A Yin to the frantic Yang of our 21st-century lives
The majority of couples going through infertility treatment report some degree of stress. Both infertility itself and the treatment required to overcome it can be incredibly stressful! In general, our everyday lives don’t exactly make things stress-free, as we’ve seen mindfulness, meditation and minimal living on the rise as a direct response to our overloaded culture. Stress reduction then is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to fertility health. While stress does not cause infertility, infertility absolutely causes stress! Yoga, however, is an excellent practice for balancing all the systems of the body and preparing it for the challenging but beautiful transformation of pregnancy.
Yin yoga, based on the principles of Yin and Yang – where Yin is more calming and passive, and Yang is more active, excited, and upward-moving – is a wonderful practice for Fertility. Yin helps to quiet the active mind and encourage Prana (life force) to consistently flow through the 6 main meridians in the legs, which are connected to the health of the major organs (spleen/pancreas, liver, kidney, urinary bladder, stomach, and gall bladder). A body with balanced Prana (or chi) along with healthy organs is more likely to become pregnant and sustain a healthy pregnancy. In Yin yoga, poses are held for longer periods (up to 5 minutes) to access the deeper connective tissues. There is also a stronger emphasis on practicing functionally, adapting a pose to suit your body’s individual bone structure, tissues and proportions, until you are stimulating the target area.
Another fertility benefit from a Yin practice is the emphasis on forward bending. The pressure to the lower belly stimulates Prana flow there too. This lower abdomen region is the location of the major energy center (or chakra) called Svadhisthana, which controls the reproductive organs. The more energy that is drawn to this chakra, through pressure and stretching – as well as focusing the mind there – the greater the benefit both before and during pregnancy. The Svadhisthana Chakra is responsible for sexual reproduction, cellular division, and the formation of the human body at the physical level. NOTE: After the 1st Trimester, pregnant women should not take fold forwards to deeply.
The following Yoga for Fertility flow opens up the lungs, hips, back, brings blood flow to the pelvic floor region, and is also deeply soothing and relaxing.
Mermaid – Sit on your shins, with your knees and heels joined. Roll hips (off heels) to the left and stretch your right arm over your ear. Stretch into your side bodies.
Hold for 5-8 breaths.
Repeat on the other side.
Cow/Cat – Go through 5-8 cycles linking breath and movement
Child’s Pose – Recline back to your heels, parting your knees as wide as comfortable. If you are feeling any uncomfortable sensations in the low back, bring your knees in slightly. Feel free to use props to support the chest or forehead in this pose.
Hold for 8-10 breaths.
Butterfly – From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together into a diamond shape and then slide them together but out in front of you. Allow your back to round, fold forward, lightly rest your hands on your feet or on the floor. Your head should hang down toward your heels.
Tilt your pelvis forward (sit on the edge of a pillow or blanket to help angle). Support knees, if you have too much tension in the Adductors or too much compression in your Hips and cannot relax.
Hold for 3-5 minutes (or more).
Targets Urinary Bladder channel, relating to the water element and the Liver channel, relating to the wood element.
To release, lift the chest up, release your legs on the mat and lay back in Savasana/Pentacle.
Half Butterfly – Bend your left knee and slide your left heel toward your pelvis, keep your right leg straight (right knee and ankle should be soft and relaxed). Inhale to find length in your spine, and then walk your hands out in front of you and fold forward, stopping when you feel a stretch. Allow your spine to round. You can keep your head lifted or allow it to drop.
Rather than straining to get to the full expression of this pose, use a bolster or blocks to help you find your edge. In order to avoid hyperextending your legs, maintain a soft bend in your knees.
Hold 3-5mins. (each side)
Targets the Liver meridian related to the wood element and the Urinary Bladder pathway with the legs at a narrower angle.
To release, lengthen your spine as you walk your hands toward your body to return upright.
Caterpillar – Fold forward allowing gravity to do all the work (no need to grip feet, surrendering is YIN).
If suffering from an injury or tight Back/Hamstring, use the wall to reduce stress – lay on the floor with your hips very close to the wall and legs together supported by the wall. Another alternative is to roll a blanket under your knees, and/or to sit on a pillow – creating a slope, which will change the pelvic tilt and reduce the stress on the legs.
Hold for 3mins.
Replenishes energy, targets the Urinary Bladder Channel relating to the Water Element.
To release, gently move your hands back and come to a seated position with your spine up, then lay back in Savasana/Pentacle.
Melting Heart – Start on your hands and knees, leave your hips over your knees as you walk your hands out front. Lower your forehead to the mat, then soften your heart to the mat. Relax the area between your shoulder blades. Draw your low belly in.
Hold for 3 mins.
To release, move back into Child’s pose.
Sphinx / Seal – Ease your way down on to your belly. Ground your forearms, place your elbows under shoulders. Spread out your fingers and press in to your palms. Pull your heart forward, drag your forearms back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Soften your belly to the mat.
