Individuality Matters to Fertility
Before we jump right into the deeper workings of fertility, ayurveda, and your dosha – let’s pause for a moment. Maybe you’ve never thought about it before, but your individuality matters to your fertility.
It is true that the underlying mechanisms of reproduction are the same for everyone, sperm meets egg – yet if it was so simplistic, IVF success rates would be 100%.
Like most things in life – fertility is not black and white and does not take place in a container. Everyone’s body, mind, and lifestyle are a little different. The ‘field’, or environment, in which egg and sperm meets – is so variable.
Thus, fertility treatment, support, and health is not one size fits all. Not every thing works for every body. Having taught fertility yoga for so many years, I know this to be true, and often frustrating for my students.
This is one of the reasons I believe that we often feel so lost and overwhelmed trying to weed through all the information (and misinformation) floating around in the fertility and infertility space. Maybe you’ve wondered, “Why did ________ work for her, and not for me?”
So then, how do we figure out what is best for our unique selves.
Yoga, Ayurveda, and Your Dosha to the Rescue.
In Yoga’s vast teachings, Ayurveda is a branch of study often referred to as the Wisdom of Life. These ancient and diverse teachings offer us a means to begin to understand our own uniqueness – or constitution. Help us uncover where we may have imbalances manifesting as ‘dis-ease’ (in this context – obstacles to pregnancy and birth), as well as how to balance and create ‘ease’ in the system.
In Sanskrit, our constitution is called our dosha. When we know our predominant dosha we can begin to recognize our imbalances so that we can balance and create the best conditions in our bodies (or ‘fields’) to give our seeds the best chance of growth. Simply put, to become our healthiest and most fertile selves.
Ayurveda is a vast and deep area of study. This post only gleans the surface of what it can offer. Knowing your dosha is a starting point to deeper inquiry. Even the most basic understanding of your dosha can reveal how to begin to optimize your fertility – whether it’s by the yoga asana you choose, or how you approach the obstacles you’re facing with your fertility.
Can’t wait to find out what your dosha is –take the quiz now!
What you'll learn here:
- What is a dosha?
- What is my predominant dosha?
- Vata Dosha and Fertility
- Pitta Dosha and Fertility
- Kapha Dosha and Fertility
- Dosha management for optimal fertility
What is a dosha?
Ayurveda and the dosha system is based around the 5 mahabhutas or 5 elements: ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth.
The unique combination of these elements come together to make up the 3 doshas:
- Vata (air + ether);
- Pitta (Fire + Water)
- Kapha (Water & Earth).
You have quantities of all 3 doshas running through you at all times, and they fluctuate depending on the time of day, time of year, where you are in your menstrual cycle, and time of life.
The unique ratio of vata, pitta, and kapha within each of us provides us with a blueprint for optimal health and influences our individual physical, mental, and emotional character traits—as well as our unique strengths and vulnerabilities.
For many of us, there will be one dosha that is dominant, and then often a secondary dosha. Some people may be balanced between all three – called Tridoshic.
For the purpose of this beginner lens, we will explore only dominant doshas and their characteristics.
What Is My Dosha?
There are many online dosha quizzes out there to help you uncover your dosha. If you opt to see an Ayurvedic Health Counselor or Practitioner, they will surely begin with a very thorough examination of your doshas!
I have a short and fun dosha and fertility yoga quiz here that you can begin with! It will also offer some specific fertility yoga poses and insight into your fertility journey.
If you’d like a more indepth and lengthy analysis – I like the dosha quiz on Banyan Botanicals. There is a wealth of information on this site if this intro spikes your interest.
Read through all 3 of the doshas below and see which one sounds most like you – and remember – this would be ‘most of the time’ as we are always fluctuating, but there is most likely an underlying consistency.
Vata and fertility: Air and Ether
Vata season (in the Northern Hemisphere) is Late Fall and Winter.
The Vata times of day are 2am – 6am and 2pm – 6pm.
