After trying to get pregnant for over a year, my husband and I were given the kind of devastating news no couple who is trying to start a family wants to hear: “You have about a 10% chance of getting pregnant – even with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). But I knew in my heart this had to be wrong. I had conceived and miscarried before, so I knew that my body was capable of becoming pregnant.
Luckily for me, I was already practicing yoga on a daily basis for a few years. I didn’t need to learn anything new – instead I kept up my daily routine.
Getting on the mat helped me stay balanced during the most stressful time of my life as I was undergoing fertility treatments. It also helped calm me during some of the toughest days after I had miscarried.
After a year of undergoing fertility tests, medications and stress – I finally got pregnant. Today, I am the proud mother of a boy! To this day I credit yoga with helping me become a mom.
Whether you’re trying to conceive naturally or using fertility treatments, yoga, meditation and breathwork can help in so many ways. Consistent yoga practitioners know what a calming practice it is and this is exactly what a woman needs when she is trying to get pregnant. Yoga builds confidence which helps us rely on ourselves and trust our body. It helps us stay present and in the moment by each breath. It is low-impact and great for opening up the hips and bringing blood flow to the pelvis. When trying to conceive, you want to avoid deep twists, as your ovaries are stimulated. Most poses are safe and effective for balancing out the hormones and helping with stress and anxiety. If you’re trying to conceive naturally, these poses will help open up the pelvic region and bring blood flow down to the genitals.
Yoga can be an incredible complementary care method for aiding women along the process to getting pregnant. It connects us back to our source and helps us find a calm, centered place where we can slow down, breathe and be kind to ourselves. We start to respect our bodies and do the best we can for them while also learning that some things are just not in our control. We can’t force our body to always do things biologically but we can work on how we react to certain life circumstances and upsetting processes and experiences.
Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Hatha Yoga are all great formats to practice. They are gentle enough for women going through treatments or trying to get pregnant (strenuous exercise is usually not the best); yet also get the blood flowing to key areas in the body and help build strength, stamina, flexibility and security. I also open and close with meditation and breathwork that helps each woman align herself with her own potential energy and the energy of the universe. It’s amazing how after so many of my signature yoga for fertility sessions, all the women open up and start to share their experiences and what they are each going through.
My signature Yoga for Fertility Sequence opens up the lungs, stretches the hips, waist and back, brings blood flow to the pelvic floor region, and is deeply soothing and relaxing. It stays low to the ground connecting to the energy of our Earth. You can end the sequence in legs up the wall, or a supported backbend, or shoulderstand with the hips on a block.
1. Reduces stress
After every yoga class I felt peace of mind and tranquility. It helped my body relax and calmed my mind and slowed my breath down. The nervous system which is aided by the breath helps lower stress hormones like cortisol. This is potentially beneficial for fertility and helps you sleep better at night!
2. Increases blood flow to the uterus
In infertility, often times we see blockages in some area of the body, specifically below the waist. Practicing a yoga pose called pigeon helped open up my hips, gluteus and thighs. The energy begins to move in the lower regions of the body.
3. Strengthens the immune system
Studies show pranayama (breath control) and meditation are tools for stress-reducing activities that produce positive changes in the immune system. Learning to listen to the body’s natural rhythms through yoga and breathing can bring a deep sense of peace and connection to our own innate healing capacity. It helped me feel more empowered during my journey to conceive.
4. Improves ovarian function
Practicing certain yoga poses like legs up the wall increase blood circulation to the pelvis and near the ovaries. When you invert the body in yoga, it increases blood flow to the reproductive organs which means increased oxygen capacity and more nutrients to the reproductive organs .
5. Lessens side effects of hormonal treatments
You feel blissful after a yoga class and your stress diminishes…this was a huge benefit to me while I was undergoing several rounds of fertility drugs. When the stress response balance turns off, stress hormone levels fall and the body quickly recovers and returns to balance.
6. Increases IVF success rates
In yoga, you control chronic stress by eliciting a relaxation response in your body, counteracting harmful stress hormones. Studies show that yoga and meditation can significantly increase conception rates in women.
This is one of the most powerful benefits of meditation: getting rid of the stress trapped in our nervous systems. If we don’t release stress, unfortunately it gets stored in our cellular memory, draining our mental and physical energy.
Although we may believe that our stress gives us an edge, that it keep us alert and responsive, that’s a major misconception. The American Medical Association says stress is the cause behind 90% of doctor’s visits. When we remove it the ripple effect is incredible. Our sleep, our relationships, and our work productivity all improve dramatically. Meditation truly allows us to perform at the top of our game.
There’s quite a bit of power in the simple act of focusing on your mind. If you are just starting out, I recommend you meditate anywhere from 5-10 minutes every day. Maybe try it for 1 minute in the morning. And when you can sit still and relax for that long, move to 2 minutes. To begin, start by sitting on a yoga mat, cushion or even a chair.
The breathing techniques I’d learned in yoga helped calm me during some of the toughest times after I had miscarried. These times were so stressful because I felt like my body had failed me. By focusing on my breath it brought me back to a place centering and calm, reconnecting me to myself.
Start out by focusing on inhaling through the nostrils for a count of 3,2,1. Then as you exhale, soften the jaw, open up the mouth and release on a count of 3,2,1. Try not to dump the breath out in one shot on the exhale.
Yoga, meditation, and breathwork helped bring my body to a stress-reduced state where I was able to conceive. Its important to keep in mind living a fertile life is more than just getting ready for pregnancy or parenthood. It’s about taking a good hard look at your life and making a conscious decision to let go of things that no longer serve you purpose so that you can focus on those areas that really need more attention.