• 3 Reasons Pulling Down the Moon’s Prenatal Yoga Class Is Unique

    by Kellie Greene RYT RPYT
    You’re pregnant, and you’ve been doing your research. Maybe you read our blog on the benefits of prenatal yoga, or maybe your care provider suggested you try some classes. Maybe you’re already searching for a prenatal yoga class that fits.
    PDtM has a unique environment for prenatal yoga; here are three things that make Pulling Down the Moon classes different than the rest.
    1) Classes start with a check in
    Our prenatal classes always begin by giving participants the opportunity to share the highs and lows of their week with other parents who are experiencing a similar journey. Many of our clients have had memorable fertility journeys prior to pregnancy; taking the time to share and listen to one another helps everyone feel connected, stay present, and focus on the practice.
    2) Instructors understand the range of emotions you may feel
    The staff at Pulling Down the Moon are compassionate, empathetic and understanding. The yoga space is a safe environment to share the good, the bad, the ugly. Pregnancy after a loss or a difficult fertility journey is not always filled with positive emotions. Often fear, anxiety, grief, and other emotions sneak in. We understand that you can feel joy for this current pregnancy, fear that your heart will be broken, and confusion at the conflict between these emotions — all at once. We get it! Most of us have been there ourselves, and we hold space for your feelings here.
    3) Classes provide realistic and practical strategies to manage emotions
    Unlike some of the approaches to prenatal yoga, we intentionally talk about your non-preferred emotions and come up with realistic and practical strategies for coping with and managing them. We will address fears around the birth, talk about ways to involve partners, and create plans that may involve massage, acupuncture, and alternative strategies to help with physical and emotional aspects of your pregnancy.
    In addition to providing a holistic health environment to help you on your fertility and pregnancy journey, yoga classes at Pulling Down the Moon provide a community environment for women to support one another and experience the journey together. From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you the best of luck in your search and hope you find the prenatal supports that work best for you!
    Prenatal Yoga is available on Sundays at 12:45pm through December 16th for 2018 for Chicago and Sundays at 3:30pm through January 6th in Highland Park.  The classes are 75 minutes in duration with options for drop-in ($25 each) or six classes for $90 (discounted to $15 per class).  Register for current Chicago classes here and current Highland Park classes here. Questions?  Call us at: 312-321-0004.

  • A Picture Says A 1,000 Words But Never Says It All

    Pulling Down the Moon, Guest Blog

    by Lindsay Housner

    This is a picture of my family; it’s one of my favorites. On more than one occasion people who don’t know me well see this and say things like, “Oh my gosh, Lindsay, your life is so perfect that even your dog is perfect?!” The comment on our dog would be the first thing they were wrong about. Adorable, yes. Perfect? Not even close. I think our veterinarian has classified him as neurotic… Nevertheless we couldn’t love him more!

    The truth is there’s so much behind the surface of this beautiful photo (which is likely true for many of the picture perfect moments we see daily). It could never reveal all the heartache, struggle and excoriating pain it took us to get to that moment, captured in time.

    You would never know from looking at it that on February 20, 2016 (the day before I turned 33 years old), our world came crashing down harder than I knew possible when our first son, Aidan James, was born still at nearly 37 weeks and 5 days. Or that as I sat in the hospital waiting to induce labor, I was sure I was the only woman in the world that had lost her baby this late in pregnancy. Or that after experiencing the devastating loss of our beloved baby boy, with little to no answers why, we would struggle to conceive again. You could also never know the crippling anxiety I experienced for the 37 weeks and 5 days in my next pregnancy. Or the insane emotional rollercoaster I rode the entire time because while I was finally pregnant again after struggling for so long, it was near impossible for me to be happy about it. No, that wouldn’t happen until I held my sweet baby girl and light of my life, safely in my arms.

    To say our road to parenthood has been tough would be the understatement of the century. It’s tested me beyond measure to the point of breaking. Each time I broke (and it happened a lot), I found new ways and things that helped me start to pick up the pieces again.

    First, I found my “people.”  My people are the women that I was connected with shortly after losing my son that had a similar story. These women were my lifeline, the only people that I felt fully understood by and endlessly supported. I wrote novels to them via email and they always responded with words of encouragement, understanding and compassion. They have become some of my closest lifelong friends whom I owe the world to. Each new person I met introduced me to new things that I grasped on to for dear life to help me through the day.

