Pregnancy Yoga: The Ultimate Yoga Guide for Pregnant Women
Yoga is not just for men and women who want to trim off some weight or de-stress from their hectic and busy schedule. There is yoga for pregnant women that are ideal for moms-to-be to stay in shape. This type of yoga is called pregnancy yoga, which also prepares the woman’s body for childbirth. Some people consider pregnancy yoga as a way to get stronger both physically and emotionally during pregnancy and childbirth. The moves being done for this type of yoga is very safe and beneficial for the pregnant moms. It is believed that the gentle sweeping motion and deep breathing can take away all the stress and aches of pregnancy.
What is Yoga?
Before we delve deeper into pregnancy yoga, we have to define what really is yoga? Some instructors and yoga practitioners define yoga as the balancing of the body, mind, and breathing. You can balance them through breathing exercises, physical exercise, meditation, and relaxation. Pregnancy is actually a good time to start yoga. The postures and exercises are very simple that can be easily followed by both expectant mothers and beginners. The instructors will most definitely modify some of the postures so that they will suit the pregnant women. Most of the classes in yoga start with stretching and warm-up sessions. When you have accomplished the stretching of the arms, back, and legs, then the yoga postures will follow. The class usually ends with the meditation and relaxation to help you calm down and feel refreshed.
What are the Benefits of Pregnancy Yoga?
Yoga for pregnant women has numerous benefits. If you are already taking yoga classes, then take advantage of these wonderful benefits that you are already receiving.
Taking pregnancy yoga can teach you how to properly practice deep breathing technique. Learning to breathe correctly can prepare you for the coming labor and childbirth. Deep breathing helps your mind and body to relax, which you need to do when going into labor. If you’re in pain, the body produces adrenalin and reduces the production of oxytocin, which is a hormone that allows the labor to progress. By practicing the deep breathing technique, you can control the pain during labor and it will also help you relax. You will learn that inhaling and exhaling deeply can ease the tension with each breath.
Toning Important Muscle Groups
Pregnancy yoga focuses on toning the important muscle groups that could prepare your body for the birthing process. This type of yoga will work on your hips, pelvic floor, and core muscles. Your muscles will not be too tight or too relaxed when the time comes for childbirth. Plus, toning these muscles can ease the aches and pains that most pregnant women experience during those nine months of carrying the baby. With toned muscles, it makes it easier for you to recover and get in shape after childbirth.
Healthier Pregnancy and Healthier Baby
Healthy pregnancy means healthier baby. A research has confirmed that if the mother is healthy, then the baby is more likely going to have a better birthweight. A study in India found that yoga for pregnant women have a lower risk of preterm labor and deliver a baby with low birthweight. The group of pregnant women who practiced yoga carried their babies to full term and delivered healthier babies with ideal birthweight.
Connect With Your Baby
As you go through your pregnancy and the baby grows, the physical response to the different yoga poses will remind you of the changes that are happening to your body. This is the time to slow down and be aware of what is happening to your body. Certain poses will be very meaningful for you, which help you connect more with your baby. Even the act of going to your yoga class every week will be a reminder to take a break from your busy life in order to care and bond with your baby.
Meet Other Expectant Moms
One of the best benefits of pregnancy yoga is to meet and make friends with other expectant mothers. Sometimes this type of yoga class can also become a support group because they fully understand what you are going through. You can connect with other pregnant women who are making the same lifestyle changes. Sharing the experiences and hardships of pregnancy can help ease the anxiety about childbirth and the coming motherhood. You can also compare notes with other expectant moms and learn from them as you go through the stages of pregnancy.
Improve Your Balance and Posture
As your belly gets bigger and heavier, it provides more strain to the body and changes the center of gravity. This can cause lower back pain and stress in the lumbar area. Pregnancy yoga can help alleviate the pressure on the lower back area. With the stretching of the legs and lower back, you can release all the tension, which helps with your balance and posture.
Safety Guidelines for Pregnancy Yoga
Before starting yoga, you have to check for safety guidelines and find a certified prenatal yoga instructor. Here are other safety guidelines to consider when you want to attend yoga for pregnant women.
- If this is your first time trying yoga, you should start slow and easy. If you are already used to the various movements of yoga, then it is okay to continue but still take it easy.
- If there are any postures are movements that are too uncomfortable for you, then leave it out and don’t force your body to do the movement.
- During pregnancy, the joints and ligaments become soft and loose. This means you should take care not to overstretch the body.
- Remember to always stay in the comfort zone and never attempt to work out too hard. Overexertion has no place in any pregnancy yoga class.
- There shouldn’t be any pain during or after doing the yoga. If you feel any pain, then you should discontinue the exercise movements and talk to your yoga instructor.
- Don’t do any postures or movements that use the abdominal muscles strongly. If the posture involves balance, you should do it with great care.
