Four Surprising Reasons Yoga Is Great for Fertility
At Pulling Down the Moon, we have offered our six-week Yoga for Fertility class form nearly 15 years and can speak with experience that yoga is simply great for you when you are trying to conceive. Read on to learn why:
- Yoga balances the nervous system. Unlike intense, high impact cardiovascular exercise, which causes the body to move into “flight mode,” yoga uses deep breathing, mindful movement and unique stretches to stimulate the body’s relaxation response. Note: This does not mean that cardiovascular exercise is bad for fertility; simply that adding a gentle, hatha yoga practice is good. Moderate, low-impact cardiovascular exercise can help relieve stress and does form part of a balanced fertility fitness program. Equally, super-intense, heated power-style yoga classes can be as strenuous as a tempo run and eliminates many of the greatest benefits of yoga for fertility.
2. Yoga massages and stimulates your internal organs, promoting blood flow and oxygenation. Unlike exercises like weight lifting, cycling and running, which direct blood into the large skeletal muscles and are largely two-dimensional, yoga uses subtle multi-dimensional movements like twists and folds, inversions and backbends. This gentle action stretches and massages internal tissues and organs, promoting not only blood flow but the movement of lymph. Note: While the idea of a “cold uterus” is not well accepted in western medicine it forms the basis of many traditional medicine fertility diagnoses. In a recent study, researchers noted a significantly lower abdominal temperature in infertile vs. fertile women and hypothesized the difference may be due to poor blood perfusion of the core muscles and tissues (1). Whether this is established science or not, it makes sense that increasing blood flow to the uterus and ovaries is a good thing for fertility and pregnancy.
3. Yoga trains your “letting go muscles.” Researchers have found that a “letting go” coping mechanism for stress was related to better IVF outcomes (2). Again, while researchers debate the details, women in the think of their fertility need to manage stress and anxiety in the here and now. Holding a challenging standing pose while staying calm is rehearsal for staying calm in stressful life situations . Note: Our previous research with Fertility Centers of Illinois found that women who took our six week Yoga for Fertility class experienced a 20% decrease in anxiety vs. controls (3).
4. Yoga creates “sangha,” the yoga word for a like-minded and supportive community. Everyone on the fertility journey needs a positive environment and some place they can go to feel safe and understood. Struggling to conceive can turn a woman’s social network upside down. Girlfriends are all on the mommy-track, family get-togethers turn into minefields, and ordinary interactions can become excruciatingly painful. A yoga for fertility class creates a safe haven – and most women don’t realize how much they needed one until they join a class and experience it. Note: Our students form lasting friendships that stretch into parenthood. There’s a perception when going through fertility treatment that the world is passing you by, that relationships that mean a great deal to you are being damaged, and that you are somehow being punished. All this is situational, but deeply painful. Meeting other amazing women in the same place helps to heal these feelings and put challenges into perspective.
We are starting another study this January with Fertility Centers of Illinois. If you are interested in participating, contact firstname.lastname@example.org !