Relax And Recharge: Yoga

We all know that exercise is essential to our health. Too much is detrimental, however, and can actually inhibit ovulation and therefore lower your chances of getting pregnant. Plus, if you’re anything like me, once you find something you like doing, you’re not going to want to give it up once you do succeed at getting pregnant.

Another factor in conceiving is maintaining our stress levels. I know that I still struggle with this hard core. One thing that I found that helps, also meets my exercise needs plus it’s something I can continue once I do manage to get pregnant. (Although my personal fertility journey is currently on hold, so I am just enjoying the exercise and stress relief!)

This is where yoga comes in! When I was pregnant with my last two children, I made good use of a Prenatal Yoga DVD that I have. You can do them at home alone, in public or in a class at your local yoga studio. It’s entirely up to you. But here are a few poses to get you started at home.

1. Legs-up-the-wall pose (viparita karani)

This is a great pose to do right after intercourse as well as at other points throughout the day. Most women reason that putting their legs up after sex or even standing on one’s head for up to a minute or two (yes, some women actually do this) will bring them closer to a positive pregnancy test.

My guess is that the practice of a woman keeping her legs up will remain because doing the opposite seemingly goes against common sense. Still, although it may intuitively make sense that trapping sperm in the body may help conception, there is no evidence that elevating your legs or even lying flat for an extended period of time will improve the chances of conceiving.

How to do the pose

Choose an unobstructed wall to perform the pose on. Use a folded blanket or bolster for support and position it five or six inches away from the wall. Sit sideways on one end of your support, and position one side of your body against the wall. Exhale and swing your legs up onto the wall in one fluid movement, as your shoulders and head lie back lightly on the floor. Open your shoulders away from the spine. Your hands and arms should be at your sides, palms up. Keep your legs still and firm, holding them in place against the wall. Soften your gaze. Stay in the pose for as long as you’d like (five to 15 minutes is recommended), concentrating on your breath. Gently come out of the pose and return to a sitting position.

Benefits of Legs Up the Wall Pose

  • Relaxation
    • The semi-supine aspect of the pose combined with controlled breathing leads to a slowing down within your body. This exhibits itself in a lowered heart rate which elicits a relaxation response and, in turn, helps lower anxiety, stress and insomnia.
  • Facilitates venous drainage and increases circulation
    • Elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build-up. In addition, gravity assists circulation by facilitating the return of blood back to the heart.
  • Soothes swollen or cramped feet and legs
    • Inverting the legs/feet has long been known as an effective treatment for reducing swelling and pain in the lower extremities. This can be therapeutic after flying, physical activity or from the detrimental effects of sitting/standing during the day.
  • Stretches the hamstrings and lower back
    • The angle of the body reduces the curve of the lumbar spine, which will elongate and stretch the back muscles. The closer your hips are to the wall, the more stretch you’ll create in your hamstrings.
  • Relieves lower back tension
    • Pressure is released from the spine in a supine position (especially on a bed or cushion), relieving the back from mild strain.
  • Pelvic Floor Relaxation
    • The pelvic muscles naturally release and relax in this position (more so with a cushion under the pelvis) resulting in a constructive exercise for a hypertonic (tense) pelvic floor.

Studies have shown that restorative yoga poses (specifically, Legs Up the Wall) can be beneficial for those suffering from the negative effects of:

2. Reclining bound angle (supta baddha konasana)

Begin with an exhale. Lower your back toward the floor, leaning on your hands for support. Lie all the way on your back, supporting your head and neck with a folded blanket or bolster if needed. With the next exhale, slowly open your knees towards the ground creating a stretch across the inner thighs and groin. Place the soles of your feet together as the outer edge of feet rest on the ground. Lay your hands and arms on the floor beside you, palms up. If you’re a beginner, stay in this pose for one minute and work up to anywhere from five to 10 minutes, focusing on your breath. To come out of the pose, use your hands to press your thighs together, then roll over onto one side and push yourself away from the floor.

Benefits of Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle)

  • Stimulates abdominal organs like the ovaries and prostate gland, bladder, and kidneys
  • Stimulates the heart and improves general circulation
  • Increases blood circulation in the lower abdomen
  • Can improve digestion
  • Increases range of external rotation in the hips
  • Stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of stress, mild depression, menstruation and menopause
  • Calms the nervous system

Contraindications:

  • Knee injury (for unsupported version)
  • Low-back pain

3. Easy pose (sukhasana)

Begin by sitting on the front edge of a folded blanket or bolster, then cross your legs starting with your left leg in first and then your right leg, sliding your feet under your opposite knee. Rest your palms on your knees. Come lightly forward onto your sit bones. Avoid leaning back and rounding the spine. Inhale and lift up through your spine. Exhale and relax your shoulders. Relax your facial muscles and jaw and close your eyes. Breath slowly through your nose for as long as it’s comfortable, focusing on the rhythm of your breath. Concentrate on grounding the sit bones and hips and lifting and lengthening the spine. Come out of the pose by straightening your legs forward and giving them a shake. Repeat, crossing legs the opposite way.

Benefits of Sukhasana (Easy Yoga Pose)

  • It stretches and Lengthening your spine.
  • Broadens your collarbones and chest.
  • It calms your mind.
  • Enhance your condition of peacefulness and serenity.
  • Kick out anxiety, stress and mental tiredness.
  • It helps in improving body posture.
  • It opens your hips.
  • It helps in reducing fatigue.
  • It strengths your back.
  • It stretches your ankles and knees.
  • It gives gentle massage to your knees, calf muscles and your thighs also.

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Knee injury

Finding a Yoga Studio Near You

When you’re just getting into yoga, it can be difficult to figure out how to find the yoga classes, teachers, or centers that will fit your needs. Luckily, there are some online directories that can help you locate yoga classes near you.

If you are new to yoga, look for beginner level classes. These will be best suited to your emerging practice and you can always move up later if you want more of a challenge. Use this Yoga Classes Cheat Sheet to go deeper into identifying different styles of yoga classes.

Are you new to yoga or an old pro?? Tell us in the comments about your experiences!!



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