Like the air that dances with the wind, the main energy of Vata is movement. If you are predominately Vata, you are blessed with a quick mind, creativity, and flexibility. You are sharp, creative, and full of ideas.
Your friends would probably describe you as enthusiastic, fun-loving, and possibly a bit forgetful. You are almost always willing to try new things and become involved with causes quickly and passionately.
Physically, your body type tends to be thin, with narrow hips and shoulders. Your skin may be dry and your toes and hands are often cold!
Menstruation: Your menstrual periods tend to be light and short. For many struggling with infertility, this may be the first area to explore. Nourishing and nurturing the tissues and adding more fluid and nectar to the system.
Digestion: Your digestion leans towards bloating and constipation – again with more air and less water, you tend to be on the dry side.
Sleep: You may be a light sleeper, prone to waking up in the vata hours between 2 and 6am.
Mentally and emotionally, your fertility journey can sometimes feel overwhelming emotionally because Vata folks can be emotionally and/or energetically sensitive. Like the wind and ether, there are infinite places to explore and this can sometimes be overwhelming and agitating mentally – like your thoughts are just swirling on the wind and won’t settle down.
You have a willingness to try new things, so may impulsively sign up for or buy the next new ‘fertility thing’. This zealousness can often leave you feeling over-committed and flitting between appointments or webpages which results in more mental agitation.
The good news for Vata dominant people is that much of your overwhelm, anxiety, and heightened sensitivity can for the most part be mitigated when you create a sense of routine and groundedness in your life.
The best fertility yoga class for you will be CONSISTENT and have mindful movement that focuses on warming and grounding the body. Deeply restful and anchoring restorative poses may at first be difficult with your busy mind, but once you find your groove – your body will get the rest and replenishment it needs here.
Does this sound like you? Take the quiz to find out some of the best vata balancing poses for fertility.
Pitta and fertility: Fire and Water
Time of year: late Spring to early Fall in the northern hemisphere.
Times of day: 10pm – 2am; 10am – 2pm
Like a raging fire, the energy of pitta is transformation. But yet we must be careful with fire as if left unattended or with too much fuel, fire can also destroy.
For Pitta, this fire that burns within you, makes you ambitious, intelligent, and discerning. You are also hardworking, disciplined, and can be competitive.
Physically: You are of medium height and build, trending towards a muscular build. Your skin is warm and sensitive, and may be prone to rashes and flushing and your eyes may be sensitive and easily irritated.
Menstruation: Your periods are characterized by a heavy, bright red flow accompanied with diarrhea, headaches, and irritability.
Digestion: You generally have a high metabolism, good digestion, and a good appetite. However, acid reflux or indigestion is a possibility. You create large quantities of urine and feces which are oily and soft.
Sleep: Pitta folks tend to sleep well, maybe a bit lightly, and need a moderate amount of sleep. Your active mind may carry into your sleep creating a vivid and active dreams. You may have a hard time falling asleep.
Mentally & Emotionally. Your fertility path can be challenging for you because you are used to succeeding from your hard work and dedication. You are putting so much time, energy, and heart into becoming pregnant, and if you do not succeed, it is hard to accept.
You may judge yourself against others, always wondering ‘why them and not me – I’m doing everything right?’ As much as you research and try to figure out how to ‘do’ fertility, it isn’t resulting in the success you have become accustomed to.
You may feel high levels of frustration that can lead to anger, as you do not have control of the situation.
Having an outlet for your anger and frustration will be important during your fertility journey.
The best fertility yoga poses and practices balancing your fiery nature so that you can nourish and re-calibrate your body and reproductive health is key.
Pitta types often ignore the needs of their bodies in favor of satisfying their desire to be productive. And in the case of fertility, it is important to not ignore the body. It may also be hard for pitta folks to change their mindset from ‘yoga as a workout’ to ‘yoga to nurture your fertility’.
