IVF and Yoga Poses to Avoid

Are you doing an IVF cycle and curious what yoga poses you should avoid? Ultimately you want to not harm or interfere with the IVF process or a possible pregnancy while practicing yoga. If you already have an existing asana practice, you may be curious how to modify your practice as you navigate fertility issues and treatment.

First, let’s state the obvious and say that Fertility yoga classes are the best place for you to be – especially if you are doing IVF. Your fertility yoga teacher is trained and aware of IVF procedures and what poses are beneficial and which are contraindicated for your cycle. The approach is always gentle and mindful with the intention of supporting fertility when on the mat (not getting a workout, or sweating out stress, or contorting bodies into impractical shapes). Classes are modified for different times in your cycle, keeping you from doing harm while also supporting the phase you’re in.

For those that can’t find an in person or online fertility yoga class that fits your schedule, you may continue with your regular practice – albeit with a different mindset and armed with a new set of modifications – because chances are, your regular studio yoga teacher will not understand the intricacies of an IVF cycle and how they affect the body, mind, and hormones!

In General, Avoid these Types of Yoga Poses When You are doing IVF or TTC

There are some umbrella statements we can make when thinking about how you approach your yoga practice when you’re trying to conceive and what to avoid when doing IVF. 

IN GENERAL, PLEASE AVOID:

INTENSITY!! What often makes a yoga pose intense? How deep you go, how long you hold, and the area of the body you’re working. The mindset and intention of the class (or the vibe in the room) is also something to keep in mind. 

Yoga poses to Avoid when doing IVF

Avoid Intense Core Work when doing IVF or TTC

Navasana, Long Plank Holds, Long Side Plank Holds, and longer core sequences involves crunches or bicycles.

The concept here is that while working the core, we are creating tension and condensing space in an area of the body that we want to be receptive to conception and pregnancy. We want a place of spaciousness and softness. All the magic happens in areas of space! 

Staying healthy and connected in the core is of course still important – use your core consciously, mindfully, as you move through your practice and life. But please, lay off the crazy core workouts.

IVF yoga

Avoid Physically Intense Fitness Oriented Yoga

This includes hot yoga, HIIT yoga, power yoga, power vinyasa yoga.

You can read more about why I recommend no hot yoga while TTC in this blog post here! But in a nutshell – these styles of yoga, similar to above, are INTENSE…they focus on fiery, hot, masculine energies. When dealing with fertility, we want to embrace the feminine energies that are often neglected and undervalued in these styles of yoga. 

Let's Get More Specific

To know what yoga poses you should avoid while TTC, you must first know where you are in our menstrual cycle

Let’s quickly break down the cycles without getting too much into the hormones! We often use the seasons as reference for the energies of each stage of the menstrual cycle.

Online Fertility Yoga
Online Fertility Yoga
Online Fertility Yoga
Online Fertility Yoga

What to Avoid During a Regular Menstrual Cycle when TTC

Follicular and Ovulation

Inner spring and inner summer are considered to be energetically active and there are few specific poses that I would recommend completely avoiding (other than the general guidelines above).

If you have to get in your Vinyasa class – this is the time to do it. Tone down the intensity and make sure you are taking care of your deeper self and not depleting your prana.

Poses to avoid during the Luteal Phase

Inner fall is the time of the 2 week wait. This could be the time of a possible pregnancy, especially if you are actively trying or are post transfer.

There are definitely some poses that I recommend skipping at this time of your cycle.

If not for physical reasons, but often for mental/emotional reasons.

The main thing to avoid at this time is too much pressure on the lower abdomen – in the form of twists, closed legged forward folds, and prone poses.

Please note that there is no evidence that doing any of these poses during the 2 ww would end a pregnancy or cause an embryo not to imbed. For many, not adding pressure to an environment that is actively trying to soften and accept, relieves anxiety and fear about unsuccessful cycles or lost pregnancies. And, intuitively, it makes sense physically as well!

Avoid closed deep twists during the 2 weeks wait

Poses like Marichyasana (as depicted below), closed revolved triangle, twisted lunge, twisted chair, etc should be avoided during the 2 ww.

Avoid prone poses with pressure on the belly​ during the 2ww


Although wonderful for the follicular and ovulation times, its best to skip this pose and others that are prone with added pressure to the pelvic region. Instead, lie on your back in basic relaxation pose.

Belly Bolster Top | Fertile Body Yoga

Avoid pressure when forward folding in the 2ww

Again this is all about pressure on the lower abdominals. For example, closed legged child’s pose, forward fold, and seated forward fold, especially in larger bodied humans, can add significant pressure. Instead, simply open the legs and create space for your abdomen.

This would also apply to low and high lunge and transition when you have one leg forward and lowering the upper body. It will squeeze the side that the leg is forward. Instead, bring both blocks or hands to the inside of the front foot.

