Yoga is a centuries-old system of exercise and relaxation. Originating in India, yoga is becoming increasingly popular amongst North Americans as a way of staying in shape and reconnecting with their inner selves. Consisting of a series of different postures designed to tone and strengthen all areas of the body, yoga is now being used by couples in order to increase their fertility. But does fertility yoga really work? Here are some of the basics that you should know about fertility yoga.
What is Fertility Yoga?
Fertility yoga is a specific branch of yoga that has been designed for men and women who are trying to conceive. Fertility yoga follows the basic principles of yoga but combines them with specific postures designed to aid the reproductive organs, thereby increasing your chances of pregnancy. Fertility yoga also focuses on providing stress relief and relaxation in order to balance the body’s hormones and emotions in an effort to make the body more conducive to conception.
What are the Benefits of Yoga for Fertility?
Yoga for fertility is designed to increase your fertility by offering a number of physical and mental health benefits.
Improved Physical Health
- tone and strengthen muscles that support your reproductive organs
- improve the total alignment of your body
- increase blood circulation, allowing vital nutrients and oxygen to reach your reproductive system
- increase energy and stamina
Fertility yoga helps to improve your overall physical health, which, in turn, increases your likelihood of getting pregnant. By regularly practicing yoga postures you can:
Unfortunately, stress often goes hand in hand with an infertility diagnosis. You and your partner are probably dealing with extreme levels of physical and emotional stress in your journey to get pregnant. Treatments like IUI and IVF can be extremely hard on a woman’s body, and anxiety over upcoming tests results can lead you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Though stress hasn’t been proven to cause fertility, it certainly doesn’t help when you are trying to conceive. In fact, extreme stress levels can actually effect your body’s hormonal balance, leading to problems with ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
Yoga can also help to improve your relationship with your partner. Partners who perform yoga together learn to communicate better, both verbally and non-verbally. They also learn to relax, focus on their inner selves, and spend more quality time together. This, in turn, can help to alleviate the emotional stress of timed intercourse and introduce more passion into sexual relations.
Kinds of Fertility Yoga
When it comes to improving your reproductive health, there are certain kinds of yoga that you should focus on. Some types of yoga are very strenuous and are not suited to improving conception. Women and men who are experiencing fertility difficulties should stay away from these forms of yoga, including bikram yoga (hot yoga) and ashtanga yoga. Instead, focus on gentler forms of yoga, including:
- Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga is a gentle form of yoga that is performed slowly and methodically. It focuses on performing postures using the appropriate form, and encourages breathing and meditation.
- Kripalu Yoga: Kripalu yoga is another gentle variant of yoga. This type of yoga helps to increase awareness of the mind, body, and spirit through a series of easy to perform postures.
- Couples’ Yoga: Couples’ yoga is becoming extremely popular, particularly amongst those who are experiencing fertility difficulties. In couples’ yoga, postures are performed with the help of a partner. It works to bring couples together, improving communication and interconnectivity.
Does Fertility Yoga Really Work?
Unfortunately, the debate is still on as to whether or not fertility yoga really improves your chances of conceiving. A study performed at Harvard Medical School analyzed conception rates in women who attended mind-body fertility retreats, which included regular practice of fertility yoga. When compared to a control group, women who practiced fertility yoga were twice as likely to get pregnant after a year of trying. However, it is unknown whether the fertility yoga was the real cause of these increased rates.
What studies do show is that fertility yoga is more likely to reduce your own personal stress related to infertility. It is also more likely to increase your own personal health and sense of control, which may help to contribute to personal fertility rates.
Some Fertility Yoga Postures
If you or your partner are interested in trying out some fertility yoga, here are a few yoga poses that you might want to try:
Supported Bridge Pose
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Move your feet as close to your buttocks as possible. Inhale and exhale, and then slowly raise your pelvis and buttocks off the floor, while keeping your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp your hands behind your back. Hold this pose, while breathing deeply, for a minute or so.
Legs on Wall Pose
Lie on the ground with your buttocks close to a wall. Slowly inhale and exhale, while extending your legs up the side of the wall. Rest your legs on the wall so that you create a 90 degree angle at your pelvis. Hold for two minutes and then release your legs slowly.
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. While inhaling, bring your feet towards your groin, and push the soles of your feet together. Slowly try to lower your knees to the ground while holding on to your toes. Hold this posture, without straining your legs, for between one and five minutes.