    In the early days it was books. Anything and everything I could read, I did. Elizabeth McCraken’s memoir, “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination” resonated with me best. It was heart wrenching but beautiful all at the same time. I recall highlighting sentences and then entire pages, and rereading them over and over because she had taken the exact words right out of my head. Feeling so understood when nothing else made any sense was very therapeutic for me.

    Then, once I built up the strength to leave my house, it was acupuncture, herbal supplements and yoga that were my savior. Which is what led me to walk through Pulling Down the Moon’s (PDtM) doors. From there my world as it exists today kept expanding when I was introduced to Beth Heller, one of PDTM’s founders, whose first daughter was also born still 16 years ago. Through an event Beth hosted one evening, I met a psychiatrist that quite literally brought me back to life. PDtM became a tranquil safe haven for me. Somewhere I always knew I would walk in feeling overwhelmed, defeated or just plain sad–and walk out with some sense of relief and hope.

    As the days, weeks and months passed, I continued looking for answers to big questions. Why/how could this happen and what are we as a country doing to prevent it from happening to more families? What I found was disheartening but who I found through the process was encouraging. The Star Legacy Foundation is one of the very few organizations I found that focuses its efforts on research and ultimately prevention of stillbirth, when possible. They are doing amazing work and have made great strides, but there is still a long ways to go. In the spring of 2018, we officially launched our Chicago Chapter of Star Legacy all thanks to one of the amazing women I’ve met on this journey, Lindsey Schmitz.  When I didn’t have the strength to get things off the ground, she did and she’s been an amazing and inspiring leader for our team here in Chicago.

    On October 15th, everything came full circle when Pulling Down the Moon hosted a beautiful yoga session in partnership with our Star Legacy Chapter in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I looked around the room and was comforted to see many of the same faces that helped get me to the family photo I shared (literally, my friend Jacqui even introduced me to the talented photographer who took it). But I was quickly reminded that there is still progress to be made and people to support as I saw many new faces.

    There are so many women and families, that while they may not have the same story as me, their journey has been anything but easy. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of them. Wherever you are on your road, I hope you know you are not alone. Whether you’re struggling to conceive, searching for answers or just looking to connect with someone who understands your pain, I am confident you can find something or someone helpful through PDTM or Star Legacy.

    There’s not a single day that goes by I don’t think about and miss Aidan. He led me to meet so many amazing people and I’ll spend the rest of my time trying my best to honor his short but beautiful life.

    To read more about Star Legacy or to get involved, please visit our Chapter website or get in touch with us at chicago@starlegacyfoundation.org.

    To read more about my story and Aidan, please visit his memorial page.

     

     

  • How Yoga Saved My Life (and Sanity)

    Hi! I’m Alison, Al, or Ali and I have been practicing yoga for 13 years. I still can’t do a handstand without my friend (the wall), but that doesn’t matter because the things yoga have done for me are immeasurable. Over the years, my love for yoga, and its many forms, have grown and changed, went silent, went over the top, and made me broke (thanks Lululemon), ALL THE THINGS…..

    I’ve used my yoga practice to maintain fitness or weight, sometimes to ease my mind, for naps in savasana, and at times for a home when my home was less than an ideal place for me. I’ve talked until I’ve been blue in the face to my friends and family about why they should do yoga too. I would say things to them like: “the music is so calming”, “you will build confidence”, “you will meet new people”, but with all this blabber if you are anything like me, you might find that yoga distinctly changes or even saves your life (if I’m being dramatic, as I tend to be :). Let me be clear: yoga can help you through any major life change, good or bad, and gives you the strength and self love that you need. Let me count the ways yoga can help:

    Confidence. Built from our work on the core. Discover that public speaking or meeting new people isn’t that scary.

    Courage. Try something new off or on the mat or maybe the strength to cope with a chronic illness, anxiety, or depression.

    Comfy Clothes. No more jeans because OUCH! How cute are yoga pants with a sweater and boots?

