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  • Six Steps to Cultivate Resilience During Fertility Treatment

     

     

     

    “I don’t know if I can go on.”  

    We hear these words a lot at Pulling Down the Moon.  And in a year like the one we’re having, these words take on added weight.  We’re tired, we’re burnt out and it feels like we’ve used our last drop of mojo just to survive this pandemic…let alone another cycle.  

    But you can go on.  In fact, you can not only move forward, you can move forward with purpose and strength because you are more resilient than you know.  And, resilience is something that can be shored up with some simple steps.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Six Steps to Resilience:

     

    1. Allow yourself to be truthful about what you are experiencing and feeling.

    Find a place where you can truly and authentically download what you’re going through.  One of the biggest ways we become resilient is by combating the tendency to hold on to our negative thoughts and feelings. Seeing yourself reflected in compassionate eyes begins to heal the self-blame and anger that comes with fertility challenges.

    1. Nourish yourself with healthy food.

    Food not only fuels your body, it impacts your ability to handle stressful situations.  Diet impacts brain chemistry in specific ways.  Lean protein and complex carbohydrates balance blood sugar and help us maintain emotional balance and healthy fats provide the chemical backbone of mood-managing neurotransmitters.  Adding an omega-3 supplement and/or probiotics have also been shown to prevent depression and anxiety.  

    1. Get your Zzzzz’s

    Give yourself the amount of sleep you need to feel rested and not in need of caffeine, sugar or other stimulants.  Researchers have known for years that shift work (working nights or rotating day/night shifts) is associated with depression, obesity, breast cancer, menstrual irregularity, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage and pre-term birth. There is evidence that melatonin, our sleep/wake hormone, impacts the ability of the uterus to receive an embryo. The fast pace of modern life has put everyone at risk of chronic sleep deprivation. 

    1. Stretch and breathe.

    Yoga is also the ultimate practice of resilience – we use the poses to bend, but do not break; we hold them with strength. Yoga reduces stress and anxiety and teaches us how to release muscular tension in our body, improve blood flow and lower stress hormones. Yoga works directly on the vagus nerve, stimulating our body’s rest/digest/nest processes that are the physical equivalent to resilience. Through yoga, your body can begin to relax and to heal. Once your body allows itself to relax, your mind will follow.  Try our Yoga for Fertility Series starting on Sept 12th or drop-in for our weekly Wellness Wednesday classes starting Sept 15th

    1. Stay sexy.

    Fertility troubles can often take the spice out of an otherwise normal sex life. Exercise regularly so you feel strong and shapely. Splurge on a new nightie that emphasizes your curves and makes you feel like a sex kitten. Make an aphrodisiac meal that you can share by candlelight with your lover. Sex helps you release tension and rekindle the closeness you might be missing as you and your partner work through your challenges.

    1. Lighten your load and begin to let go.

    Resilience is about discovering what you need to shed. In my 19 years at Pulling Down the Moon, during many of which I was working on my own fertility journey, I have seen that we all wear some negative emotion or belief like a shell. We believe our shell gives us form and shape, and fear that if we release this deeply held belief we will no longer be the same. The shell can be made of many different things – grief, fear, blame, anger. We believe that if we work hard enough and are a good enough person, we will get what we want. Some of us believe our fertility defines us. Resilience is the ability to begin to address these questions and fears, rather than allow them to shape our world. Once we let go, we begin to come out of our shell and take the form in life that reflects our potential. Infertility is a painful process, but one that can allow for immense liberty and personal growth. Don’t be afraid to bend. You will not break!

    At Pulling Down the Moon our personalized, holistic approach helps you find the tools to build resilience in body, mind, and spirit.  Have questions about how we can help?  Contact us at info@pullingdownthemoon.com today!  

  • Circle of Light

    By Pulling Down the Moon Co-Founder, Beth Heller

    This past Sunday was class six of our 6-week Yoga for Fertility Series and it ended, as it has for the 17+ years we’ve been teaching it, with our Circle of Light ritual.  For nearly two decades, our classes have ended in the same way.  A candle is lit by the teacher and passed around the circle of students, and in turn each has the chance to share what they have learned about themselves during the fertility journey, offer gratitude to each other for support and affirm their fertility intention.  Due to the pandemic, this past session was virtual, yet we still lit and passed the candle from hand to hand, screen to screen. Amazingly, the connection was something each of us could feel. 

