PREGNANCY YOGA WITH CLAUDIA
What are the Benefits of Pregnancy Yoga?
The benefits of pregnancy yoga to women are essentially two-fold.
Pregnancy yoga provides development of physical fitness while at the same time honing your ability to mentally centre yourself and focus your breathing. While there are certainly some safety considerations to explore, research has shown that pregnancy yoga offers many benefits both to women and their babies.
Those most commonly identified in research include:
- Increasing the endurance, strength and flexibility of key muscle groups required for natural childbirth
- Decreasing common symptoms of pregnancy, including nausea, lower back pain, headaches and shortness of breath
- Reducing stress and anxiety and providing women with techniques they can use to respond to common worries and fears
- Improving sleep patterns by reducing stress and pregnancy discomforts, and encouraging mental calm
- Decreasing the risk of preterm labour, pregnancy-induced hypertension and intrauterine growth restriction (slower than expected growth for gestational age)
Beyond these physical and mental benefits, attending pregnancy yoga classes can also:
- Improve your balance, which is so important as your body goes through rapid weight and shape changes during pregnancy
- Develop your ability to focus inward to your baby which supports maternal bonding and preparation for labour and birth
- Provide breathing techniques you can be applied during labour to work through contractions and calm your mind
- Build your self-confidence and reduce fearfulness of labour
- Provide the opportunity to meet and bond with other pregnant women
- Develop your ability to rest and sleep on command, a valuable skill in the early weeks and months of parenthood when your sleep pattern will be greatly disrupted
Things to Consider
Like any form of exercise during pregnancy, before starting a pregnancy yoga regime there are safety considerations which are important to explore.
- To best ensure your and your baby’s safety: Speak to your doctor or midwife before you start to ensure pregnancy yoga is safe for you, taking into consideration any particular conditions you may have
- Go to pregnancy yoga classes rather than attempting to perform yoga on your own at home
- Select a yoga instructor who is knowledgeable about and trained in pregnancy yoga and the particular constraints and limitations of a pregnant body
- Listen to your body and do not hesitate to alert your instructor if you experience discomfort or pain during your pregnancy yoga class
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Poses like the downward dog and the warrior will help stretch and strengthen the muscles required to counterbalance the growing belly, while asanas, like the tree pose and the half-moon pose, can help you get comfortable with your changing centre of gravity.
- It keeps you in shape
- When paired with gentle cardiovascular exercise such as walking or swimming, prenatal yoga can be an ideal way to stay in shape during pregnancy.
- It keeps you limber, tones your muscles and improves balance and circulation with little, if any, impact on your joints.
- Stress relief - According to a report in the Harvard Mental Health Letter (April 2009), rigorous studies have found scientific proof that yoga helps the body deal with stress by slowing heart and breathing rates and lowering blood pressure – beneficial to both the unborn baby and mother during and after pregnancy.
- Pain management - Breathing exercises can be incredibly calming and centring during pregnancy. And when it comes to the labour and birth, breath control is an invaluable asset for pain management (especially for those planning a natural, drug-free birth).
- Back-pain relief - A common complaint during pregnancy is back pain, especially as the pregnancy progresses and the weight of the uterus (and the baby in it) increases.
- Prenatal yoga strengthens the muscles that support this weight, taking pressure off the lower back.
Yoga makes you stronger all over – perfect for the extra weight you’ll be carrying during pregnancy and the weight you’ll be carrying in your arms after birth – your baby!
It helps with labour and birthing too, you wouldn't run a marathon with out training first would you.
- Squats and other hip-opening poses can help your baby get into position, and help you when it comes to contractions and gentle pushing during the final stages of active labour.
- Connection with your baby - It is believed babies are very tuned in to their mothers emotions and feelings in utero and prenatal yoga gives you the opportunity and ability to connect with the experience of being pregnant.
Be in the moment -
Yoga is about being in the moment and letting everything else fall away for the time being.
During pregnancy, many women find themselves worrying about their health and that of the baby, the birth, what they should and shouldn’t be eating, their changing body shape – the list goes on.