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The doctor paused. The short silence told me all I needed to know: The fetus inside my womb was dead. I was 33, and it had taken me nearly two years to get pregnant. Tests showed I ovulated regularly and my husband's sperm was plentiful. My own research suggested another possibility: Like most Americans, I've been inundated with smog, plastics, fertilizers, and bits of radiation. Could chemicals be causing my infertility struggles?
I decided to make a change. I started practicing yoga to strengthen my body for pregnancy and began eating organic fruits and vegetables to rid my body of pesticides. I stopped highlighting my hair and painting my fingernails. I refused to place my laptop on my lap, and I bought an old-fashioned landlinc (adios, cell phone). I filled my gas tank in the mornings, when fewer pollutants evaporate into the air. Every time I found myself staring at another negative pregnancy test, my obsession with environmental toxins increased. What about fluoride in my toothpaste? Aluminum in my deodorant? The pen caps I chew when I'm lost in thought?
My yoga teacher encouraged me to practice Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) to open my abdominal area and allow room for a baby At home, after making love, I remembered to swing my legs up on my headboard and settle into Vtparita Karani. "Let go of your worries," I could hear my teacher say. I began to realize that I have only so much control, and that my anxieties might well be the biggest toxin of all. So I continue down the path of clean living, with yoga to calm my worries and guide me to a place of present acceptance. JENNY ROUGH
£ I ^ Struggles with infertility lead a woman to examine her environment and her thoughts.
Yoga Sutra II.40
Through the feeling of trying to become clean, and of being clean, we come to understand that our body is impermanent.
In verse 11.40 of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali speaks of saucha (purity or cleanliness) as a means to help you reach a state of yoga, or focused concentration. Keeping yourself and your surroundings clean has value because it makes you aware of the difference between the impermanent external world, and the true Self, which does not change. As you work to keep your environment clean, you see that this effort takes constant maintenance-if you stop dust- ing, the dirt builds up. Similarly, you might try to make your body more pure with the foods you choose, but that doesn't stop the aging process. In time, you see that no matter how diligent you are, your surroundings and even your body are decaying every moment, whereas your inner, or true, Self is permanent and unchanging. This realization gradually leads you to focus your attention inward. It is the internal Self that you want to purify, and once you do, you'll experience a positive attitude, a mastery of the senses, and a connection with your higher power. KATE HOLCOMBE
Kate Holcombe is the founder and co-director of Healing Yoga Foundation in San Francisco. Her teachings apply the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali to daily life.
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