You will want to keep your yoga practice calm and cool. A mindful slow flow yoga class can be amazing for you, one with some gentle back bending to help spread the heat is also nice. Pelvic floor (the gateway to the womb) & psoas (stress response muscles) release is extremely beneficial to pitta dominant folks, as these muscles can be tight from an active life, pressure to succeed, and stress of the responsibilities you carry.
Does this sound like you? Take the quiz and find out!
Kapha and Fertility: Earth and Water
Time of year: late winter/early spring to early summer
Time of day 6-10am & 6-10pm
The energy of Kapha is one of lubrication. And like something well-oiled, you are calm, tolerant and have strength, stamina, and endurance.
People may describe you as being grounded and wise, and not easily flustered. You are steady in the things that you do and have a big heart.
You like to take life at a slower pace than others, though sometimes it is hard for you to get moving and can result in feelings of lethargy and heaviness.
Physically, Kapha folks have large frames, tend to put on weight easily, and have thick lustrous hair and big eyes.
Menstruation: Your periods tend to be heavier and longer, with deep rich red blood and possibly clots. You generally get menstrual cramps and bloating.
Digestion: You have a slower metabolism and evacuate your bowels slowly. You may become constipated.
Sleep: Kapha people LOVE to sleep and often can stay in bed for prolonged periods of time, and can easily nap.
Your fertility journey, on the outside to others, may look like you are taking everything in stride. With your big heart, you often feel the hurt deeply and hold onto and slowly digest these feelings.
Kapha folks are more likely to become depressed than others, so this is something to keep an eye on as you move through your fertility journey. You may also feel like keeping your experiences to yourself and not speaking about your emotions to others and this could create isolation.
The best fertility yoga poses and practices for kapha, movement (especially in the morning!) is important to move stagnant energy, feelings, and blood through you. On the flip side, longer restorative yoga poses that emphasize gentle chest opening can be very balancing and replenish and sooth the soul when feeling down. Optimally you would incorporate both into your practice.
Does this sound like you? Take the quiz and find out!late
Dosha balancing and your fertility
As you may see, knowing your dosha can bring clarity to why things are a certain way for you! We are all different and experience and interact with obstacles to fertility in different ways.
‘Like feeds like’ in the dosha world. For example, if you’re kapha dominant and you add more kapha to your life, you will create imbalance in the form of excess kapha. When we are in excess, this usually means we are deficient somewhere else. One of the best ways to harmonize your dosha is to offer yourself the opposite of what you crave or are inclined to do. Yes! It takes discipline and motivation to make these changes.
Here are some General guidelines for balancing each doshas from Dr. Vasant Lad, one of the most widely respected Ayurvedic Teachers.
- Keep warm and avoid drafts (scarves around the neck!)
- Avoid multi-tasking
- Avoid cold, frozen and raw foods
- Eat warm foods & spices
- Maintain a regular routine
- Find time to ground yourself, rest, and find stillness
- Avoid excessive heat and steam
- Limit salt intake
- Eat cooling, non spicy food
- Avoid oil
- Exercise during the cooler times of day
- Get plenty of exercise
- Avoid heavy foods like cheese and other dairy
- Avoid iced food and drinks
- Vary your routine
- Avoid fatty, oily and fried foods
- Eat light and dry food
- Do not nap during the day
Ayurveda is a gift that brings clarity to our human experiences, and also offers practical guidelines to eliminate imbalance and dis-ease. Ayurveda is such an immense and often illuminating avenue of exploration, I would recommend finding an Ayurvedic Health Counselor or Practitioner to guide you through dietary and lifestyle recommendations to balance and manage your doshas to optimize your fertility.
Lad, Vasant & Maira Garre, Ayuryoga VPK Basics, 2014.
Grzych, Heather. The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility: A Natural Approach to Getting Pregnant, 2020
Tiwari, Maya. Women’s Power to Heal Through Inner Medicine, 2011
Tiwari, Maya. A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing, 2000.