I have been practicing yoga for over 12 years and have slowly transitioned from a practice focused on dynamic, sweat inducing yoga to being able to understand and appreciate the benefits of slowing down the practice and the mind. When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child in August last year, the benefits of this transition really came to fruition as prenatal yoga became more than just a “yoga class”, but also a place for relaxation, mindfulness and birth preparation.
There are many benefits of practicing yoga while you are pregnant, here are just 5;
1. Yoga develops strength, flexibility and stamina
Pregnancy and labour is most certainly a marathon not a sprint and as your baby grows inside your belly more energy and strength is required to help carry the extra weight. Yoga helps you strengthen your hips, back, arms and shoulders. A woman who is in the best possible shape for the challenge of labour and beyond, both mentally and physically, will also most likely recover faster after the bub has arrived.
2. Promotes emotional well being, relaxation and stress management
Through deep breathing the nervous system goes into parasympathetic mode, which promotes relaxation. Learning how to control your breath during yoga can be challenging however; this awareness and control is not only an effective tool during pregnancy to help calm and reduce anxiety, it is also a technique to help with pain management, allowing you to focus and relax during labour.
3. Important birth muscles are toned
Prenatal yoga encourages deep toning of the pelvic floor, hip and transverse abdominal muscles. Building and maintaining this muscle tone through out your pregnancy can not only alleviate muscle aches and pains throughout the 9 months but also facilitate a speedy postnatal recovery.
4. Connection with your Bubba
A prenatal yoga practice at least once a week allows you to take some time out of your busy schedule to bond with your growing baby. Slowing down, breathing deeply and connecting with your baby as your pregnancy progresses allows you to focus on how your body responds differently to the changes that are happening week to week.
5. Relief from common pregnancy complaints
A regular prenatal yoga practice can help to reduce or alleviate common pregnancy complaints such as easing heartburn, fluid retention and muscle cramps to name a few. By stretching and toning your muscles you can also help blood circulate through the body in a healthy way as well as alleviate back, neck and hip pain which is often caused by the increasing stress from the growing weight of the baby.
You certainly don’t have to have been practicing yoga for 12 years to gain these benefits. If you have some experience in practicing yoga prior to your pregnancy, with your drs consent, you can commence prenatal practice. If you’ve had little to no yoga experience that’s also fine; following the all clear from your dr at 12 weeks.