Yoga For Fertility – What I Know For Sure
Hi, I’m Erin. I have been working in the healing arts industry for 20+ years and have been supporting women on the fertility journey for the last 10+ years as a member of the CNY Fertility Team and the Founder of Fertile Hope Yoga. After establishing the in-person yoga for fertility program at CNY Fertility, I decided that I wanted to be able to support women no matter where they lived, so in 2019 I transitioned my yoga for fertility program entirely online. This allows women from anywhere to access cycle-specific yoga for fertility anytime! I am proud to lead a global community of women who are each walking their unique fertility journey but who come together through their shared dream of becoming mothers.
Yoga Supports Fertility
It has been well established that yoga supports you and your fertility not only physiologically, but also mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. It is a gentle form of exercise that is doctor recommended and appropriate as you prepare for and go through fertility treatment (and beyond, into pregnancy). Extreme forms of exercise can sometimes harm your fertility potential by directing blood flow away from your reproductive organs.
Yoga for fertility directs flood flow toward those organs so that you create a nurturing internal environment for those eggs and embryos. Increased blood flow helps to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and balance hormones.
The cycle-specific yoga videos in the Fertile Hope Yoga IGNITE Your Fertility library ensure that you are confident, knowing that you are practicing poses that will support you exactly where you’re at. Whether you’re menstruating, stimming, going through an IUI, IVF or FET, during your two-week wait, or while you’re on a break, there’s a specially designed practice for each stage of the journey.
Yoga is also an excellent stress reliever. The impact of stress on fertility treatment is not fertility friendly and yet going through fertility treatment is inevitably stressful. The breathing and mindfulness techniques that are part of yoga help to keep you grounded in the present moment and bring you back to your calm center. Yoga has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, which can also boost your fertility.
In a study from Harvard researcher, Ali Domar, Ph.D., 55% of infertility patients who participated in her mind-body program for a 10 week period (which included yoga and meditation) conceived compared to 20% in the control group when tested over a year.
This means that women increased their chances of pregnancy by 175% or were 3X as likely to get pregnant!
In another one of her studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, Domar showed that 42% of 132 infertility women who participated in a mind-body program conceived within six months of completing the program. Not only that, but the more depressed a woman was before the program started, the more likely she was to get pregnant after participating in the program.
Fertile Hope Yoga is so much more than yoga – Community!
When I created Fertile Hope Yoga I knew that I wanted to gather together all the benefits of yoga, both on and off the mat. I knew from my personal experience and also from the thousands of women that I’ve accompanied on the journey that when the mind-body connection is tended to, there is so much potential for healing, growth, and transformation.
I hear from many of my program participants that they joined for the yoga but discovered the community that they didn’t know they needed. Through weekly Zoom meetups, a private Facebook group, and Affinity Groups, members of Fertile Hope Yoga have the support of other women who truly ‘get it.’ The Fertile Hope Yoga community is committed to being a safe and positive space, through building each other up, reminding one another of the importance of self-care, and encouraging each other to keep going. We certainly commiserate with one another because the journey is hard, but we don’t allow each other to stay in fear and negativity.
Nurturing a positive mindset through practicing gratitude, affirmations, and meditation are some of the other off the mat practices that I’ve found to be essential for fertility success. The ever-expanding meditation library compliments the yoga videos and can be accessed anytime that you need to find your grounding again. We also share a group activity or challenge each month which is designed to be fun and attainable to help you build confidence, challenge negative beliefs, stay motivated, and always grow hope.
Yoga Poses for Fertility
Yoga for fertility directs blood flow towards your reproductive organs so that you create a nurturing internal environment for your eggs and embryos. Increased blood flow helps to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and balance hormones. Here are a few yoga poses for fertility that I recommend and that we practice often at Fertile Hope Yoga.
Reclined Bound Angle – Supported (supta baddha konasana)
“This pose offers maximum relaxation of the lower abdominal muscles. It stretches the uterus to relieve congestion and any cramping you may have. This pose also opens the chest which helps to release feelings of depression and/or anxiety.”
To set yourself up for this pose, lay your bolster on the floor. Fold one blanket to create a pillow for your head and place it near the top end of the bolster. A folded blanket on the floor at the opposite end of the bolster provides a cushion for your seat. Now roll the remaining 2 blankets to create mini-bolsters that will support your legs. To get into the pose, sit on the blanket in front of the bolster (not on the bolster). Bring your feet together and allow your knees to drop away from one another. Use a rolled-up blanket under each knee to support your legs so that you can release them completely and you’re not trying to hold your legs up. You can adjust your feet closer or further away from your body to find the angle that feels right for you. Then use your arms to lower yourself back onto the bolster and arrange the folded blanket under your head. Once you’re reclined you may find that you need to move your tailbone a little further away from the bolster for comfort. Allow your arms to rest off to each side with your palms facing up. Breathe deeply. I recommend staying in this pose for at least 5 minutes to get all the benefits, but you can say as long as you want. It’s a great pose to be in while you’re meditating as well.
Wide Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Is yoga safe to practice while trying to conceive?
I have been teaching yoga for fertility for over a decade and I have yet to see the practices do any harm. That being said, each yoga pose impacts all of your body. It’s a holistic practice. That means each yoga pose has an impact on your body physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically. I highly encourage understanding the impact each pose has on your body and how that relates to what you are needing. The needs of your body change depending on how you are trying to conceive and where you are at in your cycle. Finding a teacher who understands all of these things is important to maximize the impact a yoga practice can have on your fertility. Yoga for fertility practice during your follicular phase is very different than your luteal phase especially if you may be pregnant!
As with any yoga practice, if something doesn’t feel right while you are practicing, don’t do it! You are your best guide. Yoga is about listening to your body and learning how to trust it.
So Here are the Other Things I Know For Sure
The fertility journey may be hard, but you don’t have to walk it alone. I would love to welcome you into the Fertile Hope Yoga community, share some yoga wisdom with you, cheer you on, and celebrate with you when you finally get your positive. Yoga is a proven way to prepare your body, mind, and soul for not only the vigors of fertility treatment but also the miracle of pregnancy and parenthood that is to come.
You don’t just have to take my word for it; 90% of my program participants have graduated (ie. gotten pregnant) over the last 10 years and in the words of Dr. Kiltz:
If you go to Erin and start with yoga you might not even need a Reproductive Endocrinologist. My clients who use her training experience increased pregnancy, feel better, and are able to persist in meeting their goals when Erin is on the team. – Dr. Robert Kiltz, CNY Fertility
Check out free resources to get you started with yoga for fertility practice HERE.
You’ve got this!