7 Benefits of Yoga for Fertility
The journey to motherhood can be quite the wild ride. Filled with loop-the-loops galore. Fortunately, we have some great tools at our disposal to smooth the path. And yoga is hands down my favorite tool in the toolbox.
When I first started studying nutrition for fertility and working with women trying to conceive, it became clear that while nutrition is incredibly important to reproductive health, alone it wouldn't be enough to support women the way I truly believed they deserved to be supported. If I wanted to make the type of impact I was determined to make, I needed to explore and learn more about movement and mind-body practices.
So, I started studying stress management techniques and completed an aromatherapy certification. Next, I started practicing yoga more consistently. It wasn't long before the idea of becoming a yoga teacher started rolling around in my head. Last year, I finally completed my teacher training and this year I had the pleasure of studying fertility yoga with Lynn Jensen, THE fertility yoga teacher. And you know what? It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Not only did I learn the hows of yoga poses and sequencing for fertility, I learned the whys. And the whys are what I'm sharing with you today. Yoga is one of the most powerful forms of self-care and movement I know of for fertility support. The benefits are multifaceted, fortifying our reproductive health on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
In the coming months, I'll be sharing posts and videos about yoga for fertility right here on the blog and on social media. So stay tuned! I'll also be doing an Instagram live with the lovely Liz Shaw of Bumps to Baby Wednesday, April 25th, 10 am PDT (1 pm EDT, 12 pm CDT.) I can't wait to share a breathing exercise, a few poses, and a mantra with you over on Insta. Until then, here are seven reasons why if you're trying to conceive, yoga may be the perfect movement practice for you.
1. Provides Stress relief
It's no secret. Trying to conceive can be downright stressful. And stress, while not inherently bad, in excess and unchecked, definitely negatively impacts our health, including our reproductive health. Unmanaged stress can contribute to insulin resistance (no bueno for fertility, especially if you have PCOS), cause wonkiness in our menstrual cycles, and lower our libido. But yoga. Oh, yoga. Yoga gives us an outlet for our stressors and helps us respond rather than react to stressful circumstances.
2. Increased blood circulation to uterus and ovaries
Our reproductive organs are situated in an area that, in our sedentary culture, doesn't always get tons of movement. And that absolutely hampers blood flow to them. In many traditional medicine systems, increasing blood flow to the pelvis is heralded as one of the key goals of treatment for fertility. Makes sense, right? Blood carries nutrients to and carries waste away from our uteruses and ovaries. Anything that improves blood circulation is certainly important when TTC. Yoga poses doe just that.
I seriously need to do a whole post on the physical and mental health benefits of community. It doesn't get nearly enough attention. Strong social ties are one of the pillars of good health. Yoga classes offer an opportunity to breathe and move with people who have similar interests and possibly similar goals. That's powerful.
4. Low impact
While exercise is important when trying to conceive, not all forms of exercise are ideal. Vigorous activity is not the best way to go when trying to get pregnant. But most forms of yoga (I'm not talking about hot yoga or power yoga here) are far more gentle than conventional cardio and weightlifting. But don't let its gentleness fool you. It's still incredibly effective.
5. Improved endocrine function
Our hormones, to a great degree, rule our reproductive health. Whatever we do to support our hormonal health, will ultimately increase our chances of conceiving. And fortunately, we have a fair amount of research indicating yoga positively impacts our hormones, making it ideal for a number of women's health concerns.
6. Decreased inflammation
Chronic inflammation has been implicated in the development a number of chronic diseases and likely negatively influences fertility. Yoga, by addressing some of the underlying causes (like unmanaged stress, hormone dysregulation, and insomnia) of chronic inflammation, dampens inflammation. This protects our organs from damage, including our uterus and ovaries.
7. Improved body awareness
Many of the women I've spoken to have shared fertility has made them feel disconnected from their bodies. That disconnect can make it pretty difficult to hear the subtle cues your body is giving you about what it needs and when. Yoga, fortunately, is amazing at improving interoception, the ability to home in on those signals our bodies send to influence our decisions.
Bonus Benefit: It feels good.
Can we please talk about just doing things for the joy of it? I'm convinced it might be the most important reason to move your body or eat a certain food. Pleasure matters. And yoga feels good. Do it cause you enjoy it.
What kind of Yoga is Best for Fertility?
Now before you run out and join a yoga class, I strongly recommend seeking out a fertility yoga class. Strenuous or heated forms of yoga are not ideal when trying to conceive. If you can't find a fertility yoga class near you, yin yoga, slow flow, and restorative classes can be great options too.
Looking for one-on-one tailored yoga support for fertility? Schedule a 1-on-1 private virtual session with yours truly. It's an awesome way to start a home practice, get customized routines for your unique concerns (including things to consider if you're undergoing ART), and learn how to modify poses when you attend a regular class.