Jen Paynter – How I Learnt To Forgive My Body Through Yoga
The Health Problems I Didn’t Know I Had
I was angry, really angry. I had done all the things I was supposed to do. Find a nice guy, marry him and settle down. Have kids was the next on the standard checklist that I thought my life was meant to follow.
Only it didn’t work out that way. It turned out the crippling periods I had had since I was 13 were a sign of endometriosis. It shouldn’t have been a surprise my sister had it and it turns out my mum probably did too. It was only when we started investigating why I wasn’t getting pregnant that I found out I had giant blood cysts that needed to be removed.
Moral Of The Story
Don’t listen to your doctor if they tell you painful periods are normal. Turns out they’re not. Fast forward six years, multiple surgeries and a half dozen rounds of IVF attempts more than a house deposit of finances wasted on medical treatments and I still couldn’t conceive. I gave up everything from sugar, alcohol, dairy, gluten, non-organic cosmetics all in search of the magical combination that would result in a child.
In short I was miserable. Each month would bring fresh waves of tears and grief. This isn’t something you share with anyone but your doctors and your partner making it horribly lonely. The sympathetic smiles “you’ll get there” were too much whenever I did confess we were trying but it wasn’t going well.
If you’re waiting for the plot twist, there is none. I’d love to share that there was a happy ending but it’s not the one you think. There is no miracle baby in our lives. There are some truly amazing nieces and nephews who I adore but none of our own.
When I first found yoga, it appealed to me as someone who had done ballet as a kid. There were instructions for where to put everything from your little toe to your gaze. I found it comforting I could concentrate on where my body needed to be in space not the thoughts crashing about in my mind. It was also one of the few places I didn’t see pregnant women at every turn. Until they started running a preggi bellies class right after!
Slowly I found I could appreciate what my body could achieve. I began to notice that when I started to skip weeks of classes my periods were heavier, I felt slower, more agitated. I noticed I felt happier after class and wasn’t reaching for the comfort foods as often.
I became a regular, so much so that one weekend when the teacher didn’t turn up I felt confident enough to lead the class, though I did wait until the room had thinned before suggesting rather timidly I might try.
The people in the room that stayed were incredibly appreciative and encouraged me to become a teacher as I was obviously a ‘natural’. Of course I didn’t believe them because I wasn’t teaching, I was just repeating the instructions I’d heard so many times before.
But it planted a seed. Each time I stepped onto the mat I was able to shrug off a bit of sadness and appreciate the now. It took me a long time to realise I had been carrying a hatred of my body for not doing what it was supposed to do. Not giving myself credit for the resilience and strength such a marathon (8 years) of trying to conceive had taken.
Becoming A Yoga Teacher
In 2018 I did my teacher training. I now teach a regular class at a women’s gym on the weekend and encourage my students to embrace and respect their bodies and the quirks that make who they are so valuable and loveable.
By the end we did let our family know, mostly to stop the incessant questioning of ‘when?’ and were surprised with the support. There are still reminders lurking of the struggle to keep the suffering private. Like the set of wine glasses that’s now one short from when I smashed one to distract from the oncoming tears when asked yet again when there would be grandchildren.
Moving On And Letting Go
I’ve let go of the yearning for a child and instead focussed my energy on my yoga business, to try and help more people get to class more often with a convertible carry strap. In a way this is my child. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been possible if I’d had a human one. At least not with the full-time job, which currently makes it possible as well.
I now appreciate the peaks and the troughs of energy that go with my cycle rather than fighting them. When I pay attention and slow down and care for myself when I need to, I can avoid the monthly migraines and cramps. My body is pretty amazing. It was about time we finally learnt how to get along, I’m just sorry I wasted so much time being angry with it.
Have you found Yoga has helped you with your monthly cycle
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About The Author
Jen is a yogi and entrepreneur. She is the creator and designer behind the award winning Feelix Yoga Strap a yoga strap that converts to a carry strap your mat.
You can find out more about her business here www.108yogarod.com. Her next project is a series of Sunday meditations.