    The words that women share change according to the unique journey of each student, but they are always words of affirmation, validation and, often, transformation.  They reflect what we call our “sacred sauce” – our sangha.”  Sangha is the Sanskrit word for a community of like-minded people.  At Pulling Down the Moon our sangha is the Circle of Light created by our students, clients, practitioners, business staff and owners.  We all show up to hold the dream for each other, to share our experiences and expertise, to cry when we are sad and to cheer triumphantly for each victory.  

    I wanted to share a quick video from the final class of our last yoga session where I share what the Circle of Light candles mean to me and how I use them on my personal “altar” to remind myself of the light of our sangha within and around me.  

    There are three candles in the Circle of Light SeriesIntention, Release, Self-Love & Forgiveness.  Each candle is created with fertility-safe scents and materials and contains a power crystal and dried flowers that are supportive and symbolic of its purpose.  In addition, each comes with a link to an activation ritual that helps you to connect to the candle’s purpose – to ‘birth’ your intentions in the physical world.  The Intention Candle affirms your intention to become a mom (or any other intention you choose to work with). Release is powerful for letting go of losses, disappointments and resentments.  Self-Love and Forgiveness completes the process by reminding you that there is nobody more worthy than you to receive all the blessings the universe has to offer.  

    These candles, custom made for you by a former fertility patient and Pulling Down the Moon student, carry that lineage of support within them.  They are a light in dark times, a reminder to forgive others and love yourself and a “north star” to remind you of your unwavering intention to become a parent.  

    Learn how Yoga for Fertility can support your journey by joining our FREE Online Yoga for Fertility Community Class on Thursday, June 17th at 6pm CST and purchase your own Circle of Light candle from our online shop or pick it up in-center today!

  • Our Journey To Parenthood

    by Jillian Delsignore

    Eric and I always knew we wanted children, always wanted a family.  We talked about it from the time we first started dating in 2016.  Going back even years earlier, I had girlfriends encouraging me to freeze my eggs but I never went through with it.  It was a combination of fear (can’t handle needles!), uncertainty of the future, my travel schedule (always an excuse!), you name it, I used it as a reason not to do it.  When Eric and I met, some of those excuses and fears were alleviated as I could suddenly see the future.  The picture of our family became clear.

    We had our first joint meeting with Dr Rapisarda at FCI in the summer of 2017.  We thought we were there to discuss freezing eggs but he said that given we were there embarking on this together, it was best that we freeze embryos.  And so began our journey to Elliott James.

    We did our first IVF cycle in November 2017.  The shots, the ultrasounds, the blood tests… it was almost surreal to experience that first time.  Your world suddenly revolves around daily injections, follicles and hormone levels.   I remember our first trigger night like it was yesterday.  We always seemed to trigger on Saturday nights! We got one embryo. One embryo from eight eggs.  It became clear we needed to continue with more cycles given the odds of success.  Those cycles followed in January and November 2018 resulting in two more embryos, both from the last cycle.

    We were never able to do a fresh transfer because of my lining. It never wanted to cooperate even when I was being pumped with hormones.  We tried our first frozen transfer in April 2019.  The process was supposed to take 30 days – mine, it took 3 months and even then my lining was barely viable for a transfer.  We were still hopeful but the pregnancy didn’t take. We tried another transfer cycle right away but we had to cancel it because my body just wasn’t responding.  It was becoming clear that me carrying our child was not going to be part of our journey.

    It was time to make a decision… try again or explore other options.  We just couldn’t risk one of our remaining two embryos.  Surrogacy was it but where do we even begin. Where do you find a person who is willing to give her body, give herself to help someone else bring a child in to the world? Then there’s the emotion of the whole process.  I wouldn’t be pregnant, wouldn’t be able to experience that, feel our baby kick, know what I would eat, how I would care for myself – that lack of control was really hard to accept but it was our path.

    We found an amazing organization, ConceiveAbilities, to help us through the entire process – finding a gestational carrier, getting us a lawyer, acting as our complete coordinator of what is a very complicated process.  We were open to finding a GC anywhere in the country in an effort to be matched quickly.  Not only did they find us a match in six weeks, they found us someone in Chicago.  We met Steffanie for the first time on video in early January 2020.  We instantly knew she was going to be our perfect match.

    Its really hard to explain the relationship that develops between intended parents and a GC.  Its intense, emotional, loving, all the feels.  This part of our journey was particularly unique because at this point COVID was upon us which meant protocols at doctors appointments had completely changed.  We couldn’t attend the transfer but drove her to and from and just waited in the parking lot. Our OB appointments became a routine of driving to the doctors office, hanging together in the waiting room and then heading back out to the car when she was called back so we could FaceTime during the appointment.  We made it work and we loved getting to spend the time together even if it was in waiting rooms and parking lots.

