This is the first in a series of guest posts written by women who got pregnant after loss or infertility. Each post will focus on a special natural fertility or wellness tool that boosted the author’s health, happiness, and fertility on their journey!
This is a guest post by Bettina Rae, fertility yoga teacher, on how to practice fertility yoga throughout your cycle when trying to conceive to manage stress, increase circulation to the reproductive organs, and balance hormones!
In 2016 and 2017 Bettina Rae had three miscarriages in a row, and fertility yoga was THE THING that helped her get our of her dark hole and start feeling positive, hopeful, and healthy again. She is now the mother of three young boys and is a yoga teacher who specializes in fertility, pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood. You can find out more about her very special yoga programs at bettinarae.com!
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Anna’s Note on a Fertility Yoga Practice
My reader’s know that one of the mind-body tools I used while trying to conceive was daily yoga, and I totally believe it helped my mindset and my body.
I did yoga in two ways, the first was a daily gentle flow that I did every morning after my shower. The second was the DVD Restoring Fertility for yoga practices that matched each part of my cycle. Back then we didn’t have these awesome online fertility yoga communities!
And, of course, I really like Bettina’s program which I had the privilege of recently reviewing!
Yoga is a great addition to your baby journey for a number of evidence-based reasons:
- Research has shown that yoga is fantastic for modulating the stress response; it is a natural way to address the anxiety of infertility.
- As yoga helps manage stress, it helps modulate your body’s immune response, and helps to balance your hormones.
- This small study showed a reduction in pain for difficult periods in young girls practicing yoga.
- Fertility yoga is great for increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs- getting your womb and your ovaries the energy they need to make a baby! Doctors even suggest yoga as a therapeutic activity for those with poor blood circulation.
- In high risk pregnancy, research has shown that yoga can improve outcomes for baby’s development by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs.
A Simple Yoga Practice for Fertility
By Bettina Rae
Trying to conceive (especially when It’s not as straightforward as they made you believe in high school) can be incredibly stressful.
There’s the never-ending list of things you should be doing to improve your fertility. And the even longer list of things you shouldn’t be doing.
There’s the constant tracking, charting and anxiously looking for symptoms.
And, of course, there’s dealing with your emotions as everyone around you falls pregnant as soon as they decide to start trying.
My Infertility Struggle of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
My story sounds all too familiar to women struggling with infertility and recurrent miscarriage.
In 2016 and 2017 I had three losses in a row. One at 16 weeks, and two at 10 weeks. After my three miscarriages, I was in a really dark place.
I’d spent the better part of a year obsessing over my own fertility, feeling extreme anxiety and riding the intense ups and downs of trying to conceive, falling pregnant and losing my babies.
My third loss in particular broke me. I’d started bleeding at 7 weeks and didn’t lose the pregnancy until 3 weeks later. I felt broken and I’d completely lost all faith in my body.
How Yoga helped me get HAPPY, healthy, and PREGNANT after Infertility
Why did I get into fertility yoga? Well, I had always loved yoga, but I’d stopped my beloved yoga practice during that pregnancy because I was too afraid to move.
After our third loss I decided I needed to take a break from trying to have our baby. I needed to find a way back to feeling strong and healthy again.
When I eventually got back into my yoga practice I was much more aware of how my practice needed to change throughout the different stages of my cycle.
Rather than pushing through a strong yoga practice every time, my practice started to change depending on whether I had my period or was ovulating, etc. Practicing in this way helped me to take better care of my body and avoid the burn out that I’d been feeling prior to this.
After around 7 months of daily yoga and taking care of myself, we decided to start trying again. I changed my daily yoga practice again slightly to include meditations and visualizations to aid fertility.
(Check out Anna’s guide to meditation and visualization for fertility!)
I was surprised and delighted when I conceived on the very next cycle.
I now teach fertility yoga because for me personally yoga was THE THING that helped me get out of a really dark hole and start feeling positive, hopeful and healthy again.
Developing a Personal Fertility Yoga Practice
Don’t add yoga to your daily list just as yet another thing you should do for your fertility. Add it into your day as a nurturing practice that you can do for yourself to support you through this stressful time of trying to conceive. (Let the fertility benefits of yoga- increased blood flow to the reproductive organs and hormone balancing- be a really nice added bonus.)
