Yoga For Fertility: 5 Practices & 5 Poses To Boost Reproductive Health
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.
The Fertility Ball® $39.99
The Strong Fertility Ball® Yoga Method, created by fertility yoga expert Brenda Strong, is a way for women to empower themselves to:
– Stimulate Circulation/Blood Flow
– Massage Internal Organs
– Use Acupressure Points for Fertility
– Help to Regulate Gynecological Function
– Detoxify and Cleanse
– Decrease Stress
– Open Connective Tissue/Fascia
Studies have shown the benefits of acupuncture and yoga in increasing the success rates of women trying to conceive.
Acupuncture and acupressure help us to assist the body’s natural healing capacity, increasing blood flow and balance to female reproductive organs. With yoga and acupressure combined, you get the benefit of two ancient healing systems working together to help your body release tension and balance it’s natural ability to function.
Use of mind/body practices help support your doctor’s protocol by lowering stress and help you feel more in charge of your chances to conceive.
Also, try all of Brenda’s Strong YogaTM 4Fertility DVDs here.
I had recently begun incorporating yoga into my exercise routine, and decided to purchase your DVD, as well as your Fertility Acupressure Balls The Acupressure exercises are so different and intriguing. I found your website a little over a month ago; I am still halfway in shock, so it is a strange and wonderful thrill to type these words: I am pregnant” -Stacey
Brenda also suggest the following ball pumps to keep The Fertility Ball® at a comfortable size for individual use.
Strong Yoga 4 Fertility is a yoga video for women who want to enhance awareness and access the fertility of their creative power. If you are experiencing creative blocks in your life, or are on a journey toward trying to have a baby, and are experiencing difficulty, or simply would like to access and build your feminine energy, this video is for you. If you are experiencing infertility it can enhance and support any protocol treatment suggested by your doctor.
Using the tools of breath and movement, this practice focuses on building energy by creating a controlled �simmer� in the body. Unlike other forms of yoga which can heat the body to the point of a deeply cleansing sweat, fertility yoga focuses on maintaining and pooling the yin (chi/feminine energy) in the area of the reproductive organs which are housed in the 2nd chakra or seat of creation.
This video will increase:
- Stress Reduction
The Strong Yoga Fertility Ball
Our Price: $39.95
Now Available to Order!
The Strong Yoga Fertility Ball comes in a box with two balls and an instruction booklet on how to use them.
The Strong Fertility Ball Method, created by fertility yoga expert Brenda Strong, is a way for women to empower themselves to:
- Stimulate Circulation/Blood Flow
- Massage Internal Organs
- Use Acupressure Points for Fertility
- Help to Regulate Gynecological Function
- Detoxify and Cleanse
- Decrease Stress
- Open Connective Tissue/Fascia
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Summer Conundrum- Sun Screens and Fertility
By Brenda Strong
Last night my husband and I were up late packing for our annual family summer trip before I return to my seventh season on Desperate Housewives. My TV schedule is such that this vacation is usually falls in June, when my son’s school summer vacation coincides with my time off. Luckily, we are able to travel as a family, and debated long and hard about where to go this year. Hawaii? Greece? South America? Each destination had pluses and minuses and eventually we ended up deciding on the south of France. Since my son has been studying French in school, we wanted to give him a chance to try his accent out in person and have him be exposed to the culture as well. So, we did the typical checklist: Passport? Check. Bathing suit? Check. Good book? Check. Sunscreen? Oops, not so easy. Why? Sunscreen is becoming quite a problem for me ethically as I’m torn between protecting my skin from sunburn, and the UVA exposure for cancer vs. risking the loss of Vitamin D; the loss of which is now known to be causing all sorts of health issues. Not to mention the possible side effects from the chemicals and endocrine disruptors like oxybenzone that seem to be in so many sunscreen products these days.
I care about my skin; after all being an actress makes you more aware of sun damage (haven’t you noticed the flawless complexions of Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep?). I want to know what kind of sunscreen they use! My friend and cast mate Marcia Cross (another flawless complexion) turned me on to a French sunscreen called La Roche-Posay years ago that I still use, but it’s expensive and not that easy to get. Except of course in France where we are going. Lucky me, mais oui!
But these days, more than how my skin looks, I’m now concerned of what goes on my body since I am aware of the endocrine disruptors that our skin absorbs that may mess with my hormones. Since teaching my Strong Yoga4Fertility classes, I’ve recommend to my students that they don’t put anything on their skin they couldn’t put in their mouth (in other words organic coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer with no side effect for fertility and it’s edible).
When it comes to my own skin care, I’ve been using a facial line of products called the ‘green apple collection’ by Juice Beauty because the base is organic apple juice and I feel confident in their USDA approvals for my skin.
But back to sunscreens and putting products on your skin that you can eat. Have you ever tasted some of the sunscreens out there? Or gotten them in your eyes? My guess is if I can’t see, and it leaves a chemical taste in my mouth for hours, chances are its not good for me.
