Many women who are trying to conceive either naturally or with IVF find the process stressful. Stress can cause us to draw in our stomachs and tighten our muscles, breathing becomes shallower and we tend to breathe from our chest rather than our abdomen. Research shows that 40% of women trying to fall pregnant are suffering from depression or anxiety. There is also increasing amounts of evidence suggesting that stress reduction is beneficial for fertility. Yoga is one activity that promotes relaxation and may improve physical health and reduce stress.
Yoga for fertility focuses on toning and opening the pelvis, while creating a place of inner peace and balance for a calm mind. The poses involved work to stimulate the reproduction organs, open the body to release tension which can allow the body, mind and spirit to come back into balance. This may give a better chance in conceiving. Breathing techniques and visualisations specifically designed for fertility are also of great importance when practicing yoga for fertility. The breathing techniques – such as breathing into the belly – assists in stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, slows down the adrenals and reduces cortisol release in the body (which can interfere with the function of reproductive hormones).
There are also specific poses which can help to open and soften connective tissue in the pelvic area and increase blood flow. This benefits the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
The Below Yoga Routine Uses Poses That Can Benefit And Improve Fertility
1. Uttanasana (Forward bend with knees bent)
Why? It relieves tension in the lower abdominal area and may assist with pelvic circulation.
How? Stand with back straight, shoulders relaxed. Inhale and bring your arms above your head. Exhale, bend your knees and bend forward, relaxing your upper body. Come up, inhaling and lifting your arms above your head. Exhale and rest your arms by your sides.
Duration: Practise four times.
2. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
Why? It opens the front of the body and encourages confidence.
How? Stand straight, shoulders relaxed. Step one foot forward, turning the back foot parallel to the back of the mat. Inhale, bring the arms parallel to the floor and bend the front knee (at a 45-degree angle if you can). Exhale, straighten the knee and lower your arms.
Duration: Do three times without holding, then stay for one breath in the bend before coming up. Repeat on the other side.
3. Apanasana (Knees to chest pose)
Why? This enhances circulation and relieves abdominal tension.
How? Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, close to your buttocks. Take your feet off the floor, place your hands on your knees and open your knees. Inhale, bringing the knees away from the chest. Exhale and let your abdomen bring your knees towards your chest, without using your hands to assist you.
Duration: Repeat six times.
4. Dvipada pitham (Active bridge pose)
Why? It expands the front of the body, releasing inner tensions in the chest, abdomen and pelvis. This pose helps you to open yourself, to receive and detach.
How? Lie on your back with your chin slightly tucked in. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, close to your buttocks. Inhale and bring your arms to the floor above your head while bringing your hips up. Breathe out and, very slowly, vertebra by vertebra, bring your back, arms and hips to the floor.
Duration: Repeat six times.
5. Viparita karani (Legs up the wall pose)
Why? This pose releases tensions and promotes blood flow to the pelvic area while calming the nervous system. It's perfect at the end of a yoga practice or after a long day.
How? Sit side-on to a wall, on a folded blanket or bolster, with your buttocks next to the wall. Turn towards the wall and slowly swing your legs up against it, resting your back on the floor. To come out, bend the knees to one side and lie on your side for three to five breaths or more. Gently come up to sitting.
Duration: Stay with feet elevated for up to 10 minutes, or more if comfortable.
Finding a yoga class that focuses on fertility is also beneficial and allows you to be professionally guided through yoga with a qualified instructor.