    More healthy choices. To relax, breathing techniques and/or mantras work better than booze or stressing eating. I still like to indulge in a glass of wine every once in a while, but I no longer drink to relieve anxiety.

    Trust. In the universe and your individual journey. A consistent yoga practice can help you let go of anger about the past and fears about the unknown future

    Friends, confidants, business connections. Yoga has introduced me to an entirely new network of friends and yoga is always more fun with a buddy. I have gotten jobs, had a lot of fun, and traveled the world with people I’ve met through yoga. Who would have known?!

    I could go on and on, but I’ll let you experience it for yourself and hopefully you will want to make your own list. Come check out a class with the yoga crew at Pulling Down the Moon (Cassie, Christina, Kellie, Diana, or Me).  Special Holiday Support Editions of Yoga for Fertility available for a limited time (Join me with Rolling Enrollment through January 7th on Mondays at 5:30pm in Chicago, start on Wednesday, November 28th at 5:45pm with a NEW series with Diana in Chicago, or join Christina starting December 2nd at 2pm in Highland Park!)

    We all have our individual styles of this ancient practice and we will help you keep your calm during whatever journey you may be on. Please join us for special Yoga for Fertility holiday support series, Prenatal Yoga After Infertility, and/or private yoga sessions. Register here. Questions? Call us today at: 312-321-0004! Save 20% off Yoga for Fertility this season as our gift to you with the promo code: GIFT20 today!

    Alison Lautz, LCSW, RYT

  • We Don’t Have To Own It

    by Faith Donohue MSW, LCSW

    From an early age we are taught that “our body is our temple”. To respect it and expect for it to be respected.

    As we grow and mature, our bodies go through many changes, not all of which are welcomed, but we are forced to embrace nonetheless. In an effort to avoid embarrassing moments, we quickly learn to chart our periods and be prepared for when “our friend” arrives (in the middle of science class). Over time, it becomes a part of who we are. We own it!

    As teenage girls, rarely did we sit around talking about how the changes in our bodies represent a path to parenthood. More often than not, we talked about the bloating, cramping and uncontrollable emotions, and perhaps, how to avoid premature parenthood. But as you read this and giggle because it brings back memories of your teenage years, it cements the idea that this is my body and I am responsible for it -the good, the bad and the many changes I must be prepared for. We own it!

    As we continue to mature and become sexually active, if not prepared to start a family, we work hard to prevent pregnancy. While we are well aware of how to protect against unwanted pregnancy, the reality is, if we get swept up in the moment, make a silly decision while partying, or simply find ourselves in love and it just happens, the result of that encounter is ours. Knowing this, we as women take it upon ourselves to ensure that an unwanted pregnancy does not happen. We own it!   

    And now, we are married and ready to start a family. We schedule the appointment with our gynecologist, chart our cycles and prepare a romantic evening that will lead to the conception of our baby. We count the days waiting to find out if pregnancy occurred. Day 14, 15, 16… and you get your period. We tell our partners the disappointing news, ensuring them that there is always next month. We own it!

    Months go by, sometimes years and still no baby. We schedule another appointment with the gynecologist and the testing begins. As research supports, the testing begins with us. It is often not until all female issues are ruled out do the doctors consider that it may be our male counterpart’s medical condition that’s preventing pregnancy (that’s a topic for another time). For those who have gotten to this point, we often feel like we need to coax or coddle before and after our partners’ appointment -like they just did us this amazing favor! (Funny, I don’t recall anyone needing to coax or coddle me when I went to all those doctor appointments trying to figure this out.) We own it!

    I am sure you get the picture by now. We are taught from an early age by our parents and society to be responsible for our bodies. And, as with most things in our life, we take that responsibility seriously because if we don’t, there could be unwanted consequences. We own it!

    And now, here we are being told that fertility treatment is about to begin. With mixed emotions, we jump in. We have no idea that we are about to turn over our bodies to a stranger, our reproductive endocrinologist. You are poked and prodded, often half-naked. Once again you find yourself charting, scheduling early morning appointments and waiting for the phone call with instructions about what to do next. We own it!

