a balance to strike somewhere in between.

    In my experience, women tend to follow low-fat diets and eat reduced-calorie foods in order to lose weight or maintain their weight. It’s unfortunate that low-fat and reduced-calorie foods, such as artificially-sweetened non-fat yogurt and diet coke have become almost synonymous with “healthy” in certain circles. While we can survive on these types of foods, we don’t thrive. There are 4 fat-soluble vitamins – vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are only found in foods that contain fat. Eat a very low-fat diet, and you won’t get enough of these vitamins that are crucial to your overall health and can play a role in fertility as well. Vitamin A is essential for embryonic development, and in one study of women going through IVF, the group of women with higher vitamin D levels in their blood had higher pregnancy rates. Furthermore, vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and may have a beneficial effect on sperm quality. (That’s right guys, this is for you too!)

    When you eat a very low-fat diet, it’s all but impossible to meet your daily requirements for these important fat-soluble vitamins. Remember that when incorporating more fat into your diet, it’s essential to focus on quality fats and steer clear of unhealthy fats like hydrogenated oils. Eating more healthy fat doesn’t have to mean you eat more calories or gain weight. You’re likely to feel more satisfied after eating, which means you’re less likely to be grabbing for unhealthy snacks later on. Also, when you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy, often cravings fall away and you feel healthier and more vibrant and energetic.

    To learn more about the role of healthy fats in your diet and which fats to stay away from, call 312-321-0004 to schedule an appointment with a Pulling Down the Moon nutritionist.

  • Massage for Constipation

    Cathleen McCauley L.M.T.

    by Cathy McCauley, LMT

    Discomfort, pain, bloating, gas. While broaching the topic of constipation may be embarrassing, it’s a common side effect of many fertility medications. What can you do when you’ve become more than a bit irregular during a fertility cycle? Try receiving abdominal massage.

    A review of research from 1999 to the present shows that abdominal massage can be effective in the treatment of constipation. The review, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (Volume 15, Issue 4 , Oct. 2011), states that scientific evidence over the past 12 years has demonstrated that “…abdominal massage can stimulate peristalsis, decrease colonic transit time, increase the frequency of bowel movements in constipated patients, and decrease the feelings of discomfort and pain that accompany it.”

    So what does that all mean? Basically, abdominal massage can help get things moving so you can go more frequently and easily.

    Many clients have never received abdominal massage and voice concern that it might be painful. Some clients cringe at the thought of having anyone come near their tummies while undergoing fertility treatments. Others feel embarrassed because of how their bellies look and fear being judged.

    These feelings are valid and heard. Therefore, one of my therapeutic goals is to work with a client’s comfort on whatever level necessary to create positive change. I approach abdominal massage slowly and with care. Additionally, I honor each and every client who receives massage, and I truly believe this makes an enormous difference in how the client experiences the treatment.

    In the Hawaiian tradition of Lomi Lomi, the belly holds our energetic and authentic being. It is referred to as the bowl of light. As we go through life we collect stones that block the light. By having our bowls cleansed on occasion we allow the white light to shine through so it can continue to guide us on our path of authentic living.

    I’m happy to discuss the benefits of abdominal massage as well as Pulling Down the Moon’s four-part Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM) series. Please contact me at  I look forward to meeting you along your journey.


    Sinclair M. The use of abdominal massage to treat chronic constipation. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies . 2011 Oct; 15(4):436-45.

  • Strike a Pose

    by Beth Heller, MS RYT

    Yoga poses are a mystery in my book.  We go to yoga class, stand on a mat in our bare feet and proceed to bend and twist our bodies until we take on a completely different shape.  What are these shapes?  Why on earth do they make us feel so good?  Why are they such a gift when we are experiencing life and health challenges such as infertility?

    There is a lot of information about the physiological benefits of yoga.  Clearly, yoga postures are good for our bodies.  Stretching tight musculature improves our posture, strengthens our digestion and makes our muscles strong and supple.  Hip opening postures feed blood to the uterus and ovaries, backbends stimulate our nervous system and free our respiratory system from chronic tension, and twists “wring out” toxins and stale fluid from body tissues.  But aren’t postures just physical exercise?  The answer is yes, and no.

    In his master work Light on Yoga , renowned yogi B.K.S. Iyengar explains that names of yoga poses are significant and symbolize the process of evolution.  There are poses named for plants (tree, lotus), poses named for insects (locust, scorpion), poses named for fish, reptiles and higher mammals like dog and camel.  Some are even named for legendary Hindu heroes and even gods.  The point is, Iyengar says, that while we perform yoga asana we assume many different forms, from the lowliest to the most exalted, and recognize the Universal Spirit that runs through them all.   Mr. Iyengar asserts that it is this unspoken presence of the divine that begins to work on the body of the yogi, causing new discipline and spontaneous healing to occur in diet, cleanliness and character.  What a fascinating thought – and how nice to think that tapping into something greater than ourselves is just a down dog away?

