Should you exercise while trying to get pregnant? It didn’t take a lot of prodding by my fertility doctor to convince me to avoid it. I’ve never been athletic; in fact the kind of exercise I prefer is that which can be done lying down. (Savasana pose? Love it.). But one summer, feeling particularly motivated to look good in a bikini, I went for 20-minute jog/power walks three times a week. I dropped two pounds and stopped getting my period altogether. It appeared I might just be one of those people deemed “exercise-sensitive” by the fertility community, so I (happily) quit all but Hatha yoga, which small studies have shown to have a positive effect on fertility (see study below).
I did particular poses said to bring blood flow to the uterus and balance to my hypothalamus.
Geeta S. Iyengar, author of Yoga a Gem for Women, (Allied, Publishers Limited, 1983), believes some yoga poses help to rebalance the hormones in the body, returning them to a more natural state. Her writings stress the importance of regularly practicing Salamba Sirsasana, or Supported Headstand, and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, or Supported Bridge Pose, to aid in conception. Perform these poses regularly, working toward the goal of holding them for several minutes at a time.
Any restorative poses or classes can also provide assistance to someone suffering from infertility. A woman's desire to have a baby can be overpowering and quickly turn to obsession. This adds another level of stress to the want-to-be-parent that can interfere with and inhibit fertility even more. Restorative yoga is about teaching, familiarizing and then practicing the art of relaxation. To do this with perfection, you need to involve body, mind, and spirit so they can relax and restore in unison. Many of the poses above are restorative poses. You can also try Balasana, or Child's Pose, or Viparita Karani, or Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, or better yet, try a Restorative class.
Having said that, it was harder than I expected to sit idly by as I watched my waistline expand into a tire of blubber, courtesy of injectible hormones. I remember catching a glimpse in the mirror of my formerly svelte self which had morphed into my mother’s mid-50’s frame. So if you like exercise, here’s what conventional fertility wisdom advises: take a 3-month “exercise vacation” during which you do not elevate your heart rate above 110 beats per minute (yes, I bought a heart rate monitor just to make sure my power walks with girlfriends were in compliance). See if that makes a difference.
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