    We are forever grateful for the hospital in allowing both Eric and me to be there all throughout labor and delivery in addition to Steffanie’s husband.  I was able to cut the cord and we could immediately hold Elliott which was something we feared wouldn’t be possible because of COVID.  The hospital even went so far as to providing us a room on the postpartum floor.  It was amazing to see how invested in our story everyone became over the course of those 14 hours.  Doctors and nurses whose shifts had ended an hour before Elliott’s birth came back in the room so that they could be a part of this joyous moment.  Hugs, tears, the quiet moment when a doctor said to me “you’ve waited a long time for him haven’t you”.  Yes, we had waited a long time and it was worth the wait. Those moments and days in the hospital are ones we will truly never forget.

    One constant in our journey are my friends at Pulling Down The Moon. They have been with us from the very beginning.  Acupuncture and massage played a big role in not only my physical health but mental health as well.  I instantly calmed the minute I walked in the door – every single time.  It is the most inviting environment and despite my fear of needles, the acupuncture was something I came to love.  We even had to do some of our shots there!  Never a dull moment when you are beholden to the clock and miscalculate how long you’ll be at acupuncture!  The connections that I made with everyone there became some of the most important to me in this journey as I could see myself in them.  They had their own stories and worked there to help women just like me, just like them, get their families.  I found that the support doesn’t end when it was not me who would be pregnant.  They offered to help Steffanie, to let her use my package, to help the odds of us getting pregnant.  I even found myself going back throughout the pregnancy for that mental break and self care I know I would get from my Pulling Down The Moon friends.  They were also invested in my story and it meant the world.

    The journey to parenthood looks different for everyone.  When you’re in the midst of it all and feel like its not meant to be, its easy to lose hope and let the emotions take over.  I’ve been there many times.  Remember you’re not alone.  There are resources and support systems that exist to help you along your journey.  You don’t have to do this alone.  We are a stronger family thanks to this journey and are so blessed to have our sweet Elliott James.

  • How Stage IV Endometriosis forced me to find my voice

    My first period came in January 1998. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in eighth grade and I remember saying the cruelest thing I have EVER said to my Mom. I cursed her for making me be born a girl. I still to this day feel awful for those words having left my mouth, as my Mom is the most amazing mother in the world. 

    In high school and college, I would pass out from the debilitating pain and friends, roommates, and loved ones many times would find me in the fetal position just trying to breathe through the pain. What I learned from an early age from classmates, girlfriends, and women in my life is that we as women experience painful periods and it’s just part of being a woman. We (women) all experience this excruciating pain. 

    I went on for the next 20 years thinking it was completely normal to feel stabbing pain for 2-4 days every 28 days. I learned quickly that heating pads and Ibuprofen were my best friend. I always felt that this pain was not normal, but nobody outside of my Mom truly understood and believed me. It was in college where I first learned about Endometriosis and thought, hey I think this is what this pain is all about. 

    From 2007-2018, I saw nine doctors. Most of the doctors I saw, all said similar things, “We’re women, we’re used to dealing with pain. Every woman has painful periods.” Unfortunately, there were only two doctors who truly listened and believed me when I said I think I have Endometriosis. I felt defeated and crazy. I thought all these doctors are telling me this is normal that I feel like I am being stabbed in my uterus each month. I must be making this pain up. I was just surviving month-to-month and most definitely not thriving. As women we have an incredible gift of intuition, so trust that, trust that you know your body better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to speak up!

    My husband and I began our fertility journey 6 years ago. We tried naturally for 1½ years with no success. After 4 failed IUIs, 4 failed IVF transfers, and 3 miscarriages, I asked my doctor for more answers. She suggested two things: first was to do the Yoga for Fertility program with Beth Heller at Pulling Down the Moon. This was the first time I had been shown how to tune in and listen to my body in a supportive female community. I had never been so seen and loved within the fertility community. I have friends for life from that Yoga for Fertility program.

    Second, my doctor suggested I see an Endometriosis specialist. I had excision surgery in November 2018. My surgery should have taken a max of 1-2 hours, instead I woke up 6 hours later to hearing news from my husband. My husband said “I have good and bad news, which would you like to hear first?” I said, “I want the good news first”. He said, “you were right, you have stage IV Endometriosis and bad news it was so extensive they removed your left fallopian tube.” Even though this news was the worst case scenario with Endometriosis, it was a blessing in disguise. 

    Hearing I was right and in fact did have Endometriosis, was the best news I had received in 20 years. I had finally felt heard, seen, and my opinions were valued. This new information changed everything for me and my fertility doctors. My doctors could now move forward with adjusting my fertility medications and procedure process based on my Endometriosis diagnosis. 

