Whilst in our current situation, there are plenty of ways to prepare for treatment when restrictions start to ease up. When you are trying to conceive, diet and exercise are important, but so is your mental health. Yoga is described as a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices. This is a posture-based exercise, stress-reliever and relaxation technique. It is more than a work out; it has a meditative and spiritual core.
The central art and practice of yoga is based on a series of around 200 postures. These are held for various lengths of time in order to achieve mental and physical equilibrium. In 1966, ‘Light On Yoga’ by yoga guru, BKS Iyengar, published. He had many celebrities as followers, who were prepared to act as public advocates for yoga. Described as the bible of modern yoga, ‘Light On Yoga’ sold over three million copies. It has been translated into at least 23 languages. Its immense popularity ensured that by the 1970s everyone was yoga crazy!
Despite the ebb and flow of many fads, yoga has endured. The claims about its health enhancing abilities are proven and the benefits are accessed in a short space of time. Yoga also shows promise as a lifestyle change to promote healthy reproduction in both men and women.
Strengthens the body and burns fat
Being overweight can hinder fertility and exercise helps to lose weight. But being overweight can hinder exercise. It’s a sort of Catch-22 situation! But this is the beauty of yoga. Yoga is a gentle way to ease the body into more regular movement. It prepares you for more vigorous workouts and activities. The postures don’t have to tax the joints, especially for beginners. You can feel your muscles working and enjoy the increased strength and flexibility in the limbs from an early stage.
Eases stress, depression and anxiety
Research shows that up to 40% of women undergoing fertility treatment deal with a level of anxiety, depression or both. This in itself has been shown to negatively impact the chances of conceiving.
However, to demonstrate the benefits of yoga, in one 2015 study, 55 people undergoing infertility treatments performed yoga and attended a discussion group for 6 weeks. Their self-described anxiety decreased by 20%.
Helps to balance hormones
Hormone levels are affected by stress. By reducing stress, regular yoga practice may help improve the interaction between the brain and hormones. This means hormones are better balanced overall. This improvement in hormone balance can also increase sexual desire and reproductive function and works for both women and men.
Supports sperm production
Low sperm counts in men across the world have been a feature for several decades. Male infertility accounts for nearly 40% of cases where couples have difficulty in conceiving. In 2013 research showed yoga lowered stress and anxiety. It regulated body function and even support sperm production in males. More research is needed, but if yoga can improve male reproductive health, then it could enhance fertility in couples.
Increases chances of assisted reproduction success
Yoga has been shown to help to positively enhance the physiological and psychological states of both sexes. Studies have determined that the breathing, meditation, and postures may ease stress, depression and anxiety. These are all positive steps to help you conceive.
How difficult is it?
It’s not difficult. Particularly the beginners’ exercises. Part of the beauty of yoga is that it relies on being in tune with your body. It should never be strenuous. If, at any point, it becomes strenuous, then you merely return to an earlier stage until you are ready for the next one. There is no race to complete everything within a given time frame.
Is it safe?
In terms of safety, yoga is very low risk, although if in doubt, you should always consult your doctor. The key is to start slow and resist going too far into advanced postures. Initially, you should focus on your breathing and what feels most comfortable.
While the lockdown and the closing of IVF clinics in many parts of the world is frustrating, it is also an opportunity to prepare. You can do this in terms of diet, exercise and other means, such as yoga. This ensures you are in optimal condition to face the challenges of fertility treatment as the world gradually returns to normal.
Yoga is a safe and gentle practice that offers all kinds of benefits at very low cost and risk. It may also make aspects of the lockdown such as stress and worry much more bearable.
In terms of resources, we have listed some useful books and online information below to help you get started.