Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fertility-Boosting Yoga Poses Try this yoga workout to relax, better align your pelvis, and increase blood flow -- all factors that may help promote quicker conception.

Studies show that yoga can help reduce stress, which can affect fertility. Some experts also believe that specific poses can help promote baby-making by increasing blood flow to your pelvis, stimulating hormone-producing glands, and releasing muscle tension.

Click to the following slides for a series of fertility-boosting yoga poses by Eden Fromberg, D.O, a board-certified gynecologist and yoga teacher in New York City. Complete the workout four to five times a week for best results, or practice a pose or two when you have a few free minutes.

Staff Pose, Foot, and Ankle Warm-Up

Walking around in high heels can throw your pelvic floor out of alignment, which can hinder your lymphatic system and make it harder to get pregnant, Dr. Fromberg says.

Sit on a mat or blanket and extend legs long in front of you with knees and back straight, using fingertips at your sides for additional support as needed.

Turn both ankles in a circle five times, clockwise; repeat going counterclockwise.

Flex and point your feet 10 times.

Wiggle your toes; rotate and bend your ankles.

Shake out your legs by gently bouncing the knees up and down, which will lubricate your knee and hip joints and help keep them limber.

Half Ankle to Knee

This hip-opening pose may help align your uterus properly, which makes conception more viable, say experts at the Fertility Specialists Medical Group in San Diego, CA.

Sitting in staff pose, bend your right knee and place your right ankle on your thigh just above your left knee. Keep your left leg engaged by flexing your left foot.

Flex your right foot, and press the palm of your left hand against the sole of your right foot, pressing them into each other in opposition. At the same time, use your right hand just above your right knee to press your thigh down firmly but without force. Hold for three breaths.

Gently bounce the knee up and down to lubricate the hip joint.

Gradually bend forward as far as you can comfortably, engaging your abdominal muscles to support and lengthen your spine.

Repeat on the opposite side.

Alternating Knee to Chest

If you sit at a desk all day long, your hip flexors are tight. This pose offers the baby-making benefits of releasing tension and correcting your alignment.

Lie on your back and extend your left leg straight on the floor, flexing your foot.

Bend your right knee into your chest, clasping your hands (or a towel) around the top of your shin. Hold for five long breaths, then release.

Repeat on the opposite side.

Pull both knees into your chest, keeping your legs pressed together, hands on shins, inhaling and exhaling for five counts.

Bridge Pose

This pose helps promote resilient connections between your hips, pelvis, and lower back, and stimulates your immune and endocrine systems.

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than hip distance apart; place your arms relaxed at your sides, palms up.

Exhale and press your lower back to the floor. Curl your tailbone under, peeling your spine away from the floor, lifting your buttocks until you come to rest on your upper back. Keep your pelvis curled under and your lower back long.

Stay in the pose for 5 to 15 long, deep breaths.

Release the pose gradually, curling your spine down to the floor from your upper back to your lower back.

Repeat twice.

Restorative bonus: After your final bridge pose, allow your knees to fall together. Place your hands over your lower belly, palms down, with thumbs and forefingers touching to create a diamond shape. Close your eyes and breathe consciously into your pelvis, amplifying your awareness as you feel the benefits of increased resilience and the flow of energy.

Mountain Pose

You can help improve your circulation and better align your pelvis when you perform this pose. Engage the same muscles you access in this pose while standing, walking, and sitting to help strengthen your core.

Stand with feet hip distance apart. Bend your knees slightly as you place one hand on the front of your pelvis, just below your belly button, and the other hand on the small of your back.

Engage your abdominal muscles and curl your tailbone under, lengthening your lower back.

Keeping this alignment, straighten your legs and release your arms to your sides.

Inhale deeply without letting your lower ribs jut out, and let your shoulder blades relax away from your neck. If you were to drop a plumb line from the crown of your head, it would ideally follow a direct line to your cervix.

Inhale and exhale deeply while holding the pose for at least two full minutes.

Shoulder Opening Mountain Pose

Shoulder tension tracks through the body and may create muscle restrictions from your neck to your pelvis, which can compromise breathing and elevate fertility-busting stress levels.

Come into mountain pose, with feet hip distance apart.

Curl your tailbone under and lengthen your lower back and torso.

Raise your arms to the ceiling, shoulder distance apart, keeping them straight with palms facing each other. Make sure that your elbows are straight, with your inner elbows turned toward your head. Keep your arms straight up, even if it becomes challenging, for 2 to 5 full minutes, inhaling and exhaling deeply.

Bring your arms down by your sides and shrug your shoulders up and down quickly at least 60 times.

High Lunge With Side Stretch

Performing this pose gives your body a baby-making boost by opening your hips and pelvis. You'll know you're doing it correctly if you feel a stretch in the front of your pelvis and hip flexors, and along the side of your torso and hip.

Step into a lunge with your right foot in front, knee bent (as close to a 90-degree angle as possible) directly over your right ankle, hips square to the front. Position yourself about arm's length away from a wall just in case you need extra support for balance.

Bend your back knee and curl your tailbone under. Keeping your pelvis tucked, straighten the back leg.

Raise your left arm overhead, and bend to the right, using your right hand against your hip (or wall) for support as needed. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Repeat on the opposite side.

Yogini Squat

By squatting, you'll build a strong pelvic floor -- something you'll need when you're carrying a growing baby. A toned pelvic floor can also give your sex life a boost.

Come into a comfortable squat with feet slightly wider than your hips. Check to make sure your knees and feet are pointing in the same direction. If you feel a strain in your knees, don't go as deep into the squat. If your heels will not go flat against the floor, place small rolled-up towels under them for support.

Using your core and back muscles, sit up as straight as you can.

For additional support, bring your palms together and press your elbows against your inner knees.

NOTE: This pose may be difficult at first, and you may lose your balance, but don't worry: With practice it will become easier.

Seated Twist

Twisting helps to wring out any fertility-compromising tension that may be in your organs and muscles.

Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position.

Place your left hand on your right knee. Inhale.

Keeping your spine long and engaging your abdominal muscles, twist to your right, reaching your right fingertips to the floor behind you. Let your neck follow; do not strain. Continue to lengthen your spine as you inhale, and gently twist further to the right as you exhale. Hold the pose for 8 to 10 breaths.

Release and twist gently in the opposite direction.

Reverse the crossing of your legs and repeat on the opposite side.

Goddess Pose

This restorative pose opens your hips and pelvis and can help you to relax -- something that's sometimes hard to do when you're trying to make a baby.

Lie on your back; bend your knees and let them fall to either side, placing the soles of your feet together to form a diamond shape.

Place your hands on your belly and breathe slowly and deeply, focusing on your breath for 3 to 5 minutes. If you feel strain in your hips or inner thighs, place a rolled-up towel or blanket under each knee for support.

Corpse Pose

Stress and anxiety are fertility killers. Help increase your fertility just by relaxing and cooling down at the end of your workout.

Lie on your back with your legs wider than hip width apart, arms wider than shoulder width apart, palms up, and eyes closed.

Breathe slowly, deeply, and completely into your belly and expand your chest to fill your lungs.

After a brief pause, exhale slowly, with control, allowing the breath and belly to release.

Repeat this breathing pattern for 3 to 5 minutes. Envision a wave coming to shore with every inhalation, and the tide returning to the ocean with every exhalation.

Return to normal breathing. Roll to one side with knees bent, and use your hands to roll up to sitting before opening your eyes.

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