Yoga Poses for Fertility

Avoid deep backbends in the 2 ww​


This one is more about the mental/emotional/energetics of the pose. For many, especially after pregnancy loss and IVF treatment, the 2ww is a time when we want to protect our wombs. Deep heart opening poses can sometimes feel like too much and does require core work as well as added pressure to the abdomen.

Poses to avoid during menstruation

Everyone is different with their menstruation and how their bodies feel at this time. I have met many students who like pressure on their pelvic area as it helps with relieving pain and cramping. For others with a heavier flow or in their peak flow, not adding pressure is the way to go. Allow the space to choose what feels best for you and embrace the option to stay in restorative poses if that is where your body wants to be.

In general slower, restful, cleansing, and releasing practices are recommended during menstruation. So again, avoiding too much exertion is recommended as the body transitions through this stage of your cycle.

Fertility Guided Meditations

Avoid full inversions while you’re menstruating.

This advice is not because full inversions are harmful physically or would cause endometriosis, but because they are in direct conflict with the principles of prana. Prana and energetic pathways ARE part of yoga and if you are to truly practice yoga, you can not ignore the energetic body.

Menstruation is a beautiful expression of apanavayu the downward and outward flow of energy. Honor this. Take the natural pause of your cycle to reflect and regain strength for your next cycle. Your body is begging for rest – oblige.

You can read my blog post here on Inversions, Your Period, and Endometriosis.

Yoga Poses to avoid for an IVF Stimulation Cycle/Retrieval/Fresh Transfer

Often called ‘stims’, the stimulation cycle is one of the most intense parts of IVF. You are manipulating your hormones to produce more follicles and potential eggs to be harvested. Your ovaries grow much larger than you are used to, which causes feelings of bloating as well as back pain (because the psoas muscles run over the ovaries). 

Often mentally and emotionally, this time is also intense due to the hormonal cocktail you’re on, the shots, and the fact that life must ‘continue on as normal’ while all of these changes are happening to your body.

After stims, you will go through the egg retrieval process which is also pretty intense. With this people can feel some pain and continued bloating for weeks. 

With a fresh cycle – the egg will be transferred back after being out of the womb for 3 – 5 days while still experiencing some of the effects of the stim cycle and retrieval. 

Fertility Yoga Classes

THERE ARE VERY CLEAR CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR THIS TIME!

ABSOLUTELY NO FULL INVERSIONS during stims or after retrievals – Headstand, Handstand, Shoulderstand. 

Avoiding Ovarian Torsion is the goal. Sounds horrible right – well it is. When the weight of the ovaries is more than what is normal, the ovary or fallopian tubes can  twist on the tissues that support them. If left untreated, it results in loss of blood supply to the ovary and the fallopian tube with resultant infarction and loss of function.

No Deep Closed Twists during Stims, Rertrieval, or fresh transfer – again with the increased size of the ovaries and the bloating that often accompanies this time, deep closed twists are not an option.

Avoid Lying prone with pressure on the pelvic area. For the same reasons as stated above and similar to the two week wait contraindications. Except in these cycles, you may be even more tender or bloated.

Yoga poses to avoid when doing a Frozen Embryo Transfer or IUI

In general these cycles are similar to the menstrual cycle – except we swap an active ovulation for a transfer or IUI.

During these cycles you would rest as the doctor prescribed post transfer or IUI and follow then follow the guidelines for the 2 week wait yoga poses.

 

Final Thoughts

Remember, these changes you’re making for improved reproductive health and staying safe during an IVF cycle is not forever! This is for right now. To support your fertility.

In the future you may go back to all of these things. But you may find, once you’re embraced the softer sides of yoga, you don’t want to go back!

Is this a lot to try and remember? Does it stress you out thinking about it? 

If so, please consider integrating Fertility Yoga into your fertility journey so you can be sure that you are getting all that you need during these highly stressful times. And not have to try and remember all of this!

How about having a zoom tea with me to figure it all out? I offer a free ½ hour discovery call!

What's your fertility type?

What's your fertility type?

Your dosha, or personal constitution, determines how you approach & experience your fertility, as well as what yoga poses are most balancing and nurturing. Take the quiz, find out your predominant dosha, learn how it affects your fertility experiences, and get 3 poses that align with your inherent nature!

Take the quiz
About Kerry

About Kerry

Kerry Hinds is a E-RYT, RPYT, Relax and Renew® Certified Teacher, Fertility Yoga Teacher, and Reiki Practitioner. She is the founder of Fertile Body Yoga and teaches weekly fertility yoga classes and offers other avenues of mind + body support for those trying to conceive. All is available in the FBY Virtual Studio.

Read More

Optimize your fertility with yoga

Get your free e-book and start transforming your journey today!

Sometimes you just need a little support