Yoga for Fertility
Infertility is common and affects about 8-12% of couples all over the world who are trying to conceive.
Unexplained infertility is on the rise and can be due to genetic, psychological, anatomical, endocrinological, and immunological problems that affect both female and male reproductive health.
Yoga is known to improve our health and wellbeing but what is so wonderful about yoga is that it can help balance our endocrine system, regulate our menstrual cycle and reduce stress. These are all very important factors that need to be addressed when planning to have a baby. Research also indicates that yoga is an effective therapy for couples trying to conceive due to the amazing benefits it brings to the body and mind.
Benefits of Yoga for Fertility
In our day-to-day life, we are constantly exposed to all kind of stressors that can decrease our chances of getting pregnant. When our body is in a constant stress mode our sympathetic nervous system takes over, causing cortisol and adrenaline levels to rise and disrupt normal ovulation. High levels of cortisol have also been associated with miscarriage. Stress not only affects our endocrine system and hormonal balance negatively; it also affects our libido and sexual activity, which are essential factors when trying to conceive.
Regulation of the endocrine system
Our endocrine system is like a mirror to the chakra system and every chakra governs one or more of the endocrine glands. So as we work through the chakras in yoga we are also stimulating, freeing and regulating the function of the endocrine glands responsible for our hormone production. As our endocrine system is interconnected, we want to make sure that all areas of our endocrine system are working properly and that the glands are producing the right amount of hormones. When our hormones are in balance, so is our menstrual cycle.
Circulation to the reproductive organs
Yoga for fertility focuses on those postures that boost blood flow as well as energy flow in the lower abdominal area in order to nourish all the important reproductive organs and glands. A larger supply of nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes helps support their optimum health and function which, of course, is essential when trying to conceive.
The pelvic region is highly concentrated in lymph tissue. Our lymphatic system is our cleaning operation and allows for toxins, hormones and waste products to be transported and metabolised. If the lymph becomes stagnant, toxins accumulate and the flow of hormones will be affected. Yoga poses that relax the muscles around the pelvis, lower back, hips and groin help improve the flow of hormones and support the detoxification process. Consequently, this creates a healthier environment for reproductive organs.
Space to understand and process thoughts & emotions
Dealing with infertility brings about many thoughts and emotions that, by themselves, create blockages for us to be able to conceive. Thoughts can easily trigger our stress response and give rise to many negative emotions about our fertility.
When we practise yoga, we learn to observe these thoughts and emotions and understand where they are coming from. We begin to find acceptance in life and show compassion toward ourselves and others. This is an important part of reducing the feelings of depression and anxiety that may be present during these times. With the focus on body awareness, we can for a moment step out of our mind and let go of negative thoughts and emotions that are hindering us from staying positive.
What kind of Yoga should be practised when trying to conceive?
As the endocrine system is very sensitive to stress, the main focus of fertility yoga is to manage and reduce a woman’s stress levels. Restorative yoga is especially effective in reducing stress and helps to relieve tension in the body and mind. Because it allows us to relax, restorative yoga enables a better flow of hormones.
As mentioned above, we want to practise asanas that specifically focus on releasing tension in our hips, lower back and pelvis to stimulate energy and improve blood circulation in the reproductive organs. Women who struggle with fertility usually experience a higher tension level around the lower abdomen, so we want to include postures that create space and softness in the lower belly.
We also want to embrace a feminine approach to yoga and connect with our feminine energy centres around the heart-space and the womb-space. Tuning into the different phases of our monthly cycle is just like honouring our menstrual cycle.
Yoga Asanas for improved fertility
Here follows a sequence of eight Yoga Asanas that will help to boost your fertility and enhance your chances of getting pregnant.
1. Pelvic floor awareness & deep breathing
Focus: Lie down on your back with the soles of your feet connected to the ground. Place your hands over your lower belly. Invite the breath into your lower belly and become aware of your womb-space. Watch the rise and fall of the breath and allow each breath to nourish the tissues of the lower belly and pelvis.
Benefits: Rejuvenates the body and mind and improves awareness and energy flow to the pelvic tissues. Releases the psoas muscle which creates more space in the pelvic region and relaxes the lower back, which is very nourishing for the nervous system.