Well, I had to find out about sunscreens, because I want to know what to put on the rest of my family’s skin for our summer vacation as well. So I did a little research. Thankfully, there is a wonderful organization out there called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and they have published a full report on Sunscreen for 2010 that will help us all when we have to make the sunscreen choice for our families and ourselves.
In addition, reporter Lori Bongiomo was able to distill the information and highlight the things to look for and avoid when purchasing your sunscreen:
-“Higher SPF (sun protection factor) products are not necessarily best. In fact, the FDA says these numbers can be misleading. It is important to remember that the SPF is based solely on UVB protection so that indicates protection against sunburn-causing rays, but has nothing to do with skin-damaging (UVA) rays. There’s concern that high SPF products may give people a false sense of security and encourage people to stay out in the sun for too long without reapplying sunscreen. EWG recommends sticking to SPF 15 to 50-plus.
-Look for sunscreens with zinc, titanium dioxide, avobenzene, or Mexoryl SX for the best UVA protection available in the U.S.
-EWG recommends avoiding oxybenzone and vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) because of potential health concerns.
-Choose lotions over sprays and powders, which fill the air with tiny chemicals that may not be safe to breathe in.
-Avoid sunscreens that have added insect repellants. You’re supposed to apply sunscreen liberally and often because chemicals wash off and break down in the sun. In fact, many people do not use enough sunscreen to get adequate protection. Use one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) and reapply at least every two hours. Insect repellants, on the other hand, should be used sparingly.
Do not rely solely on sunscreen for sun protection. EWG points out that there is “no consensus that sunscreen use alone prevents skin cancer.” It should be used as one part of your strategy.
What else should you do? Limit your time outside in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are most intense and spend as much time in the shade as you can. Cover up with tightly woven clothing (you can even buy sun-protective apparel), a hat, and sunglasses.
It’s also important to remember that getting some sun has health benefits. Sunshine is your body’s main source of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that many of us don’t get enough of. Sunscreen can inhibit your body’s ability to produce vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about testing your levels and about how to get more if you need it.
The easiest way to find sunscreens that are safe and effective is to use EWG’s database, which has ratings on over 1,400 products from lotions and sprays to lip balms, moisturizers, and makeup with sun protection.”
In a nutshell the EWG findings:
-1. There’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration’s 2007 draft sunscreen safety regulations say: “FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” (FDA 2007). The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees. IARC recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary barriers to UV radiation and writes, “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun” (IARC 2001a).
-2. There’s some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.
Some researchers have detected an increased risk of melanoma among sunscreen users. No one knows the cause, but scientists speculate that sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer and absorb more radiation overall, or that free radicals released as sunscreen chemicals break down in sunlight may play a role. One other hunch: Inferior sunscreens with poor UVA protection that have dominated the market for 30 years may have led to this surprising outcome. All major public health agencies still advise using sunscreens, but they also stress the importance of shade, clothing and timing.
-3. There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they’re better.
In 2007 the FDA published draft regulations that would prohibit companies from labeling sunscreens with an SPF (sun protection factor) higher than “SPF 50+.” The agency wrote that higher values were “inherently misleading,” given that “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful…” (FDA 2007). Scientists are also worried that high-SPF products may tempt people to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburns (a late, key warning of overexposure) while upping the risks of other kinds of skin damage. Flaunting FDA’s proposed regulation, companies substantially increased their high-SPF offerings in 2010. Nearly one in six products now lists SPF values higher than 50, compared to only one in eight the year before, according to EWG’s analysis of nearly 500 beach and sport sunscreens. Neutrogena, with six products labeled “SPF 100,” and Banana Boat, with four, stand out among the offenders.
-4. Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body’s vitamin D levels.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that sunshine serves a critical function in the body that sunscreen appears to inhibit — production of vitamin D. The main source of vitamin D in the body is sunshine, and the compound is enormously important to health – it strengthens bones and the immune system, reduces the risk of various cancers (including breast, colon, kidney, and ovarian cancers) and regulates at least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body. (Mead 2008) Over the last two decades, vitamin D levels in the U.S. population have been decreasing steadily, creating a “growing epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency” (Ginde 2009a). Experts disagree on the solution. The American Medical Association has recommended 10 minutes of direct sun (without sunscreen) several times a week (AMA 2008), while the American Academy of Dermatology holds that “there is no scientifically validated, safe threshold level of UV exposure from the sun that allows for maximal vitamin D synthesis without increasing skin cancer risk” (AAD 2009). Vitamin D supplements are the alternative, but there is debate over the proper amount. The Institute of Medicine has launched new research to reassess the current guidelines. In the meantime, your doctor can test your vitamin D levels and give advice on sunshine versus supplements.
-5. The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.
Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions (NTP 2009). This evidence is troubling because the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to 41 percent of all sunscreens.
The industry puts vitamin A in its formulations because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging. That may be true for lotions and night creams used indoors, but FDA recently conducted a study of vitamin A’s photocarcinogenic properties, the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight. Scientists have known for some time that vitamin A can spur excess skin growth (hyperplasia), and that in sunlight it can form free radicals that damage DNA (NTP 2000).
