While exercise is recommended throughout pregnancy, it becomes difficult to choose one due to the risk of injury and overexertion involved.
Prenatal Yoga: What You Want to Know
Prenatal yoga can be an excellent choice for moms-to-be. It is a form of yoga that has been adapted for the physiology of pregnant woman and to fit baby’s and mother’s needs. Some poses are adapted according to the stage of the pregnancy. For example, during the second and third trimesters, many prenatal adaptations are designed to prevent compression of the uterus and avoid the baby from being squished.
Yoga and prenatal yoga can prevent back pain and other discomforts, boost your energy levels and prevent excess weight gain. As it improves flexibility, lowers stress and improves core strength, it is good for both you and the baby.
How Yoga Benefits Pregnant Women: A perfect fit for pregnancy, prenatal yoga helps prepare the body for birth and shortens the length of recovery time afterward. Yoga will also ease your labor by strengthening and stretching the muscles. Here are its other benefits:
- Tones Your Body: Yoga practice keeps you limber, tones your muscles, and improves your balance and circulation, with little, if any, impact on your joints.
- Prepares You For Labor: Yoga includes breathing and relaxing techniques, which come in handy as you face labor, birth, and motherhood.
- Keeps You Calm: Yoga practice trains you to stay calm when you need it most. When you’re in pain or afraid, your body produces adrenalin and may produce less oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates muscle contractions during labor. While you need this hormone to push the baby out, it’s also important to stay loose and relaxed. A regular yoga practice will help you fight the urge to tighten up when you feel pain.
- Lowers Your Stress: Yoga helps the body deal with stress by slowing heart and breathing rates and lowering blood pressure — which can benefit new moms, too.
- Keeps You Positive: Taking a prenatal yoga class is a great way to meet other pregnant women. Being in a positive, supportive environment with other moms-to-be gives you an emotional boost and keeps you motivated to continue exercising.
What To Expect At A Parental Yoga Class: Here’s what you should keep in mind when you’re taking your first yoga class:
- Tell Your Instructor About Your Pregnancy: You may not feel comfortable discussing your pregnancy with many people in the first trimester. But it is important to tell any yoga teacher that you are pregnant so he can assist you with modifications to the poses and postures that might be necessary. Ask the teacher to be discreet if you are not yet ready to go public.
- Hydrate Yourself: Bring water. It’s important to stay hydrated and cool when exercising.
- Go Slow: Don’t go too deep into the poses, at least at first. During pregnancy, the body produces a hormone throughout pregnancy called relaxin, which is intended to soften your bones and ligaments to make room for the baby to grow and develop. This softening of the ligaments can make them vulnerable to overstretching.
- Don’t Wait To Pee: Use the bathroom when you need to. As you progress in the pregnancy, the uterus will press on the bladder and you will need to relieve yourself more often. While some may find it embarrassing to have to leave the yoga class to go to the bathroom, it’s essential that you do for your own health and the health of the baby.
- Don’t Push Yourself: Listen to your body and don’t do anything that causes pain, tightness, dizziness, or shortness of breath. If you become uncomfortable stop what you’re doing immediately and ask the instructor for a modification, or just sit on your mat, sip water, and wait for the next pose.
- Ask Often: Don’t be afraid to ask the instructor questions. Ask as many questions as you want in order to feel comfortable and confident. The other pregnant women in the room will appreciate the info as well.
Prenatal Yoga Moves: While the exact adaptations will depend on the teacher and the form of yoga, prenatal yoga will likely focus on opening your hips, stretching your lower back, chest, abs, and shoulders, and strengthening your thighs. Here are a few tips you must keep in mind:
- Kegel exercises: Kegel exercises will strengthen your pelvic muscles, prepare them for labor and also tighten them up after birth to prevent incontinence.
- More gentle twists: Deep twists from the belly compress the internal organs, including the uterus. Instead, twist more gently from the shoulders. Remember to be gentle, and don’t push it!
- Modified Balance: Many yoga asanas require a combination of balance and strength. With the difficult balance poses, you are at risk of falling over. To prevent any risk of injury to the baby, make sure you do these poses while holding onto a rail or banister or against a wall.
- Fewer backbends: In general, during pregnancy, it’s best to avoid deep backbends. However, if you were doing these poses easily before pregnancy, you may continue to do it in the first trimester as well. Consult a yoga expert if you want to.
- Less abdominal work: Abdominal strengthening poses should be avoided. Your abs need to be soft so that they can stretch easily to make room for the baby.
Additionally, here are a few prenatal yoga poses that are particularly suited to pregnant women:
- Tadasana, Or The Mountain Pose: The Mountain Yoga Pose promotes the experience of stillness, strength, relaxed power, and immovable stability associated with mountains.
- Veer Bhadhraasana, Or The Warrior Pose: The Warrior Pose stretches and strengthens the arms and legs. It increases stamina, improves balance and concentration, and can also relieve backaches. However, if you’re suffering from diarrhea, high blood pressure or neck problems, you should take extra caution practicing this pose.
- Parsvakonasana, Or The Standing Side Stretch Pose: The Standing Side Stretch is another Yoga Pose with two lines of energy radiating outward from your center. This is a simple yoga posture with a wonderful stretch in which one line of energy reaches upward from your belly and outward through the arm, and one line travels downward through the legs.
- Standing Spread Leg Forward Bend: Practicing the Standing Spread Leg Forward Fold can strengthen and stretch your inner and back legs and your spine. People with lower back problems should avoid doing the full forward bend. For beginners, you may use props like a folding chair to support your forearms.
- Paschimothanasana, Or The Seated Forward Bend (): By practicing the Seated Forward Bend you relax your body and mind, stretch your hamstrings, shoulders, and spine, relieve stress and improve your posture and concentration. Learn how to do this properly and achieve maximum results.
- Virasana, Or The Hero Pose (Virasana): The hero pose is the initial position for several asanas. It strengthens the arches of the feet, stretches the ankles, and improves posture. It is ideal for people who have flat feet.