Why practice pregnancy yoga?

November 02, 2017

Why practice pregnancy yoga?

Other than the fact that you’re probably now living in yoga pants why should you practice pregnancy yoga?

Yoga is the perfect exercise for pregnancy because it is based on the philosophy of listening to your body and modifying movement where you need, which for the ever-changing pregnancy bod is essential.

Yoga also strongly focuses on the breath which helps to calm down your stress response and teaches you how to manage stressful situations (very handy given the fact that you’re headed towards birth and parenting, which let’s be real, is no walk in the park.

While initially practicing yoga will be probably be more about your physical body, as you spend more time on your mat and practice other areas of yoga, like meditation and pranayama (breath work) you’ll often find that yoga impacts your mental and emotional health positively as well. We often find that the effects of yoga end up coming off the mat as well, you might be motivated to eat better, to rest more and may even find that it gives you the clarity to choose how you spend your time more wisely.

As you head towards the unknown of birth and motherhood a yoga practice is a great way to stay calm and grounded when it feels like everything else is changing around you (because it is!). It’s also a great way to start building a community of other Mums who you can call on later when you need advice about bub or just need a friendly ear to cry to about the exhaustion.

The benefits of yoga for mother and baby

Yoga has the power to impact all of us on many levels.

  • It strengthens and stretches our body.
  • It teaches us how to both challenge and care for our bodies.
  • It connects us to our breath and how to use it consciously.
  • It teaches us to quieten the mind so that we can find peace amongst the chatter

During pregnancy it has even more benefits for both mother and baby.

  • improves blood and oxygen flow
  • increases flexibility and balance
  • can aide digestion and increase energy
  • can help relieve lower back pain and general aches and pains
  • may help relieve nausea and headaches
  • relieve cramping and swelling in legs
  • helps you to connect with and become more comfortable with a changing body.
  • can help to reduce anxiety and fear
  • will empower you with techniques to relax that will be needed during labour
  • fosters a connection with your baby that will aide you during labour
  • helps you trust your body and it’s ability to birth
  • teaches you breathing techniques that will be powerful tools during birth

How to practice pregnancy yoga safely.

Before you jump straight into a yoga class however there are some things you need to know to keep your pregnant body safe and comfortable. While it’s recommended that you find a teacher who is trained in pregnancy yoga to work with, you can practice at home as long as you follow these guidelines.

  • adjust poses to accommodate growing belly and changed centre of gravity by widening stance to hip width or wider and not practicing closed twists which constrict the belly.
  • be careful not to overstretch. Hormones are already allowing your ligaments and tendons to relax more than usual.
  • avoid abdominal work that causes strain as you risk causing the abdominal muscle separation to worsen.
  • move slowly especially when moving the head from high to low as changing blood pressures may make you feel feint.
  • learn and practice correct alignment of the pelvis to help with back pain, sciatica and instability of the pelvis.
  • avoid deep back bends are weakening core muscles mean you do that have the muscle support to practice these poses safely.
  • after the fourth month it is recommended that you do not lie flat on your back as this places pressure on a major artery and can affect blood flow to the baby.
  • avoid overheating by wearing cool clothing and coming to child’s pose to rest when you need.
  • when moving in and out of poses, use the arms to support you to avoid straining the core. eg. rising from lying to sitting.

Where to start with pregnancy yoga?

If you’ve never practiced yoga before falling pregnant it would be best to start with a studio in your area that specialised in pregnancy. Most studios will recommend that you start after the first trimester as this is not the time to be commencing any new type of exercise, but rather it’s a time for lots or rest and nurturing.

If you can’t make it to a studio there are many pregnancy yoga classes online that you can practice safely at home following the guidelines above. Or you could get started straight away with this pregnancy yoga for beginners class below.

 

Also, you can watch the guidelines of pregnancy yoga here.

Bettina Rae is a yoga teacher, counsellor and Mum to two young boys. She runs an Online Yoga Circle for mothers to help them to improve fertility, overcome loss, practice during pregnancy and birth, and to reconnect with themselves after having children. Her active community of women also gather monthly for women's circles (both online and in-person) for yoga, group meditation, healing and sharing their stories. Connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.




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