Health and wellness are cornerstones of strong fertility.
If you’re trying to conceive (TTC) or struggling with an infertility diagnosis, don’t give up.
There are several proven lifestyle changes you can make to increase your chances of conception.
Whether you’re going the natural route or opting for fertility treatments, the following yoga practices and poses can help you prep and prime your body to get ready for pregnancy.
Boost Fertility Naturally
The main rule of healthy fertility is this: cultivate a state and an environment of peace, calm, creativity, inspiration, meaning, and pleasure.
Our reproductive system functions best when stress levels are low or under control.
The more you can cultivate the energy of calm balance, inspiration, and creativity the more safety signals you send your body.
Being in these states means your body gets the message that it’s safe to regulate or improve ovulation and egg health.
Being in a state of chronic and unmanaged stress, fear or anxiety increases cortisol levels in the body, which disrupts the endocrine system (aka hormonal system).
The endocrine system is composed of hormone-generating glands in different parts of the body including the ovaries, thyroid, and pancreas.
Fertility and conception greatly depend on a healthy endocrine system function and hormonal balance.
For example, an overactive or underactive thyroid can impact fertility.
Another critical but often overlooked factor regarding fertility is the immune system.
An overactive immune system can interfere with fertility and even prevent pregnancy. (1)
It’s important to address autoimmune issues before getting pregnant, and now with the Covid pandemic, it’s also essential to ensure your immune system isn’t compromised.
Here’s a list of things to consider when preparing for pregnancy:
- Get your bloodwork done to make sure any deficiencies or imbalances are addressed before you start trying. (Pay special attention to inflammation and thyroid markers.)
- Being overweight or underweight can impact your chances of getting pregnant, so make sure you’re in the middle range for your height.
- Steer clear from plastics and chemical-laden fragrances, makeup, cosmetics, and skincare. They often contain harmful hormone-disrupting chemicals like BPA and phthalates. These chemicals have been shown to reduce egg quality and impair fertility.
5 Fertility Boosting Yoga Practices That Don’t Involve Physical Poses
Adopting a regular yoga practice can do wonders for your fertility because the practices listed below have been shown to calm the nervous system, release tension, and improve hormonal balance.
We tend to focus so much on the physical aspect of yoga, that we often forget how much the mental/emotional and lifestyle aspect of yoga can help improve our quality of life.
Yoga lifestyle principles like loving-kindness, self-control, self-study, self-discipline can all help us in our fertility journey.
Yogis know that food plays a vital role in healthy fertility, so learning to eat like a yogi can help your body fuel up in the most efficient way.
Your breath is your biggest alley when it comes to managing stress in order to improve fertility.
The simple act of taking slow, long, and deep breaths by activating your lower belly helps to calm your nervous system and balance hormones.
Exhaling for longer than you inhale literally activates the relaxation response.
Make conscious, slow breathing a part of your day.
Just a few minutes every day can make a big difference.
Here’s a simple practice to get you started.
Even though mindfulness has its roots in the Buddhist tradition, it’s very much a yogic practice, too.
The act of paying attention by fully engaging your senses and dropping judgment helps you tap into the present moment.
Practicing mindfulness for a few minutes a day literally helps to rewire your brain and soothes the fear and anxiety centers of your nervous system.
Meditation is an advanced yogic practice that can be cultivated by sustaining one-pointed focus and laser concentration on an object such as your breath.
Meditation, like mindfulness, has the power to rewire your brain and reduce stress and anxiety when practiced daily or regularly.
Here’s a short guided meditation to get you started.
Also known as ‘yogic sleep meditation,’ Yoga Nidra helps quiet the mind and relax the body so your brain can reach higher states of consciousness.
This form of meditation is perfect for anyone struggling with anxiety or sleep problems.
Your Chakras & Fertility
Chakras are energy centers in the body, as outline in the yogic tradition.
They run along the spine starting from the base of the tailbone and running up through the crown of the head.
The word ‘chakra’ means ‘wheel’ or ‘disc’ in Sanskrit.
There are four main chakras involved with fertility:
Root Chakra (first chakra)
- Yogic name: Muladhara
- Color: Red
- Location: Base of the spine, coccygeal plexus
- Themes: Survival, creative energy, reproduction, elimination
- Body Connection: Reproductive organs, perineum, anus, pelvic floor, lower bowel, prostate, bladder
- Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone in women, testosterone in men
- Health: Grounding, stability, trust, abundance, physical health, enhanced fertility
Sacral Chakra (second chakra)
- Yogic name: Svadisthana
- Color: Orange
- Location: Behind and under the belly button, lower abdomen
- Theme: Emotions, relationships, social connections, family, culture, consuming/eliminating, hold on/let go, elimination
- Body Connection: Ovaries, uterus, colon, pancreas, lower back, hips, pelvic region
- Hormones/Bodily Fluids: Serotonin, digestive enzymes
- Health: Sexual health, digestive health, emotional health, relationship health, healthy fertility
Heart Chakra (fourth chakra)
- Yogic name: Anahata
- Color: Green
- Location: Center of the chest, heart area
- Theme: Love, caring, connection, compassion, empathy, nurturing, gratitude, inspiration, trust
- Body Connection: Heart, lungs, thymus gland
- Hormones/Bodily fluids: Oxytocin, human growth hormone, immune system chemicals
- Health: Healthy relationship to self, other, and others, care for others, love for life, living our mission/purpose, allowing conception
Throat Chakra (fifth chakra)
- Yogic name: Visuddha
- Color: Blue
- Location: Throat/neck area
- Theme: Communication, expression, creativity
- Body Connection: thyroid and parathyroid glands, esophagus, vocal cords, salivary glands, neck tissues
- Hormone/bodily fluid: thyroid hormones T3 and T4, metabolic chemicals
- Disorder: Lies, inauthenticity, delusion
- Health: Easily speaking your truth, creating through sound, language, and colors, sharing your experience with others, manifesting conception
5 Fertility Enhancing Yoga Poses (Asanas)
The following poses help to balance the chakras mentioned above, as well as increase blood flow and prana (vital energy) to your pelvic region.
Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani)
Hold this soothing pose for a minimum of five minutes.
Reclining bound angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This is a variation of Butterfly pose, with the soles of your feet touching in a closed circuit.
It provides a great Inner thigh stretch.
Hold this pose for a minimum of five minutes.
Shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
This is a powerful pose for activating the throat chakra and thyroid gland.
Make sure your hands support your lower back.
Hold this pose for 1-2 minutes.
Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)
This is a power pose, so be sure to mindfully embody it.
Close your eyes and feel the prana move from the floor to your feet and through your entire body.
Also helps to strengthen the hamstrings.
Hold this pose for 3-5 minutes.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
Hold this pose for 2-3 minutes.
Other poses for fertility are:
- Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
- Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Forward fold (Uttanasana)
Yoga & IVF
If you’re undergoing IVF treatment, talk to your doctor about when it’s ok to practice yoga and when it’s not. They may ask you to hold off on asana practice after your egg retrieval and after embryo transfer.
You can definitely practice the other non-physical practices mentioned above, we well as the poses mentioned above prior to starting treatment.
Acupuncture is another great adjunct therapy that may help to boost your chances of success as it helps stimulate blood circulation to your reproductive area.
If you’re interested in learning more about fertility yoga classes, there are several great online yoga programs and experienced yoga teachers on Youtube.