    Here is where I want you to stop. You took good care of your body all these years and now you are about to embark on a journey with a partner you can trust and lean on to help you care for your body and soul. This is where the conundrum begins -giving up control of your body, the thing that you spent a lifetime controlling. But if you allow your partner to help, it can be an amazing release. It can take your relationship to the next level.  It also provides your partner an essential role the journey.

    • *Have your partner attend the doctor appointment to discuss the treatment plan
    • *Have your partner order the medication and have it delivered to a place that will ensure its proper handling
    • *If you are wearing an ovulation bracelet, have your partner manage the data gathered
    • *Have your partner administer shots
    • *Keep a calendar in a place where both of you can manage your cycle and appointments
    • *Have your partner schedule and drive you to the next appointment (you can grab breakfast together as a part of your routine)
    • *Have your doctor call your partner with any instructions
    • *Have your partner plan a romantic evening  -It’s important to stay intimate during this process
    • *Have your doctor call your partner with the results of the pregnancy test
    • *Have your partner tell you the good news, “we are pregnant,” or the bad news, “there is always next month.”

    The process is challenging and we find ourselves needing to “own it” but the reality is we now have partners who want to be there for us, protecting and loving us. Try not to own it, let your partner in, tell your partner what you need, listen to what your partner needs. Communicate and support one another. And, together, own it!

    I have spent over 25 years helping individuals and families overcome a wide array of challenges. During the course of my professional life, I have gained an expertise in reproductive health, family building including fertility treatment, assisted and third party reproduction, and adoption and foster care, as well as depression and anxiety that often accompanies life’s challenges.  I have assisted individuals and couples as they think through their decision to have children. If pregnancy can’t be achieved, I have counseled individuals and couples in processing their loss, and aided them in exploring alternatives. I understand the struggles of pre/postpartum and post adoption depression.  In addition to providing therapy, I have completed mental health and donor assessments needed to pursue third party reproductive services. -I accept BCBS PPO and BCBS Blue Choice and I offer weekday, evening and weekend appointments.

     

    Faith Donohue, MSW, LCSW

    4256 N. Ravenswood Ave.

    Chicago, Illinois

    312-399-3284

    Faithdonohue3@gmail.com

    **Know that you are not alone on this journey!  Whether with a partner or going it as a single person, our community is here to support everyone on their road to parenthood! Try a free webinar, a Yoga for Fertility class, or just reach out and we will answer your questions at: 312-321-0004.

  • Tips for Managing the Emotional Rollercoaster of IVF

    Anyone who has struggled with infertility can attest to the physical and emotional strain that accompanies this path to parenthood. The rollercoaster of hormones, hope and disappointment, comments made by others, and grueling medical schedule makes anxiety nearly universal to the treatment process.

     As a result of this increase in anxiety I would encourage you to consider self-care as a fundamental tool to cope with the anxiety that is inherent to the process.  Self-care includes:

    • Pamper yourself. Between the daily hormone injections, the blood draws and ultrasound of an IVF cycle, your body takes a beating!  Be sure to give yourself a little extra TLC. Get a massage, make time for yoga or take a nap. Treat yourself to what you enjoy. You’ve earned it.

     

    • Find support. Though you may feel alone in this process at times, infertility is quite common. You may already know friends or family members who have struggled with infertility. Talk to them. If you don’t know anyone look for a local support group or a mental health provider who specializes in reproductive health.

     

    • Stay rooted in the present. It can be overwhelming to deal with the countless details of IVF: the medication regimen, the monitoring, the instructions, the potential outcomes. Sometimes it is too much to take in all at once. If you find yourself stressed about the process, bring yourself back to the present. What is happening in this moment? What do you need to do today, not tomorrow or next week? Focus only on the next step and then the next step, one step at a time.

     

    • Ease up on your schedule. Cut obligations where you can. Delegate work or chores if possible. Ask for help from friends, family, colleagues or neighbors.  Fertility treatment is a time-intensive process–letting go of any extra responsibilities will give you the time take care of what is really important while decreasing the stress of trying to juggle too much.

     

    • Remember your life outside of fertility treatment. It is easy to get swept up in the process so that conceiving becomes your sole focus. What did you like to do before you began treatment? Paint? Walk? Read? Do it again!  What in your life is going well? Do you have great friends? A good husband? A job you like? Focusing on those good areas in your life doesn’t mean that getting pregnant isn’t a priority, it simply helps to balance out your attention and lower anxiety while you undergo treatment.

