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A simple guide for you to thrive in your Yoga practice!
Moms to be are always looking for ways to stay healthy, fit and physically prepared for their pregnancies. It is a wonderful time in any woman’s life, both emotionally and physically. However hormones are flowing like crazy, emotions are in the air and the anticipation with all life changes can be exciting but overwhelming.
You’re busy with the nursery, baby shower plans, numerous doctor’s appointments, and tests work adjustments and probably even taking an Online Prenatal Class for Couples. Are you doing something just for yourself? That’s when Prenatal Yoga benefits come to rescue.
What is Pre Natal Yoga
Prenatal yoga focuses on positions that are specifically designed for pregnant women’s bodies and metabolism. It’s a form of exercise and meditation where breath and specific body positions are used to help connect the mind and body. It is designed for pregnant women and all their particular body changes and mental challenges.
Prenatal Yoga Overview
Prenatal Yoga has become a very popular practice, and when combined with a cardiovascular exercise like walking, it could be a great way for mothers to be to stay in shape.
It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran or just a newbie, Yoga can keep you fit, keep your muscles toned, improve your circulation and balance during your pregnancy with not much impact on your joints. Prenatal Yoga will help understand how your breathing patterns change during your pregnancy and later get you in good shape to endure breathing during labor.
You will learn how to deep breathe and consciously relax, getting ready for the soon-to-come physical demands of labor, childbirth, and new motherhood.
Learning to breathe is probably the most important part of staying calm when you will really need it! Before thinking about the numerous benefits of prenatal Yoga and considering if it is a good option for you let’s talk about safety issues.
Prenatal Yoga Research
In four studies on healthy pregnant women, from the Department of Health Science, Asahikawa Medical University, in Japan in 2015,where groups of healthy pregnant women were compared, “there was significant improvement in pain and pleasure at delivery, duration of delivery, perceived stress levels during pregnancy, anxiety levels, depression, pregnancy-related experiences, quality of life, and interpersonal relationships”.
Although the authors of the study report that further research is needed, the conclusion was that “Prenatal Yoga may help reduce pelvic pain. It may also improve mental condition (stress, depression, anxiety, etc.), physical condition (pain and pleasure at the delivery, etc.), and perinatal outcomes (obstetrical complications, delivery time, etc.)”.
Are There Any Yoga Styles That Are Not Recommended for Pregnant Women?
All yoga styles are not the same; some are too strenuous for pregnancy. Prenatal yoga, Restorative Yoga, and Hatha Yoga are normally considered safe for pregnant women who are having a normal pregnancy.
It also depends on whether you’re a established Yoga practitioner or a Yoga Beginner as well as what is your body shape before you got pregnant.
However the safest way is to talk to your instructor before opting for any Yoga class. Every pregnancy is unique and you need to learn which type of prenatal Yoga is best during your pregnancy.
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Also, be careful to not enroll in Bikram Yoga which is also known as the Hot Yoga. This type of Yoga involves rigorous poses which will raise your body temperature to unsafe levels for pregnant women. Yin Yoga can be very efficient and relaxing but not for when you’re pregnant. Some yoga practices like Ashtanga might also be too strenuous, especially if you are not an experienced yoga practitioner.
Special Safety Guidelines for Prenatal Yoga
For your safety (and your baby) these following safety guidelines will be very helpful if you are thinking of starting prenatal Yoga:
- Talk to your healthcare provider before you enroll in any yoga class.
- Set realistic goals. Aiming to achieve too much can be dangerous for you and the baby
- Pace yourself and don’t push yourself too hard, ever. If you find it difficult to speak during the practice, chances are you are pushing too hard.
- Talk to your doctor to learn if it is safe for you to do Yoga during your pregnancy first trimester.
- Make sure to stay cool and hydrated.
- Be aware that trying to do prenatal Yoga online might not be safe.
- Talk to your instructor to help you decide about the best prenatal Yoga poses for you.
- Don’t try to overdo. Even if you’re feeling good, do not go further. Always pay close attention to your body. If you experience any kind of pain or other signs, stop and let your health care provider know about it.
