The benefits of practising yoga during pregnancy
Prenatal yoga prepares your body for the various stages of pregnancy
Guided yoga is a great way to stretch, tone and strengthen your body in moderation during each trimester towards the eventual birth. Some of the key areas that experience changes during pregnancy are your pelvic floor, your hips, your core – abdominal muscles and your back, these areas are all targeted in prenatal yoga. Improving and maintaining your strength, flexibility and comfort will benefit you throughout this exciting time.
Prenatal yoga helps you develop breathing and relaxation techniques to minimise stress
People say nothing prepares you for childbirth, but having a toolkit full of relaxation methods and breathing techniques will truly help when it comes to the main event, not to mention the lead-up.
Frequently practising pranayama (breath work) will teach your body and mind how to relax. It can be really helpful to use these techniques and breathe from the belly whenever you’re experiencing discomfort, strains or pain associated with pregnancy or delivery. You’ll learn how to consciously bring more oxygen into your body with each inhale, then relax your muscles on the exhale. Honestly, it’s surprising what a few minutes of breathing can do!
Prenatal yoga can improve your sleep
Restorative types of yoga can work wonders for sleep, whether you’re pregnant or not. When carried out regularly, yoga can help you fall asleep quicker, sleep for longer and reduce how long it takes to get back to sleep if you wake up during the night. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation found that pregnant women who start a mindful yoga practice in their second trimester will see marked improvements in the quality and quantity of their sleep.
Prenatal yoga can lessen uncomfortable side effects
While results differ from person to person, various studies have found that practising prenatal yoga can minimise the frequency of physical side effects related to the pregnancy.
These can include decreased nausea, fewer or less intense headaches, less lower back pain, help improve symptoms of pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain, and decrease chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome or swelling in your hands and feet. In some cases, yoga has been found to reduce the risk of early labour and lessen the chance of your baby being born underweight or underdeveloped.
Prenatal yoga helps you meet other soon-to-be mums
As with any period of great change, pregnancy can be stressful, challenging or confusing – as well as being exciting, grounding and life-affirming. One way to counter feelings of loneliness, uncertainty or boredom during pregnancy is to meet other women in a similar situation to you. Joining a prenatal yoga class is an easy way to meet like-minded people at the same life stage as you. There’s a lovely sense of community at prenatal classes and a shared level of care about the mums-to-be and the next generation they’re bringing into the world.
Prenatal yoga puts you in focus
So much of pregnancy is about the baby and what’s best for him or her. While prenatal yoga will benefit the little one inside your tummy, it’ll also give you a chance to focus on yourself.
Your time on the mat is centred on aiding your relaxation, improving your bodily strength, empowering you towards a positive birth experience and giving thanks to the amazing work your mind and body are doing to help nurture your baby.
Is it safe to do yoga when you’re pregnant?
Yes! Yoga can be a great way to stay healthy, calm and supported during pregnancy. You just need to be careful about the types of yoga you do, the individual asanas you do and your energy levels. The safest way to do yoga when pregnant is to go to a prenatal yoga class run by a qualified, experienced teacher.
Elements of yoga to avoid when pregnant include:
● Bikram yoga, or any other yoga in a hot space
● Asanas that involve lying on your back, deep twists, inversions, unsupported balances or intense backbends
● Any stretches that feel too far, uncomfortable or straining
● Any practise where the teacher doesn’t know you’re pregnant
If you’re unsure about your suitability in your particular circumstance, just ask your GP for their advice on pregnancy yoga or a trained prenatal yoga teacher, like me!