     

    • Get help if you need it. If you find that your anxiety becomes unmanageable or if you’re struggling with depression, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Many women need a little extra help during this difficult time.

     

    Ariadna Cymet Lanski, Psy.D

    Clinical Psychologist, Wellbeing Chicago

    Dr. Ariadna Cymet Lanski is a clinical psychologist who offers a wide range of psychological services to meet the unique needs of individuals and couples coping with fertility challenges. Her services include consultation and support during various stages of fertility treatment, consultation for individuals using egg/sperm donor or gestational carriers.  Additionally, Dr. Cymet Lanski conducts egg donor, gestational carrier, and Intended Parents assessments.

    Dr. Ariadna Cymet Lanski’s clinical practice specializes in reproductive health issues -from preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum adjustment to parenthood.  Through the years, Dr. Cymet Lanski has provided support and assistance in understanding the psychological impact of fertility issues and other reproductive crises.  She has helped many patients to manage stress and feel empowered about their choices. To this end, Dr. Cymet Lanski frequently utilizes mindfulness concepts and is a strong believer in the relationship between emotional and physical wellbeing.

    Since 2011, Dr. Cymet Lanski has been an active member of RESOLVE and the ASRM Mental Health Professional Group (MHPG), having served and then chaired the MHPG Membership committee.  She has presented in various national and international medical conferences including various presentations at the ASRM annual congress.

     

    Well Being Chicago

    Ariadna Cymet Laski, PsyD

    30 N. Michigan Ave

    Suite 906

    Chicago, IL 60602

    312-320-4837

    www.WellBeingChicago.com

  • Living in the Present: It is so difficult because all I can think about is EVERYTHING else!

    By Melissa Hinshaw

    Living in the present is no easy task, especially when what we want so badly is in the future. Whether it’s having a baby, buying a house, losing ten pounds, or landing a new job it often feels like life is in front us. It lies in the future. On the same token, we miss the present when we ponder and beat ourselves up for decisions or mistakes we have made in the past. How much time do you spend replaying a decision with, “I should have, why did I, I can’t believe I…” So what does that say about today, the now, the present moment? The present and who we are in the moment are lost.

    What does it mean to live in the present moment and why is it important? To live in the present moment your awareness is centered on the here and now. There is no worrying about what comes in the future or obsessing over the past. You are living as life is happening around you and in you. Being present or mindful has many benefits that you may not know about. Being mindful can make a relationship more meaningful and intimate. When you are truly listening to someone (being truly present while they speak), not thinking of what you’ll say or do next or why you shouldn’t have spent that money yesterday, you connect. When you are present with someone you are listening, making eye contact and sensing physical clues. All these things increase intimacy. Living in the moment can have an effect on your emotional well-being. When you live in the present you are experiencing life as complete. Life is more satisfying and therefore you can be more peaceful and ultimately happier. Does worrying about what’s happening in three days make you feel good or satisfied? No. It takes an emotional tow on your mind and your body. When you live in the moment you may find yourself doing things in a smarter way without any effort. If you are being mindful you would take a dirty dish and put it into the dish washer or wash it immediately and put it away instead of tossing it in the sink with lots of other dirty dishes. Both take about the same amount of effort but one creates a life of tidiness. It’s done so no worrying about when you will be doing it and no knocking yourself in the future for leaving a big mess. Being present can help you become better at sex. Not obsessing over body image, the towels on the floor, or how badly you want a raise, keeps your mind focused on the real physical and emotional sensations that go along with great sex, and that is truly sexy. Being present when you eat can actually make your food taste better. Honing in on the flavors and textures and the fabulous smells is something most of don’t do on a regular basis. Think about this next time you sit down to dinner. Be there. Smell and taste and savor your meal. It is a completely different experience than simply eating for eating sake.

    Becoming mindful will take some practice. You’ll need to become aware in all that you do. You will need to let the worry voice take a vacation and the regretful voice retire. You will notice what triggers both voices and just the noticing part alone will take you closer to living in the moment. Breath. When your mind winds up in some non-present direction take a deep breath. Remind yourself of the another way to be.