I recommend practicing first thing in the morning to set you up with the right mindset for the day. However there really is no wrong time of day to practice yoga.
You don’t need any fancy yoga clothes or even a mat to practice (carpet or any other soft flooring will do).
NOTE FROM ANNA: If you do buy a yoga mat, please avoid ones with toxic phthalates or PVC/VINYL! Some safe materials are natural rubber latex (my least favorite because of the potential for sneaky additives in processing), jute, cork (like Yoloha), or cotton (like Yogasana). At the very least please ensure your mat is PVC and Phthalate free.
Fertility yoga poses and classes for each stage of the menstrual cycle
Ideally, your fertility yoga classes are designed around the different stages and energies of your cycle. This particular fertility yoga sequence below is designed for ovulation and the two week wait.
While these poses are also safe to do during the other stages, if you’d like to practice poses that are specifically designed to maximize fertility during your period or pre-ovulatory phase I have classes over on my Youtube Channel, a video series for purchase, and a full Fertility Yoga course that includes the yoga video series, a workbook, planners, and weekly videos and tasks to help you manage the stress of trying to conceive.
A Simple Fertility Yoga Practice for Ovulation and the Two Week Wait
This class will probably take around ten minutes to complete. You can shorten or extend it by changing the number of breaths you take in each pose.
Easy Seat with Hands on the Belly
Sit with the legs cross or however is comfortable for you. Let the shoulders be soft and heavy.
Breathe in deeply though the nose. Notice as the belly expands into the hands. Exhale and let the air slowly leave through the nose.
Repeat for at least five full breaths.
Imagine your womb beneath your hands. Imagine this space in your body, as a warm, vibrant, inviting space.
Benefits – This pose helps to connect with our wombs, find our energy, reduce anxiety and come into the body for the practice.
Seated Hip Circles
In a comfortable seated position start moving the upper body in a circular position. Open the chest up as you move forward and round the upper back as you move back.
Complete 5 circles in each direction with the breath.
Visualize your breath and energy circulating in the pelvis as you circle around.
Benefits: This practice helps to increase mobility and circulation in the pelvis / reproductive organs.
Seated Wide-Leg Forward Fold
Take the legs out as wide as you can. If you find that your back rounds, sit up on a blanket or cushion to tilt the pelvis forward.
Gently lean forward, as you exhale so that you can feel a gentle stretch in the inner thigh and hamstrings. Hold for five full breaths.
As you hold this pose allow your shoulders to soften. Visualize a warm golden light flowing down from the crown of your head all the way down to your toes. Notice that the warmth of this light brings a sense of relaxation and calm to your whole body.
Benefits: Opens pelvis and groin, increasing circulation to reproductive and sexual organs.
Seated Neck Stretch
Find a comfortable seat. Sit straight in the spine and gently draw one ear down towards the shoulder.
Hold for five breaths before repeating on the other side.
As you hold each side, imagine any tension or feelings of stress that you hold in your shoulders and neck releasing from your body with each exhale.
Benefits: Releases stress and tension stored in the neck and shoulders.
Seated Chest Stretch
Find a comfortable seat. Interlace the hands behind the back and draw them down towards the floor. Gently squeeze the shoulder blades together behind you as you open the chest.
Breathe into the belly, fill out into the side ribs and then to the top of the chest. Exhale from the top of the chest, the side ribs and the low belly.
Repeat 5 rounds of these deep breaths.
As you physically hold your chest open, try to visualize your heart opening to the love you feel for your future baby.
Benefits: Helps to reduce anxiety and improve energy in the body.
Lie on the back with the soles of the feet together. Let you knees fall out to the side (if this is too intense place a rolled towel under each knee).
You can either lie with the upper back on a bolster or pillow (pictured), or flat on the floor if you prefer.
Stay here for ten full breaths.
As you rest here in this final pose, come back to the visualization we started with and bring your attention to your womb. Imagine this space in your body as warm, vibrant, and inviting. Open your heart to the excitement and love that you feel for your future baby and allow this feeling to spread around your entire body.
Benefits: Helps to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improving circulation to reproductive and sexual organs.
Try this fertility yoga practice and let me know what you think!
If you have any questions about fertility yoga feel free to ask in the
comments below and I’ll get back to you!