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10 Ways Yoga Enhances Fertility

10 Ways Yoga Enhances FertilityYoga is especially therapeutic for women who are struggling to conceive, helping you view your body as an ally instead of a source of frustration, all while prepping your body physically for pregnancy. From Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child by Victoria Maizes, MD.

1. Yoga is a powerful stress reliever: When highly stressed, the body moves energy away from the reproductive system, making conception even more difficult. Yoga reduces stress, bringing the body and mind into alignment.

2. Befriending your body: Women who struggle with infertility or who have just had miscarriages are sad and disappointed, and often they are also angry with their bodies for betraying them. Yoga helps women get in touch with their bodies, not adversarially, but with compassion and understanding.

3. Proper Posture/Alignment: Pelvic floor misalignment can impede pregnancy. So can tight hips or a scooped tailbone. Any type of yoga that focuses on alignment can help promote apana vayu—the downward motion of energy that massages and prepares our uteruses for pregnancy. Yoga hip openers, twists, and inversions are helpful.

4. Open Heart/Open Womb: Gentle backbends (like Setu Bandhasana, while supported) can help calm, and bring healing energy to the belly. Yoga can help you to be open to possibilities and to notice when you start to close down around your fears.

5. Nurturing the pelvis: Seated poses such as Baddha Konasana and Upavistha Konasana are excellent ways of softening the belly, calming agitation, increasing circulation in the pelvic area, regulating menstrual flow, and stimulating the ovaries. Begin upright and then relax into a forward bend, resting your head on a block or bolster.

6. Cooling the brain: Any time you rest your head on something, you will calm the mind, and help balance the nervous system. You can do this in Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog pose) and in forward bends.

7. Chanting the sound of “Om”: Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutra, wrote that chanting the syllable “Om” removes all obstacles to practice, helps turn your mind inward, and brings you right to the source of wisdom. You can chant “Om” or choose your own simple mantras: pick one (or even a couple of different ones) that will get you through difficult times, and another that can be a guiding light in your life. Let the mantra ride on the waves of the breath; let it be the vehicle to calm and nourish.

8. Deep breathing/pranayama practice: After miscarriage or when a woman is struggling to get pregnant, she doesn’t always breathe into her belly—sometimes she avoids that part of her own body—breathing out of fear, anger, guilt, remorse. Soothing breaths bring life and nourishment to the womb—and help release anxiety and fear.

9. Pause when necessary: If you feel agitated or anxious during practice, pause or stop altogether and concentrate on your breath, with focused attention on the exhale to ground your energy. Bending forward, resting your head on a bolster or chair will calm your nerves as well.

10. Watch your language: How do you describe (out loud and to yourself) what you’re going through? Do you think, I’m never going to have a baby, or can you say, I’m doing all I can to get pregnant? Do you “hate” your hips, chastise your belly, berate your uterus, or can you offer kindness, compassion, and healing breaths to those parts of you that need help? Remember that from space comes quiet; within the silence, look to your heart to find peace.

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