    I know many would be angry having a body that made you feel debilitating pain every 28 days. However, I am incredibly grateful for my Endometriosis journey because it has forced me to find my voice and learn how to advocate for myself and my body. I have also been able to share this information with my nutritionist who can better assist me. It takes practice and time in silence to tune in with our bodies and listen to what it needs and craves. Remember, you are the ONLY one who knows your body inside and out and no one else will advocate as fiercely for you or your body the way that YOU can.

    About the author: Kasia has been a part of the PDTM community since March 2016. She has been trying to conceive for 6+ years, has had 5 failed IUIs, 7 failed IVF transfers, experienced 4 miscarriages, and has Stage IV Endometriosis. She is in the midst of her last and final IVF retrieval and transfer AND beginning her adoption and possible surrogacy journey. She is thriving as a Fertility Coach by empowering, supporting, and inspiring women on their fertility journeys. You can find her blog and contact information over at www.CoachingwithKasia.com

    Learn how Pulling Down the Moon can provide community and support on your journey!  Check our calendar for events today!

    Photograph by Anna Stidham

    Kasia S. McGuire

    Fertility Coach

    www.CoachingwithKasia.com

    Instagram: @KasiaSMcGuire

    Mobile: (773) 844-2117

    Email: CoachingwithKasia@gmail.com

  • Ride the Roller Coaster

    by Alece Demaray, RYT 500 + CPYT

    New Year’s goal setting is tough when your goal (BABY!) is not in your control.  No matter the timeline you allot yourself or how hard you work to make it happen, it may or may not come to fruition.  As a goal driven woman, that is heartbreaking to accept.  

    I like to work toward things and celebrate when I achieve them.  When trying to conceive, I started to do everything that was in my control…see a reputable Reproductive Endocrinologist, adjust lifestyle factors, modify my diet, take proper supplements and get weekly acupuncture.  I adopted a mood of empowerment, to make my healthiest self to prepare for conception. I am still upkeeping the changes…and I am still trying to conceive.  

    I am currently on clomid in prep for IUI #3.  As I started a new cycle, it struck me that my emotions have developed a unique cycle of their own:

    Cycle Day 1-3:  Depressed because I am not pregnant

    Cycle Day 3- 7 :  Swallowing down clomid with a dose of forced optimism.  Emotions run wild. 

    Cycle Day 8-14:  Anxious anticipation to see how I responded to the meds and when the IUI will be scheduled

    Cycle Day 14- 24:  A mix of hope and positive thinking swells the majority of the two week wait

    Cycle Day 24-28:  The last few days of the two week wait brew anxiety and negative thinking, as if I already received a negative pregnancy test result

    Cycle Day 28 – Upset and mad at the negative result of the pregnancy test.  

    Repeat Cycle.

    The yoyo of emotions is real and it is tiring.  I want to be hopeful and believe it is possible, but being pulled to the other end of the spectrum becomes more painful, feeling like a positive pregnancy test is the impossible dream.  I began to think…How can I learn to ride this fertility roller coaster better? Sure, there are some unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows, but can I learn to EXPECT those challenges and manage my energy BETTER around them?

    My new goal is to strive for balance regardless of the cycle phase.  Remain present for all that is coming up for me emotionally and physically, but not allowing it to throw me.  I will root down and rest into the truth that I WILL BE OKAY, regardless of the outcome. It is a PRACTICE and everyday an opportunity to try the ride again, inviting more ease.

    Here are some suggestions and inquiries to support you in remaining cool, calm and collected, regardless of what cycle day it is for you and your emotions:

    1. Schedule some space directly after your appointments.  Use this time to journal and process what things in your life ARE going right.  Gratitude journaling can help to reframe your perspective and shift your mood in a positive direction for the rest of your day.
    2. Take 3 deep, calming breaths before opening the message from your doctor.
    3. Remain aware and nonjudgmental of your emotions as they fluctuate with medication.  Be kind to yourself and thank close ones around you for understanding 🙂
    4. At the beginning of your two week wait, remain active with safe exercise (yoga!) to keep your mind at ease.
    5. Prior to your pregnancy test, affirm to yourself (at least) 3 times that you will be okay, regardless of the outcome.  You are loved, regardless of the outcome. You are worthy, regardless of the outcome. Try an Unwind the Mind Massage to get through the wait!
    6. Post pregnancy test, allow yourself to process:  do you need to cry, scream, call someone or celebrate?  Allow yourself adequate time to digest the information as opposed to rushing off to the rest of your day, without dealing with your feelings.
    7. Give yourself permission to begin again (mentally) at the start of your new cycle.  Reignite the flame of possibility and reaffirm to yourself that YOU ARE CAPABLE AND WHOLE.

