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.