Prenatal Yoga: The Relaxation Mantra during Pregnancy
Yoga is a well-known practice which originated in ancient India. It relaxes our bodies and calms our minds boosting physical, mental, and spiritual health.
With time, yoga has become a global phenomenon, with people practicing it worldwide. Currently, there are more than 100 yoga poses.
However, we are often asked to avoid doing yoga under certain medical conditions. For instance, when a woman is pregnant, she is advised not to do difficult exercises. Pregnancy is a tough time for ladies, requiring special attention during this time. But what they also need is to stay fit and healthy for themselves and the baby.
Especially with working women having to go to the office and complete tasks, they need to be fit.
As mentioned, yoga is an all-around exercise that has forms catering to people with different needs and issues. So, even if pregnant women are not to do exercises, there is a type of yoga that is safe for them to do- Prenatal yoga. This form of yoga is not only safe but also helps one prepare for labor and delivery, boosting the baby’s health too.
Let us look at this blog on prenatal yoga and its effects on expectant mothers.
What is Prenatal Yoga?
Prenatal yoga is mostly about breathing techniques, meditation, light asanas, and stretching. It relaxes the body and helps one do safe yoga poses during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga is not just a modified version of yoga; it is a form that considers pregnancy issues and addresses them.
All the issues that come with pregnancy, like body aches and pains, along with emotional and mental distress, are eased with prenatal yoga. Also known as pregnancy yoga, these classes are designed with specific course material to comfort a woman’s changing body and the child’s health.
In the first seventeen weeks of the pregnancy, an expectant mother is free to do any kind of physical exercise. Because in the first trimester, the belly size is normal. However, not everyone’s body functions equally. So, if the body does not allow it and you feel nauseous and tired, seek consultation from a doctor first. .
Also, if you are a regular yoga practitioner, keep doing normal yoga workouts. But if it’s your first time, you may start with prenatal yoga.
Birth is as safe as life gets. ~ Harriette Hartigan
Post-seventeenth week, you need to be a little more cautious and avoid exercises that put stress on your abdominal area. In your second trimester, your belly usually starts to appear, which is when the need for prenatal yoga arises. During this time, one must not practice yoga workouts lying on their belly to prevent pressure on the growing belly.
From the third trimester, women have to be more vigilant while doing yoga. They must be stable and avoid any posture that can make them fall.
Thus, no advanced yoga poses and asanas involving abs and inversions are part of a prenatal yoga regimen. Breathing and body awareness are the highlights of this type of yoga.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Childbirth is an experience in a woman’s life that holds the power to transform her forever. Passing through these powerful gates – in her own way – remembering all the generations of women who walk with her… She is never alone. ~ Suzanne Arms
Pregnancy is a difficult time when you always feel cranky and stressed. And especially when you have to go to work and take all the workplace stress too, it gets unmanageable.
Sometimes, you go through such huge changes in your body that it becomes overwhelming, and you start feeling disconnected from yourself.
Yoga is something that can restore that connection. Yoga can make you work on accepting that change is a part of life. Prenatal yoga not only helps you with labor but also assists you in fast postpartum recovery.
Here are other benefits of prenatal yoga,
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Prenatal yoga focuses on gentle stretching and breathing exercises, which ease muscle tension and headaches. This form of yoga also uses several mindfulness meditation techniques that calm and relax the mind, reducing anxiety. Slow and gentle breathing regulates stress hormones and blocks them in high amounts.
This combination of planned movement and organized breathing can boost feelings of peace and joy.
2. Boosts Blood Flow
As pregnancy progresses, the baby grows and puts pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis and lower region of the body. With prenatal yoga poses like gentle stretching and deep breathing, blood flow to the heart increases.
Whereas stretching leads to flexibility and low muscle tension, deep breathing provides more oxygen supply to the body. That boosts the baby’s health along with the mother’s.
3. Improves Labor Experience
Labor is one contraction. It just happens over and over again. ~ Tina Lilly
As mentioned, prenatal yoga prepares a woman for labor and delivery. It supports the changing body one goes through during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga relaxes your mind and can make you ready and confident while going for labor.
The meditation and breathing exercises take the stress away, making room for staying positive. They boost the coping abilities to ensure a less painful childbirth experience.
This form of exercise and stretching also strengthens your pelvic muscles and improves your posture, helping an easier delivery. With well-balanced and aligned muscles and bones, the baby settles into a more optimal position which makes for an important factor during delivery.
And during labor, one needs to take long, deep breaths to manage the pain and stress. The prenatal yoga’s breathing techniques assist in that. Anxiety and stress are the last things one would want in labor, and prenatal yoga ensures that.
4. Provides Bonding Opportunities
Like every other yoga class, prenatal yoga classes boost the social lives of mothers. You will meet other expectant moms when you join a prenatal yoga class. All of you will bond over baby discussions and whatnot.
This will build a strong support system and community where each of you will stand together, sharing a common situation. These connections will make childbirth easier as talking it out can help reduce anxiety, and hearing each other out can be comforting.
There might be women who are expecting for the second and third time. So, hearing their birth stories can prepare you to take the labor head-on. These bonds and stories will make you ready for the upcoming stress of becoming a parent.
5. Improves Sleep
Pregnancy is a time when the body goes through extreme physical and mental changes. In such times, one often finds it difficult to sleep. Practicing prenatal yoga can help with this issue. Meditation and relaxation techniques, together with gentle exercises, can alleviate stress and anxiety.