     

    If you would like to practice riding the roller coaster together, join me for Yoga For Fertility at Pulling Down The Moon, on Wednesdays evenings.   In addition to managing emotions and digesting experiences, YFF will increase blood flow to optimize your fertility. To find more balance on this path, call Pulling Down the Moon to get started in March at: 312.321.0004.  I hope to see you on the mat!

  • 90-Day Prep? Start Here!

    by Cathy McCauley, LMT

    Whether getting pregnant naturally or using some form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) like IVF, fertility clients come to Pulling Down the Moon because they want to increase their chances of fertility success. I often see clients have better success after a 90-day prep. 

    Because the cycle of an egg is about 90 days, it’s helpful for you to prepare and optimize the health of your ovaries, uterus and your whole body at least three months before trying to conceive. In that time, you can monitor your nutrition, increase your vitamin intake, become intentional about improving blood flow and lowering stress levels. All of this can help enhance fertility and create a healthy environment for a pregnancy.

    Want to create a 90-day prep plan for enhanced fertility? Start here!

    Nutrition

    Preconception nutrition research shows that what you eat can impact the health of your ovaries and eggs either negatively or positively. Yet trying to navigate all the information out there can be overwhelming. The ART Prep/Recovery Program is unique to Pulling Down the Moon and exactly what it says: A science-based nutrition program (with some teachings and techniques from Traditional Chinese Medicine and yoga added) especially created to help you prep for your upcoming treatments. 

    With this program, our nutritionists will help you set goals, regulate blood sugar levels, support the liver, assist in getting your gut and thyroid to function properly, discuss sensitivities, look at possible food eliminations, decrease inflammation and safely cleanse. Your nutritionist will also be an accountability partner and will provide support, encouragement, ideas, and recipes to help you meet your goals while simultaneously working to improve your egg quality.

    Vitamins and Supplements

    Pulling Down the Moon has been working with medical doctors for over more than a decade, as well as, keeping up with the latest research and literature in the emerging field of supplements. We can provide recommendations on specific supplements for your unique situation and also help you streamline an overwhelming supplement regimen to include the supplements with the most research behind them for fertility. From finding the right prenatal vitamin to taking a probiotic to getting on a supplement of CoQ10, we can help you make the right choices as you work on enhancing your fertility during your prep.

    Blood Flow and Stress Reduction

    Increasing blood flow and reducing stress go hand-in-hand when optimizing your body for conception. Acupuncture, yoga, and massage can all help you achieve healthier circulation and reduce stress.

    Studies show that embryos with the highest implantation potential are from follicles that have sufficient blood and oxygen. If you want optimum egg health, promoting oxygen-rich blood flow to the ovaries is essential. 

    No doubt, stress influences your body in many ways and your fertility is not spared. High levels of stress can create an abundance of hormones, which in turn, can disrupt ovulation. By reducing your stress levels, you can have a positive affect on your fertility and your overall well-being. 

     

    Here are some approaches:

    Acupuncture

    In very simple terms, acupuncture is believed to clear blockages in the body in order to allow energy, greater health, and the feeling of emotional well-being to flow freely within the body. And more and more, acupuncture is becoming a widely accepted and sought after natural treatment for restoring fertility.  

    Some research shows acupuncture may improve ovarian functioning, balance the endocrine system and hormones, increase circulation to the uterus and improve egg quality. 

    Additionally, the treatments are balancing, relaxing and offer clients an opportunity to unplug and feel grounded. Many clients fall asleep during their sessions.

    Pulling Down the Moon acupuncturists are well-trained in working specifically with fertility clients. They are knowledgeable in treating your whole body and can provide you up-to-date information on fertility health and wellness.

     

    Yoga

    Pulling Down the Moon’s Yoga for Fertility (YFF) offers you another way to prep for enhanced fertility.

    At each class, you will learn a series of yoga postures designed to improve fertility by increasing blood flow into the pelvis, releasing stress and anxiety and balancing life energy flow in the body. 

    In addition to this physical practice we explore concepts from yoga philosophy that frame the fertility journey in a way that reveals our personal strengths, reinforces the joy of everyday life and empowers us to create the family we are meant to have. Through this class you will also join the wonderful, positive healing community of Pulling Down the Moon and enjoy the energy of all the amazing women who have shared their journey with us.

