Probably because I have written a book about fertility, pregnancy and birth, I am often asked for insight into what might help women with their menstrual or fertility issues, or how to heal after suffering a miscarriage.
I’m certainly no expert, and while I am keen to share all I have learned, I am very aware that this is a result of listening to my body wisdom and honouring that inner guidance, and this may very well not work for other women who have their own body wisdom.
Plus, I am also very aware that menstrual and fertility issues, and the quest to conceive and give birth to new life, is a huge journey for us and often one of awakening, so there will be our own unique lessons to learn in the process.
Still, regardless of all our uniqueness, there is one commonality - something that I am keen to share with women, and it is this…honour your womb.
It wasn’t until I undertook our first round of IVF that I became aware of the significance of the womb in terms of growing new life and the need for this to be a super cosy and nourishing environment for a baby to grow.
I ended up with placenta previa during that first pregnancy, which means that the placenta (an organ attached to the lining of the womb, which keeps your unborn baby’s blood supply separate from your own and is connected to the baby by the umbilical cord) was totally covering the cervix (the narrow-neck like passage forming the lower end of the womb), which meant that I wouldn’t be able to birth vaginally.
I was very angry about this both during the pregnancy and beyond and it wasn’t until I met the wonderful Jo de Diepold Braham, that I realised the extent of the resentment that I was still carrying in my womb (let alone the scarring from the Caesarean Section) eighteen-months after the birth.
I’d gone to see Jo, an osteopath, to have my neck sorted, and instead ended up with her guiding me into my womb, which was dark and murky and most definitely not in a good state. Given that E and I were thinking of going through another round of IVF, I had a sense that I needed to do some significant healing here.
I started seeing Jo regularly for Ki massage. Jo is the most intuitive healer that I have had the pleasure to meet, and the way she works, by taking you into your body and helping to shift energy, resonates massively with my approach to healing. You can find Jo at the Natural Health Clinic twice a month in Guernsey and I strongly recommend you see her if you need any healing womb or otherwise.
Into my life at this time also arrived the wonderful Dr Uma Dinsmore-Tuli with her incredible book Yoni Shakti: A Woman’s Guide to Power and Freedom Through Yoga and Tantra, which all yoginis should have beside their mats. Also the inspiring Dr Christiane Northrup and her marvellous book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, which should be a reference book for all women at all stages of life. A little later in came Lisa Lister too with Code Red, which absolutely every menstruating lady should be referring to for monthly menstrual insights.
There was this whole new world that opened up to me and I started to see the womb in a whole different perspective.
The womb, or uterus as it is formally called, is a hollow muscular organ of the female reproductive system that is responsible for the development of the embryo and foetus during pregnancy. It is approximately the shape and size of a pear and sits in an inverted position within the pelvis.
An incredible distensible organ, the womb can expand during pregnancy from the size of a closed fist to become large enough to hold a full term baby. It is also incredibly strong, able to contract forcefully to propel a full term baby out of the body during childbirth.
However, the womb is so much more than this!
It is also the seat of our creativity, not least in creating new life, but in helping us to create the life of our dreams, and connects us to our deepest knowing.
As Uma writes: “The very term yoni sakti locates the place of power [sakti] in our own bodies, in our yoni, a term that means both cunt or vulva, and womb or source. Yoni also means home, or place of rest. It is in and through the yoni that we encounter our connection to deeper knowledge, or blood wisdom. The term blood wisdom conveys a sense of the profound experience of ‘knowing already’, or recognising, sometimes not always so clearly, that this deep wisdom is present as a spirituality in our lifeblood. The understanding of blood wisdom is that in our very cells, in our wombs, this knowing has never really been absent, and all that has been denied is access to the living consciousness of the true wealth that this wisdom brings, not just for women but for the whole planet. She is a deep and tender inner teacher. What she teaches is freedom.”
Certainly since honouring my womb with the greatest reverence for all she knows, and all she can reveal, my life has changed significantly. I started writing again, a passion which had lay dormant for many years, and I haven’t really stopped since, even managing to write a book (which you can purchase here). I have also felt an incredible sense of freedom and have had a greater connection to my own wisdom and all that this needs to reveal. Of course there is always work to be done, but connecting with my womb has made a huge difference.
This is the reason, that when women are experiencing some issues with the womb space, in whatever way that may be, I am always keen to encourage them to begin their work here.
As Dr Northrup writes: “The uterus is related energetically to a woman’s innermost sense of self and her inner world. It is symbolic of her dreams and the selves to which she would like to give birth. Its state of health reflects her inner emotional reality and her belief in herself at the deepest level. The health of the uterus is at risk if a woman doesn’t believe in herself, is excessively self-critical or is putting too much of her energy into a dead-end job or relationship”.
So perhaps there is some change that occurs when we begin working with the womb, and perhaps this is confronting at times, but also a necessity.
As Dr Northrup further writes: “The health of the pelvic organs (ovaries, tubes and womb) depends upon a woman feeling able, competent, or powerful to create financial and emotional abundance and stability, and to express her creativity fully. She must be able to feel good about herself and about her relationships with other people in her life. Relationships that she finds stressful and limiting, and which she feels she has no control over, on the other hand, may adversely affect her internal pelvic organs. Thus, if a woman stays in an unhealthy relationship because she feels she cannot support herself economically, or emotionally, her internal pelvic organs may be at increased risk of disease”.
This is supported by Bri Maya Tiwari who writes in her wonderful book The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing: “Our Shakti-prana [the primordial feminine energies within) circulates through and around the womb, a woman’s area of greatest vulnerability…Too often, we do not recognise the sanctity of the womb, and the sacred prana that governs it. Herein lies the paradox of the Shakti-prana: this profound source of feminine power also makes us extremely susceptible to disease. When you care for your womb, and thus honour your Shakti-prana, you heal your feminine life force and protect yourself from illness.”
