Exercise

Yoga and Pilates during the two week wait – 11 expert tips

Jessie Day & Jennifer Edmonds   |   1 May 2023


Whether your test ends up being positive or negative, we class the 2WW (two week wait) as early pregnancy. For those of us starting this in-between phase, do we need to modify our yoga and/or Pilates during the two week wait?

An instructor’s guide to Pilates and yoga during the two week wait

Early pregnancy (including the two week wait) can be a nerve-wracking time. The last thing you need to be worrying about is whether something designed to support and nourish your body – like yoga and Pilates – could cause any harm. 

Reassurance comes best from a qualified, experienced instructor, so we picked up with Jennifer Edmonds, founder-practitioner at Element Pilates & Yoga and women’s health expert, to run through yoga and Pilates during the two week wait.

Before we get moving, connect with Jen on Insta – she’s created a beautiful, safe space there for anyone on a TTC journey. A yoga and Pilates during the two week wait forum, of sorts, packed with empowering conversations and real-time support. 

From safety and gentle class plans to specific practice for whatever stage you’re at in your cycle (IVF or otherwise), it’s all here. 

Our key takeaway – staying sedentary during this time (unless instructed by a medical professional) isn’t likely to help. Gentle, mindful, supportive movement encourages blood flow to your reproductive organs, and gets to work on overall anxiety levels. And all of these are mainstays of fertility yoga and Pilates practice. 

Ready to move? Sign up for Jen’s 28-day fertility yoga course program, or go for 1:1 ongoing live support. All based online and designed to work in sync with every stage of your fertility journey, it’s the perfect foundation for early pregnancy.

Before you hit the mat

(Gently, of course), pair your 2WW yoga and Pilates game with 10% off our go-to Vital Essence 1 by Zita West – the first trimester multivitamin targeted for very early pregnancy support (US and UK). Just pop code TRB10* in at checkout to save across the entire line.

And, if you’re looking to track ovulation with the groundbreaking saliva method – yep, we can’t believe it either – head to our review of the OvuScope™. There’s a bonus $10 off right now too, with code RIBBONBOX. We have everything crossed you won’t need to next cycle, though!

Over to Jen – 

pilates for fertility

Q: Can I do yoga and Pilates during the two week wait?

A: Absolutely. But it’s important to make some modifications. There’s no need to give up your exercise routine during this time – in fact, exercise is incredibly beneficial during the 2WW. But your practice will need to be mindful of early pregnancy, and scaled back. 

Q: Any Pilates or yoga poses to avoid during the two week wait?

A: Often, we’re told to stick to ‘gentle’ practice during this time. And this really means anything which isn’t going to create unnecessary stress on your body and nervous system.

We want to avoid high intensity – high impact cardio, for example, so avoid cardio Pilates during the two week wait. Most importantly, avoid hot or heated classes (power yoga, hot yoga and Bikram are the main ones). 

For Pilates during the two week wait more specifically, we want to stay away from intense core work – so avoid crunches and planks. This is because we want to keep the pelvic area soft and the blood flowing, rather than tense and constricted. 

Here are a few ideas for what your class plan could look like, during the two week wait. Show it to your instructor, and build around what you need specifically:

2WW yoga class plan suggestions

My programs look at building in these poses: 

  • Cat/cow
  • Downward-facing dog
  • Kneeling hip openers and open twists
  • Forward folds
  • Bridge pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Butterfly pose
  • Legs up the wall

2WW Pilates class plan suggestions

I incorporate different combinations of these exercises in class: 

  • Pelvic stability work, lying on your back 
  • Hip rolls
  • Cat stretch
  • All-fours kneeling balance work
  • Swan stretch (gentle back extension)
  • Side-lying clams
  • Seated twists and side bends

Q: How long and frequent should my sessions be?