With stress reduction comes calmness and peace, improving sleep quality and quantity. Also, prenatal yoga focuses on overall physical and emotional well-being, alleviating conditions of backaches, nausea, and other discomforts.
Few Prenatal Yoga Poses
Always listen to your body, and if you feel discomfort, please do not proceed further.
Prenatal yoga classes are normal, like restorative yoga, only with modifications to ensure safety for pregnant women. So, before heading out to work in the morning, ensure that you follow a basic prenatal yoga routine.
A prenatal yoga session needs you to:
Breathe in and out slowly through your nose. Practice these breathing techniques, which help one manage the breath and make it through contractions during labor.
Time for some gentle stretching. Move areas of your body like the neck and arms gently.
Do suitable postures while standing or sitting to develop flexibility and balance and strengthen the muscles required during labor and delivery. You might use certain props for support, like cushions and blankets.
This is the final step, where you need to practice relaxation techniques. Relax your muscles. Listen to your breathing and focus on the sensations and thoughts.
Let’s take a look at some prenatal yoga poses that involve breathing, strengthening your muscles, and deep stretching.
1. Standing Backbend (Anuvittasana)
This pose counteracts the forward bending, which is difficult for pregnant women as the uterus grows.
Here’s how you do it-
Stand upright. Place your palms on the back of your hips for support.
Lean backward gently as you feel a light stretch.
Hold for 20 seconds and repeat.
2. Warrior on a Chair (Upavistha Vibhadrasana)
All pregnant women are warriors. It takes strength just to get up and go to work. — Camilla Luddington
This pose helps to strengthen your leg muscles.
Here’s how you do it-
Sit on the edge of a chair. Turn your left leg to the left and keep your foot on the floor perpendicular to the chair.
Extend your right leg towards the back, placing your pelvis on the chair for stability. Make sure not to stretch your pelvis too much. You might use a pillow or a blanket for support.
Breathe in and out five times while holding the pose. Now, switch the legs and do it for five more breaths.
Also read: 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses to Do at Your Desk
3. Cat-Cow Stretch (Chakravakrasana)
This pose is aimed at supporting the back and maintaining a healthy spine. It further helps in easing back pain and improves balance.
Here’s how to do it-
Start on all fours. Be in a position with a flat back. Align your wrists with your shoulders. Similarly, your knees should be right beneath your hips.
Cow- Now, inhale and slightly bend your back, so your tailbone reaches for the sky. Press your chest forward and look upward.
Cat- Gently exhale with your tailbone reaching the floor as your middle back reach for the sky. And look downward.
Inhale to cow, exhale to cat.
If you feel discomfort doing the cow pose, attempt the cat pose and return to the neutral position.
4. Gate Pose (Parighasana)
This pose stretches and strengthens the sides of the body, especially the waist, hips, and thighs.
Here’s how you do it-
Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and your toes pointing back.
Extend your right leg to the side and place your foot flat, with your toes pointing forward.
Take your right arm up towards the ceiling and then reach it over your head towards the left, keeping your arm close to your ear.
As you stretch your right arm towards the left, lean your torso to the left while keeping your hips facing forward. You should feel a stretch along the right side of your body.
Hold the pose for a few breaths and then return to the starting position.
Repeat on the other side by extending your left leg to the side and reaching your left arm up and over towards the right.
5. Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This pose is an all-around pose for women with pregnancy. It benefits pregnant ladies from all angles, from alleviating hip and lower back pain to improving circulation in the pelvis and reproductive organs. It also stretches the inner thighs and opens the hips to prepare expectant mothers for labor.
Here’s how you should do it-
Sit on a yoga mat with your legs extended straight in front of you.
Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to drop out to the sides.
Use your hands to gently press your feet together and towards your body while also using your elbows to press your knees toward the ground.
Sit tall and lengthen your spine, keeping your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.
Hold the pose for several breaths, and then release.
You can also place a blanket or a cushion under your sitting bones to lift your hips and feel comfortable doing the pose.
Prenatal yoga is a multi-dimensional approach that encourages breathing, stretching, and mental centering. As established, it has several benefits. However, before proceeding with the yoga session, follow these guidelines-
Talk to your doctor about wanting to take a prenatal yoga class. Certain issues like back problems or heart disease might restrict you from doing prenatal yoga. So, make sure you discuss it with them.
Do not overdo yoga. For pregnant ladies, 30 minutes of prenatal yoga should do it.
Do not push yourself to do a pose or stretching. Practice the positions with ease and minimal pressure.
Do prenatal yoga in a cool room and stay hydrated.
Do not bend on your back when doing yoga poses. Bend from your hips to balance the spine and avoid deep forward or backward bends. In other words, avoid exercises that put pressure on your abdomen. Also, do not lie on your back or belly.
With each trimester, start taking the help of props like cushions and blankets for comfort.
Your blood volume during pregnancy can increase by over 50%. That alone can have effects ranging from swelling in your hands and feet to nosebleeds.
Prenatal yoga comes in handy through those 9 months of the pregnancy period. From morning sickness and nausea to back pain, it has techniques to combat them all. It makes one embrace pregnancy and have a smooth run of 36 weeks.
With its breathing exercises, stretching, and gentle yoga poses, it can assist on the path of attaining optimal mental health.
For working women, this form of yoga is extremely crucial. So, if your organization has a yoga room, try using it during short breaks. Also, employers can host several yoga classes or offer yoga memberships for their pregnant employees.
If you do not have time to attend those yoga sessions, online yoga videos are available for your assistance.
Suggested article: 14 Fantastic Benefits Of Yoga In The Workplace
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