What is Prenatal Yoga?
Prenatal yoga is gaining popularity these days as more and more expecting mothers are learning about its benefits. Prenatal yoga is a good way to prepare a new mom for the experience of giving birth. There are many types of prenatal exercises and the expecting mother has to decide which one is most suitable with her physician. Yoga done during pregnancy helps you prepare for child birth and is a great way to relax and to stay fit during your nine months. It also helps with your baby's growth.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Just like other childbirth-preparation classes and yoga classes, prenatal yoga is a multidimensional method of exercising which involves stretching, focusing your mind and breathing. If done in the proper way under an experienced instructor, prenatal yoga is safe and full of benefits for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Here are some of the benefits of prenatal yoga:
- Helps in sleeping better.
- Reduces anxiety and stress, which the mother might be having regarding the childbirth process.
- Helps in enhancing flexibility, stamina and strength of the muscles required for childbirth.
- Alleviates lower back pain and headaches.
- Reduces nausea and shortness of breath.
- Cuts down the risk of preterm labor, intrauterine growth restriction and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
- It is also a great way to socialize and meet new mothers like you.
What Does Prenatal Yoga Classes Involve?
- The main focus will be on breathing slowly and deeply, inhaling and exhaling through the nose. The class also will have you practice different breathing techniques and learning to make deep sounds like grunting or humming. These prenatal yoga breathing techniques are beneficial in alleviating and managing any shortness of breath which you may have during pregnancy. Focused breathing also helps you during your labor pains or contractions.
- The class also teaches you on how to gently stretch the different areas of your body, e.g. neck and arms.
- Different postures are tried in a very gentle manner. During standing, sitting or lying down, the expectant mother will be directed on how to slowly and gently move her body into various positions. This helps in building flexibility, strength and balance. Blankets or cushions can be used for comfort and support. While changing positions, you should continue to concentrate on your breathing.
- In the last step at the end of your prenatal yoga class, you are taught to relax your muscles and allow your body to cool down, so that your resting heart rate and breathing rhythm comes back to normal.
Safety Directions to be Followed During Prenatal Yoga
- Always and always consult with your obstetrician or health care provider before starting or enrolling in a prenatal yoga program, as it may be contraindicated if the mother has a high risk of preterm labor or has any heart or back problems.
- Set practical goals for yourself and don't overdo yourself. Daily, a half an hour of moderate physical activity is best and sufficient for you. If you do not feel like doing it on some day, then skip that day and rest.
- Always maintain a normal pace during any workout, especially prenatal yoga. Make sure that you are able to speak normally without getting breathless when doing prenatal yoga.
- Always stay well hydrated and drink plenty of fluids, especially water during prenatal yoga.
- Always do the yoga in an airy and well ventilated room, so you do not overheat your body.
- Avoid postures which are difficult for you to do. Always bend from your hips and not your back. This helps in maintaining the normal spinal curvature.
- Never lie on your belly or back. Avoid any deep forward or backward bends, or any twisting poses which put pressure on the abdomen. Try to move your upper back, shoulders and rib cage only.
- Avoid poses, which involve stretching your legs above your heart level or head level. If you are uncomfortable, then use props such as cushions, especially as you advance in your pregnancy.
- If in doubt about any posture, then consult with your yoga instructor for advice.
- Start doing your yoga slowly and gently. Avoid positions which cause discomfort or pain.
- Stop immediately if you feel any pain or experience any vaginal bleeding, decrease in fetal movements or start having contractions, and contact your obstetrician immediately.
- Last, but not the least, always get your doctor's consent before starting anything and always choose a class which is taught by an experienced yoga instructor with training in prenatal yoga. Before actually joining any prenatal yoga class, you can attend one class as an observer to see if you are comfortable with the postures and the environment etc. before making any decision.
Caution: Pregnant women should always opt for prenatal yoga and hatha yoga only because they are gentle. Other types of yoga such as Bikram yoga or hot yoga should be avoided, as it is exhausting and done in a heated room and is not at all suitable for pregnant mothers. Power yoga should also be strictly avoided as it is too strenuous for pregnant women.