It’s a question I’ve asked myself a few times: can yoga help with fertility? As I get older – and still don’t feel quite ready to start a family – I’ve wondered if there were other ways to extend my fertility naturally, perhaps even through my own yoga practice.
Wondering whether my yoga practice was optimizing my fertility, I found a few of my friends had the same question – and I finally met the perfect person to which to pose my question. Uma Dinsmore-Tuli is a teacher to the teachers. She’s been practicing and studying yoga for the last 50 years – yes, 50 – and works internationally, as a teacher and trainer (she’s a PhD, writer and activist as well). She has trained a total of over 1000 teachers (I’m one of them) in Yoga Nidra, Women’s Womb Yoga, and therapeutic yoga for pregnancy, birth, and postnatal recovery. She’s also the author of the incredible book, Yoni Shakti: A Women’s Guide to Power and Freedom through Yoga and Tantra.
When I was given the chance to ask her this question, I was pleased to get an answer that was written that I could share with you, Dear Reader. On the off chance you might be wondering the same thing. So here are the words from Uma herself, answering the question “can yoga support fertility?”
Can Yoga Support Fertility?
According to Uma, “Well that all depends what kind of yoga you practice…”
Over the years, many women have discovered that an appropriate yoga practice is a natural support for a healthy menstrual cycle, and a healthy menstrual cycle is a foundation for positive fertility.
After twenty years of supporting women’s life cycles with yoga therapy, it’s clear to me that there are some key practices that help to re-connect women with the rhythms of their cycles, and it is this reconnection that can nourish and extend the fertile years.
Womb Yoga offers feminine practices that help you to dance in tune with your cycle and support fertility: this is all about respecting and honouring your menstrual cycle — and yoga, can help to grow this respect and nurture a healthy, fertile cycle. The key is to respect cyclical feminine nature with yoga practices that optimise, nurture and nourish fertility.
On the other hand, some fierce yoga regimes can actually do the opposite – for example, relentless hot yoga, or demanding flow practices, when done every day with no respect for the ebbs and flows of your cycle can actually deplete fertility and suspend or disrupt the natural cycle.
The basic guidance is to avoid high power or heating practices during menstruation, to use restful restorative poses instead, during this time. During pre-ovulation and ovulation, then gentle movement and energizing flows can be helpful, but it is important not to “over-do” a yoga practice that’s heating and depleting when you are seeking to conceive. With attention and kindness to the cycles of the body, then it’s possible to welcome fertile cycles well supported by yoga for many years.
The oldest woman in my classes over the years to conceive naturally was forty-eight years old, and I have supported many other women through conception and pregnancy in their forties. My own daughter, my third child, was born when I was forty-two, and my experience as an ‘older mother’ with a continuing fertile menstrual cycle that remains present now even in my early fifties has given me a particular perspective on yoga and fertility… The real key is to support a respectful and nourishing yoga practice to nurture every stage of the menstrual cycle.
So, if you are looking to extend and optimise fertility, ensuring that your yoga practice is attuned to your cycle is the best way forward.
Uma’s Top Three Yoga Practices to Optimize Fertility
1. Have a Daily Yoga Nidra Practice
Yoga can help with fertility through yoga nidra. This is deep process of total relaxation that doesn’t require any physical movement, just the capacity to rest still and to listen – so the easiest way to access the practice is to listen to pre-recorded downloads [Uma has graciously linked these downloads for you below]. Any of recordings produced by well-trained teachers will be helpful, but it can be especially nourishing to choose practices with a focus on fertility and reconnection to earth’s nourishment (similar to the ones below).
All you need to do is to lie down comfortably and listen!
2. Practice the “Heart-Womb” Sequence
The Heart-Womb practice optimises the energetic flow of loving connection between the heart and womb, and this is one of the fundamentals for supporting fertility. It is a simple practice, and can be done lying down or seated, or even integrated into a standing flow.
When this link between the heart and womb is strong, love flows freely down into the source, vital energy is nourished and we re-connect to our intuitive wisdom and optimal fertility:
The Heart Womb Practice [this and more like it can be found in her book, Yoni Shakti]
- Sit comfortably, bring hands to heart in prayer position.
- Exhale, move hands down in yoni mudra (downward pointing triangle with the index fingers touching and the thumb tips touching)
- Inhale, return hands to heart in a prayer
- Repeat with a downward facing triangle with your hands from the heart to womb, synchronizing breath and movement with awareness.
3. Practice the Seed-Flower Flow
The Seed-Flower Flow is a deeply nourishing and calming yoga practice that optimises fertility and menstrual health. To practice:
- Laying down: EXHALE as you settle yourself so that your knees are bent, feet flat on the floor under your knees. Let your inner knees and ankles be touching. Have your hands on your belly in yoni mudrā as for the previous practice (downward facing triangle).
- INHALE reach both arms up, hands extending towards the ceiling and then back above your head, coming to rest on the floor above your head. At the same time as the arms move up, allow for the knees to drop wideout to the sides so that the soles of the feet turn towards each other to touch (supta baddha konasana).
- EXHALE and reverse the opening movement: bring the hands back over the body to return to yoni mudrā, and squeeze the legs closed so that the knees and ankles are touching again. Continue to repeat the opening movement with each inhalation, and the closing movement with each exhalation.
All these practices (and more) are described in Yoni Shakti: A woman’s guide to power and freedom through yoga and tantra.
Enjoy your fertile yoga practice, and welcome a nourishing reconnection to the cycles of life.
With great respect and love from Uma Dinsmore-Tuli