January 12, 2017
Fridays are for flowing here at Baby2Body - and since we might as well stick with the alliteration - we're making Fridays all about fertility too. That's what inspired us to bring you this Friday fertility flow, a sequence of yoga poses designed to release your mind of worries, relax and realign your hips, and boost your circulation and oxygenation.
Quickly, let's talk about what it means to "flow". This word is tied to the Vinyasa practice of yoga, where you focus on the power and rhythm of inhalation and exhalation and let your breathing guide you through yoga poses in one fluid, continuous motion. Something really magical happens when you're in a Vinyasa flow. Your breathing, your heartbeat, your thoughts, your physical body and your soul aligns into one continuous energy and exprience. It definitely hits in that holistic fitness experience - and the benefits span your physical health, your digestive health, and even your emotional health.
Regular yoga practice can lead to stress reduction, muscle tone development and increased strength, improved breathing, healthy weight maintenance, increased flexibility and better circulation and cardiovascular health. Now, yoga may not be for everyone, but before you write it off, try to dispel the idea that it has to be done in a certain way or in a specific setting. The cool thing about yoga is that it's yours to make into what you need it to be. If you're interested in incorporating yoga into your preconception lifestyle, or if you're a veteran yogi looking for new ways to benefit from the practice - we've got a fertility flow for you. All you need is 12 square feet of space, and a willingness to trust yourself and your body.
We've listed the flow in the order we like to practice it in, but feel free to mix it up, skip an asana or two, or hang out in one pose for the whole time. Enjoy and namaste.
1. Mountain pose - stand with your feet parallel and about hip width apart. Press down through your heels and lift through your knees. Keep your chin parallel and your arms at your sides, fingers spread wide.
Healthy circulation is crucial for healthy fertility - and much of that has to do with posture and alignment, which this pose is designed to work on. This is also a great place to start to bring focus into your practice. Remain here until you find serenity and feel ready to move on through your flow.
2. Forward fold, standing - bend at the hips and soften your knees (bending if necessary) until your palms reach the ground. You want to feel your head reaching toward the ground and your hips lifting towards the sky.
This pose helps release stress and tension held in the core, and provides an excellent stretch to your full back, improving circulation in your back body and pelvic region.
3. Downward dog - Step back into a plank from forward fold, tuck your toes and lift your pelvis towards the sky, pressing through your palms and knuckles. Your arms and back should form a straight line.
Use this pose to ground yourself and generate energy and strength as you transition into later poses.
4. Three legged dog with bent knee - Lift one leg off the ground and bring into a straight line with your arms and back. Gently the bend your knee and let your foot fall towards your opposite hip.
This pose is designed to relax your nerves, reduce fatigue and tension headaches, and the bent knee variation will help to open up your hips.
5. Low lunge with upward stretch - Step your lifted leg forward and in between your planted hands with your knee over your ankle. Bend your other knee and let it rest on the ground, press forward and keep your hips square to the front of your mat. Raise your arms above your head and bend up and backwards into a gentle stretch.
As you move into a low forward lunge you're further opening your hip flexors. The upward stretch is an excellent chest opener to help reduce feelings of anxiety.
6. Repeat steps 3-5, lifting the other leg into three-legged dog with bent knee, and working on the other side in your low lunge.
When you finish, step up and into your forward fold again.
7. Yogini squat - Place your feet slightly wider than your hips and turned outwards at 45 degree angles. Bend gently into a squat and work on going as deeply as you can without your knees spilling over your toes. If you feel any strain in your knees, you've gone slightly too far, lift yourself back up into a comfortable squat.
This pose will continue to open your hips and build good pelvic floor strength. (By the way, a strong pelvic floor is a must-have for reducing pregnancy-related incontinence, but it's also an easy way to spice up your sex life and strengthen your grip - if you know what we mean...).
8. Repeat poses 2-3
This is to help you flow smoothly into your next set of poses. Feel free to vary your transition.
9. Cobra - Lower yourself from downward dog into a plank and then onto the ground. With your elbows at your sides and your arms in parallel in front of you, press through your palms and lift your head up, arching your back gently and opening your chest by looking up to the sky. Make sure to stay elongated through your spine.
This pose actually works to redirect blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, stimulating hormone production necessary for improved fertility.
10. Child's pose - Keep your knees on the ground but lift your hips up and back so that your butt comes to rest on the soles of your feet, and your chest is pressed down towards the ground. You can tuck your arms back along your sides, or keep them outstretched depending on how you're feeling.
This will help with pelvic alignment and blood flow to the area, it's also one of the best poses for stress relief.
Once you've come into your child's pose, your vinyasa flow can come to an end, or you can begin again through the entire flow. Alternatively, you can move into a few asanas - more static yoga positions - for as long as you need to further help with hip opening, increased blood flow to your uterus and ovaries, and overall relaxation. We recommend the following asanas:
Butterfly pose: Sitting down with equal weight on your sit bones, bring the soles of your feet together, and let your thighs float down into a comfortable position. Work on lengthening your spine and keeping your hips forward, not tucked underneath you.
Bridge pose: On your back, bend your knees up so that your feet are flat on the floor a few inches away from your bum. Keeping your chest lifted, curl your tailbone and lift your spine off of the ground until your upper body forms a straight line from your chest to your knees. Keep that bum engaged!
Goddess pose: On your back, bring the soles of your feet together again and this time let your legs fall down to the floor, opening up your hips. Place your hands in a comfortable and natural position on your stomach or hipbones and spend as much time as you need breathing into this pose and finishing off your yoga practice.