Are You Thinking About Starting Yoga to Support Your Fertility?
By: Beth Heller
In January, Pulling Down the Moon and Fertility Centers of Illinois will
be kicking off a study to look at how yoga for fertility impacts women
undergoing medical fertility treatment. In a previous pilot study we found
that Pulling Down the Moon's six week yoga program significantly decreased
anxiety in women who were struggling with infertility. This new study
will include a control group and an expanded list of outcome measures
including pregnancy success. Stay tuned for more details on how to participate
in this study as subject recruitment begins mid-month!
While this is very exciting news, some of you may not have a yoga for fertility
class in your area. Are you out of luck? For many it may seem daunting
to start a yoga practice. So how do you really get this thing going? Looking
at pictures of yoga poses and reading the descriptions is one thing, actually
starting a yoga practice is another. Well, for your maiden voyage I am
going to suggest you actually take yourself to a yoga studio and give
it a try with a professional teacher. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s
just my own bias. I just remember the first time I walked into a yoga
studio. There was something about the experience that jolted me out of
my usual sphere. The funky prints on the walls and strange music felt
different – and good. I liked taking my shoes off at the door and
the smell of incense still transports me. I can remember how the spicy
scent would stay on my mat and follow me home. The whole experience motivated
me to learn more, look at pictures of yoga poses …read descriptions.
Get where I’m going with this?
It’s OKAY if you don’t have a fertility yoga class near you.
While fertility yoga is great, you do not have to go to a Yoga for Fertility
class to get the benefits of yoga. I may need to burn this after writing
it because it’s so secret, but while working with a fertility yoga
teacher is very special, not everyone has such a specialist on hand.
Here is a quick-and-dirty checklist for using (almost) any yoga class as
a fertility yoga class:
- Look for gentle hatha yoga classes (Intro or Level 1 classes are just right).
- If you’re stimming (taking fertility meds) or in the two week wait
period (time between ovulation and pregnancy test) do not do deep twists
or deep forward folds. This is not so much about the risks to a potential
pregnancy as is it about your ovaries. They can get really big during
an ART cycle and we don’t want to injure them. Avoid abdominal work
and adjust the class to fit your physician’s guidelines for appropriate
physical activity. As for anything else the teacher does, if it doesn’t
feel good, don’t do it.
- If you’re comfortable telling the teacher you’re doing fertility
treatment, do so. If you’re not comfortable telling her than just
inform her that you have some movement restrictions and will modify your
practice accordingly. Most yoga teachers respect their students’
prerogative to skip poses, modify poses or just lay on the mat and chill
if they feel like it
- Hot yoga and power yoga are not appropriate for fertility. We have nothing
against these styles of yoga, they’re just a bit too intense. Save
these for getting your post-baby body back.
Now is a great time of year to get a plan for a calm and fertility New
Year. Let yoga help make that a reality.