All About Prenatal Yoga
Every day, you see, hear or read stories where yoga has been successful in dealing with ailments like diabetes, blood pressure or depression. The various relaxation techniques in yoga help in lowering stress levels, fighting depression and reducing inflammation in our body. In fact, for the expectant women, yoga during pregnancy or prenatal yoga can prove to be a real boon provided necessary precautions are taken. It is indeed a great way to relax, stay fit, promote your baby’s health and prepare yourself for labor.
According to the American college of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), it is recommended that a pregnant women must do a workout for at least 30 minutes daily to improve her mood, sleep, and posture and to enhance her energy, strength and endurance.
The best time to start your prenatal yoga is during the second trimester. It is safe to start it after 14 weeks. If you have not practiced yoga earlier in your life, then pregnancy is the ideal time. Start gently and slowly and you will gradually catch the pace.
Prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach which brings huge benefits for you and your baby. Some of the benefits of prenatal yoga are:
- Improves circulation and thus helps in increasing flexibility, strength and endurance of muscles
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and fights depression
- Inculcate calmness and foster mental agility in the mother
- Decreases the risk of pre-term labor, hypertension, and intrauterine growth restriction
- Fights problems such as nausea, lower back pain, headaches and shortness of breath
- Improves sleep
How prenatal yoga bring these benefits?
The prenatal yoga usually involves different exercises and postures that bring about the aforementioned benefits. In a typical prenatal yoga session, you can expect following exercises:
Breathing exercises: Most of the prenatal exercises are focused on breathing techniques wherein you are supposed to practice breathing in and out slowly and deeply. Your yoga instructor will make you practice different techniques such as making humming and grunting sound along with breathing. Breathing exercises helps you manage stress and shortness of breath. These techniques will also help you during labor contractions.
Mild stretching & special postures: Mild or gentle stretching exercises of your neck, arm or legs will improve muscle flexibility and strength. Prenatal yoga postures are also focused on developing strength and flexibility in your muscles especially the pelvic muscles. These postures can be tried while you are standing, sitting or lying on the ground. You can also take help of props such as blankets, pillows, cushions and belts for support.
Relaxation techniques: This is the last part of your prenatal yoga session. After completing the above three, you will finally come into relax mode. In this mode, you will do a normal breathing while focusing on your inner sensations, feelings and emotions. You may also chant a mantra or some word. It will help you in enhancing self-awareness and acquiring inner calmness.
Some of you may be skeptical before doing pre-natal yoga wondering whether it is safe for your baby. However, you must know that it is completely safe until you take certain precautions.
Some of the guidelines you need to follow during prenatal yoga are-
- Avoid asanas on your back as they may restrict blood flow to the uterus.
- If you are attending a yoga class, your yoga teacher must be informed about your pregnancy, the trimester you are in and other health conditions.
- During any asana or posture, if your body is getting uncomfortable, stop it right there.
- Avoid asanas that include too much stretching of abdominal muscles.
- Stay away from working out in a pre-heated room.
- As your center of gravity shifts down from second trimester onwards, the chances of your tumbling over increases. So, better take a support of a wall or a chair.
- Opt for breaks if you feel tired
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Try to snack some healthy stuff one or two hours before your yoga session
Before starting any yoga practice, it is very important that you check with your physician. He/she may like to perform several prenatal tests such as blood tests, ultrasounds, genetic screenings etc. to know health situation of the fetus before allowing you to start yoga. These days, safe and risk-free prenatal genetic screening tests such as NACE (Non-Invasive Analysis for Chromosomal Examination) have also been developed. NACE can detect the possibility of chromosomal abnormality in a fetus with high accuracy. The turnaround time for this test is also just 7-10 days. All such tests help your obstetrician know the exact state of your health and accordingly decide whether or not you may be allowed to practice yoga.
Yoga is, in fact, a great exercise for the human body. It is recommended that you continue doing yoga even after pregnancy in order to speed up your recovery and stay fit.