    Over tea last week, Joyce, a fellow yoga teacher and friend was discussing her yoga practice when she added another dimension to my musing.

    “The postures,” she said, “are the constant and I am the variable.  When I move into a yoga pose that I practice regularly, the pose is the same but depending on my state of mind, what I ate for dinner the night before and my present mood it’s a unique experience every time.  When I am tense, my down dog is rigid.  When I am sad I am reluctant to do backbends.  Because the postures encourage me to breathe and reflect, I see how my life affects my body. ”

    So, while in some ways these insights make the mystery even deeper, my appreciation of yoga asana is ever expanding.  These insights remind me that while yoga for fertility is trendy and hip openers are indeed great for fertility, the roots of this practice run far deeper than we will ever imagine.  And for this I am truly grateful.

    Check out our brand new video companion to our book, Fully Fertile. This easy to use practice is great for any level, designed to support your body’s fertility and, with faithful practice, connect you to this universal healing awareness.

  • Staying Positive – That Scary First Trimester

    by Beth Heller MS, RYT

    No, this isn’t another chirpy post about the power of positive thinking or the law of attraction.  While there are potential fertility benefits to both of those things, the positive I’m talking about here is the little plus on the pee stick or the positive lilt in the nurse’s voice when she gives you the news that your beta hCG has just doubled.  This post is also about the apprehension I’ve seen behind the eyes of my yoga students when they share their good news.  One hurdle cleared – “I’m pregnant!” – but another looms ahead…that tenuous first trimester.   This anxiety is magnified if their journey has been a long one or if a previous “positive” ended in a negative.

    Having experienced multiple miscarriages and other assorted disappointments, that odd mix of joy and terror during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy is something I know way too well.  I spent most of the waking hours of my first trimesters taking my basal temperature incessantly to make sure it hadn’t dropped, bracing myself to see blood on the toilet paper every time I went to the bathroom and subjecting every ping I felt in my abdomen to a thorough Google search.  Is there anything we can do to make this time bearable?

    Absolutely.  I’m assuming that you’ve been taking pretty good care of yourself on the road to pregnancy, so now is definitely not the time to pull off that road.  Keep on doing what you’ve been doing to stay happy, healthy and balanced.  In case you’re so freaked out that you can’t remember what those things were, here is a checklist for staying positive, figuratively and literally, during the first trimester:

    1. Practice your yoga and meditation.   When a woman becomes pregnant during our six week Yoga for Fertility class, which I am happy to report happens quite frequently, we encourage her to stay with the class and the practice during her early weeks of pregnancy.   Researchers hypothesize that stress may contribute to early pregnancy loss, a phenomenon they are calling Pregnancy Stress Syndrome .  The immune/endocrine imbalances that result from stress may be a trigger for pregnancy loss.  The good news is that population studies show that “tender-loving-care” interventions that focus on reducing stress and helping women feel supported are associated with positive pregnancy outcomes in women with history of miscarriage. As long as the yoga is gentle and the teacher is knowledgeable about what’s verboten during very early pregnancy, you’re good to go.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing yoga, find a meditation or other relaxation class to attend to keep the “ritual of relaxation” going during this time
    2. Exercise.  Yes, I did say exercise.  Note that I did not say go for a run or start power lifting, but I did say exercise.  Early pregnancy is a time to stroll and smell the flowers or stretch in leisurely manner.  Gentle (stress again gentle ) movement will help to relieve anxiety, mediate the fatigue that often comes along with the first trimester and promote a sense of well-being.  Just keep it gentle (did I stress gentle?).
    3. Keep eating right.  You may not feel ready for the full-on prenatal nutrition consult, but it is time to contact your nutritionist and make sure that any herbal or nutritional supplements you have been taking are still appropriate during the first trimester.   If you’ve discontinued dairy, wheat or other potential allergens , this is not the time to add them back in without the support of a skilled nutritionist, but it is time to ensure that any eliminations you have made have not created nutritional “holes” in your nutritional status.
    4. Keep getting your acupuncture.  Traditional Chinese Medicine is very useful and has specific protocols for miscarriage prevention.  At Pulling Down the Moon we recommend women receive treatment weekly during the first trimester and then continue monthly or on an as-needed basis for the remainder of the pregnancy.
    5. Hands on work like massage and reiki can also help you stay calm and centered.  Think about how your dog or cat melts under your touch when they are anxious.  Make sure, though, that your massage therapist knows that you are newly pregnant and is aware of any contraindicated techniques or points on the body that should not be manipulated during pregnancy.
    6. Finally, keep breathing.  When the anxiety starts to creep up, take a deep inhale through your nose and let it out slowly through mouth saying silently to yourself “I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m whole.”  The instinct is to hold the breath and count the days until week twelve but the reality is that staying in the flow of life will help you focus on something other than your fears.   The breath is a reminder of that flow and brings you back to center.