- Avoid lying flat on your back. Any posture that involves lying on your back can put pressure on the blood flow to the uterus. This can also cause nausea and dizziness. It is recommended to use a pillow to elevate your upper body or limit the time that you are lying flat on your back.
- Avoid doing yoga if it is too hot or humid. If the room or area is too hot, then don’t proceed with the yoga. Also, don’t attend any hot yoga class, wherein the room is heated. This can cause overheating and overexertion.
Best Yoga Poses and Movements for Pregnant Women
Now that you know the benefits of pregnancy yoga and some of the safety tips and guidelines, we can now go on to the best yoga poses and exercises recommended for pregnant women.
Standing Mountain Yoga Pose – most yoga exercises start with the standing mountain posture. This helps to warm up your muscles and prepare you for yoga.
- Stand straight with your feet a little more than hip-width apart.
- Your knees should be slightly bent and your toes pointed straight ahead.
- Put your palms at the center of your heart or in front of your chest and close your eyes.
- Inhale deeply and put your arms up overhead in a sweeping motion while slightly bending your back.
- Exhale and stand upright once again while returning your palms to your chest.
- Repeat for ten full breaths.
Cobbler’s Pose – this is a sitting pose that will open up your pelvis. You can place a pillow or rolled-up towel beneath your knees so you won’t have to overextend your hips. Just follow these steps to do the cobbler or tailor’s posture.
- Sit with your back straight against the wall. Make sure that the soles of your feet are touching each other.
- Slowly and gently position your knees down and away from each other, but never force them apart.
- Pause and stay in this position as long as you are still comfortable.
Pelvic Tilt Yoga Pose – this pregnancy yoga pose can relieve your back pain, which can occur often during pregnancy.
- Get down on all fours, or on your hands and knees.
- Your arms should be shoulder-width apart and knees are hip-width apart. Keep your arms straight but do not lock your elbows.
- Inhale and tuck your buttocks under.
- Breathe out and relax as you go back to the neutral position.
- Repeat this movement at your own pace.
Supported Squat Yoga Pose – this is another yoga posture that can prepare you for childbirth. However, this is not recommended for pregnant women who are experiencing signs of premature labor.
- Stand straight with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Make sure to put a stack of pillows on the floor just right behind you.
- Slowly bend your knees as you lower yourself down in a deep squat position.
- Sit on the stacked pillows with your palms pressed at the center of your chest.
- Breathe deeply through your nose and keep your eyes closed as you relax your pelvic floor.
- Hold this pose for ten full breaths.
Wide-Knee Child Pose – this movement can relieve the heavy weight of your belly. It is a familiar posture to those who are already practicing yoga.
- Kneel on the floor with your butt resting on your heels and the top of your feet against the floor with the big toes touching each other.
- Your knees should be wider than hip-width apart.
- Slowly bring your chest down to the floor or mat.
- Extend your arms overhead and let your forehead touch the mat.
- You can also lay your arms alongside your body with the palms facing up if this feels more comfortable for you.
Belly Breathing – this type of breathing technique can help you relax and take away all the physical and emotional tensions you are feeling.
- Sit straight on a soft and comfortable pillow.
- Move into a cross-legged position and put your palms on your lower belly.
- Breathe deeply through your nose while keeping your eyes closed. Your face and jaw should be fully relaxed.
- Relax your pelvic floor muscles.
- Slowly exhale and repeat.
Cat / Cow Yoga Pose – doing the cat and cow pose can help relieve back pains and stretch the body. This move can also help shift the weight of the baby away from your spine.
- Kneel on your knees and hands with the abdominals drawn in.
- Inhale and arch your back gently, tipping your buttocks up, and your eyes gazing upwards.
- Exhale slowly and round your back while tucking your chin in towards your chest.
- Sit back down into your heels in a Child’s pose.
- Relax for 1 full breath.
- Repeat the cat cow pose ten times.
Seated Side Bend Yoga Pose – this is a good pregnancy yoga movement if you are experiencing lower back pains. You can also do this movement either with open or crossed legs.
- Sit in an upright and comfortable position.
- Legs should be folded or in a half-lotus position.
- Put your right hand on the floor and stretch the left arm straight up.
- Bend to the right and focus on rotating your upper torso while gazing up on your left hand.
- As you start bending to the side, you can lower into your forearm for support.
- Repeat the movement on the other side.
Wide Angle-Seated Forward Bend – this pose is ideal for relieving belly weight and treating back pain.
- Sit down with your legs extended in front of you.
- Spread the legs apart but don’t force it too much.
- Keep your back straight and flat while leaning forward until your chest touches the floor.
- Place your forearms on the floor and your palms touching together.
- Focus on the stretch in your hips.
Side-Lying Position – this is a good resting pose to end your pregnancy yoga session.
- Lie down on your left or right side while your head is resting on your arm.
- Place a long pillow or blanket roll between your thighs. This will give your hips a much-needed support.
- Your pregnancy yoga instructor can help you with the breathing exercises during this posture.