It is always good to remember that the hormone Relaxin is produced abundantly during pregnancy. It rises during the first trimester and the third trimester. This hormone has a diverse range of effects, including the production and remodeling of collagen, increasing the elasticity of your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and tissues of the birth canal in view of delivery. This remodeling of collagen is not by itself associated with problems; however, adding more stress to its effects might cause long-term injuries.
When to start Prenatal Yoga?
The best time to start yoga if you’ve never done it before is in the second trimester, around 14 weeks.
Yoga guidelines advise you not to try postures in the first trimester if you’re not used to them.
There’s no evidence that doing yoga, or any other exercise, in the first trimester will harm your pregnancy. But, to be on the safe side, some yoga teachers will recommend that you don’t practice yoga for the first three months.
In your second trimester, you are also less likely to feel tired and sick during the practice. If you do decide to practice yoga in the first trimester, keep to relaxation and breathing exercises. If you did yoga before becoming pregnant, you may want to slow down and be aware of any changes in your body.
Prenatal Yoga Benefits
1- It Increases muscles strength and flexibility
As the baby grows inside your body, you’ll need more energy and power to support the weight. Prenatal Yoga helps strengthen the back, arms, hips, arms, and shoulders, helping with your posture and balance.
2- It helps to relieve physical tension
As the baby grows, a lot of pressure is exerted on all your muscles. You will tend to have more of a lower curve due to the increase in weight in your belly.
Hips get tensed as a result of the additional pressure of the baby’s weight on your stomach. The breasts increase in size will also lead the chest to endure more tension, along with the shoulders and neck.
Prenatal yoga is a great way to work around this whole body tension by stretching muscles and stabilizing joints that will help more muscle strength.
3- Prenatal Yoga Promotes Emotional Stability
Your emotional balance will be challenged as the pregnancy progresses. Emotionally, feeling exhausted because of the increase in estrogen and progesterone, it will be very nice to be able to have a special time to relax.
You’re already dealing with the constant changes your body is experiencing. In the prenatal Yoga practice, you will learn to focus on breathing through every movement, calming your mind and feeling stronger and more relaxed. All Prenatal Yoga sequences are designed to help you integrate your physcial sensations and discomfort with your menatal and emotional situation.
It’s very common that women develop mental health complaints during pregnancy. A study, published in Depression & Anxiety, the official journal of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, suggests that prenatal yoga may be useful for reducing women’s anxiety toward childbirth and preventing increase in depressive symptoms.
You might enjoy to get started with Meditation along with your Prenatal Yoga. Read here everything you need to know to get started.
4- The best part: Prenatal Yoga will help to create a Special Connection with your Baby
I think this is the best part. Prenatal yoga practice will allow you to slow down and focus on what is happening inside your body and on your baby.
The Prenatal classes are paced nicely and are totally focused on what a pregnant woman needs. The instructors create such a nice environment of calm and self-awareness that the practices will become your special time to relax and reconnect. You deserve it!
It’s a busy time of your life but don’t get caught on just getting ready on the baby nursery and all the preparation around it. YOU are the main focus of this special chapter of your life and deserve to enjoy the amazing changes that yur body is going through. Maybe it’s yout time to set up a Meditation/Prenatal Yoga room at home, that will become your sanctuary to chill out and relax.
5- Yoga during pregnancy will decrease swelling
Any kind of Yoga practice will focus on improving breathing and circulation. With the better flow of blood, swelling might decrease, your immune system will improve, which means that you will be creating a healthy environment for your baby to grow and get ready to join you and your family.
6- Prenatal Yoga can help regulate your weight
As I said before, breathing will be one of the most important parts of your Prenatal Yoga classes. By practicing deep breathing, the nervous system moves into a state of rest and calmness. When our bodies are in this mode, our digestion works correctly, we tend to sleep better, and our immune system is at its optimal level.
You can’t expect to lose weight during the pregnancy bu the more balanced your body is the less likely you’ll be overeating and gaining unnecessary weight during your pregnancy.
7- Yoga during pregnancy encourages the Respiratory Practice for Labor
This is a super useful tool for labor. By learning how to consciously breathe, your blood pressure and heart rate will be better regulated. You will feel calmer to deal with the challenge of labor and ready to enjoy the miracle of welcoming your baby.
