When we think of infertility, we think of the reproductive organs, but the heart is “at the heart of the matter”.

When you are told that you can’t have kids- you want to die. It’s like someone ripped your heart out and stomped on it.

The stress of fertility treatments affects every part of the body, especially the heart.

The heart is perched on top of the diaphragm, the main muscle responsible for breathing. Do you know what happens when someone tells you that you’re chances of having children are slim to none? Your heart stops just for a moment. And for a moment you stop breathing. But that feeling that you can’t breathe comes back, when you pass a playground, hear the chime of an ice cream truck, or are asked to hold your friend’s newborn child. Your heart stops.  Which means that the diaphragm, which was built to massage the heart every time we take a deep breath, doesn’t work all the time, weakens and well, the heart doesn’t get that built in massage. and we start to die a little every day.

We stop breathing. There’s nothing to breathe for.

While enduring the physical discomfort of hormone injections and endless blood tests, women going through fertility treatments turn to organizations like Keren Gefen, Mercaz Panim or Yesh Tikva for help on a different level. We help when emotions are raw and the heart aches. There’s an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and someone reminding them to breathe. So simple, but they actually forget how to breathe. They are holding their breath for days, weeks, months.

And of course, it affects the heart.

In my role as yoga instructor I often notice that toward the end of class, when moving to relaxation, women hold their hands over their hearts- always protecting, defending it against any more pain and suffering. I go over to them and gently place their hands alongside them, palms facing up in a receptive mode. Then, maybe their bodies and minds will start to soften, the chatter in their mind will quiet down and they will surrender to this moment  where they can find peace and their hearts can rest for just a few moments, or longer…

As their guide through this process, I try to remind them that that life is beautiful, that they can find the peace and tranquility that is  inside each and every one of them. But to do so, a person has to open their heart- our source of love, compassion and loving kindness- to open their hearts up to themselves and to the glorious world; to all the potential that’s out there, to all the good that’s out there. And to breathe.