     

    Massage

    The last treatment service we offer is dear to my heart. I’ve been a massage therapist at Pulling Down the Moon for several years and have seen women experience much success after receiving massage as part of a fertility prep plan.

    What we offer is unique. Our FEM Protocol™ is a five-part series using massage and related techniques to enhance the health and functioning of the pelvic and abdominal organs, and to promote the client’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being.The five parts of the protocol focus on cleansing and detoxification, enhancing reproductive circulation, oxygenating the pelvic organs, and combating stress. Benefits may include:

    • promoting egg quality by improving the follicular environment and increasing its supply of oxygen-rich blood
    • lowering hormone disruption through stress management and clearing lymphatic congestion (a common storehouse for excess hormones and toxins)
    • supporting uterine lining and alignment through melting abdominal scar tissue, clearing circulatory pathways, and releasing structural tension patterns
    • encouraging relaxation and an overall sense of well-being during your fertility journey

    We offer a massage treatment schedule to keep you on track during your 90-day prep. And once you’ve actively started trying to conceive, whether naturally or through ART, we encourage you to continue to receive the FEM Protocol. It is safe any time in a cycle and we are trained in helping you determine what will be the best treatment for you no matter where you are on your fertility journey. 

    Get started with a 90 day prep and save with one of our New Year, New You Passports to Wellness!  Have questions about how Pulling Down the Moon’s unique services can support your journey?  Call us at: 312-321-0004 for us personalized support today!

     

  • Yoga for Holiday Stress

    by Christina Thompson Olson RYT RPYT

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? But if the onslaught of holiday parties, shopping, and family gatherings has you feeling a bit stressed out, you’re not alone. How many more times is Aunt Ginny going to ask when you’ll be having a baby? Before you snap or find yourself making up stories to distract from your fertility situation, try these simple yoga techniques to stay grounded and let all that chatter melt away.

    Get into your breath

    Before reacting to someone or something, check in with your breathing and see if you can allow it to slow down. Try Samavritti pranayama, or equal breath to help calm your mind and relax your body. Start by bringing your attention to the tip of your nose, inhaling and exhaling through your nose if comfortable. Notice the length of your inhale and exhale, and work towards equal breathing by silently counting to four on your inhale and exhale: “In-2-3-4, Out-2-3-4”. Let your breath move deeply through your abdomen, expanding your diaphragm as you inhale and gently drawing in as you exhale, working towards twelve rounds of breath.

    Gently move your body

    Try some easy yoga poses to relieve stress, even if you’re in the restroom at a holiday party! One of my favorite moves to ease tension in the mind and body is the forward fold, which can be done in a variety of ways. Try a halfway forward fold or L-shape, walking your hands down a wall (or on a countertop) as you take your feet hip-width distance and create an L-shape with your body. Take 4-5 deep breaths to relax your shoulders, lengthen your spine, and send your sitting bones back evenly behind you. Then take your feet wider and find a dynamic squat-forward fold by bending your knees as you exhale and returning to the forward fold with an inhale for another five rounds of breath. 

    From this wide leg forward fold, with hands either supported by a wall or on blocks, take a gentle open twist by bringing your left hand under your face and lifting your right hand up towards the sky, or to your right hip. Breathe deeply for several rounds of breath to gently massage your digestive organs in this twist, and then repeat on your left side. Take one more symmetrical forward fold of your choice, coming up slowly when you’re finished, and hopefully you’ll return to your holiday season feeling a bit more at ease in your body.

    Beat the Winter Blues in the New Year with a FREE Yoga for Fertility Community Class (with me!) in Chicago or in Highland Park with Cassie on January 11th at noon!

    Did you know Yoga for Fertility can reduce anxiety by 20% or more in just six weeks? Join my next series in the New Year to support your journey starting on Saturday, January 25th at noon!

  • Nooks and Crannies

    by Cassie Harrison RYT RYPT

    You May Not Control All the Events that Happen to You, but You Can Decide Not to Be Reduced By Them – Maya Angelo

    My miscarriage at 43 wasn’t just the loss of a baby, but the realization that my baby years might be behind me. Having suffered from infertility, it never felt like they were with me.  I spent almost all of my 30s and part of my 40s trying to have a baby. In the past, I would’ve trudged forward and tried again, but after this loss it occurred to me it might no longer be an option. Sure, all women at some point face the fact that their baby making time is over, all for different reasons. What felt different, at least for me from an infertility point of view, was this was just something else I didn’t have control over. It also occured to me that I identified with trying to have a baby. I’d spent over a decade thinking, planning, and working on my family.  My future suddenly looked more like a blank slate, rather than timelines. Up until this point, I’d avoided planning much of it, such as my next career move or even a big vacation, having thought there might be a baby to interrupt my plans. The idea that I could make future plans without interruption was exciting to me. Simultaneously, I was filled with regret. The dichotomy of my emotions was intoxicating.

