Several months ago, I wrote a blog on Yoga for Fertility. We looked at some breath work and relaxation to reduce stress and engage the parasympathetic system–rest and digest–and to calm the sympathetic system–fight/flight/freeze–which allows the body to become a welcoming environment for the development of a new life! That was just before the COVID 19 pandemic erupted, and our world, as we knew, it changed.
Since that time, I have been focusing on staying active, being productive, and learning to accept the change that our world has experienced. Things are different now and while the world is beginning to reopen, it is important to remember that nothing is permanent; our reality as we experience it, is in a constant state of fluctuation. The change that COVID 19 forced upon us has been a huge step for me in realizing that we are not often in control of our reality. Nature, or a higher power, has the upper hand of control. Our role is to find the ability to move with the ebb and flow of nature, or that higher power, and to find a way of ‘being’ that helps us to find wellness and health within ourselves—mentally, physically, and spiritually.
That being said, I think it is time to get back to writing about enhancing fertility. In the same way that we could not control the pandemic of COVID 19 and the change in how we live, interact with others, and carry out our day to day lives, women seeking pregnancy often cannot control the outcome or guarantee success. Nature will steer that course; but, we can work to provide the most welcoming and healthy environment possible to encourage a fertile ground for pregnancy to occur.
The yoga therapy perspective on fertility starts with cultivating overall health through a well-balanced yoga practice and lifestyle choices, particularly eating nutritious food, sleeping well, and engaging in life-affirming activities. Developing the ability to relax tight pelvic floor muscles can contribute to the ease of fertilization and yoga can most certainly help with this. Engaging the rest and digest, or parasympathetic nervous system, encourages a positive physical and mental environment for fertilization to occur.
Yoga asana practices for women’s fertility focus on a holistic practice that includes a well-balanced set of asanas from every asana family. This can bring strength, flexibility, and vitality to the entire body and mind. The following is a yoga fertility practice that includes asanas from a general yoga practice.
A great way to start is with this Child’s Pose variation (with meditation: five to seven minutes). From all fours come forward, bending the arms and coming down onto your forearms. Use forearms to make a pillow for your cheek. Thighs are vertical and buttocks in the air. Relax. Start to notice the breath in your belly, and all the way down into the floor of your pelvis so that you can feel the pelvic floor*, including the perineum, the genitalia, and the anus dilating when you inhale, and relaxing as you exhale.
Allow yourself to settle into the pose, scan down through the body, noticing how your body is feeling. Then begin to bring your awareness to your breath. As you inhale, notice how the lungs expand and the belly enlarges. As you exhale, notice how the muscles release, relax and let go. Continue to breathe, focusing on your breath. If thoughts come into your mind, as soon as you notice that your mind has wandered, acknowledge the thoughts, and let them go; come back to the breath. Continue for several minutes.
Staying in the pose, bring your attention to all the pelvic floor muscles and on the breath, feel that expansion on the inhalation, and contraction on the exhalation. Continue to focus on the pelvic floor as you breathe for another three minutes or so.
Follow Child’s pose with five to 10 rounds of Cat/Cow—moving slowly, with your breath.
Other asanas to include that can relax the pelvic floor, and reduce tension and stress are: Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle), Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle), Malasana (Garland), Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby), Gomukasana (Cow Faced pose), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon), Upavistha Konasana (Wide Leg Seated Forward Bend), and Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend).
Asanas that externally rotate the hip are also helpful such as: Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II), Trikonasana (Triangle), and Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle). Engaging the mula bandha (lifting and engaging the pelvic floor muscles) while holding these poses can help to bring awareness and greater stimulation to the lower pelvis.
Seated twists can help to bring a pelvic floor opening: Sukhasana twist (Easy Pose twist), Marichyasana I and III (seated twists), and Ardha Matsyendrasana (Lord of the Half Fish), are a few. It is vital that once you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, that you do not engage in closed twists as these can cause a fertilized egg to dislodge from the uterine lining. As the fetus begins to grow, twists can cause abdominal pressure that can be too much for the baby and for the mother.
Inversions such as Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), and Vipariti Karani (Legs Up a Wall) can also be helpful in opening up the pelvic floor.
End your practice with meditation and relaxation in Savasana. Focusing your mind on a mantra that you create, encouraging positive self-regard and ease on your journey towards fertility! If you’d like to share a mantra that you create leave a comment below!
*You can find your pelvic floor muscles by engaging the muscles that you would engage to stop the flow of urine. Try that now…there they are! Tightening, holding, and releasing those pelvic floor muscles with control, are also known as Kegels; a great way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles during and post pregnancy.