Yoga is an ancient practice from India that focuses on various body poses (asanas), mind (meditation) and breathing(pranayama) joined together.  It is well known that some exercises like yoga during pregnancy can keep you in good shape and also prepare you for labor and delivery.  But can yoga increase your chances of conception?

The number of couples struggling with infertility is steadily increasing all over the world due to stress, health issues, age and various other factors and it is taking a toll on one’s body both physically and mentally.  The chances of conception can increase with a healthy body and calm mind.  This is where yoga could help.

Fertility yoga is a special type of yoga to help women who are struggling with infertility.  Basically, fertility yoga involves doing yoga poses, and following breathing and meditation techniques that are thought to be beneficial for your reproductive health and helps you to relax and decrease stress and anxiety, increasing your chances of conception. A study at Harvard has found that women who took fertility focused yoga courses were almost three times more likely to conceive than those who did not.(1)

It has been shown that yoga can indirectly boost your fertility.  How?

  1. Yoga relieves stress– stress is common in couples struggling with infertility and it could take a physical toll on both the man and the woman’s body leading to depression and anxiety.  Stress could lead to hormonal imbalances which in turn could affect ovulation and cause irregular periods in women. (2)  When the body is under stress, it tries to compensate by shutting down processes in the body which it thinks is not necessary to survive.  Stress could also affect sperm count as well as sperm quality in men.  People under stress could also resort to drinking too much alcohol, smoking, eating unhealthy foods and other things which in turn could affect fertility.  Yoga has positive effects on reducing stress. (3)  It can lower the heart rate as well as blood pressure.  It can also keep hormonal imbalances due to conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) at bay.
  2. Yoga can help in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight. (4)  It can decrease obesity which can play an important role in improving chances of conception.  It can also improve your flexibility and strengthen your body which could help throughout your pregnancy and during labor and delivery. 
  3. It can improve your breathing- Diaphragmatic breathing could reduce stress (5) and it’s important to breathe with your nose rather than through your mouth.  People who are under a lot of stress tend to breathe fast shallow breaths with their mouths and yoga helps you to be aware of how you breathe and slow it down, which, in turn, is a stress reducer.
  4. It can improve blood flow to various parts of the body(6) and is also good for your heart.
  5. It can create mindfulness of your own self and help you to accept whatever is going on in your body, and in your circumstances.(6)  It can help you realize how the mind and body are connected together and can affect each other to bring about your better health. 
  6. It can lower pain levels (6)
  7. It can improve sleep quality.(7) sleep deprivation in women has been found to alter certain hormonal levels which in turn could affect fertility.

Improvements in these above parameters could in turn boost fertility.

What yoga poses could you try?

  1. Surya Namaskar- also called sun salutation is a series of poses that helps improve blood circulation and could help with irregular menstrual cycles. 
  2. Paschimottanasana- or the seated forward fold stretches the muscles in your lower back, hips and hamstrings.
  3. Baddha Konasana- or the butterfly pose improves flexibility of muscles in inner thighs, hips, knees and genitals.  It is done by sitting with soles of your feet together and slowly moving the knees up and down like a butterfly.
  4. Viparita Karani- also improves blood circulation to your pelvic region and is called the legs up the wall pose.
  5. Marjaryasana- is called the cat stretch by starting on all fours and rounding out the spine and drawing in the navel.
  6. Balasana- helps relieve stress and increase blood flow as well as stretches the back muscles,

knees, hips and thighs. It is called a child’s pose because it resembles a foetal position. Do it on an empty stomach.

  • Kapalbhati Pranayama- helps reduce stress levels by sitting in lotus position, inhaling deeply and exhaling forcefully to push the stomach in.
  • Bhramari Pranayama- also called the humming bee breath asana is done by placing your thumb over your ears, closing your eyes with the rest of your fingers and making a humming bee sound in a high pitch tone while exhaling for as long as you can. It helps to calm the body.
  • Anulom Vilom – or alternate nostril breathing, improves lung function and has a calming effect.
  • Shavasana- is very simple and also known as the corpse posture and is done at the end of each yoga posture to normalize the heartbeat and also relax strained muscles. It is basically lying flat on your back and breathing normally for 3 to 4 minutes. It can give you a peaceful rest.

Practice these moves regularly to help you relax and de-stress. However, make sure you have mastered the correct posture and breathing techniques by learning from a certified yoga instructor in order to avoid any injury.  Also try to avoid over exercising as this too could be detrimental to fertility and avoid doing hot yoga.  Couples are recommended to do yoga together as it can help them overcome stress related to the strenuous IVF procedure and they can spur each other on and support each other.  Also speak to your physician or your fertility specialist before trying anything new especially if you have a medical condition.  The experts at Xenith Advanced Fertility Centre would love to answer any questions you might have about how to boost your fertility.