    Similar to my infertility journey, I found it challenging to speak about my newest realization.  When I did manage to speak about it, either it felt like no one understood or it was Déjà vu all over again as I found myself greeted with insults disguised as well intended advice. Yes, I was sad I lost my baby just when I thought I beat the odds of getting pregnant again.  After that loss, it did feel like it was time to move on…but to what? On one side, I didn’t want to let go and on the other I celebrated my infertility journey being over!! Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t really me deciding, but somehow infertility was. That it again had the upper hand. The fact is, had I not struggled with it, I wouldn’t have been forced up against the pane (or do I mean pain) of my baby window by still trying to push out another baby at 43.

    Where does this leave me? I’m not certain yet, my loss was only 5 weeks ago. There is a new lightness underneath my thoughts when I see my future no longer being held by the chains of infertility that for so long infiltrated my life. To help me through this change, I’ve used breath work (Try this Yoga Breathing Video to get you started!) and a very simple yoga practice. I dream of attending (not just teaching) a full yoga class, but recent life has been hectic and I’ve not prioritized time to do this. Which lead me to my Nook and Cranny practice.  I’m literally fitting it into the nooks and crannies of my life. If there’s a 5 minute slot between tasks, you’ll find me in a forward fold or downward dog. My Nook and Cranny practice has done wonders and I highly recommend it. Just as with starting anything new, start small. That’s the great thing about Yoga, it can be done anywhere for any amount of time and you will benefit from it. I’ve practiced while the kitchen sink filled with water. Heck, I’ve done it in the driver’s seat waiting in the carpool line (my car was off and I was 10 minutes early!). Hello to neck circles and Sama-vritti (balanced) breath. My Nook and Cranny practice relaxed my tensions, cleared my thoughts, and opened my mind. Take time to find your nooks and crannies wherever you are on your journey (Try Yoga Poses You Can Use Now! to get started) as I know it will make a difference!

    If you struggle to do this on your own, let us help you with our upcoming Holiday Survival Online Yoga starting just after Thanksgiving that will get you through the stressful holiday season or plan for a series in the new year! Save during the holiday week with the Holiday Survival Online Yoga Series (12/8-1/12) available for only $50 on Cyber Monday (save $100) or get the $99 Wild Card this month towards a full in-center series in January (save $111)! Call us to learn more at: 312-321-0004 today!

    Cassie Harrison RYT RYPT

  • My Journey to The Moon

    Hello beautiful readers!  My name is Christie Frisch and I’m delighted to introduce myself, having recently joined the team at Pulling Down the Moon, River North.  As a postpartum doula and licensed massage therapist specializing in fertility, prenatal and postpartum care, I am a passionate advocate for women and the women-identifying, especially when it comes to supporting new, expecting and trying-to-conceive mamas in experiencing each unique journey into parenthood to its fullest.  I feel incredibly fortunate to get to do what I love every day.

    My own entry into motherhood was a crucial turning point for me in so many ways, inspiring me eventually to redirect my professional focus into holistic wellness.  In those richly transformative early weeks following my daughter’s birth I recall feeling that no one around me seemed to “get it,” despite my having numerous family and friends nearby.  An internet search led me to a new moms group, where the universal complexity of our experiences impressed upon me deeply.  What other dimension of the human condition could offer the potential for such beauty, and also such rawness?  I was fascinated.  And I wanted to help support women in tapping into as much of the beauty as possible, despite the natural stress and challenge each journey brings.

    I’ve lovingly refined my signature treatment, energy balancing massage, which I tailor to each client’s needs over the expansive course of the childbearing journey.  From fertility enhancement all the way through the “fourth trimester” I seek to lift up and understand each client’s evolving needs, listening actively throughout consultation and each treatment as I integrate sound, reiki energy work, aromatherapy and guided meditation to create the ultimate massage experience (I like to think of it as a “massage plus”). My approach is inclusive and empowering, and we are all about incorporating time-honored healing arts from around the world to enhance our clients’ experience at each juncture.

    2019 has been an exciting year for me for a host of reasons, not least of which has been joining the fabulous community of wellness professionals at the Moon.  It is with much gratitude that I am now offering the five-part Fertility Enhancing Massage protocol to Pulling Down the Moon clients on Tuesdays and every other Friday at the River North location.  I received extensive training in the FEM protocol under Meredith Nathan, which I found to be both complementary and enriching to the modalities I’ve previously employed.