    I think Buddha says it just beautifully…

    “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

    Get started by trying with one of our FREE events or try yoga !

  • 8 Keys to Communicating & Staying Connected During Infertility

    Image result for couples communication

    Infertility is a trauma that impacts 1 in 10 people. Since it’s so prevalent, then it must be easy for friends and family to understand your feelings, right? Well, as you may have experienced, it’s not.

    Often the people you love most, say just the wrong thing. Those who have experienced the pain of infertility often hear things like, “Just relax. Then it’ll happen;” “You should enjoy your time without kids. I’ve got kids and I can’t tell you the last time I got to sleep in or go out to dinner.”

    Not only are these types of responses angering, they can be painful. These comments often lead to not sharing feelings in the future. Thus, feeling more and more isolated. Going through infertility is traumatic and just the kind of situation where one needs the most support and care possible. Learning to communicate your feelings with those you trust is an essential skill for surviving infertility.

    Here are 8 Keys to Communication During Infertility:

    1. Build awareness of your feelings . This is the very first step to open, productive communication. Understanding oneself and one’s feelings allows for communicating those feelings and needs.

    2. Practice breathing skills. It may sound simple, yet it’s crucial. When communication breaks down it’s often due to at least one person being flooded with emotion. We’ve all been there! Something a person says strikes a nerve and we fire back with a harsh or passive aggressive statement. When we can bring our focus to our breath even for a few seconds, we have a better chance of responding vs. reacting. This leads to a more productive conversation. Try meditation, practice mindfulness , or try Yoga for Fertility to get started.

    3. Talk with someone you trust about your feelings. Perhaps it’s a friend who has always been there for you and is sensitive to your feelings. It can be a parent or a therapist. Just make sure it’s a person that you feel safe talking to. Find your community.

    4. It’s ok to acknowledge hurtful comments. Using simple language like, “When I hear ‘just relax and it’ll happen,’” I feel hurt and frustrated. It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.”

    5. Use “I” statements & avoid critical labels. Instead of “You can be so insensitive” try something like, “This is a very painful time for me and I want nothing more than to have a child. So, hearing that I should just enjoy the time feels like a minimization of how important having a family is to me.”

    6. Tell people what you need. A good friend wants to be there for you. She just may not know how. The friend might think that bringing up the topic will make you sad. And maybe you desperately want to talk about it, but expect the friend to ask if she cares. Whether you need her to ask how you’re feeling or to not bring up the topic of kids, let her know.

    7. Vent your feelings to a confidant. Or if you prefer to write your feelings, get a journal and let loose! As you know, it’s important to express your feelings because feelings seep out either directly or indirectly. When we understand our feelings we can respond in a direct way vs. letting our feelings control us.

    8. Know that you can always revisit a conversation. If a conversation didn’t go how you wanted, go back to it. None of us are perfect! There are bound to be miscommunications, hurt feelings, and things left unsaid. Know that you can always try again with a fresh perspective.

    If you’d like to work on these skills more or have a particularly challenging dynamic with a friend or family member, feel free to contact me. You are going through one of the most painful experiences in life and are growing stronger through it.

    Alison Moran, MA, LCPC

    Founder & Psychotherapist

    Evolve Counseling & Wellness, Inc.

    53 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1119, Chicago, IL 60604

    825 W. State St., Suite 214, Geneva, IL 60134

    p: 312.340.9511

    alison@evolvecounseling.com

    www.evolvecounseling.com

  • A Touch of Romance

    In honor of Valentine’s day, let’s talk about the language of love: touch. Everyone understands that physical touch is one of the cornerstones of romance. Who hasn’t swooned with a simple caress at the base of their neck? Or with a hand placed on the small of their back? Or even a few fingers brushing across their hand on a first date?

    Unfortunately, romance (and libido) tend to dip during times of stress. Ironically, romance is an ancient healing art for just that very thing! So for the month of February let’s turn up the heat with some targeted touch: a foot massage with five specific points to enhance romance! ***these points should not be stimulated if you might be pregnant.