In FDA’s one-year study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent sooner in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream (at a concentration of 0.5%) than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream. Both groups were exposed to the equivalent of just nine minutes of maximum intensity sunlight each day.
It’s an ironic twist for an industry already battling studies on whether their products protect against skin cancer. The FDA data are preliminary, but if they hold up in the final assessment, the sunscreen industry has a big problem. In the meantime, EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens with vitamin A (look for “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol” on the label). Read more.
-6. Free radicals and other skin-damaging byproducts of sunscreen.
Both UV radiation and many common sunscreen ingredients generate free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells, accelerate skin aging and cause skin cancer. An effective sunscreen prevents more damage than it causes, but sunscreens are far better at preventing sunburn than at limiting free radical damage. While typical SPF ratings for sunburn protection range from 15 to 50, equivalent “free radical protection factors” fall at only about 2. When consumers apply too little sunscreen or reapply it infrequently, behaviors that are more common than not, sunscreens can cause more free radical damage than UV rays on bare skin.
-7. Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.
The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people use it in the right amount and frequency.
Unsurprisingly, there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. The major choice in the U.S. is between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens (zinc and titanium), which often contain micronized- or nano-scale particles of those minerals.
After reviewing the evidence, EWG determined that mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They offer UVA protection, which is sorely lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products. Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) is another good option, but it’s sold in very few formulations. Tinosorb S and M could be great solutions but are not yet available in the U.S. For consumers who don’t like mineral products, we recommend sunscreens with avobenzone (3 percent for the best UVA protection) and without the notorious hormone disruptors oxybenzone or 4-MBC. Scientists have called for parents to avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns.
-8. Europe’s better sunscreens.
Sunscreen makers and users in Europe have more options than in the United States. In Europe, sunscreen makers can select from among 27 chemicals for their formulations, compared to 17 in the U.S. Companies selling in Europe can add any of seven UVA filters to their products, but have a choice of only three when they market in the U.S. European sunscreens could earn FDA’s proposed four-star top rating for UVA protection, while the best U.S. products would earn only three stars. Sunscreen chemicals approved in Europe but not by the FDA provide up to five times more UVA protection; U.S. companies have been waiting five years for FDA approval to use the same compounds. Last but not least, Europeans will find many sunscreens with strong (mandatory) UVA protection if proposed regulations in Europe are finalized. Under FDA’s current proposal, Americans will not.
-9. The 33rd summer in a row without final U.S. sunscreen safety regulations.
In the United States, consumer protection has stalled because of the FDA’s 32-year effort to set enforceable guidelines for consumer protection. EWG has found a number of serious problems with existing products, including overstated claims about their perfomance and inadequate UVA protection. Many of these will be remedied when the FDA’s proposed sunscreen rule takes effect. But even after the rule is enacted, gaps will remain. FDA does not consider serious toxicity concerns such as hormone disruption when approving new sun filters, and the new rules would fail to measure sunscreen stability despite ample evidence that many products break down quickly in sunlight.
According to Lori Bongiomo, an environmental reporter for the conscious consumer, below are the most affordable products that earned the EWG stamp of approval (calculated based on price per ounce):
-Purple Prairie Botanicals, SunStuff, SPF 30 or SPF 15
-All Terrain, Aquasport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30
-All Terrain, KidSport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30
-All Terrain, TerraSport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30
-Carribean Solutions, Kid Kare, SPF 25, Caribbean Solutions, Biodegradable Sunscreen, SPF 25
-Desert Essence, Age Reversal Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
-Episencial, Sunny Sunscreen, SPF 35
-Estion, Sunscreen with Zinc, SPF 38
-Jason Natural Cosmetics, Earth’s Best: Sunblock Mineral Based, SPF 30+
-Jason Natural Cosmetics, Sunbrellas: Chemical-Free Sunblock, SPF 30+
-Jason Natural Cosmetics, Sunbrellas: Mineral-Based Physical Sunblock, SPF 30+
-Vanicream, Sunscreen Sport, SPF 35
After going onto the EWG site and looking at the list of sunscreens, (I shockingly found out that the one I am using currently has the endocrine disruptor oxybenzone in it) so I decided I was better off buying my sunscreen in Europe where they have stronger restrictions, taking a large sunhat and staying in the shade during the hottest times of the day. Not the most ideal of situations, but it will do until the FDA decides to do a better job at protecting us here in the US.
BIOGRAPHY:Brenda Strong in addition to being a professional actress, is the National Spokesperson for The American Fertility Association (www.theafa.org) and has produced a line of Yoga for Fertility related products (www.yoga4fertility.com). She is the creator of The Fertility Ball (www.yoga4fertility.com/products/fertility-ball.html)-a patent pending product that helps women through acupressure and yoga enhance fertility function through the Strong Fertility Ball Yoga Method. You can also find Brenda on Facebook or follow her on Twitter