Thus it is imperative that we do the work to heal the womb. We must celebrate her and all she can reveal to us. How do we do this? Well here are the ways that help me:
In theory, all yoga should help us to heal and connect more fully with our body wisdom and increase our sense of wellbeing in the process, but womb yoga offers so much more than this. In practicing with deep reverence for the womb and womb space, and working with Shakti (the spirit of our primordial feminine energies within) and Shakti-prana (the body’s inherent life-force), we can effect significant transformation.
As Uma writes: “By greeting the womb with love we not only reconnect to the Sakti or life power in the womb or womb space, but also receive the loving energies of the heart by bringing them into conscious connection with the nourishment potential of the the womb space energies”.
There is a free yoni yoga video on our YouTube channel here, that focuses on bringing awareness and love into the womb space. You might also benefit from the free fertility video here and/or the free video for menstruation here.
It could also be beneficial to you to join our Sunday morning yoga class (click here for our class timetable), which while not gender specific, does tend to attract just women and many of the practices are based around the heart and womb. You could also join one of our Yoni Yoga sessions that take place from time to time.
I would also highly recommend investing in Uma’s book, Yoni Shakti: A Woman’s Guide to Power and Freedom Through Yoga and Tantra, which you can purchase from Amazon here. Please don’t be intimidated by the book – it is huge, but just follow the practices that are relevant to you at any stage on your cycle/life.
I am a huge fan of Yoga Nidra. It has supported me so much the last few years particularly. I regularly practice Yoga Nidra as it helps me to rest and rejuvenate and can be incredibly healing too.
You can access our free Yoga Nidra for menstrual healing here. You’ll find other Yoga Nidras on my website too. Otherwise I can highly recommend using the free ones that are available courtesy of Uma and her husband on the Yoga Nidra network at www.yoganidranetwork.org. I use these regularly – they were hugely supportive before, during and after the IVF process and for healing my womb post-natal too. I also accredit Yoga Nidra for helping to regulate my periods.
I am a huge fan of Ayurveda because it is ancient, it works and it has roots in the Vedas like yoga!
Ayurveda is the oldest authentically recorded health system in history, over 5,000 years old. It was created by yogis who spent their lives studying nature and the human condition.
Meaning “the science of life” it is exactly that, viewing health in four dimensions of physical, sensory, mental and spiritual and is centred on preventative medicine and bringing a person back to balance. It shows how an imbalance in one part of a person’s being will affect them in another, i.e. if a person isn’t being true to their life path (dharma) then physical and mental illnesses can arise which cannot be effectively treated with modern medicines but can be helped by Ayurveda.
Ayurveda has helped me lots in my life, not least to heal ovarian cysts and eliminate PMS, but also to support the IVF process (it is perhaps not surprising that I didn’t follow any Ayurvedic principles nor take any herbs prior to the failed IVF cycle, as I had done before the two successful cycles). Read more about this by reading my book Dancing with the Moon.
I follow Ayurvedic principles when I can and notice when I veer away, as I end up feeling depleted and out of balance. It really is amazing and I encourage any lady who is experiencing any sort of menstrual, hormonal, fertility or pelvic trauma to contact the Ayurvedic Clinic that I attend in Purley Oaks, not far from Gatwick Airport.
You can arrange a Skype appointment with one of the doctors and can be sent herbs and encouraged to follow an Ayurvedic diet plan for your type (diet in terms of what you should avoid eating for balance rather than weight loss). You might also attend the clinic itself if necessary for Panchakarma (treatments – these are amazing and I go whenever I feel depleted and completely out of balance and attended before IVF too). See http://www.theayurvedicclinic.com
I know, I hear you, we all know about eating well these days, but it can be so important for the health of our womb. If we eat really drying and acidic food then this may lead to a dry and acidic womb, which might lead to dis-ease and may also prevent an embryo growing. You need to nourish yourself with nourishing foods and those that are appropriate for your constitution and for what is going on for you.
I’m absolutely not a fan of dieting in terms of losing weight. I think it’s important that we follow a diet that supports our health and wellbeing and increases our vitality – this is the reason I try and follow an Ayurvedic diet that works for me and my constitution when I can, as it looks at the whole person. It’s so important that you nourish yourself and keep your digestive fire stoked. Remember to drink plenty of water too.
I love Reiki! For me it has been truly life changing as it is so healing! If you are Reiki attuned then all the better as you can channel Reiki to your womb as often as you are able. I channelled Reiki into my womb space a lot throughout IVF and pregnancy and was comforted by it (you can read all about this in my book Dancing with the Moon).
If you aren’t Reiki attuned then you will need to arrange a treatment with a qualified Reiki practitioner (let me know if you need any recommendations). Reiki treatments are wonderful because not only do you get to relax, but you get to heal and have all your chakras balanced in the process! Definitely a great support for the womb.
So you see there are things that can be done. But you must trust in your own wisdom too. What is your womb trying to tell you? Perhaps it’s trying to wake you up to your highest potential.
As Bri Maya Tiwari writes: “The power of your Shakti goes beyond the space of the womb and its magic of bringing new life into the world. Your womb also has a divine function, which is the cultivation of nurturing and healing powers of the Mother within. In working with your Shakti, you will discover profound physical and spiritual health. In so doing, you as a woman also affect and influence the well-being of all living things”.
If you find yourself reading this and something is resonating, then honour the calling. You are being called. You’re being asked to do the work. To heal the womb. To come home to yourself.