Benefits of Yoga for Pregnant Women
As with any exercise program, make sure you clear it with your doctor fist. There are usually some positions your obstetrician and gynecologist will tell you to avoid, some of which will be addressed later on in the post. Despite those poses you need to watch out for, the benefits of yoga while you are pregnant are far reaching. Research shows that prenatal yoga will:
• Reduce Stress
• Improve Sleep
• Increase Strength
• Decrease Back Pain
• Decrease Nausea
How Yoga Brings the Benefits
As you stretch, you move different areas of your body, releasing tension and encouraging full range of motion. This not only prepares your body for the impact of carrying the baby, but also the impact of delivery.
While moving from asana to asana, or position to position, you will gently develop your strength and improve your flexibility and balance. Your body will need this strength to support the baby and ensure endurance through labor and delivery.
Yoga stresses the importance of conscious breathing, focusing on slow, deep, even breaths. Yoga breathing techniques come in handy for stress relief and managing contractions.
Savasana or relaxion pose occurs at the end of every yoga practice and encourages the muscles to relax and the mind to slow down. This mindful focus on relaxation and being calm creates the ideal environment for the baby to reside happily in your belly. Make sure that once you enter the second trimester you practice savasana on your side to avoid decreased blood flow to the baby.
Yoga Poses That Help Morning Sickness
Sitting cross legged on the floor, lean your body forward at a 45 degree angle. Rest your arms on a chair in front of you. Stay in this position for a few minutes and repeat as necessary. This pose gently massages the abdominal muscles to alleviate nausea.
• Bound Angle Pose
Sitting on the floor, bring the soles of your feet together until they touch. Gently press your knees toward the floor while bringing your heels back toward the pelvis. Stay in this pose for no longer than 5 minutes at a time and repeat as necessary. This position helps to stretch and stimulate the abdominal organs.
• Reclining Hero Pose
Using a block or bolster pillow for support, place the bolster along the length of your spine allowing your buttocks and hips to rest on the floor while the rest of your body and heads reclines against the pillow. Bend your knees, allowing each heel to come back toward your hip. Stay in this pose for at least 5 minutes. This position lifts the diaphragm away from the stomach and liver which relieves pressure and eases the feeling of nausea.
• Lotus Pose
Sitting in a traditional lotus pose, cross legged on the floor with the tops of your feet resting on top of your thighs, is the perfect pose to help you relax and focus on proper breathing. Inhaling and exhaling deeply through your nose can relax your body and abdominals, allowing your nausea to subside. You can feel sick if you hold onto unnecessary tension in your stomach. Try sitting in lotus and focusing on your breathing for 10 minutes repeating as needed throughout the day.
Poses to Avoid During Pregnancy
The really cool thing about yoga is that if there is a pose you can’t do because of pregnancy or another condition, there are many alternatives that can give you the same benefits without the risk. For the most part you will be able to do all the poses in your regular practice through your first trimester. However, once you reach that fourth month you will really want to pay attention to your poses, even if you still feel physically able to do them. Here’s a simple guide to pregnant yoga don’ts.
• Don’t Lay on Your Back Too Long
As your baby belly grows it can put pressure on your lower back and decrease blood flow to the baby. Try instead to lie on your side to prevent these issues.
• Don’t Do Deep Bends
The bigger you get, the harder bending forward and backward will be. Even when your baby bump is small enough to not get in the way, you should not bend to the floor. This compresses blood vessels and nerves which is not good for the baby. Deep back bends can be just as bad. So unless you are really advanced in your practice and you doctor gives the thumbs up, just say no.
• Don’t Do Deep Twisting
Deep twists can decrease blood flow to the baby as well. Instead, try twisting softly or from an open position to protect the baby and still get the benefits of the pose.
• No Abs!
This includes inversions, all of which can put undo strain on your core. Too much strain on your belly can stress out the baby and cause them to turn the wrong way later in the pregnancy.
• Hot Yoga is a Big No
Hot yoga is really unsafe when you are pregnant. You run the risk of dehydration and fainting. This can cause unnecessary harm to both mother and baby.
Growing and delivering a baby takes a lot of energy. Prenatal yoga can help you battle the nausea and back pain, all while preparing your body to give birth. Continuing yoga after pregnancy is a good way to help your body transition back to its normal state and increase your energy level. As a new mom, you’ll need all the energy you can get!