Happy New Year Dear Readers. I don’t know about you, but I am excited about 2016. 2015 was a big year for me, on the personal front I got married in May and moved to Brussels in August, each an experience that alone would have been major. Combined with some great business accomplishments it really was an amazing year. I am looking forward to more excitement in 2016.
Some of you may have already noticed some changes here at Birth Breath Beyond. I am very happy to share that after lots of consideration and continued training I am expanding the scope of my work from “Yoga and Pregnancy” to “Yoga for Women’s Health”. This is an evolution that has been occurring for awhile and one that I can't wait to share with you.
I’ve always been interested in woman’s health, including pregnancy but reproductive health and health at all stages of life. My Masters of Public Health is in Women’s and Reproductive Health and I’ve been passionate for such work since at least University. I believe that women lack access to evidence based, up–to –date information at all stages of life, including, but not limited to, pregnancy. Information about contraceptive methods is often confusing, based on out to date information, or cloaked in secrecy or fear. Menstruation is seen as shameful and menstrual hygiene products often lack ingredient information and are cloaked in stigma of “dirtiness”. Fertility and pregnancy loss isn’t discussed except behind closed doors, and such it discussion is often dismissed or down played. Abortion is often viewed as a political issues, and although it has been made into one in the US and in much of the world it is often a personal one that people are silenced from discussing. Menopause and aging is viewed negatively, something to delay or avoid, not embrace or learn more about. I haven’t forgotten pregnancy. Those that suffer from Pregnancy and Post-Partum Depression often suffer alone, away from the smiling pictures and stories society and social media expects.
I’m not a doctor or a health provider. What I am is a yoga teacher, Women’s/Womb Yoga Therapeutic Teacher, Yoga Therapist-in-training, Masters in Public Health and Doula. And I am using these skills to provide a new offering in Brussels, Yoga for Women’s Health.
So what exactly is Yoga for Women’s Health? It is using yoga and yogic principles to help regulate menstrual cycles. To provide complimentary care for those experiencing sub-fertility or other fertility issues, and for those undergoing fertility treatment. It’s working with yoga clients throughout their menstrual cycles, helping them create a practice, and lifestyle practices, that better listen to and honor their bodies’ many natural rhythms and cycles. It’s working with women during and after menopause to embrace changes in their bodies and create practices that best embrace this stage of life. It is working with women experiencing pregnancy or postpartum depression or anxiety to integrate yoga into their treatment plan. As my training continues I hope to be able to work with women experiencing eating disorders, an issue I’ve myself experienced and know I carry with me every day. Much like my doula work, I am not a health care provider and I don’t want to depict myself as such. Rather I can serve a role in the complimentary care of anyone dealing with a woman’s health issue.
So what about my doula work? Well, I see this work as an extension of my role as a doula. There have been so many times I’ve thought “I wish I had a doula for this”. When I had my IUD removed and when I made further family planning decisions. For women navigating the complicated world of fertility treatment a doula could be a useful companion. Offering Yoga for Women's Health will let me hold that role. I haven’t given up my birth doula work either. It saddens me that so few women in Brussels get to learn about what a doula does or know that this amazing source of support is available here. My first introduction to the English speaking prenatal support care here was rather harsh, and I was upset to see misinformation and scare tactics being shared to discourage women from learning more about doulas. I see my role as a doula to be to support women in their birth however they choose, and that includes supporting them in accessing evidence based information. Fortunately I’ve since been introduced to other amazing birth workers who are working hard to ensure the women of Belgium have CHOICES at their birth and access to as many evidence based support and care options as possible.
As I continue to offer this support to pregnant women I want to offer it to all women. Prenatal and postnatal yoga is often the only time yoga caters to women’s specific needs. The only time women take time to share their experiences and their fears in yoga sessions or classes. The only time we consider women’s specific physical needs in a yoga session. It shouldn’t be this way. Historically yoga was designed for men only, but now the majority of practitioners are women. Women deserve to have a practice that is tailored to their specific physical needs. They deserve to have non-medical care and support during physically and emotionally challenging times and times of change. I am excited to be able to offer this to the women of Brussels and I hope you will join me in this exciting journey.
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