    Starting with your partner face down, apply pressure to the soles of the feet with your thumbs, ‘walking’ your thumbs up and down the arch of the foot. Stop just below the halfway point on the foot (slightly closer to the toe than to the heel), directly in line with the big toe. This is the adrenal reflex point. Apply pressure for at least 30 seconds, or until you feel the muscles start to relax. Melting the adrenal reflex points is an excellent way to decrease stress and stimulate relaxation, which sets the stage for our next point!

    Continue walking your thumbs up the midline of the feet (directly in line with the middle toe). Stop just below the ball of the foot between the pads, and apply pressure for at least 30 seconds. This is Bubbling Spring, or Kidney 1, an acupressure point thought to awaken the body’s sexual energy.

    Have your partner turn onto their back. Focus the massage on the right foot, either kneading the foot with massage oil or continuing to massage dry with thumb pressure (for extra credit, add lavender to the massage oil for relaxation, or jasmine for romance). Imagine a diagonal line connecting the inside ankle bone to the tip of the heel, and apply pressure to the middle of this line. Stimulate the same point on the outside ankle, and hold for at least 30 seconds. These points correspond to the ovaries and uterus on a woman, and the testicles and prostate on a man. Repeat on the left foot.

    Massage up the foot to the toes. Gently apply pressure and pull each digit. When you get to the big toe, press the center point (you will need to use another finger or hand behind the big toe to maintain adequate pressure), and hold for at least 30 seconds. This is the pituitary reflex point, which encourages balance to the endocrine system (an important part of a healthy libido).

    Continue massaging the feet and then travel up the lower leg to the knee. Stroke or ‘walk’ your thumbs up and down the inside of the tibia, just above the calf muscles. Find the point four fingers above the inside ankle bone, and press for at least 30 seconds. This is Spleen 6, and is also known to awaken sexual energy and stimulate the uterus in a woman.

    Next steps? Get creative. Nothing is more intimate that communicating with your partner about what feels good – so explore and become an expert in what makes your partner feel that touch of romance!

    Learn more about how massage can help your journey here !

  • Feng Shui for Loving Relationships

    With Valentine’s Day coming up, we are surrounded by hearts, lace, and thoughts of love and romance. However, when you are in a long-term relationship, and especially when you have struggled with fertility, you may feel that the Loving Feeling may need a little of Cupid’s help!

    Feng Shui, or Chinese Geomancy, is a traditional form of correcting the flow of energy with proper placement of furniture, decor, and structure in your home, office, or other living space to create balance, health, and harmony. Many techniques focus on health and wealth, but creating and maintaining loving relationships are also a big part of the picture! Here are a few tips to creating a home environment that is conducive to bring love into … or back into … your life.

    First, find your Love Corner! According to Feng Shui principles, different areas of your body correspond to different aspects of your life. This is known as the Ba Gua (8 Principles). The Love Corner of your home is in the far right.

    Wealth and Prosperity

    Colors: Purples, Blues, Reds

    Fame and Reputation

    Colors: Reds, Oranges

    Fire Element

    Love and Relationships

    Colors:

    Pinks, Reds, Whites

    Family and Physical Health

    Colors: Greens, Florals, Stripes

    Wood Element

    Spiritual Health and Well Being

    Yellows, Earth Tones

    Earth Element

    Children and Creativity

    Colors: Whites, Pastels

    Metal Element

    Knowledge and Wisdom

    Colors: Blues, Greens

    Career

    Color: Black

    Water Element

    Travel and Helpful People

    Colors: Greys, Silver

    Go to the main entrance of your home. Even if you enter through a side door or garage frequently, you should still go to the main entrance of the home. Point your hand to the far right corner of the house. That is your Love Corner!

    Next, remove objects, colors, and other elements which would harm the flow of energy to this area:

    • Any representations of things that are alone. Images/statues of a lone figure, etc

    • Anything that reminds you of an old relationship, lost love, or other relationships that make you feel hurt or would rather not think about

    • Anything in 3’s

    • Sharp objects, prickly cactuses, unwelcoming or unsafe objects

    • Piles of stuff, clutter, storage, old boxes, “baggage” – literally or figuratively!

    • Computers, TVs, and other “distractions”

    • Games of any kind (you never want to play games in your relationships!)

