Incorporating Yoga Into Your IVF Cycle to Increase Chances of Success
If you have ever been through an IVF cycle or are gearing up for your first IVF cycle, you know first-hand how incredibly stressful it can be. Typically you decide to go for IVF after an already excruciating journey filled with disappointment and heartache. The physical, financial, mental, and emotional commitment is no small thing. The stakes feel very high and your life begins to revolve around preparing for the cycle so that you can get it perfect. Incorporating yoga into your IVF cycle can change everything.
Often you are told by your fertility doctor to moderate or slow down your exercise in order to boost your fertility potential (and for good reason, see footnote). If you are an avid runner or play a lot of sports this may mean stopping cold turkey and losing one of your best coping techniques for stress.
“It is common for women to stop moving all together as they go through an IVF cycle for fear of doing something wrong and ruining their chances at success.”
While you know that your physical health is integrally tied to your fertility, you may be at a loss as to what type of physical activity is best or how to safely move your body while you are in the IVF stimulation phase, or right after an egg retrieval or embryo transfer.
“In addition to all the calming, stress reducing, and centering benefits of yoga which already help to boost your fertility by up to 175% many of the poses are safe and even extremely beneficial while undergoing IVF.”
All of this is why I created the cycle specific yoga videos that are at the heart of what I offer at Fertile Hope Yoga. The series of yoga videos for IVF are specifically designed to support you through your cycle, from cycle day 1 through stimming, egg retrieval, transfer, your two week wait and early pregnancy. There is also a series of curated yoga videos specifically for a frozen embryo transfer cycle.
If you’d like to see more evidence and studies for how yoga can help to decrease stress, anxiety and depression while improving your fertility and increasing your chances of pregnancy, click HERE.
But for now let me share with you two yoga poses that are safe and super helpful for you to do at any point in your IVF cycle:
Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana)
This is a classic yoga pose and probably one of the poses that is most widely recognized as yoga. If you’ve never tried it, rest assured that it’s not nearly as intimidating as it looks!
“Not only is it a full body pose, it stimulates the uterus and increases blood flow to the uterus which is what we want while trying to conceive.”
For this pose it is helpful to have a yoga mat or some other non-slip surface so that you can feel stable in the pose. Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees hip-width apart, directly under your hips. Curl your toes under and then begin to lift your hips up to the sky as you straighten your arms. Focus on creating a straight line from your wrists through your shoulders, all the way through your spine to your hips. Your heels do not have to touch the floor and bending your knees is a great modification. Focus on spiraling your inner thighs back toward the wall behind you which will keep your abdomen soft. Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths and release back to hand and knees to come out of the pose.
Reclined Bound Angle – Supported (supta baddha konasana)
I love using yoga props, especially for deeply restorative poses such as a reclined bound angle. For this pose you will need a yoga bolster and 4 blankets. If you don’t have a bolster, you can use a couch cushion or pillows. Towels also work great if you don’t have enough blankets.
“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.
If you’d like to learn more about yoga for fertility and how to safely incorporate yoga into your IVF cycle, click HERE.
Wishing you all the best as you navigate your IVF journey and await your miracle!
You’ve got this!
In the IGNITE Your Fertility Membership I teach the five core practices of Fertile Hope Yoga: yoga, meditation, mindset strengthening work, gratitude and community. I have seen time and time again how these practices support women trying to conceive (whether they’re trying naturally, in an active treatment cycle, or on a break).