Yoga-inspired exercises are ideal for women who are thinking about getting pregnant or having trouble conceiving. They focus on three main health benefits: reducing stress, improving circulation and increasing flexibility (especially in the pelvic and hip area)—all fertility boosters that are key for baby making, not to mention having a comfortable pregnancy and healthy delivery. Here, certified trainer and health-and-fitness expert Christine Bullock demonstrates a series of flow exercises that are great for both mind and body. (Remember to consult with your doctor before trying new moves if you have a medical condition.)
These exercises can ease tension and help reduce stress and anxiety, which are all commonly linked to infertility. When you’re stressed, your body produces high levels of cortisol, a chemical that can negatively affect your reproductive health. Low-impact poses that focus on breathing and relaxation can help reduce cortisol levels and balance energy throughout the body. Do these exercises once or twice a day, or any time you feel stressed out or anxious.
Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)
Come onto all fours (tabletop position) with your shoulders above your wrists and your hips above your knees. Keep your feet relaxed with the tops facing down on the mat. Inhale and extend your arms by walking your hands forward a few inches. Spread your fingers and push your palms into the mat, keeping your arms engaged with your elbows away from the floor. Press your tailbone toward the ceiling and lower your forehead to the mat, stretching your back and lengthening your spine. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then exhale as you walk your hands back to all fours. Repeat three to five times.
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
First lie down on your back and exhale, then sit up. Lower your shoulders and back to the mat as you lift and straighten your legs against the wall, forming as close to a 90-degree angle as you can. Rest your arms by your sides with palms facing up. Breathe and allow your torso to melt onto the ground, reducing tension in your pelvic area. Soften your eyes and hold this position for 5 to 15 minutes.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Bring the soles of your feet together as you let your legs open and fall to the sides. Relax your shoulders and place your hands in a heart shape (touch your thumbs together and your index fingers) on your lower abs. Hold for at least three minutes as you focus your energy on your pelvic area.
Begin in a comfortable cross-legged seated position with your hands resting on your knees. Exhale and round the spine as you lean to the right, drawing the belly in, and then lengthening your torso as you return to center. Continue on the left side, repeating the full circle 10 to 15 times.
These exercises will improve circulation and massage your reproductive organs. Directing this energy toward your uterus and ovaries can help stimulate the body to encourage conception. Repeat each exercise once a day to support a balanced and strong reproductive system.
Lie on your back with your torso flat on the ground. Draw your knees into your chest and wrap them in a gentle hold. Move your knees in a circle from the left to right sides of your body to massage your lower back. Alternate inhaling and exhaling with each rotation; repeat 10 to 15 times.
Padahastasana (Hand under foot)
Stand with your feet parallel and hips shoulder-width-distance apart. Softly bend your knees, exhale and fold forward from the hips until your palms or fingers touch the ground. Lift your toes and tuck your hands, palms up, underneath your feet. To deepen the stretch, straighten your legs and extend elbows out to the sides, bringing your forehead as close to your knees as you can. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute with steady, calm breathing. Inhale and slowly return to an upright position. Repeat three to five times.
Lie facedown with your legs extended, ankles together, with your hips, legs and the tops of your feet pressed firmly into the floor. Place your hands on the ground beneath your shoulders, and draw your elbows in next to your torso, squeezing them against your sides. Inhale and press through your hands, pulling your shoulder blades back. Press your tailbone toward the floor, and lift your core muscles in toward your spine as you lift your chest. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and maintain even breathing. To release, exhale and drop your head to the floor using your arms to lower your body. Repeat three to five times.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge)
Begin on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor (hip-distance apart) and heels close to your seat. Extend your arms out toward your heels, palms flat against the floor. Press your weight evenly into both feet, and roll your shoulders back and underneath your body as you lift your pelvis to the sky. Clasp your hands underneath your pelvis and hold for up to one minute. Aim to get your thighs parallel to the floor and your knees directly above your ankles. To release, unclasp your hands and place your palms down next to your body. Slowly exhale as you roll your spine, vertebrae by vertebrae, back onto the floor, allowing your knees to come together. Release three to five times.
These exercises are designed to stretch the muscles surrounding the reproductive organs to increase flexibility to the hips and pelvis.
Stand with your feet as wide as the mat, and take a deep inhale. Exhale as you lower into a deep squat with your feet flat on the mat, slightly pivoted out. Place your palms together in a prayer position, extending your elbows wide to create a straight line parallel to the floor. Press your elbows into your thighs to help open your hips. Lengthen your torso and sit up tall. Hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute, then inhale before returning to a standing position. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Start in a tabletop position with your knees directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders in line with your head. Begin with your spine in a neutral position, with your back flat and your abs engaged. Take a deep inhale. Spread your fingers, press into the ground and exhale to round your spine toward the ceiling like a cat, keeping your shoulders and knees in position. Imagine you’re pulling your belly button up toward your spine, really engaging your abs. Tuck your chin toward your chest, and let your neck release.
Inhale and return to a neutral tabletop position to begin cow pose. Arch your back and lift your seat and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight. Exhale and return to tabletop. Continue flowing back and forth from cat to cow pose, and connecting your breath to each movement—inhale for cow pose and exhale on cat pose. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Begin on all fours in a neutral tabletop position with your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Walk your knees out wide to the side, and flex your feet so that the inside edges lie against the mat. Lower down onto your forearms while drawing your shoulder blades in toward one another. Exhale and press your hips back and down. Breathe and hold for three to six breaths, or up to three minutes.
Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle)
Stand with your feet together, then take a large step back (about three to four feet) with your left foot. Keep your front foot forward and pivot the back foot 45 degrees. Reach your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor. As you exhale, shift your left hip back so your tailbone and pelvis turn toward your left foot. Extend your torso forward over your right hip, directly over the right leg. Rest your right hand on your shin (or on the ground outside your right shin) and stretch your left arm toward the ceiling with your palm facing forward. Hold for up to one minute. To release, inhale and press firmly through your left heel as you lift your torso and lower your arms. Turn to the left, reversing the position of your feet, and repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side. Repeat one to two times on each side.