You may have heard about prenatal and postnatal yoga, but what about yoga for fertility? The popularity of fertility yoga has been increasing as we continue to understand more and more about the benefits of yoga.
It turns out that when trying to conceive, yoga can be a viable complementary assistant, because the practice reduces stress, promotes a healthy mind and body, and can help prep for a healthy pregnancy.
What is Fertility Yoga?
Fertility yoga uses certain yoga poses, philosophy and breathing and meditation techniques to support ovulation, conception, and even fertility treatment.
Specific poses are touted for increasing blood flow to the pelvic region, balancing hormones, relaxing relevant muscles, and calming the mind. In addition, fertility yoga helps women tune into their bodies, overcome emotions, and connect the mind and body.
However, fertility yoga could more appropriately be referred to as infertility yoga because the practice is more about supporting individuals having difficulty conceiving.
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after trying for at least one year, and that number lowers to 6 months for women over 35 years old. Due to various circumstances and factors, women are increasingly experiencing complications getting pregnant.
In fact, the CDC states that 7.3 million women in the U.S. aged 15-44 have used infertility services. So how can fertility yoga help?
1. Reduces Stress
A healthy lifestyle is an important factor in getting pregnant and carrying to full term. Specifically, stress and diet play a key role in fertility.
Stress can affect ovulation by disrupting the regulation of hormones and the subsequent release of an egg, negatively impacting fertility.Research conducted on stress management in relation to fertility have found that yoga, meditation, and mind/body programs yield positive results.
Specifically, studies that followed women undergoing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment demonstrated that yoga and meditation decreased stress which increased conception rate.
2. Increases Self-Respect
Infertility can be draining on women’s emotional and mental self-esteem. Constantly trying and unsuccessfully achieving something so momentous can leave women feeling lesser.
Not to mention, the process can also strain relationships which just further adds tension and stress.
Fertility yoga explores gentle and nurturing poses which helps restore women’s attitudes, confidence, and respect for the self and body.
It’s crucial that women realize that circumstances are mostly out of their control, that there’s nothing wrong with themselves, and that they can only control how they react to the experience.
A pivotal goal of fertility yoga is to redirect energy positively by boosting morale and self-worth.
3. Reverses Negative Emotions
Stress, depression and anxiety are considered psychological contributors to infertility and the accompanying emotional symptoms can be detrimental to fertility progress.
The effects of yoga and meditation can elicit a relaxation response which is a physiological counter to the fight or flight response triggered by perceived threats and stress.
By engaging the parasympathetic nervous system through the mechanisms of yoga, favorable changes in the body can be detected as heart rate and blood pressure lower.
The endocrine system is also affected by the relaxation response as stress hormones such as cortisol are better regulated. Restoring balance to the mind and body is important for subduing negative emotional aspects of infertility that only exacerbate the situation.
4. Promotes a Healthy Body & Wellness Within
Utilizing poses that are geared towards getting the blood flowing to essential areas, fertility yoga aims to reverse stagnation. The practice can build physical and mental strength and flexibility.
Research has shown that women with a healthy body weight (not overweight or underweight) have the best chance for getting pregnant. Despite whether you’re already healthy or unhealthy, a dose of yoga can always be beneficial.
At the very least, a yoga practice will boost endorphins leaving the mind and body feeling uplifted.
5. Creates Community & Support System
For many, infertility can feel isolating and discouraging throughout the arduous journey. Group fertility yoga classes can provide a sense of community as other women share the same experiences.
Infertile women are sometimes reluctant to discuss their setbacks as they’re often subjected to opinions and suggestions of others. Whether trying to help or not, other people’s statements (like “just relax and it will happen”) can come off as abrasive, insensitive, and unhelpful.
Studies show that negatively perceived interactions with family and friends can sometimes lead to extra infertility related distress.
So receiving emotional support and feeling understood by a group can help infertile individuals cope– by decreasing anxiety and depressive symptoms that often accompany infertility, women are able to further reduce stress levels.
Poses to Practice
With numerous styles of yoga, it’s important to remember that not all yoga is created equal. Fertility yoga usually combines deeply relaxing postures with meditative aspects and emphasizes nurturing yourself through the delicate stages of conception.
If a fertility yoga dedicated class isn’t available, low-intensity classes like yin yoga or restorative yoga which bridge the mind and body are great alternative options.
Classes that raise body temperature and are intense in nature like heated or power yoga should typically be avoided during conception and pregnancy.
Practiced along with meditation, the yoga poses below are typical to fertility yoga classes and gently open the hips and pelvic region.
- Cat/Cow Pose
- Crescent Lunge
- Child’s Pose
- Head-to-Knee Pose
- Frog Pose
- Bound Angle Pose
Yoga for fertility is a far more complex approach than “just relaxing”– the practice delves into the emotional, physiological, and mental elements of infertility.
Through the soothing movements and connection to breath during fertility yoga, women are able to reduce stress which in turn can reduce infertility. The practice makes for a great holistic and complementary method to an existing fertility treatment plan.
When practiced a couple of times per week, fertility yoga can impact infertility by reducing stress hormones, increasing emotional support, boosting self-esteem, and decreasing anxiety and depression.
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