Why Prenatal Yoga?
Are you pregnant? Are your hips tight? Is your back aching? Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed about the impending birth of your child?
If you have answered yes to one or more of the questions stated above, prenatal yoga may be something you would like to consider including into your weekly or even daily routine.
Yoga is considered to be an awesome low impact exercise option, especially for expectant momma’s who are apprehensive or intimidated to go to the gym or fitness facility. You may be thinking to yourself “…but, I’ve never done yoga before! I’m not very flexible, I have no balance and I feel like a whale…” If you feel like you are not balanced, are tense and not flexible, then yoga is probably the best choice for you! The practice is about achieving physical strength, along with inner calm and balance; it’s not about how far you can bend.
So, what are some of the benefits of Prenatal Yoga? The list is long but some of the highlights include:
- Improved mood
- Improved sleep
- Improved postural alignment (helping to prevent back pain)
- Improved focus and mental clarity
- Increased energy
- Increased muscle tone with little to no impact on joints
- Can help with constipation/ bloating/ swelling
- Helps with back pain
- Helps the body prepare for labor and delivery
If you are pregnant and would like to have increased relaxation, increased strength and increased confidence yoga can be a great choice for a low or no impact exercise. Yoga can be highly beneficial on its own, or it can be a great addition to your existing exercise plan (i.e. low impact exercise such as walking, hiking, biking, or swimming) for optimal health and relaxation. Yoga can be extremely beneficial in helping to prepare your body for labor and delivery not only physically by becoming stronger and having more endurance but emotionally by helping clear the mind of any anxiety, tension or worry that you may be experiencing. There can be many fears and anxieties associated with labor and delivery, yoga gives you tools to better allow you to cope.
One of the major philosophies in the practice of yoga is breathing. The practice of taking deep mindful inhalations and exhalations can help calm the mind, nervous system and circulation within the body and helps to slow the heart rate.
I know some may wonder if yoga is considered safe during pregnancy?- in a word…YES!! Keep in mind that you should always consult your Doctor or Midwife to give you the go ahead before you start any new exercise program including yoga, especially if you have not been active throughout your pregnancy.
What should you be looking for in an instructor or teacher before you begin classes?
Look for a studio and teacher that specializes in prenatal yoga, make sure that the teacher’s credentials are available; they need to be certified through an accredited school and have at least 200 hours of teacher training.
How can yoga help me throughout the different trimesters of pregnancy?
1st Trimester: There are usually few to no physical restrictions within most women’s first trimester. Make sure that you are drinking enough water before, during and after the class to make sure that you are keeping your body hydrated. If you have already been actively going to yoga before your pregnancy keep in mind that your practice maybe different now that you are pregnant.
2nd Trimester: Be cautious of over stretching or over exerting your body. Within the second trimester your body will start to release relaxin, which helps you become looser in preparation for giving birth. Your newly expanding tummy can also affect your center of gravity so bear that in mind while stretching. Be careful to allow your body to slowly sink into postures as to avoid injury.
3rd Trimester: By the third trimester women maybe feeling less overall balance within their body. Be mindful again of the positions you allow your body to get into. What may have felt good in the second trimester may not in the third. Know your limitations, and use the support of the wall, blocks, bolsters, straps or a chair to avoid the chance of injury.
Make sure you share any critical or pertinent information regarding how you are feeling with your yoga teacher, especially as you get further into your second and third trimester i.e. baby position, or any aches, pains or discomfort that you may be experiencing.
The last benefit of prenatal yoga (and probably the most important) is the friendships that can form and grow with the other expectant mothers within the class. It is nice to have the support of other women in the same situation as you who probably have similar questions, concerns, or fears. Plus, it can be comforting to be involved within a community of women that are experiencing the same life changes as you.
By: Karly Lynn C.H.N.