    Stay present, stay peaceful, stay positive.  It will be trimester-two before you know it!   Beth

    Note:  Before applying any techniques described in this or any other nutrition, exercise or holistic program an individual should always consult and obtain professional medical advice, including from their doctor.

  • Anna’s News: Inflammation and Its Role with Infertility

    Anna Pyne, LAc, MSOM, FABORM

    Inflammation is a common disorder which can be a contributing factor or sole cause of infertility.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has many treatment options that may be used exclusively or in conjunction with Western medical therapy.  Inflammation of the pelvic organs can occur in diseases such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, and salpingitis (inflammation of the fallopian tubes).  I have successfully treated many patients with these conditions that are in the middle of or are about to go through a medicated fertility treatment cycle, as well as those trying to conceive naturally.

    According to TCM there can be a number of different causes for inflammation to occur in the body and each can manifest in very individual ways.  Not only will PID, endometriosis, and salpingitis be identified and treated separately, but each one on its own has a number of different potential causes.  I will be able to assess the specific cause of the disorder by observing the tongue, feeling both wrist pulses, and reviewing the intake form with the patient.  By gathering all this information together I am able to then discern the TCM pattern and treatment plan going forward.  If you have any questions about TCM’s treatment options in regards to inflammation hindering fertility, please feel free to email us or if would like to make an appointment please call the office.

  • Contact Uranus: Mula Bandha and Fertility

    by Beth Heller MS, RYT

    Jivamukti Yoga Co-Founder David Life tells a famous story about his first experience of mula bandha.   Standing in a yoga class with a famous Indian yoga instructor, Life heard the instructions “Contact Uranus!”

    Contact Uranus?  Did he wander by accident into a Star Trek convention?

    It took Life a while to understand that his teacher was saying  ”contract your anus,” the basic instructions for initiating mula bandha, a very powerful yoga technique for fertility.

    I don’t hesitate to tell you this story because if you’re experiencing infertility you’re no stranger to embarrassing descriptions of things that are happening (or not happening) below the waist.  You can likely rattle off words like “semen” and “cervical mucous,” “vaginal probe” and “post-coital.”   Now, believe it or not, your fertility yoga practice is going to take you there, too.

    Mula bandha is an energetic practice that stabilizes the pelvis and sacrum and tones the pelvic muscles.  While Life’s teacher suggested contracting the anus, mula bandha is actually more subtle. In women the action of mula bandha is the contraction of the vaginal and cervical muscles, similar to a Kegel.  If you’ve never heard of a Kegel, you can get a sense of this muscle action by imagining that you are urinating and must contract your pelvic floor muscles to stop the flow of urine.

    On a physical level mula bandha tones the muscles of the pelvic floor.  It is great preparation for pregnancy where these muscles experience strain which can lead to urinary incontinence.  But mula bandha is more than just a muscular contraction, it is also an energetic contraction.  On an energetic level, the practice of mula bandha is grounding and helps conserve life energy (prana) in our body.    Mula bandha also clears congestion at the root chakra, also called muladhara chakra, which is concerned with safety and survival.  Mula bandha literally lifts  prana up from the root chakra to the second chakra.  The second chakra is called the svadhishthana chakra and is concerned with sexuality, creativity and fertility – so you can see why this might benefit fertility.  Mula bandha is also said to sever the brahma granthi, the energetic knot at the base of our spine that represents resistance to change, so if you’re feeling stuck or afraid, this work is for you.

    To practice mula bandha, sit comfortably in a chair with your feet on the ground.  Slowly inhale and begin to engage the muscles of the pelvic floor (ie. as if you are stopping the flow of urine) over a count of five.  I like to use a visualization of an elevator going up (floor 1, floor 2, floor 3, floor 4, floor 5).   Exhale as you release the contraction slowly and feel the elevator descending floor by floor.  Check in with leg and buttocks muscles to make sure you aren’t tightening them.  Repeat 10 times.

    With practice it will become possible to hold mula bandha for longer periods of time, while going for a walk, while doing your yoga, while talking on the phone.  Practiced regularly and with attention mula bandha can bring many gifts.