My mom and her family went on one vacation every year. Each summer, they’d pack the car and drive to the house they’d rented for their week at the beach. Every year, my grandfather would be sick for the entirety of the vacation. Why? The stresses of life take a real toll on our physical body. The stresses of fertility treatments—well, that’s true to the nth degree.
Caring for your physical body while undergoing fertility treatments is important, and broader self-care for coceiving is paramount. Anxiety and high-stress levels impact the health of our bodies and our ability to conceive. Yes, exercising regularly and eating well is part of the equation, but it is not the full picture. Enter yoga.
I’ve had the privilege of working with countless woman who were struggling with fertility. While everyone’s journey always looks slightly different, time and time again, my clients would tell me: “I feel so much better after our yoga sessions.” One of my closest clients confided that yoga was the only time in her week when she was able to truly feel that things were going to be okay.
Supporting parallel systems, that work in conjunction with our reproductive system, yoga is an effective way to care for your whole self.
Fertility Yoga Poses
Yoga is an excellent complement to fertility treatments. The physical postures provide a highly balanced form of exercise that combines strength, stretching, and light cardio (the extent to which depends on the type of yoga). The practice of yoga, with its strong focus on breath and movement, promotes fertility by reducing stress levels, increasing blood flow, preventing depression, regulating hormone production, releasing toxins, and promoting restful sleep.
By supporting the many parallel systems that work in conjunction with our reproductive system, yoga is an effective way to care for your whole self. These systems include our endocrine system, nervous system, immune system, etc. In turn, this holistic approach creates a physical, mental, and emotional environment that promotes fertility and increases your chances of conceiving.
These benefits don’t require you practice at a studio, with a teacher, or even for a long period of time. That’s really the beauty of yoga for fertility. It can be done anywhere, and just five minutes will make a huge difference to your body and mind. Below please find some tips on how to begin your fertility yoga journey right at home –no yoga props required. If you do find yourself wanting to take classes or private sessions, make sure you are working with a professional who specializes in fertility and prenatal yoga. There are certain positions—for example, closed twisting (open twisting is okay) that you want to avoid during an active IVF. Many experts would also suggest you stay away from rigorous inversions and other poses that are core intensive such as planking.
Viparita Karani – Sanksrit for “Legs Up The Wall”
- Lay in a fetal position with your butt as close to the wall as you can manage. Then roll on to your back, as you extend your legs up the wall toward the ceiling. Inch yourself forward as much as you can, and then allow your head to release onto the ground (a pillow underneath can be nice).
- Do what feels comfortable with your arms. One option is to extend them to the sides on a diagonal angle so that my hands are lower than my shoulders. Be sure to have your palms up.
- Allow yourself to rest in this shape for as little as 3 minutes, or as long as you’d like.
- Benefits: increases blood flow to the reproductive organs, decreases anxiety, and promotes sleep.
Sama Vritti Pranayama – Sanskrit for “Equal Breath”
- Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor.
- Push into your feet to lift your hips up and place a pillow or a folded blanket underneath your sacrum (make sure it’s not underneath your low back).
- Bend your elbows and rest your hands on your torso – one to belly and one to the chest. Use the hands to help connect you to your breath.
- Begin to breath in and breath out for counts of 4. [Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4; Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4]. Do this for 5 full cycles of breath.
- You can then increase the count to 6 [Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Do this for 5 full cycles of breath. You can always just stick with 4 if 6 feels too taxing.
- Benefits: reduces stress hormone levels and stimulates your parenthetical nervous system.