A: It’s fine to attend a full-length – 60-minute or so – class, as long as it’s gentle. But you can find ‘bite-sized’ 2WW sessions that are 15-20 minutes in length too, and these are just as beneficial. We want to keep moving and encourage blood flow throughout the body, without overdoing it. And remember, you’ll find lots of targeted sessions for the two week wait in our signature Element Fertility Yoga Program

Q: I go to a class. Should I tell my instructor I’m in the two week wait?

A: Not all Pilates and yoga instructors will have specific training in fertility work. But it may be worth saying you’ve had an assisted cycle (IVF, FET or a medicated IUI), or that you’ve been through a few minor procedures recently and want to take it really easy, especially with core exercises. 

Q: What if I’ve had IVF? Does that make Pilates or yoga more risky?

A: If you’re in the middle of a STIM cycle and building up to egg collection, yes. You need to be careful with the exercises you do during this time (avoiding deep twists – lying on your belly might also be uncomfortable). 

But if you’ve just had a fresh or frozen transfer and are in your 2WW from an IVF cycle, gentle classes are fine and the guidelines for exercise during the 2WW stay the same.

Pilates-Yoga-Class-Two-Week-Wait

Q: What are the benefits of yoga and/or Pilates during the two week wait?

A: There are really so many. But the ones we come back to time and again in our programs are: 

  • Maintaining fresh blood flow throughout your body, especially to the reproductive organs. This can help encourage implantation, and the last thing you want is to be completely sedentary during the two week wait!
  • Lowering stress levels and regulating your nervous system (especially with yoga), which gets you out of that ‘fight or flight’ state 
  • Releasing endorphins (your ‘happy hormones’), helping to lift your mood and relieve anxiety
  • Giving you something else to focus on during this time, while still being healthy and productive

Q: What kind of yoga practice should I use during ovulation?

A: During ovulation, we want to focus on increasing energy and heat in the body, getting blood flowing and your body moving. Our programs and teaching use flowing sequences with lots of twists and side bends to support this. 

At the same time, we also look to ground the body and get into your lower chakras (where ovulation happens). We want to bring that energy downward, to create a strong, healthy ovulation, and at the same time help you feel grounded, safe, supported and held. This signals to your nervous system that you’re in an excellent environment to conceive.

Q: And for implantation? What should my practice look like?

A: Circular movements through the hips help to create a nourished uterine lining, so from ovulation we should practice lots of hip openers and pelvic mobility exercises.

It’s also incredibly powerful to practice deep breathing and restorative (deep rest) poses during this phase. Again, this will signal to your nervous system that you’re in a safe environment, and that now is an excellent time to conceive.

Q: What about abdominal exercise during implantation – anything to avoid?

A: We want to avoid classes that leave you feeling exhausted, as well as hot or heated classes. Pilates and yoga poses to avoid during two week waits include anything too intense – leave out crunches, planks, side planks and heavy twists. And that goes for other types of heavy exercise, too. 

Q: I’m just too nervous! Any alternatives to keep me moving?

A: Walking – if you can get outside and walk for 20 minutes a day, this is your next-best alternative.

Pilates-Yoga-Mat-Two-Week-Wait

Jen’s top 3 do’s and don’ts for yoga and Pilates during the two week wait

The DO’s: 

  1. DO continue your Pilates/yoga routine
  2. DO find a teacher who specialises in fertility, for peace of mind
  3. DO listen to your body – if you’re feeling exhausted or crampy, take a rest day 

The DON’TS: 

  1. DON’T overdo it, push yourself or feel you need to practice every day. Three times a week is plenty
  2. DON’T get all your stress and anxiety out on an intense workout. The two week wait is a time for creating physical calm, and ease
  3. DON’T stress if you miss a workout. A simple walk is great on the days you don’t feel up to much else

Get priority access to Jen’s signature program, Element Fertility Yoga. Pop your details onto the wait list and be first to hear about booking details, membership resources and so much more. Element Pilates & Yoga goes far beyond the average fertility practice, supporting your journey with personal experience, expert training, strategies to relieve stress and holistic wellbeing coaching. 

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