What if we told you yoga could actually help you conceive? Navigating fertility, naturally or with IVF, can be physically challenging and emotionally draining. And while staying active can be a big aid in prepping your body for pregnancy, high-intensity workouts don’t necessarily create optimal conditions for conception. Yoga, on the other hand, can help you build a mind-and-body connection that will help you better understand your physical body and mental health and that is essential to getting your body ready for pregnancy. Not only does it help balance hormones, reduce stress and encourage blood flow, it also increases flexibility in the pelvis and hips area -- all of which are key factors to getting and staying pregnant!
For your fertility-boosting yoga practice to work best, your cycle needs to be regular so that you can cater the poses you do to each phase. So it’s important to carefully observe your menstrual cycle, take note of your periods and cervical mucus or get a hormonal profile from your doctor. Once you have a good understanding of your menstrual cycles, you can start matching your yoga practice to your cycle. To help you boost your chances of conceiving, here are the poses you want to do based on the different phases of your cycle.
1. For the menstrual phase: During this phase, practice restorative yoga that encourages blood flow down with gravity. Usually, this means avoiding inversions and favoring on low-impact poses that focus on breathing and relaxation to ease tension and anxiety -- two factors that are linked to infertility.
Poses to consider: Bound Angle, Reclined Bound Angle, Child’s Pose, Seated Forward Folds, and Reclined Hero’s Pose.
2. For the follicular phase: In this phase, you start to feel more energized, and a strong vinyasa practice is recommended to get blood flowing and to increase endorphins. Poses that stimulate the thyroid gland to balance hormones and encourage a stronger reproductive system are great additions at this point of the month. Plus, many of the poses can bring your body into balance, which can also boost conception.
Poses to consider: Shoulder Stand, Bridge Pose, Sun Salutations, Camel, Pigeon and Wheel Pose.
3. For the ovulation phase: When your egg is released from the ovary to the fallopian tube, doing active breathing work can help stimulate oxygen flow to your uterus and ovaries. What’s more, you want to stretch the muscles surrounding the reproductive organs to encourage more space in the uterus and upper body and increase flexibility to the pelvis and hips area.
Poses to consider: Kapalabhati and Ujjayi breathing, Bound Angle Pose, Janu Shirshasana, Bridge Pose, cat / cow pose, side stretches, seated Gomukhasana and Garudasana arms.
4. For the luteal phase: In this phase, restorative Yoga is key since we're encouraging a fertilized egg to implant into the uterine lining. So what to do? Practice yoga like you're pregnant. That means avoiding hot yoga, abdominal work and deep twists. This is a significant phase, and this type of practice is helpful for people going through IVF. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of props to help support your body and to take time for yourself. Stress can boost production of cortisol, a chemical that can negatively affect fertility. So the luteal phase is a great time to practice meditation and relaxation through breathing techniques. It will help you feel your best and will balance energy throughout the body.
Poses to consider: Legs Up The Wall and Reclined Bound Angle.
Self-care and patience can be tremendous help when navigating fertility. So aside from catering your yoga practice to your menstrual cycle, it’s important to keep a balanced, healthful diet and get a support system. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can also help regulate your cycle and give rise to great bodily and emotional conditions for conception.