I’m dedicating the next few blog posts to prenatal yoga. Spring is a time of rebirth so what better moment to explore this magical experience!
We’re well aware these days of the importance of staying fit while pregnant. Active pregnancies:
- minimize pregnancy-related pain
- reduce fatigue
- make healthy babies
- accelerate postpartum healing
This period of excitement, joy, and anticipation may also have consequent effects of physical discomfort and emotional stress. Wherever you are physically or emotionally, prenatal yoga can alleviate the pains so you can celebrate the bliss.
If you are pregnant consider incorporating prenatal yoga into your regular exercise regime. If you already have a regular yoga practice, consider weaving in prenatal-specific classes along with your regular ones. Prenatal yoga targets the specific needs of a pregnant woman by modifying poses and focusing on ones that are the most beneficial to your changing body. Any exercise that your doctor gives you the green light on is great, but yoga has the following added benefits:
1. Relieve the aches of pregnancy. From morning sickness to swollen ankles, pregnancy can generate unfortunate side effects. Certain poses will alleviate a variety of these discomforts. For nausea, try hero pose; for sciatica try pigeon; and gentle/open twists for back pain (we will get into more specifics in future posts).
2. Embrace the connection to this new life. With our hectic lifestyles, making time to connect with your unborn baby and new role as mother seems impossible and maybe even hokey. Yoga offers you that time to appreciate this special moment. It may seem like an eternity while you are pregnant but once it passes you realize it went by in a flash. A prenatal yoga practice creates the opportunity to spend a few moments bonding with your baby and being mindful of the magic occurring within that incredible body.
3. Prepare for childbirth. Even if you are not planning for a natural childbirth the pranayama and asana practiced during prenatal yoga can help during the initial stages of labor. Prenatal poses focus on building strength in the areas that you need most such as the pelvic floor. As they say, giving birth is like running a marathon…and I definitely would not want to run 26.2 miles without some prep work.
4. Stay fit. As mentioned above, active pregnancies make for happier ones. Even in a slower paced prenatal class, you are still burning calories and building strength. If you are up for a more rigorous routine, continue your regular yoga classes in addition to prenatal ones. For the mom-to-be who can’t workout, breath work and quiet meditation is still a wonderful way to connect with your baby and relax without asanas.
5. Reduce stress. Allow yourself time to decompress and relax. Whether you are expecting your first or fifth, any transition can be daunting. Take the time to quiet your mind and turn your attention inward. If you are participating in a group prenatal class, you can enjoy a sense of community with like-minded individuals, many of whom will be sharing the same anxiety, pains, and joys that you are experiencing. This kind of realization that you are not alone can be very reassuring. Don’t underestimate the power of moral support.