Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

One of the most challenging events that a woman might have to go through in her life is childbirth. For all the excitement and exuberance, it is also very terrifying — and for good reason! I have had the chance to work with women before and after they experienced motherhood and I observed that the experience has always humbled them. Childbirth is a paradoxical event that tires you to the extreme but also fills the soul with an indefatigable energy.
A woman undergoes a great number of changes during and after her pregnancy, ranging from physical to psychological. It can be discomfiting for the mind and can also cause uneasiness. The body needs to stretch in order to make space for the baby and to make sure it receives a comfortable environment. Physical exertion can be tiring to a pregnant woman, but studies have shown that minor forms of exercise can actually help with the process of childbirth and even aid with some of the emotional upheaval that a mother faces. 
Bearing that in mind, yoga is often suggested to pregnant women as a means of taking control over their body and emotions during this crucial time. Studies show that women who practice prenatal yoga often have more ease during the third trimester and during labor. This is why yoga is recommended, as it offers non-taxing exertion and poses, which aids in reducing pain and loosening muscles. Yoga encompasses the body, mind, and soul, and so it is a holistic way to deal with discomfort of pregnancy. Yoga can: 
•    help with reducing lower back pain and aching legs
•    help improve sleep cycle
•    add to the body’s flexibility, strength and endurance
•    take away some anxiety and stress
•    help reduce nausea, headaches and breathing problems
•    help shorten delivery time.
That is not to say, of course, that there aren’t any restrictions. Some yoga postures can be very taxing to the body and might even cause problems to the baby. It is necessary to visit a certified yogi whenever in doubt, or speak to your doctor before registering yourself for a prenatal yoga class. Every case of pregnancy is unique and it is essential that you make responsible decisions for the sake of your child’s health. Here are some of the basic things you should know:
•    avoid overstretching
•    keep yourself properly hydrated
•    always seek your doctor’s approval before shifting a course of exercise or yoga
•    take care of your breathing and do breaking exercises
•    avoid hot yoga completely.

So, what is recommended?
As a standard, pregnant women are recommended at least thirty minutes of moderate physical activity every day, but you must always speak to your doctor before shifting a course or starting yoga. Yoga is recommended because some of the postures can fill the time required for physical exertion and can also benefit your mind. Some yoga postures that are a great way to let go of stress include:
Warrior II: 
A calm pose that is safe for any stage of the pregnancy. It strengthens your core and elongates your spine. 

Tree Pose: 
If you can keep your balance, then this is a great pose for you to strengthen your legs and core. Also, don’t be hard on yourself; use the support of a wall in order to keep your balance. Remember, safety is the key!
King Pigeon Pose: 
The King Pigeon pose puts pressure on your glutes, and stretches out your legs. Remember not to over exert yourself, just enough to loosen up your muscles.
Cat-Cow Pose: 
Working with gravity, this will help your body ease up and release pent-up stress in the spine. This is a great starter pose.
Happy Baby Pose: 
Of course, you should try the happy baby pose to cool down after a session. Other than the fact that it warms your heart and is a playful pose, it has a deeper subliminal meaning when attached to prenatal yoga.

What Should Be Avoided?
It makes sense for you to avoid certain yoga poses, which put pressure on your stomach and will put you and your baby in stress. Such poses also exert more pressure on your core than is needed in any stage of the pregnancy, and so you should take care to avoid them or use them under the care of a trained yogi. Even in such circumstances, these poses have been thoroughly modified. Best to play it safe!
Boat Pose (and all other crunching poses): You don’t have to be face-down to put pressure on your stomach. Avoid unnecessary force or stretching across your abdomen and stomach! A great modification for this is the bridge pose.
Locust Pose (and all other poses on the stomach): 
This pose should be awarded in all trimesters. Try not to lie on your belly at all, let alone use it to hold yourself up.
Plank Cross (and all other twist variations): 
These might be okay for the first trimester, but only if you’re sure that they are not putting any pressure on you or the baby. It should be avoided in the later stage of pregnancy. Shift towards the King Pigeon Pose instead.
Ultimately, it all comes down to you being careful and being comfortable in what your body can take. It is important for you, and even more to the health of your baby, that you understand your boundaries when it comes to any physical activities. Other than that, a healthier you will result in a healthier baby! Take care of yourself at all times, allow yourself to let loose and enjoy the process. HH

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