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Yoga's Stress Relief: An Aid for Infertility?
KIMBERLY SORANNO, a 39-year-old Brooklynite undergoing an in vitro fertilization cycle as part of her quest to become pregnant, had gone to her share of yoga classes, but never one like that held on a recent Tuesday night in a reception area of the New York University Fertility Center. There were no deep twists or headstands; just easy “restorative” poses as the teacher, Tracy Toon Spencer, guided the participants — most of them women struggling to conceive — to let go of their worries.
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“Verbally, she brings you to a relaxation place in your mind,” Mrs. Soranno said, adding, “It’s great to do the poses, get energy out and feel strong. But the most important part for me was the connection to the other women.”
Besides taxing the mind, body and wallet, infertility can be lonely. Support groups have long existed for infertile couples, but in recent years, so-called “yoga for fertility” classes have become increasingly popular. They are the latest in a succession of holistic approaches to fertility treatment that have included acupuncture and mind-body programs (whose effectiveness for infertility patients is backed by research); massage (which doesn’t have specific data to support it); and Chinese herbs (which some say may be detrimental).
No study has proved that yoga has increased pregnancy rates in infertility patients. But students of yoga-for-fertility classes say that the coping skills they learn help reduce stress on and off the mat. For many, it’s a support group in motion (or lotus).