What is Prenatal Yoga?
Prenatal yoga is meant to relax and encourage gentle breathing and stretching. Some yoga poses are not safe for pregnant woman. It is discouraged for pregnant women to do any of the poses that put pressure on the back and reduce blood flow to the stomach. Prenatal yoga is meant to gently stretch the muscles and assist with posture. Pregnancy can take a toll on the body and is an extensive workout in and of itself. This is why pregnant women often find it relieving to attend prenatal yoga sessions. These sessions are a safe and effective way to stretch and release tension from the continuous work out of pregnancy. They are also important for adjusting to posture. Carrying the extra weight of a baby puts a lot of pressure on the lower back and spine. Prenatal yoga uses gentle exercises to lengthen the spine, stretch the back muscles and realign the spine. For example the Pigeon Pose and Half Moon Pose are especially helpful in prenatal yoga for relieving irritation to the sciatic nerve. Though pregnancy itself is a work out, it is not beneficial to continuously rest and it is most important to build muscle.
Best Exercises During Pregnancy
Cardiovascular exercises are best for after pregnancy. For this reason, ashtanga vinyasa and Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, should be avoided. Prenatal yoga focuses specifically on stretching and building muscle that will assist with the ease of pregnancy throughout each trimester. The breathing exercises in yoga are also helpful. Breathing properly encourages stress relief throughout pregnancy. Learning to manage stress with breathing exercises will especially pay off during labor. These types of breathing exercises are often encouraged by nurses, and having experience through prenatal yoga prior to labor is a great way to prepare for labor.
Balancing exercises are also helpful for pregnant women in prenatal yoga. Learning how to manage the extra weight of pregnancy is difficult. If proper precautions aren’t taken to adjust balance and carefully manage weight, a pregnant women may fall and threaten the life of the baby. It may seem counter intuitive to challenge balance, but many find that challenging balance in a safe setting like a pre natal yoga class is a safe and effective way to adjust to added weight and lower the risk of falling.
In addition to general muscle stretching, many prenatal yoga exercises are geared toward opening the hips which is highly beneficial for the ease of labor. Hip opening poses and squats help with pushing and positioning the baby. Many women seek out tailored support from a prenatal yoga instructor for the preparation of labor. Stress management during pregnancy is a catalyst in improving a woman’s experience not only with her bodies new challenges, but also when bonding with the baby.
Other Reasons to Practice Prenatal Yoga
It is important to take time to listen to the body’s signals and understand how the baby feels. This is a great focus of prenatal yoga. Where regular yoga classes may focus on just introversion and listening to the body, prenatal yoga focuses on introversion, listening to the body and listening to the baby. Having this calm connection with the baby makes the pregnancy special, comforting and even helps with life after birth. It is extremely helpful to nap when the baby naps after pregnancy. Prenatal yoga focuses on learning how to relax and nap throughout moments in the session that can help when a woman learns to sync her own naps with her baby’s. Prenatal yoga sessions also cater relaxation to side lying poses that are helpful during pregnancy and after the baby is born when the baby must nap by the mother’s side.
Lastly, prenatal yoga is a positive social experience where pregnant woman can meet other mom’s and share their experiences with child birth. Prenatal yoga has many benefits including strength building, hip opening, improving balance and breathing exercises. All of these benefits relieve stress, adjust with transition and prepare a women for labor and life with their newborn child.