The multiple and far-reaching benefits of yoga for our health and overall well-being have now long been established, especially in terms of increased flexibility, strength, balance and stress reduction.
However, maybe less well known or talked about, especially here in the UK, are the ways in which yoga can enhance fertility. This is the focus of fertility yoga, which centres on poses and practices that look to support ovulation, conception and pregnancy, as well as your physical and mental well-being on this sometimes long, challenging and stressful fertility journey. This practice addresses the needs of women who are planning or trying to conceive, struggling to conceive naturally, receiving fertility treatment, or going through IVF.
HOW CAN YOGA SUPPORT YOUR FERTILITY?
Stimulates and nourishes the reproductive organs
To be healthy and function optimally, our reproductive organs (the ovaries, uterus and Fallobian tubes), which sit in the pelvic area, need a constant supply of fresh blood rich in oxygen and nutrients.
Unfortunately, in our sedentary lifestyles, when we spend many hours a day (or even entire days) sitting at a desk, in a car or on the sofa, a lot of tension builds up in the pelvis, constricting blood vessels and hindering blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Through certain yoga poses such as the ones favoured by fertility yoga, we can look to increase the blood flow to the abdominal area to nourish the reproductive organs. Some poses can also stimulate the ovaries or the uterus more directly, which can support ovulation, the production of oestrogen, or the thickening of the uterus lining in preparation for nidation/implantation of a fertilized egg.
Balances the body’s hormonal system
The proper functioning of the hormonal – or endocrine – system (i.e. all of the glands in the body) is absolutely critical for fertility. As humans, we are run by hormones, and when these are out of balance, the reproductive process (and other processes in the body) can be affected.
The magic of yoga as a practice is that it is innately designed to work on and regulate the whole body’s hormonal system. However, while each yoga pose works on at least one or more glands of the endocrine system, poses and practices that look to support the optimal functioning of the ovaries, thyroid and the adrenal glands are of particular interest when we want to enhance fertility.
Reduces stress and increases resilience to stress
Stress, whichever its cause, is a great health and hormonal balance disruptor, and can negatively impact our fertility. It has also been clearly established that experiencing fertility issues lead to levels of stress and anxiety on a par with those experienced by terminally-ill patients.
One of the most widely recognised benefits of yoga is its role in stress reduction, offering practices to recalibrate the body’s reaction to stress, reducing levels of stress hormones in the body and helping us manage stress better. This can enhance our fertility, but also our resilience and overall well-being at this challenging time.
Helps re-establish relationship with your body
In our busy lifestyles, we are very good at ignoring our bodies, and the signals that that they are sending us (like taking that stretch for your aching shoulders, instead of cracking on with this report at your desk all day), which gets in the way of our well-being.
Also, while working with clients trying to conceive, I have noticed that experiencing fertility issues often leads to a sense of disconnect with our bodies, not necessarily conscious, a sense that somehow our body is broken or incomplete because it is not doing what it is supposed to be doing, i.e. conceive a child.
Yoga is all about reconnecting with your body, and finding a greater level of understanding, love and trust in your body, which can play a big part in supporting your fertility, and your overall wellbeing as you try to conceive.
5 – Calms the mind and provides space to process thoughts
The influence of the mind on the body shouldn’t be underestimated, and emotional and subconscious barriers to conception can be a contributing factor to fertility difficulties, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’.
Finding a bit of calm in the mind, finding respite from invasive, obsessive or negative thoughts, finding space to acknowledge and process whatever emotions you might be going through, or let buried feelings arise in safety is one key thing that a fertility yoga practice can provide, leading to more calm, confidence and a more positive outlook.
Fertility and infertility issues are always complex, and any claims that practising yoga will get your pregnant faster are, in my practitioner’s opinion, unethical. However, some serious Harvard studies have shown that mind-body practices such as fertility yoga can be effective in helping regulate irregular menstrual cycles – a contributing factor in supporting fertility – as well as increase chances of successful conception through IVF by 32%.
It is important to note that yoga for fertility is more effective when tailored to your situation, i.e. each of the phases of your menstrual cycle (if you have a cycle) or phases of fertility treatment/IVF you’re going through.
If you would like to get an idea of what fertility yoga looks like, or get started on your own home practice, have a look at my blog 5 fertility boosting yoga poses.
And if you would like to explore further how fertility yoga could support you on your own specific journey, please do get in touch for a free consultation (see contact details on my profile page).