Could the power of yoga help couples cope with the stresses of starting a family?
Could the power of yoga help couples cope with the stresses of starting a family? Jo Haywood reports
You can find out more about Lindsay’s work through her partner companies Be Yoga Leeds beyogaleeds.co.uk and Leeds Reflexology leedsreflexology.co.uk
The print version of this article appeared in the March 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life
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Lindsay Gale discovered yoga at the age of 13 in her local village hall and was immediately hooked. Amazed by the strength, stamina and flexibility of women 40 years her senior, she knew she had discovered something special.
Her teacher recognised Lindsay’s passion and nurtured it during the early years of her practice, encouraging her to take a yoga diploma taught by Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri at Tamil Nadu’s International Centre for Yoga Education and Research in Pondicherry, India. When she was 18, Lindsay was humbled to receive the International Student of the Year accolade.
‘I desperately wanted to pursue a career as a yoga teacher,’ she said. ‘But it just wasn’t regarded as a proper job, so I succumbed to pressure and read English literature and language at St Andrew’s in Scotland instead.’
After graduating in 2000, she took up a teaching post at Woodhouse Grove School in Apperley Bridge, Bradford. But the desire to spread the word about the power of yoga never left her and she began teaching yoga classes in the community, set up classes for members of staff and convinced the PE department that yoga should be part of their curriculum.
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‘I even did the occasional head stand as part of my behaviour management tool kit,’ said Lindsay. ‘It was guaranteed to get the class quiet.’
During the long school holidays, she continued to pursue her yoga development, completing courses in ashtanga yoga and pranayama (breathwork). And it was while studying in India that Lindsay made the decision to leave the security of teaching to follow her dream.
‘It was a now-or-never moment of realisation,’ she said. ‘My teaching colleagues were convinced I was having an early mid-life crisis, but I was determined to set up my own school of yoga and wellbeing practice at the end of 2010.’
Lindsay added to her already bulging professional portfolio by training to be a clinical reflexologist, during which she became fascinated with the therapy’s apparent success at helping women with fertility issues and during pregnancy.
‘Something just clicked into place,’ she said. ‘The more I studied, the more I knew this was the field I wanted to specialise in.’
And so Lindsay began her crusade to help women improve their wellbeing during pre-conception and pregnancy using reflexology and yoga.
‘The NHS suggests one in six or seven couples have difficulty conceiving, but the number who are actually infertile is low – only five per cent,’ she explained. ‘Fertility issues can cause considerable anxiety for a couple and stress can be an influencing factor.’
Reflexology can often relieve these symptoms by inducing relaxation, improving mood, aiding sleep and easing tension. Whilst no clinical trials have been funded, Lindsay believes there’s strong anecdotal evidence to show that many women (and men) have benefitted from reflexology when they are having problems conceiving.
‘Yoga complements reflexology perfectly by preparing the body for conception, focusing on the reproductive system and the female pelvis and promoting stress-release,’ she said. ‘Breathing and visualisation help prepare the body and mind for conception and are incorporated into the pre-conception wellbeing plan.’
Regular reflexology during pregnancy may help maintain the mum-to-be’s sense of wellbeing as well as aiding sleep, relieving tension and improving mood during a period of intense hormonal changes. Clinical trials also show that reflexology may help relieve tension during the early stages of labour.
‘Yoga can help prepare the mum-to-be physically and emotionally for the journey to labour and beyond,’ said Lindsay, who runs pregnancy yoga classes in Leeds. ‘The physical practice helps to strengthen and tone the body, as well as creating openness and flexibility. Breathing practice helps to develop an awareness of the power of our breath and creates a connection between body and baby. And meditation, visualisation and relaxation help mums-to-be relax and soothe away anxieties when thoughts or fears arise.’
As well as her pregnancy yoga classes, she also offers pre-conception and maternity reflexology and is launching a four-week conscious birthing programme to help more women reap the benefits of perinatal wellbeing.
‘More than 20 years on from that very first yoga class, my love and commitment to yoga continues to flourish,’ she said.