Cultivating Life | The Ayurvedic Perspective on Fertility

“The creation of the universe and the creation of a fetus are the same.” — Dr. Vasant Lad

The creation of life is a sacred act. The Ayurvedic texts compare it to the fundamental creation in our world — similar to the divine formation of the Universe, and to the cultivation of food that nourishes and sustains our bodies. Ayurveda also reminds us that we are a microcosm of the ecology around us, and as such, the same four essential components for cultivating crops or planting a garden are also important for cultivating life within — the right field, right timing, right water and right seed.

If you are embarking on a fertility journey, be sure that you are tending to these key aspects of calling life into the world. Being “right” simply means that they are considered, tended to or aligned as best as possible.

Right Seed — bija

Life begins with the seed — the tiny encapsulation that, when given space and nourishment, can grow into its sacred potential. We know that we cannot plant a garden without healthy seeds, and so when it comes to our own fertility, the seeds are the healthy ovum and sperm. According to Ayurveda, there are seven tissues of the body, and “the seed” is thought to be the ultimate, the most complete and the most refined of all the tissues of the body. It is nourished by the subtle essence of kapha, known as ojas. Ojas is the essence of vitality and immunity, and it provides stability and nourishment to the tissues, moisture to the skin and mental clarity. As Maya Tiwari puts it, “our glow of health, virility, fertility, reproduction, regeneration and life itself all depends on a healthy supply of ojas.” To enhance our ojas and keep the bija healthy requires a wholesome lifestyle — high quality, nourishing food, a good work-life balance, plenty of rest, and quality connection.

Here are some key ways to build ojas to support a healthy seed (ovum and sperm):

  • Spend more time outside, especially around water, mountains and rocks
  • Focus on attitudes of love, faith, devotion, compassion, forgiveness, and peace
  • Soothe vata by staying warm, traveling less, reducing screen time and honing your daily routine
  • Do abhyanga (self-oil massage) 2-3x per week
  • Enjoy foods that are uniquely nourishing to ojas such as milk, almonds, mango, dates, ghee, saffron, pistachios
  • Avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other recreational drugs

 

Right Field — kshetra

When it comes to planting a garden, what is the second thing you need to think about after acquiring the seeds? If you thought about the space and soil, you’d be right on track. In order to plant seeds that will grow and flourish, we need to ensure that we have a garden bed that is clear and a soil that is healthy. Within our own bodies, this means that it is essential to cleanse first in order to purge any toxins and remove any blockages that could prevent pregnancy. Many of us are walking around with internal metabolic waste — or toxins — that results from improperly digested food. According to Ayurveda, this is a heavy, sticky substance that is toxic to the body, and is at the root of disease. A buildup of toxins in the body is similar to a polluted field, and it clogs channels in the body that are responsible for cellular communication, elimination of wastes and successful fertilization. If you experience brain fog, a feeling of heaviness, malaise, bad breath, low appetite, difficulty with elimination or PCOS, then you know you need to pull the weeds before you can plant your garden.

Here are a few important ways you can begin to gently detoxify (in other words, clear your field):

  • Eat mostly warm, well-cooked and well-spiced foods
  • Scrape your tongue first thing in the morning
  • Drink warm lemon honey water before your first meal
  • Eat more of the bitter, pungent (spicy), and astringent tastes
  • Reduce sources of toxicity such as processed foods, alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine

Right Water (Fluids & Nutrition) — ambu

Another vital aspect of growing any garden is to think about the water that will encourage the seeds to sprout. When it comes to fertility in Ayurveda, we refer to this as ambu — the healthy fluids such as plasma and lymph (rasa) and blood (rakta). If you experience anemia, fatigue, low libido, skin difficulties, irregular menstrual cycles, acne related to your cycle, or weak bones, you know that this is an area you need to focus on specifically.

In order to ensure that these life-giving and nutrient-giving tissues of your body are able to support new life, you should:

  • Get and stay hydrated (drinking warm herbal tea can provide hydration as well as nutrients)
  • Eat good quality fats. The oiliness of rasa (plasma) is nourished by ghee, full-fat dairy, avocado and coconut oil.
  • Eat satiating carbohydrates such as root vegetables and grains, as these nourish the sweetness of rasa.
  • Eat dense proteins such as meat and nuts for their very earthy building qualities.
  • Eat foods that are rich in iron, as this helps build rakta — you can often tell if a food is rich in iron because it’s red! Think about red meat, beets, red cabbage, raisins, currant and cranberry juice!
  • Eat the bitter taste occasionally in order to cleanse the liver and spleen which can improve processing of hemoglobin and bile, indirectly contributing to nourishment of rakta. You can get the bitter taste from vegetables like kale, dandelion greens or radishes.

 

Right Timing — rtu

We know that there is an optimal time of year for planting seeds in the ground in order to ensure that they are able to grow and flourish. As such, timing, or rtu as it is referred to in the Ayurvedic texts, is a vital aspect to consider on the fertility journey. You’ll want to consider timing from the microcosm to the macrocosm — the most fertile time of the month, the most fertile time of the year, and the most fertile time of life. We know that it is possible to get pregnant even outside of these optimal windows, but to increase your chances of conception, it’s worth aligning your attempts with the rhythms of nature.   