    • Dead plants, dirt, dust, garbage cans

    • Anything broken or in need of repair

    Once you have removed all of these objects, give the area a good cleaning. Then, consider adding some of the following elements to welcome good Love energy to the space:

    • Paint the space or bring in accents of red, pink, and/or white. It can be as simple as a throw pillow, vase, or picture frame.

    • Symbols of love. This can be through pictures, sculptures, murals, etc:

      • Fireworks

      • Animal print material

      • Wedding cake

      • Two figures together

      • Bowl of Hershey’s kisses

    • Mirrors and candles (see more on mirrors below)

    • Fresh flowers

    • Silky, sexy items

    • Romantic music (radio, guitar, piano)

    • Clean the area regularly! Don’t allow clutter to build up.

    You can also look at other rooms in your house or office and apply the same principles! When you stand in the entrance of any space, the far right corner is the Love Corner, so you can use the same techniques in all of your spaces to promote love there, too!

    Some special notes about the bedroom:

    • Avoid mirrors in your bedroom. Mirrors are always reflecting things, so they are considered an active item. If you have built-in mirrors, consider removing them or covering them up (especially at night with a folding screen or other decorative item.

    • Do not have water elements (fountains, images of water, reflective surfaces, etc) in the bedroom.

    • Do not place pictures of your family or religious images in the bedroom. Having these images near your bed will make you feel like you are being watched and not allow you to fully enjoy your partner.

    • No work or fitness in the bedroom. Working and love do not mix! Keep computers, papers, other things that remind you of stressful situations or work, along with any workout equipment out of the bedroom.

    Have fun! Make your Love Corner a place that stimulates happy, warm, loving relationships in your life!

    Christine Davis, LAc is the Director of Acupuncture at Pulling Down the Moon. She sees patients in the Highland Park office on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat. Call 312-321-0004 or go to www.pullingdownthemoon.com to book your appointment today with Christine or any practitioner on the team at the location that works best for you!

  • 5 Tips for Strengthening your Relationship During Infertility

    The infertility journey can strain even the healthiest of relationships, which is why it’s important to protect your partnership while navigating this process. The end goal of any fertility treatment is a baby, but if you’re going through it with a partner it is essential to prioritize connection and communication. This process can be grueling at times – medications, injections, sperm samples, genetic testing – but maintaining a team approach will help your relationship thrive during (and far beyond!) this process.

    1. Avoid the blame game – PCOS, low sperm count, unexplained infertility – these terms may tempt you to assign blame to your partner. Signing up for partnership means erasing the blame and taking a team approach to whatever comes your way. Make a commitment from day one to resist the urge to place blame.

    1. Seek out fun and connection – Spend a night away, plan a date – connect! Lately I’ve been loving the app “Gottman Card Decks”. It offers helpful questions and conversation starters to deepen intimacy and connection. Regardless of what you do, spend an hour or so intentionally connecting and try not to forget the reasons you chose this person to do life with.

    1. Understand and validate your partner’s perspective – Infertility can bring up feelings of shame, guilt, and loss and it’s important to remember that you might have a different range of emotions from that of your partner. These feelings may be deeply rooted in our hopes and expectations of parenthood. Connect to your partner through this shared experience and encourage him or her whenever you can. If your partner is having an especially difficult day, offer your time and listening ear for support.

    1. Find support – We all have different needs. Perhaps an online community would feel safest for you. Maybe an in-person support group or individual therapy would help your partner process this experience. For some, coffee with a friend who “gets it” meets this need. Even within the infertility world, situations and experiences can vary from person to person. Make sure that both you and your partner are surrounded by a supportive community of people who can hear and empathize with what you’re going through. Infertility is a unique journey that stirs up lots of emotions, don’t go at it alone!

    1. Maintain hope – There’s no doubt that this process can be difficult and at times even discouraging. Try to hold onto hope, knowing that you’re doing everything you can. You may have to put some things on hold while going through the infertility process, but move forward where you can. You’re not alone and there are many people out there who have walked this path before. At the end of the day, remember there is a lot to be hopeful for.

    Amanda Atkins is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She practices in Lincoln Square and specializes in perinatal mood disorders and couples & infertility. She can be reached at amanda@amandaatkinschicago.com . Check out more at amandaatkinschicago.com .

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