One of my favorite strategies: Fertility Yoga
I started practicing yoga several years before we decided we’d start a family. Then, it was a trendy way to stay in shape - and hopefully stave off an injury from not stretching enough after a long run!
Before our first IVF round, I was introduced to a yoga for fertility program at Pulling Down the Moon in Chicago. It seemed like a wonderful way to stay active in an “approved” way during that time. While I enjoyed the program, I can’t say I really “got” how powerful yoga could be for my overall journey at that time. My mind was still in a transactional state - if I do THIS, I will receive THAT (e.g. a baby).
It was only after our struggle dragged on and I became more and more discouraged that I started to seek out a yoga practice that was more about release and surrender than the mechanics of toning, exercise, and checking off “all the things”.
I started to learn what it meant to listen to and trust my body. To find wonder and strength from all parts of it. To find gentleness for the parts that felt tender.
The practice quieted my mind enough to focus on renewed energy I felt during and after time on my mat. I began to visualize that energy as blood flow - nourishing, restoring, balancing, and bathing my organs in all they needed to function at their best.
It was slow. I pretty much never broke a sweat. I stopped thinking of yoga as exercise and, instead, looked forward to the time as a form of relaxation and healing.
It was spiritual. Time to pray, to ask questions, to process anger, contemplate, to simply be still. Let my brain pause and take a break.
During my IVF treatment cycles, yoga was my primary physical activity. In times where I could resume normal exercise, I would find myself coming back to my yoga practice for restoration.
Yoga has proven to have significant benefits for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. (Source listing) Additionally, it doesn’t take much of a leap to understand how the practice can benefit fertility:
Balancing hormones by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol
Increasing body confidence
Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs
Opening up the hip and pelvic area
Promoting relaxation and calm
A fertility-focused practice can also be beneficial by offering safe movements and poses for any time of your cycle or treatment. (More info here.)
By the time I found fertility yoga and was ready to release into it, I’d been practicing enough that I felt confident in a few poses found online that I’d do in my bedroom at home. (There was a lot of Legs Up the Wall, I’ll be honest.)
This is one way to go about adding yoga into your fertility plan. If you are looking for something a bit more structured - and probably more effective - I have two suggestions:
For those in the Chicagoland area, Pulling Down the Moon is a wonderful holistic health center that offers regular Yoga for Fertility class series. Not only do you get top-tier yoga instruction, but they foster community and collaboration among attendees so there’s a strong support component as well.
For those outside Chicago - or if your schedule or comfort level is eased with an at-home approach - I’m thrilled to recommend Fertile Hope Yoga.
Fertile Hope Yoga was developed by Erin McCollough, a holistic women’s health teacher and practitioner. Erin has been practicing and teaching yoga and other healing arts for 20 years and, for the past 10 years, teaching fertility yoga at CNY Fertility Center with Dr. Robert Kiltz.
Fertile Hope Yoga is the first online yoga for fertility studio -- and you can try it out for FREE!
What I love about Fertile Hope Yoga is its specificity to cycle timing and goal. The program hones in on specific poses for stim, transfer, waiting periods, and natural conception. So when you’re asking “what else can I do to prepare for this next step”, consider one of these programs.
You can sign up for your FREE 14-trial of Fertile Hope Yoga here. With your free trial, you’ll get three videos:
One quick 15-minute practice for anytime during your cycle
A 40-minute “Restore & Balance” practice for during your period
A 40-minute “Active Waiting” practice for the TWW/ Luteal phase
You’ll also get some additional resources to help you get started with your at-home practice including yoga prop suggestions, more information about the science behind yoga’s benefits for fertility, a meditation, and an affirmation deck to keep you grounded and hopeful throughout each day.
No more excuses of finding a fertility-focused yoga class, scheduling, or worrying about looking “silly” in a class of “expert” yogis.
Of course, if the trial is helpful and you want to purchase a membership, you’ll get even more videos timed to more specific points in your journey. (After your trial, you’ll get all the details to upgrade to membership. The links I’m sharing are affiliate links, which means I’ll get a small fee should you choose to purchase. Honestly, though, I’d recommend this program without that incentive!)
While not a “silver bullet” to pregnancy (what is?), I wholeheartedly believe yoga was a key piece of the mindset and body confidence puzzle for me.
Has yoga played a role in your fertility journey? How so? Was it helpful? In what ways? If you haven’t tried yet, what holds you back?