Yoga is an ancient Indian science involving the physical, mental and spiritual disciplines to improve the mind, body and soul.
Fertility yoga, a recent concept, is a holistic therapy that focuses specifically on your reproductive health and makes you better prepared for pregnancy both physically and emotionally.
AdvertisementAlthough yoga poses as such won't make you pregnant, it is the benefits of yoga in terms of stress busting, anxiety relief and healthier body and mind that might help you get pregnant.
Timothy McCall, medical editor of Yoga Journal, says, "When you're under chronic stress, your brain shifts into survival mode and ratchets up production of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, while slowing production of sex hormones. The combination can upset your ovulation schedule, making it difficult to become pregnant. Of course, a little stress is normal, but if you constantly feel wired, it's time to tackle your stress head-on".
'The gradual unraveling of the complexities of neuroendocrinology have permitted increased understanding of the role that stress might play in infertility. Catecholamines, prolactin, adrenal steroids, endorphins, and serotonin all affect ovulation and in turn are all affected by stress' - agrees a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. And what better way to tackle stress and anxiety than yoga!
Yoga gurus recommend gentle yoga poses of Kripalu or basic Hatha yoga rather than vigorous yoga such as Ashtanga Vinyasa or Bikram yoga. They suggest avoiding any of the postures that cause compression on the abdominal wall, for example, ardha baddha padma pachimottanasana, janu sirsasana and Marichyasana postures in Ashtanga vinyasa yoga if you are trying to get pregnant.
And now, Holistic fitness registered nurse and yoga instructor in Florida, Sherry Longbottom, claims to have developed her own style of fertility yoga which avoids poses that strain the body and favors simple poses to reduce anxiety and to get blood flow in the pelvic area.
Although it may not be as beneficial as IVF treatments or hormone therapy, she says, "We live in fight or flight mode. That kind of life goes completely against what we're trying to look for in creating a fertile environment."
And even if you are undergoing fertility treatments, yoga can be practiced as adjunct therapy. According to a study published in Fertility and Sterility - 'Yoga and meditation can help women experiencing the challenges of infertility. The practice of meditation and relaxation can help increase the clarity of the mind, maintain healthy body chemistry, and give patients the patience to undergo the rigors of infertility treatments'.
Dr. James Goldfarb, the director of infertility and in-vitro fertilization at University Hospital Cleveland, approves of patients trying safe alternative therapies.
"The bottom line I always tell patients is, it certainly can't hurt. We're very encouraging [that they] try whatever they find relief through. To say someone is going through IVF is going to be stressed is like saying someone is going to hit their thumb with their hammer and it's going to hurt. It's incredibly stressful," he comments.
The ability of yoga to help with mental health as well as physical health was one reason Longbottom wanted to start the fertility yoga class.
'Mind, body and spirit are all tied together; once you address those areas, you're taking care of your whole body', she says.
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