Which Yoga postures are unsafe during pregnancy?
The following postures and positions are not recommended during pregnancy:
- Lying on your back after 16 weeks
- Breathing exercises that involve holding your breath or taking short, forceful breaths
- Strong stretches or difficult positions that put you under strain
- Lying on your tummy (prone)
- Upside-down postures (inversions)
- Strong twists
How is a Prenatal Yoga class and how many times a week you can do
- Your yoga teacher will want to get some information about you and your pregnancy such as how far along you are, any aches and pains you’re having, and what body parts or poses you’d like to work on.
- Initial Relaxation, where like a regular vinyasa class, the session typically begins with a quick period of rest and focus inward (which you might put to use during labor).
- You will slowly warm up, getting your body to move, so your muscles and joints are ready for the class.
- You might be able to do a Gentle Standing vinyasa flow that will incorporate pelvic floor and abdominal toning movements, then hip and chest opening poses, always emphasizing deep, diaphragmatic breathing. Many of the poses you will perform are similar to those performed in a regular vinyasa class, they’ll just be modified for your safety.
- Gentle Stretching in which your teacher will lead you through a few stretches to further lengthen and relax your muscles. Remember: this should feel very good!
- A Modified Savasana comes after all your hard work. You chill out in “savasana,” where you’ll lie on your back with your eyes closed.
The pose will be modified depending on how far along you are: In your second trimester, you’d lay on your back with a bolster to prop your upper body up at a 45-degree angle, while in your third trimester, you’d lay on your side with a bolster and blanket for support. Expect to hold this position for six or seven minutes: It’s a peaceful pose intended to bring you to total relaxation.
Prenatal Yoga at Home
There are several DVDs and online videos that you could try to do at home. However getting out of the house to get some time to yourself to connect with all the changes your body is experiencing might be the route to go.
Online Prenatal Yoga might be useful if you’re NOT a beginner and know your limits and are used to practicing Yoga as a habit.
You will also be supervised by a trained instructor making your practice safer. If you prefer the comfort of home where you don’t need to worry with anything other than being comfortable, make sure to talk to your doctor before and practice your Yoga when you’re not alone. This DVD series is a best seller. The workouts are only 15 minutes, which allows you to gradually progress based on your fitness level while also providing an easier way to fit exercise into your schedule. Buy on Amazon. Filmed in a serene garden overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this DVD series will inspire you to maintain emotional balance and reduce stress during the exciting and often hectic times surrounding the birth of a child. In the prenatal sequence, you’ll practice safe and simple movements intended to strengthen and tone your body at any stage of pregnancy while providing relaxation that will help create a luminous space in which your baby will thrive.
The postnatal sequence is designed to redefine your body, restore your energy, and help you reconnect to yourself and your own wellness. If you are already into Yoga, this series offers a complete, safe, and active workout for all 3 trimesters and prepares you, your body and your baby for childbirth and postpartum recovery. Features: 15, 30, 45 & 75 Minute Practices and safe Modifications for all 3 Trimesters that are all modeled in a way that you can modify your practice as your baby grows and your body changes.
Bonus: 10 Minute Partner Routine with Doug Swenson. Buy it on Amazon for $12.95. In case you choose to do the Prenatal Yoga at home, you might need a bolster and some Yoga
Relaxing Pregnancy Yoga
Practicing yoga during pregnancy is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, increase respiratory strength, and endurance of the muscles needed during labor. An important part is that you will be taking time to devote to yourself and your baby, much needed before he/she arrives in your life.
Yoga is also a perfect exercise after having your baby. When you feel ready to move, start with gentle yoga, basic breathing and simple stretching will be a great way to start moving your body. Always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise after your baby’s delivery.
I know you’re getting ready for your baby and (especially if it is your first one) the list of baby essentials can be a bit overwhelming. My blogger friend Audrey Marshal put together this very comprehensive Baby Newborn Checklist to help you with everything you will need.
Hope you have a wonderful time getting ready for this miracle in your life! Let me know if Yoga during your pregnancy has helped you in any way.