Stay for 5 - 10 mins with eyes closed, breathing deeply into the belly and allowing the whole body to relax back into the support of the earth beneath you.
2. Baddha Konasana
Focus: Sit on the ground or maybe on a folded blanket. Gently ease into the pose by moving your upper body over your legs, with a gentle rounding of the spine. Breathe into your hips and the whole pelvic area, then soften and let go of struggle and control.
Benefits: Relaxes and frees up energy in the pelvic area, improving circulation to the reproductive organs. Can help to alleviate menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding.
Stay for 5 minutes
3. Adho Mukha Svanasana
Focus: Use a pillow or bolder under your forehead to support your head. Connect your hands and feet to the ground. Feel the spine lengthening and releasing tightness in the upper and lower back. Create space in the chest and work your hips up and back away from the hands. Keep the knees bent if it’s too strong on the hamstrings.
Benefits: This is a partial inversion so it brings fresh blood to the head, nourishing the pineal and pituitary glands and regulating the hormonal system. Creates space in the spine, opening the channel between the heart and the uterus.
Stay for 5-10 deep breaths.
Focus: Take support from a block if you struggle to keep your heels on the ground. Channel your breath and attention towards the pelvis. As you inhale draw prana (energy) up from the earth into the womb-space, expanding the pelvic floor. As you exhale breathe the energy down into the ground, gently contracting the pelvic floor muscles.
Benefits: Creates space in the pelvic area and increases blood and energy circulation. Releases lower back, stimulates digestion and grounds the energy.
Start with 30 seconds and build up to a couple of minutes.
Focus: Rest with your knees separated, big toes to touch and the upper body supported on the pillow. Channel the breath into the back of the pelvis and the sacrum, circulating energy into the sacral centre to create a receptive space in the womb.
Benefits: Releases lower back, calms the mind and nervous system and gently stretches the hips. Allows us to draw the energy and attention inwards to find emotional support and mental strength.
Stay for 5 minutes
6. Reclining Twist
Focus: Lie down on your back and bring the knees to the chest, lowering down to one side and creating a twist from the waist. Lengthen the spine as you inhale, relax as you exhale.
Benefits: Releases tension along the spinal muscles and the lower and upper back. Gently massages and stimulates the digestive and reproductive organs. Brings balance to the body and mind.
Stay for 2-4 minutes on each side.
7. Supta Baddha Konasana
Focus: Rest with your back over the bolster and support the knees if needed, so you can completely relax the inner thighs, belly and pelvic floor area. An eye pillow can help to draw in even more to find an internal connection.
Benefits: Opens the heart-space and improves the heart-womb connection. Increases flow of energy and blood into the pelvic area. Helps to relieve anxiety, mild depression and stress. Supports the downward movement of energy which is very grounding and releasing.
Stay for 5-10 minutes
8. Viparita Karani
Focus: You can rest your hips on a block, bolster or just on the floor supported by a wall. Also, use an eye pillow here to draw in. Allow your legs, chest, and belly to soften. Breathe into the belly, focusing particularly on lengthening the exhalations to calm the nervous system.
Benefits: Stimulates blood and energy flow to the parts of your body that need them. Calms the nervous system, strengthens the immune system, balances the hormonal system and improves the digestive system. Helps to remove toxins from the bloodstream by supporting the lymphatic flow. Perfect to do in the evening to help with insomnia and restless legs.
Stay for 10-15 minutes.
These yoga asanas can be practised on a daily basis to enhance your chances of getting pregnant. It is also a wonderful sequence for all women to practice in their luteal and menstrual phase to help relieve stress, tension and PMS symptoms.
Incorporating a positive affirmation into your yoga practice is also a wonderful way to shift your mindset in a more positive direction and therefore support your fertility. A positive affirmation can be anything that resonates with you at this moment in your life.
“I am fertile.”
“I am healthy, whole and full of love.”
Yoga can be a wonderful tool to boost fertility and help enhance your chances of getting pregnant. Restorative yoga that nurtures the body and mind and focuses on creating space and circulation around the pelvic area can help to reduce stress and tension, improve the flow of blood, energy and hormones to the reproductive organs, support healthy hormones and regulate the menstrual cycle.