Last week we told you about a pitch we got for actress Brenda Strong's Yoga4Fertility program. The pitch began like this: "Brenda Strong, Mary Alice Young from Desperate Housewives, has created a new yoga method--and it is getting women pregnant." Strong, a longtime yoga practitioner and instructor, developed the program to help women dealing with infertility, and has other programs for pregnancy and menopause.
We're used to seeing hyperbole in press releases, and we're also no stranger to celebrities touting health-related products and services or getting behind public policy issues. We felt compelled to comment on this one, cautioning readers to take any claims with a grain of salt, despite the fact that yoga can be effective in coping with various health-related issues, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. Some people are influenced by their favorite actor/actress/singer/athlete's involvement in various programs and causes, and they can be blind to the occasional outrageous statement or forceful proposal.
Today we spoke with Strong, who said that she was unhappy with the way the pitch went out, and wanted to clarify a few things. First, she said, she believes that before entering any health program people should research it to make sure it's viable and right for them. Infertile women should also seek help from their health professional in addition to trying other solutions. "In no way, shape or form," she said, "am I saying that yoga is the only way to get pregnant."
However, she does believe that yoga (specifically her program) does have physical benefits, especially for the endocrine system, and can help women survive infertility, an issue known to elicit enormous amounts of stress. "If anything," she says, "yoga gives women tools to deal with the stress of infertility and helps empower them, so they can say, 'I can go through this.' For a lot of women who feel out of touch with their body, this can give them a positive feeling again, like their body can be trusted."
And yes, women who have taken part in her program have gotten pregnant. But she can't say for sure if it was yoga, acupuncture, medical treatments, or various combinations of those that did the trick.
"My intention," she added, "has always been to help women help themselves."
-- Jeannine Stein
Photo: Actress and yoga instructor Brenda Strong. Photo credit: Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images