Tips for Partnering Yoga with Pregnancy

Taking a gentle approach to Yoga during pregnancy can be just what the doctor ordered. It may be just what the midwife ordered as well because it helps you cultivate a sense of confidence in your own body and your ability to give birth. Of course, each woman needs to consult her physician, just to be certain she doesn’t have any high-risk conditions that require special precautions.

The best way to take full advantage of Yoga is to start your practice well before you’re pregnant, or at least as soon as you receive the good news. Your Yoga practice can build a strong, healthy body and a stable mind, supporting you during the pregnancy, at birth, and afterward. Many students continue their Yoga practice during their entire pregnancies, using the conservative principles,

ACOG recommends that pregnant women get a physical check-up before beginning an exercise program, Hatha Yoga included. They also recommend that pregnant women seek out a Yoga instructor specifically trained in prenatal Yoga. Conscious yogic relaxation and meditation, on the other hand, are right regardless of your physical cautions and imitations and may be helpful tools for labor as well. Your body, mind, and baby will be grateful to you!

Enjoying Yoga support as you — and the baby — grow

Pregnancy entails major physiological and psychological changes. Apart from modifying your shape and weight, it also alters your body chemistry. Thus, you may experience a range of discomforts in addition to the welcome feelings of anticipation, excitement, and joy.

Yoga can make a major difference in your pregnancy experience. The increased self-awareness Yoga brings is helpful during this time when your body is continually undergoing change. Yogic practice provides the many benefits during this special time in your — and your baby’s — life:

  • Relaxes your whole body

  • Helps with back problems

  • Relieves nausea

  • Reduces swelling and leg cramps

  • Opens the hips and tones the pelvic floor

  • Improves mood

  • Provides focusing and breathing techniques for labor

  • Provides a sense of community and social support through prenatal and postnatal Yoga classes

When seeking out prenatal Yoga classes, talk to the teacher beforehand. Ask about her training and experience, and assure yourself that she’s knowledgeable about modifications that are safe and helpful during pregnancy.

Exercising caution during pregnancy

Because pregnancy is a time when your actions directly and immediately affect you and your developing baby, keep the following cautions in mind as you exercise:

  • Always do a little less than you’re used to doing, and never hold your breath.

  • Stay away from extremes in all the postures, especially deep forward or back bends. Don’t strain.

  • Avoid lying on your stomach for any postures.

  • Steer clear of sit-ups and postures that put pressure on the uterus.

  • Skip the postures that focus solely on tightening the abs; instead, work on strengthening your core in the context of more gentle postures.

  • When a posture calls for a twist, twist from the shoulders, not the belly, to avoid compressing the internal organs.

  • Avoid inverted postures other than putting your feet up on the wall or a chair.

  • Pass up breathing exercises that are jarring, such as the shining skull (kapalabhati) or breath of fire (bhastrika).

  • Don’t jump or move quickly into and out of postures.

  • Be careful not to overstretch, which you can easily do in pregnancy because of increased hormone levels that cause your joints to become very limber.

ACOG recommends that a pregnant woman avoid lying on her back during exercise after the first trimester — and that includes with Yoga.

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