On the microcosmic level, you’ll want to pay attention to timing during a one-month cycle of the moon, which will also likely align with your own menstrual cycle and ovulation. The most fertile time of your cycle occurs in the 4-5 days before your ovulation, as well as on the day of ovulation (when the mature egg is released from the ovary). If your cycle is fairly regular, this is roughly 10-15 days into your cycle. This special time of the month when you are most fertile is referred to in Ayurveda as rutukala. If your menstruation is regular and begins with the darkest phase of the new moon, then this will likely track with the lunar calendar — meaning ovulation will happen just before the full moon — and this is the ideal time to attempt to conceive.

The rhythms of nature are a vital part of the Ayurvedic lens, so of course it is vital to take a look at the timing in a year — in other words, the seasons. The most fertile time of year on the whole is Spring time — trees are budding, eggs are hatching, and the juiciness of spring replaces the dryness of winter. This is the kapha time of year, so it makes sense that our bodies would be most equipped for conception during this time. Because Fall season embodies vata dosha, it is the least optimal time to conceive — although this certainly isn’t to say that it can’t be done!

It’s also best to think about timing your conception during a relatively calm and stable time in your life — your body is smart, and it knows that periods of stress in your life aren’t ideal times to have a baby. Do your best to reduce stress in your life, and to create peace and stability in your household. This might look like setting aside a little more time for selfcare, meditation, movement or time in nature. It might also look like doing LESS — simply resting more. What stress-inducing aspects of your life could you actually just release? How can you set up systems and structures to help you manage relationships and responsibilities that depend on you? As you are clearing space in your life, be sure to also set aside time for you and your partner to be alone and intimate. Wait to attempt conception until you are clear of any major financial stress, major shifts at work, an uncomfortable living situation, or any other major instability. When you are settled in with stability in home, finances, and supportive relationships, you can consider the timing to be right.

And finally, surrender

Just as we cannot force a seed to grow, we also cannot force conception. The act of conceiving a child calls upon the potent and Universal energies of compassion, awareness and love. It’s not something that can be easily controlled, so remember to embark on your fertility journey from a connection to your highest self, with deep reverence and intention. This is an invitation to surrender — to trust the process and the outcome, even in the face of any fear and barriers that show up, as only in doing so will you truly be able to receive the gifts of nature. As you do, be gentle and patient with yourself, always acting from a place of self-love rather than self-control. This is for you and your future child — so honor yourself, your intention, and take your time.

 

SEEKING MORE FERTILITY SUPPORT? | Join me for GET PREGNANT | Clear & Connected Conception, a 90-minute virtual workshop, in which I will share the basics of a two-fold Ayurvedic approach to a healthy conception and pregnancy. We’ll begin by first clearing toxins from the physical and subtle realms, then move into gently nourishing your body and womb to support your baby. You'll walk away with concrete action steps you can integrate right away, and ideas for how to deepen your engagement with the journey. Sign up for just $6!

The Art of Fertility | Journey to Conception
A comprehensive 16-week online program that prepares you for a healthy, balanced conception and pregnancy through the holistic wisdom of Ayurveda. We'll
begin by first eliminating toxins from both the body and mind, and will then move into gently building your womb and heart to deeply nourish your baby. Learn More.

The Art of Ayurveda | Ancient Secrets of Self Care 
A juicy, in-depth and participatory online wellness course designed to inspire you to reclaim your self love and live your deepest expression of wellness through easy-to-implement nutrition, daily routine and self-care practices. Through simple yet profound changes to your habits, you will shift how you experience your body and mind, and lay the foundation for a lifetime of vitality. Learn More.

The Art of Work Life Balance | Intentional Lifestyle Design for Purpose-Oriented People
A dynamic three-part online program that will invite you to connect more deeply with yourself and others through Ayurvedic practices of stress relief, radical self care and refined routine. This program takes about six weeks to complete and includes three full courses: Aligned Energy to Pursue Your Passion, Communication and Appreciate to Cultivate Connection, and Holistic Stress Relief to Make a Deeper Impact. Learn More.

Sierra Brashear, MA is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, DONA-trained doula, and founder of Vibrant Souls. She has successfully supported hundreds of people through some of their most critical childbearing moments — from conscious conception through the joy of labor and birth. Guided by the believe that self care is a radical act, Sierra weaves her knowledge of Ayurveda into the wellness education and lifestyle design she provides through her practice, Cultivate Balance. She is a graduate of Alandi Ayurveda's 2-year 2,000+ hour Practitioner of Ayurveda program in Boulder, Colorado.

Workshop Link: https://learn.cultivatebalance.com/courses/get-pregnant-journey-to-conception

Cultivate Balance link: https://www.cultivatebalance.com/

 

Cover photo of pregnant belly by Alyssa Keys Photography
Photo of woman's stomach by Laura Bartczak
Photo of woman in garden by Laura Bartczak
Photo of woman drinking water by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
Photo of woman holding the moon by Ruvim from Pexels

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