Pregnancy is one of the most magical times in a woman’s life. During these nine months, a woman takes extra care of her body. And yet, despite this added nurturing, a pregnant body is not always the most comfortable to live in. Back pain, swollen ankles, indigestion and sleeping troubles are just a few of the aches and pains that a pregnant woman will experience.
And while many of these physical changes cannot be avoided, some can, at the very least, be minimized. The ancient practice of yoga can offer many benefits to ensuring a comfortable and healthy pregnancy.
Here is what you need to know about yoga and pregnancy:
Yoga can be a great way to remain flexible, reduce stress and prepare for childbirth. Many woman’s first introduction to yoga is when they are pregnant. And often, once they experience the many benefits of yoga, they continue to maintain their practice months or even years after giving birth.
Yoga’s breathing not only helps a woman stay calm and centered during pregnancy, but also during the throes of labor and delivery. In addition, prenatal yoga postures specifically target the muscles involved in childbirth, making them stronger and more flexible, like the pelvis region and lower back.
There are many prenatal yoga poses and certain ones can only be done during specific trimesters. Here are two excellent yoga postures which can be safely practiced throughout all three trimesters:
Cat-Cow: This yoga posture mirrors many of the same movements that are involved during labor. Simply come down on all fours, knees below the hips and hands below the shoulders. On an inhale, allow the belly to drop as you tilt your head upwards. As you exhale, release your head, hunch your shoulders and lift your belly up. Repeat this posture at least five times.
Bound-Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana): This posture opens up the muscles of the hips and groin region, while also increasing circulation to the pelvic floor. Start by sitting on your mat and bring the soles of your feet together. Tuck your chin slightly in towards your chest as you gently move your knees away from each other. Stay in the posture for one to five minutes.
Pregnant women should always get clearance from their doctor before starting a yoga practice, particularly if she has a preexisting health condition. They should also seek out prenatal yoga instructors who specialize in working with women in all stages of her pregnancy. In regards to poses, pregnant women should avoid lying on their backs or stomachs after their fourth month and always use their own intuition when deciding when a posture feels good or when it feels uncomfortable.