The 6 Best Yoga Poses for Fertility
Trying to conceive naturally, especially at a more ‘advanced’ age, can prove difficult. These days, more and more women are turning to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in order to have a child.
But if you are having fertility issues, there are also many natural remedies that can help you instead of or in addition to IVF treatments.
Unfortunately, stress plays a large role in our lives these days. With our fast-paced world, juggling careers, homes, partners, and other commitments, it’s no wonder so many women are struggling to fall pregnant naturally. Stress can affect our bodies so radically that it can cause all manner of problems when we are trying to conceive. These problems conceiving can, in turn, cause more stress, exacerbating the issue.
How Yoga Can Benefit Fertility
One of the best ways to de-stress is through exercise. Yoga is a great form of exercise to do when you’re trying to conceive, as it is gentle on the joints and promotes healthy blood flow while stretching and toning the body.
Some experts also say that by doing very specific yoga poses you can encourage the flow of blood to the groin, thereby stimulating your reproductive organs, as well as releasing any muscle tension.
The best kind of yoga to do for fertility is a gentler, mindful sort, not the very demanding Bikram, or heated, yoga.
Hatha yoga is probably best, as it is a slower, more flowing practice. The slow, deep, yogic breathing focuses the mind, allowing you to concentrate on holding the poses (also called asanas).
While holding a yoga pose, it is beneficial to imagine the flow of vital energy to the areas that most needs it—in this instance, the reproductive organs.
Yoga practice also encompasses the all-important relaxation and short meditation at the end of the class. This is extremely beneficial for stress relief, as it allows the body and mind to be in total relaxation, even for just a few minutes.
The Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is proven to radically decrease stress levels in men and women.
Even five to 10 minutes of meditation a day can deliver enormous health benefits.
See it as a ‘gym for the mind’: What physical exercise does for the body, meditation can do for the mind.
Studies have shown that meditation can literally change our brain. Our neurons and cells are constantly at work, being stimulated every day. This affects the neural circuits of the brain, which in turns affects how we respond to situations around us. According to a Dr. Michael Baime, the clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania:
Several neuroscientists have shown that some of the brain regions activated during meditation are actually different in people who medicate regularly, and the most recent evidence suggests that the changes can occur in as little as eight weeks . . . We used to believe that sometime shortly after twenty-five or thirty years of age the brain was finished with growth and development . . . But recent meditation research suggests that this glum outcome may not be inevitable. Meditation practice is associated with changes of specific brain areas that are essential for attention, learning, and regulation of emotion.
Through meditation, we can change this, allowing ourselves to react differently to otherwise stressful situations.
Mediation can reduce blood pressure, pain response, stress, addiction, and even help cognitive function.
Yoga Poses for Fertility
Here are instructions for six yoga poses that can increase fertility.
The Supported Head Stand
This pose is known as the mother of all yoga poses, as it is one of the most strenuous and most challenging but delivers incredible benefits.
While the body is inverted, pressure is taken off the heart and hormones are boosted. The top of the head is stimulated while the body is weightless and relaxed above the head. This pose requires enormous concentration, which focuses the mind and relieves bodily stress, which is extremely beneficial to fertility.
Hold this pose for five to 10 seconds at first, but add a few seconds each time until you can comfortably hold the pose for a few minutes.
Note: if you are not experienced in the practice of yoga, ask someone to assist you in this pose. You can also keep your legs crossed, instead of lifting them straight up, if it makes it easier to hold the pose. You can also do this pose against a wall for support.
The Supported Shoulder Stand
Similar to the head stand, this pose requires you to balance the weight of your body on your shoulders instead of the head.
This pose also stimulates the thyroid gland, as the head is tucked in and the sternum is pressing on the thyroid area. Keep your throat and tongue as relaxed as possible. The pelvic region is relaxed, and blood flow is focused to the uterus.
Do not move your head while holding this pose, as you may injure your neck. Rather, if you have neck problems, do the simpler version below.
Hold this pose for five to 10 seconds at first, increasing the time each time you do the pose until you can hold the pose for a few minutes.
Note: Again, ask someone to help support your legs if you are a beginner.
You can also do a simpler version of this pose by lying on your back, with cushions under your pelvis, and your legs held up against a wall. You can stay in this easier pose for much longer.
The Supported Bridge Pose
This is a fairly strenuous exercise as it requires you to use your buttock muscles to hold yourself up. This is, of course, also a good thing!
In this pose you are lifting your pelvic region, allowing energy to circulate to the uterus and ovaries.
This is also slightly stimulating the thyroid gland in the throat.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on your strength.
Note: If you are a beginner, this pose can be made slightly easier by tucking your shoulders backward, placing your elbows beneath your hip area, and supporting your lower back with your hands.
The Butterfly, or Bound Ankle, Pose
This is a seated posture as well as a forward bend pose, which stimulates the pelvic region.
We all tend to carry a lot of tension in our hip areas. For many people this pose can be quite difficult at first, because the hip area is ‘tight’ and needs to be opened out so that the tension can be released.
With practice, this pose can help to release any negative energy that we hold in the hip and groin area.
Hold this pose from one to five minutes.
Note: If you are a beginner, you can do a slightly easier version of this called the Reclining Bound Angle Pose. Lie on your back instead of sitting in this pose, with cushions beneath your legs for support. Remember to keep the soles of your feet together and make sure your lower back is on the ground.
This pose does wonders for your back as pelvis. It is known for stimulating the hormones while bringing energy to the uterus and ovaries.
Hold this pose for several seconds, adding to the time with each practice.
Note: If you are a beginner, you can start with a Half Cobra pose, until your back is loosened and you are able to stretch into the fuller Cobra. To do the Half Cobra, rest on your lower arms, or just lift them slightly off the floor.
The Forward Bend
This looks simpler than it is. Forward Bend work is beneficial for stimulating blood flow to the pelvic region.
Do not force yourself forward. Gently bend forward as far as you can, even if it means you can only put your hands on your knees.
Note: If you are a beginner or not particularly supple, you can simply sit with your legs out in front of you, with your back straight up and your toes flexed towards the ceiling. This is a strong pose called the Staff Pose. You can place a cushion beneath your hips if you have very tight hamstrings.
I have heard from yoga instructors, many times, that an inverted pose should not be done by menstruating women, I decided to do a bit of research into why. I have also heard, many times, that while we are inverted, the blood flow is reversed. I decided I would investigate this further with my own research.
What I have found is that this theory is a myth. Our blood flows in a particular system through our bodies. We have little valves in our arteries that make the flow of blood possible—in one direction. Despite the fact that it is not possible to reverse blood flow, this myth, has been repeated over and over again in the yoga world. Well it is possible—but if our blood were to change direction it would be as a result of a disease, and really not beneficial in any way. (The only other ways would involve us being astronauts, in zero gravity.)
Think about it—our blood doesn't change direction when we lie on our right side to sleep and then reverse again when we lie on the left, does it? Our blood does not suddenly change direction when we are in an inverted pose either.
Neither does an inverted pose have any effect on the menstruation process. While experiencing her monthly period, a woman is shedding layers of mucus membranes and excess blood. Doing a few inverted yoga poses is certainly not going to alter that, or hinder it, any way.
So, the conclusion is: carry on doing these poses, even while menstruating!
Note: I am not a health practitioner and do not prescribe medication or medical advice.
This article is based on my own research into the benefits of natural health practices while trying to conceive at an advanced age.