The benefits of practicing yoga are well known. It increases strength and flexibility. It is meditative and relaxing. It helps to centre you. But what about during pregnancy? What benefits does pregnancy yoga, or prenatal yoga, have for mother and baby?
Not to sound like a complete cliche, but yoga for me has become a way of life. A day does not go by that I don’t stretch or flow to relax both my mind and body. I use yoga breathing exercises at night to calm my mind before bed and practice chair yoga to keep my back supple during long days sat at a computer screen. So being able to practice pregnancy yoga throughout my second and third trimester has been a huge relief to me.
But before I gush about pregnancy yoga, a few helpful tips. Always let your instructor know that you are pregnant as there are some moves that you shouldn’t do when pregnant. And if you are new to yoga then please, please, please consider attending a supervised yoga class or, even better, attend a class specifically for the prenatal period – it’s also a great way to meet a few mums-to-be.
For my own practice, I’ve been guided by the lovely Anna from Pretzel Studio. I’ve attended her slow flow yoga classes that have been perfect for stretching my body without over taxing myself. Anna also worked with me on a yoga video for Emma’s Diary which you can see below.
Also, everyone’s pregnancy is different. Mine has been plagued by dizziness and, as such, a lot of standing yoga poses became very difficult for me so I’ve spent as much time on the floor as possible. Lying on my back has always been one of my favourite past times!
The benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy
Pregnancy yoga helps to strengthen your back and stomach muscles. During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles come under a lot of strain. Your growing child puts pressure on these muscles and, over time, causes them to part. Practicing simple yoga moves helps to both strengthen these muscles and improves their elasticity. This in turn helps you with carrying that extra weight and to stretch out the pressure feeling of the third trimester.
Yoga can also help you to open up your hips in preparation for childbirth. Your hips naturally widen during pregnancy, creating room for your child to pass down the birth canal. Many of the exercises performed during pregnancy yoga will help with theftexibility of your hips and make the expansion easier.
Breathing is an important part of childbirth and participating in prenatal yoga classes will help you with controlled breathing. These exercises will also help you ease any shortness of breath that may appear in later pregnancy as the baby starts to place pressure on your ribs and lungs.
The controlled breathing and gentle stretches of pregnancy yoga can also help to reduce stress and improve sleep. Pregnancy yoga tends to be much slower in pace than a normal vinyasa flow class. It follows more restorative and hatha yoga practices that have long relaxation periods and a meditative quality.
Incontinence, both temporary and long-lasting, affects around a third of women after childbirth due to your pelvic floor muscles being stretched. Many pregnancy yoga moves stimulates and strengths your pelvic floor and reduces the likelihood of stress incontinence after childbirth.
Yoga poses to try during pregnancy
So, have I convinced you to give pregnancy yoga a go?