    It’s already been abundantly rewarding to work with Meredith and the massage therapy team at the Moon, where I’ve found so much like-mindedness among us.  My approach has always been grounded in the view that at its best, massage therapy has the potential to activate and enhance the body’s self-healing ability, producing real results that can positively impact our clients’ lives.  I view my work as nothing short of guiding my clients toward realizing this potential for themselves.  There’s no greater privilege than working with others who share such belief in the value of our work and I greatly look forward to the chapter here ahead.  I look forward to taking care of you when you schedule your massage therapy appointment!  Take time for your this season and let us support your journey at each stage!  Book Now

  • Guest Blog Feature: My Journey

    We have been honored to be part of this amazing journey with Christina. Today, she opens her heart to you and shares how she owned her personal journey with support at The Moon to get through.💗

    “After a many years of trying to conceive, I decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist. We went through several rounds of clomid and IUI without any success. My doctor told us that we most likely would not be able to have children naturally, so she suggested IVF. I was lost at this point, because they couldn’t find anything wrong with me or my husband, Andrew. We were told that we had a really high rate of success of conceiving with IVF. So, we went through our first round of IVF thinking our struggle was finally over. After the egg retrieval, we received a phone call that all of my eggs were immature, but they were able to mature some in the lab and fertilize them. In that cycle, we ended up with 3 embryos, 2 of which survived to transfer. After the dreaded two week wait, we went in for a blood test, but the pregnancy test was negative. My reproductive endocrinologist told me that she wasn’t confident that another cycle would yield different results and that I could have something rare called ‘oocyte maturational arrest.’ I was crushed, but took a few months to think about the next steps. During this time, we tried naturally and still nothing.

    We decided to see another reproductive endocrinologist. After our second egg retrieval with a different stimulation protocol we received the phone call that again all of my eggs were immature and this time, none were able to be matured in the lab. We got zero embryos from that cycle. My doctor told me that if I did have oocyte maturational arrest, there really wasn’t anything that could fix the outcome and if I was going to try again, I should try at CCRM in Colorado.

    I am an ICU nurse and was at work when I received this news. I panicked and just wanted to literally run away, but obviously I couldn’t. I had what I would consider a nervous breakdown right in the middle of the break room. To be honest with you, I felt like a piece of me had died. I had never felt such pain in my life. This is where Pulling Down the Moon came into the picture.

    At my first Acupuncture appointment, I tried to keep it together because I felt like a crazy person. In my mind, I kept telling myself things like ‘you shouldn’t be this upset. It’s not like you were diagnosed with something life threatening’ or ‘you’ve only been through two cycles, so don’t complain.’ Well, I couldn’t keep it together. I ugly cried as soon as Dr. Shimmel sat down and introduced herself. And this is the moment the transformation began.

    Dr. Shimmel, and all the staff at Pulling Down the Moon, nurtured me during a time that I was my most vulnerable. For the first time in years, I felt like I had an outlet. They actually understood my pain. Through the holistic approach, I learned to better to take care of myself both mentally and physically. I don’t know how to explain it other than bringing a plant back to life little by little. Every week after Acupuncture sessions, I had one more tool to help me cope with the trauma of infertility.

    And by the time I was ready for another ivf cycle, my mind and body felt so rock solid that ‘no matter the outcome I was going to be okay. No matter what I was going to be a mommy’ (one of the mantras she helped me develop). Also, can we talk about my (fertility-enhancing) massage sessions with Chrissy? Chrissy’s energy is SO powerful. During your massages with her, you feel a warmth and embrace that nurtures the pain away.

    After 6 months of preparation at Pulling Down the Moon, we booked a flight to Colorado for our one day workup. We did an egg retrieval with CCRM several months later, and in this cycle, ONE MATURE egg out of 18 eggs retrieved, fertilized, and made it to a blastocyst. This one mature egg—out of 55 eggs retrieved over 3 cycles, gave us a glimmer of hope, but we were aware that our chances to conceive were very low. That little embryo that took will be born this January and we could not be more thrilled to meet him.

    1 in 8 couples are struggling with infertility. While this is not a life threatening diagnosis, it is a hard and long battle that no one needs to fight alone. For those struggling, I am here for you. I will continue to fight for you. Your pain is my pain.” -Christina @cfeli6891

    Learn how we can help you on YOUR journey at: https://www.pullingdownthemoon.com/our-center/ and call us to get started at: 312-321-0004!

    (📸: Jamie Colette @colettepark on IG at: https://www.colettepark.com/)