Yoga is carefully considered movement and breath which is used to help connect body and mind.
Prenatal yoga is much the same, however movements are altered to consider the pregnant form and the safety for both mother and baby. Its aim is to help prepare a woman’s body for labor both mentally and physically.
Related: Body Changes During Pregnancy
Yoga is a form of exercise that anyone can do and you do not need to be physically fit or strong to start. It’s focus is on centering the body and mind, through breath and holding stretches/poses for periods of time.
The technique of deep breathing helps us to connect with our inner self, which helps in reducing stress and anxiety.
Holding poses helps to stretch and strengthen muscles in preparation for labor. Over time you will be able to hold poses for longer periods of time. A noticeable change in your body tone and strength will be noted.
The good news is that like other forms of exercise there are many different styles of yoga: Hatha, Yin, Bikram, Vinyassa, Jivamukti to name a few. Not all styles of yoga will be appropriate for pregnancy. It is always advised to check with your fitness provider first before starting a class.
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There are many benefits to prenatal yoga including:
The body will feel stronger and calmer as a result. Yoga will help aid and encourage a good night's sleep.
Breathing is something we all take for granted. It is not often that we take the time to listen to our breath and slow it down. Deep slow concentrated breaths will help to reduce stress and anxiety, help with relaxation and is a great technique suitable for labor.
The exercises taught in a prenatal class are designed specifically for a pregnant body. The exercises will target areas such as your back and hips and will help to alleviate any pain by strengthening the muscles. Targeted exercises will also help to strengthen areas like your pelvic floor that will aid in labor.
Yoga as a practice is all about balance. Learning to control your breath and breathing from deep within, helps us to connect and control our breathing patterns.
Areas of weakness such as the back can be worked on gently to help reduce pain and discomfort.
Headaches are often bought on by stress. Yoga helps us to slow down and recenter, while reducing tension in the body.
Stress is never healthy and disrupts our overall feeling of wellness. High stress levels have been known to increase a woman's chances of miscarriage and preterm birth.
Women who do yoga for one hour a day have been shown to have reduced risks of having a complicated pregnancy.
Related: Signs of Labor
Studies have indicated that a pregnant woman’s heart rate and blood pressure has lowered after doing prenatal yoga. As compared with other forms of exercise such as swimming and walking.
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Yoga taps into the soul, body and mind. It has a calming effect on all our senses, through the use of movement, breath, mediation and stretching.
Like all other types of exercise. Yoga if combined with a healthy diet can promote a healthy weight during pregnancy.
There is no doubt about it, birthing is not easy. It requires a lot of endurance and stamina.
The breathing taught in yoga is calming and helps us to reach a meditative state. Slow deep considered breathing during birth can help to reduce stress levels which, helps to relieve tension in the muscles- less pain.
Yoga helps us to strengthen muscles. A stronger body will give you more options, enabling you to birth in a variety of different positions.
A stronger is also more likely to give birth naturally and require less intervention.
Yoga will help to alleviate and reduce your risk of fluid retention, as stretching helps to stimulate the muscles and encourage better blood flow.
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It is our recommendation that you always check with your health care provider first before participating in any new forms of exercise. Assuming you have the go ahead from your doctor, be realistic and avoid any postures that cause any pain or discomfort. Pace yourself and don’t over do it. Last but not least, stay hydrated and cool to avoid any dizziness or nausea.
Wear comfortable stretchy clothing that will keep your body cool and supported.
Most active wear brands now dabble in maternity activewear so it should not be difficult to find clothing that suits your needs.
Wear a supportive bra designed for low impact exercise. A yoga bra should be supportive with a good amount of stretch for ease of movement. It should be non-wired to help avoid any discomfort or restriction.
Prenatal yoga class usually runs for a period of 1 hour:
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As discussed earlier, there are many different styles of yoga, some are more strenuous than others.
NOTE: Bikram or hot yoga should be avoided while pregnant. These types of yoga classes, involve doing vigorous poses in a room heated to higher temperatures 105 F (40 C).
Hot unventilated rooms are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and should always be avoided. Hot spaces can leave you feeling unwell (dizzy and nauseous) and can lead to other pregnancy related complications.
Most importantly it is always advised to listen to your body. Should a poses or stretch feel unnaturally uncomfortable, stop immediately. It may be that the pose needs to be modified even further to assist your body. Never stay in a pose that feels painful or is putting too much strain on joints.
Look for a class taught by a Yoga instructor who has training in prenatal yoga. If prenatal yoga is not available in your area, it is recommended to speak to your local yoga teacher to see whether he or she is able to accommodate you in their classes.
Some poses will need to be modified to reduce the risk of injury to you and your growing body.
Don’t miss: Exercise During & After Pregnancy
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