When I tell people I teach fertility yoga, the first questions I get is – ‘but, what IS fertility yoga?’ Now, I can’t speak for all fertility yoga classes, but I can speak for myself and how I teach fertility yoga. It is probably not what you think it is! Here’s the big spoiler alert – it’s not just a physical practice – it moves deeper into the mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual layers of the self. And for me – that’s not just lip service!
Fertility Yoga is not prescriptive – there is no secret sequence of asana to be done x times per week. The essence of yoga incorporates holistic wisdom. Although the physical movement is beneficial, the other aspects are equally as important.
I sometimes jokingly call Fertile Body Yoga a ‘relaxation sandwich’: Beginning and ending with restorative yoga postures (delicious bread), with lots of yummy stuff in the middle, condiments, and a side salad. Wrap it all up into your take out container and you have Fertile Body Yoga.
The Bread: Restorative Yoga. This style of yoga uses bolsters and blankets to support the body, which allows the muscles to truly let go. It is subtle, productive, and so important. Restorative yoga triggers deep relaxation, called the relaxation response. This parasympathetic nervous system response helps to balance hormones, by lowering cortisol levels (your stress hormones), that can be disruptive to fertility. Please note, stress does not cause infertility, it is one of many influential variables. It takes about 15 minutes of stillness to drop into the response. We begin and end in restorative.
The yummy stuff in the middle: pelvic-centered slow flow yoga. It’s luscious, it’s slow, and it feels so damn good. The pelvis is the center of the body, home to the 2nd Chakra, and it houses the reproductive organs. Blood flow and energy can get stagnant here due to our lifestyles and emotions. Bringing a flush of oxygenated blood and new energy to the pelvis can help to balance the functioning of the reproductive organs.
Due to the slower more expansive movements, you are hydrating the myofascial layers (the connective tissue surrounding the muscles) and freeing up long held tension. This slow practice is so luxurious and primal, it allows you to feel comfortable and beautiful in your body, as well as tapping into its wisdom and beginning to renew, rebuild, or discover a trusting relationship with your body.
The Condiments: Guided meditation and visualization is sprinkled throughout the class. Meditation has become a popular tool for those seeking respite from our outwardly focused society. Being led through a visualization or meditation can calm the fluctuations of the mind, which in turn allows the body to harmonize and heal (the relaxation response). I particularly like visualizations because you can focus on someone’s words, rather than your own thoughts, which can lead you deeper into relaxation. Here are some free ones if you’d like to give it a try!
The Side Salad: Community. The added bonus of a fertility yoga class is the Sangha – or community. Infertility, fertility treatment, and pregnancy loss, can all be an isolating experience and some women choose, for good reason, to keep their journeys private. Family and close friends may not know what is going on in the background. Being in a room filled with women who are experiencing similar situations can be a fantastic source of support. Talking about what is happening, using each other as resources for information and services, as well as forming lasting friendships are some of the great benefits. Join the FBY community – first class is free!
The Take-out Container: Integrating yogic philosophy and Vedic teachings helps to reduce the suffering we feel in life. In fact – a Yoga practice’s underlying essence is to reduce suffering and increase healing. When we have intention and perspective behind our practice, it becomes imprinted in our souls, so we can take our practice off the mat and into everyday life. It begins to seep into our daily lives and providing solace in times of despair, frustration, and hopelessness. It’s the nectar of life – that is yoga.
Check out the Fertile Body Yoga Virtual Studio that is the hub for your mind + body fertility support. Weekly livestream classes, affordable and downloadable series for different stages of your fertility journey, FBY memberships, and virtual privates. There are many free resources and recommendations on the website.
This great workshop is offered every couple of months! Check it out if you’d like to learn more. Fertility Yoga 101: Supporting your fertility with yoga.