Hold Sphinx for 3-5mins.
Targets mainly the Urinary Bladder channel relating to the Water element.
From the belly, extend your arms out in front. Lift your elbows off the mat.
Hold Seal for 1min.
Targets the Urinary Bladder- Kidney pathways related to the water element and Stomach-Spleen related to the earth element.
To release, slowly slide your elbows to the side and rest in a prone position.
Saddle – Come to kneeling, keeping your knees in line with your hipbones, open your feet out to the sides, give your hips space to shift down to the mat. Your heels will be face up and hug in to the sides of your hips. From here, your upper body reclines on to the floor (or into props).
This is one of the
most challenging pose in the Yin repertoire! Make adjustments, so that there is
no stress on the knees, roll a blanket and place it behind the knee before
In case of tightness in the quads, use a bolster to support the upper body before going down.
In case of strong compression in the lumbar spine, rest the upper body on a bolster.
Ankle discomfort can be relieved by placing a rolled blanket at the front of the ankle, so you can rest the joint on it.
Hold for 3-5mins.
Targets the Spleen-Stomach channels related to the Earth element
To release, reach out with one
arm to the opposite side, let your torso roll onto the floor and let your whole
body follow, so that you can release your legs and your spine on the mat.
If using a bolster and that does not feel comfortable to release that way, come back onto the elbows, then on your hands to push your body back up and fold back into child pose.
Shoelace – There are several options for coming into this pose. One is to begin kneeling on all fours and place one knee behind the other and sit back between the heels. A second is to begin sitting on heels and then slide onto buttock and bring the outside foot over toward the opposite hip. A third approach is to begin sitting cross-legged and move one foot under the opposite thigh and the other foot over toward the opposite hip. Try not to sit on feet but slide them as far forward as they can go. Anchor sits bones to the ground.
Changing the height of the pelvis will decrease the stimulation. If coming into the pose is too challenging, open your knee to the side (this will allow you to come into the lose shoelace much easier). If there is too much tension in the back, keep the back in upright position.
Hold for 3-5mins.
Targets mainly the Gall Bladder channel relating to the wood element and urinary-Bladder channels relating to the Water element.
To release, gently bring yourself up into a seated position, then lean back with elbows on the floor first, uncrossing your legs.
Swan – From all fours slide your right knee forward and parallel to the front of the mat as you slide your left leg back.
Option to recline forward for Sleeping Swan.
Hold for 3-5mins, then switch sides by moving through all fours.
Targets the gall bladder channel related to the wood element and the stomach-spleen related to the earth element.
To release, lean on the side opposite to your back leg and gently drag your back leg forward to lay back in Savasana/Pentacle.
Happy Baby – Bend your knees and hug them into your chest, hold onto either the big-toe or pinky-toe side of each foot with your hands.
If your feet are out of reach, clasp your ankles or hold onto the backs of your thighs. Open your knees wide and move them toward your armpits. Keep your knees deeply bent, flex your feet so that the soles of your feet face the sky, gently tug on them with your hands. Lengthen your entire spine, reach your sits bones toward the floor.
Hold for 3-5minutes.
Reclining Twists – Lay on your back with knees bent, let knees fall to one side. Cactus your arms and gaze opposite your knees. Use a block or bolster under your knees for extra support, then let gravity do the work for you, as you close your eyes and sink into the hold.
Hold for 3mins (or whenever you feel balanced), then switch sides.
Goddess – Stay in a reclined position with your knees bent. Release your knees to the sides and down to your mat. Bring the soles of your feet together. Place a bolster under length of your spine for support.
Hold for 3mins.
Pentacle / Savasana – Stretch both legs forward; lay down to rest in relaxation.
Keep your hands on your belly if you prefer. Send loving kindness into that region and envision a new life growing inside of you. You have made it to the final resting pose. Allow your body to occupy some space as you let your legs reach long and your arms fall to your sides. Melt your body into the floor. Check in with yourself and notice what has changed in your body after these series of Yin poses. This is your chance to integrate and digest everything that we have done. Surrender…
Hold for 3-5mins
Yoni Mudhra Meditation
Bring your thumbs together at the navel, and your index fingers to your pubic bone. Spread your fingers open with the palms of your hands on your low belly.
This mudra represents the loving power of feminine energy for compassion, forgiveness, and creative possibility.
Breathe for 5–8 Ujjayi breaths.
Bring your palms to meet at your heart, leave the base of your palms, your thumbs, and your pinky fingers pressed together as you fan the rest of your fingers out and away from each other, creating the shape of a lotus flower with your hands.
Visualize a glowing ball of green light filling this energetic seal with love.
Acknowledge the time you’ve spent honoring yourself during this practice. Breathe into this space of love and self-acceptance as you take a deep inhale with humility.
Exhale as you bow forward with deep gratitude.