Pregnancy is a time when your body needs extra care and support. Everything you eat and do needs to be monitored. Having a healthy diet is just as important as physical exercise and mental well-being. Yoga is an ancient science, with its origin dating back thousands of years in the Indian culture. It involves meditation, breathing exercises ('pranayama'), and stretching exercises ('asanas'). Yoga helps in maintaining harmony between a sound mind and healthy body. Where physical exercise exhausts your body, yoga helps in creating self-awareness of one's body and mind.
Among the different types of yoga practices, prenatal yoga involves exercises that are safe and beneficial during pregnancy. It helps in keeping the mother relaxed during pregnancy. It also prepares the body for labour by strengthening the required muscles.
(Also read: Is It Normal To Lose Weight During Pregnancy?)
Prenatal Yoga Benefits
The beneficial effects of prenatal yoga during pregnancy are being widely accepted worldwide. Various research studies have also shown the beneficial effects of prenatal yoga for pregnancy. Some of the most prominent healthful effects include the following:
1. Yoga is an effective line of treatment for commonly observed depression during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga is safe during pregnancy and easily doable by women. Yoga calms down a restless mind and helps in overcoming anxiety. Scientific studies have demonstrated that pregnant women suffering from depression show positive changes in their behaviour and are able to handle stress efficiently after joining prenatal yoga classes.
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2. Prenatal yoga has shown to improve behaviour of babies born to mothers who have practiced prenatal yoga as against babies born to mothers who have undergone a stressful pregnancy and did not practice prenatal yoga.
3. Prenatal yoga exercises decrease anxiety, pain, and stress. They also improve sleep during pregnancy.
4. Prenatal yoga plays a major role in achieving normal delivery as it strengthens the muscles of the back, thighs and pelvis. It increases the flexibility of these muscles, which is essential for childbirth.
5. Prenatal yoga lowers the intensity of common symptoms of pregnancy such as morning sickness, back pain and difficulty in breathing.
6. Prenatal yoga does not cause any harm in expectant mothers suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid disorders during pregnancy.
7. Prenatal yoga decreases post-delivery pain and helps the mother to adapt to the new role both physically and mentally.
It is safe to start prenatal yoga for beginners during pregnancy under the supervision of a qualified yoga trainer.
What Is A Prenatal Yoga Class?
A prenatal yoga class consists of three basic components of yoga: breathing techniques, body stretching exercises and meditation. The yoga instructor encourages you to practice all the three components during a yoga session, which generally lasts for 1 hour.
Breathing technique involves focusing your attention on slow and deep breathing (in and out) through the nose. Body stretching exercises consist of gentle stretching of muscles of the neck, back and arms.
Prenatal yoga poses include different postures attained while sitting, standing and lying on the ground. These help in increasing the strength and stamina of the body muscles. Cushions, blankets, etc. are used for providing comfort and support while performing yoga.
Finally, in the stage of relaxation, one has to rest the body to bring the heart rate and breathing to normal. The mind should be focused on processes of the body and should be devoid of other thoughts. This helps to calm the mind.
A prenatal yoga DVD, which is readily available in the market, can be used to practice prenatal yoga at home. A good prenatal yoga teacher can help you ease the pregnancy journey.
Prenatal Yoga Training Precautions
1. Certain yoga styles are not recommended during pregnancy.
These include Bikram yoga or hot yoga, which involves practicing yoga poses in a heated room (38 to 43 degree C). This is likely to cause a condition called hyperthermia.
Power yoga involves strenuous stretching exercises that are not safe to be performed during pregnancy.
2. Avoid poses that involve lying on your back or belly. Avoid excessive twisting movements that might exert pressure on your abdomen. Avoid bending your back; instead bend from your hips to maintain a normal posture of your spine.
3. Avoid over-exercising. Practice prenatal yoga only to the limit that your body can tolerate comfortably.
4. Practice yoga in well-ventilated rooms or in the open and stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
5. Consult your doctor in case of pain, abnormal vaginal discharge, changes in the movements of baby etc.
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