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Yoga is so much more than a useful and gentle way to exercise in pregnancy – it can be extremely helpful for easing tension and stiffness in your back, neck and shoulders and helping you to relax.
But discuss the problem with your midwife or doctor first and let them know what yoga postures you are intending to use so they can observe or check your progress and advise you if there are any medical reasons for you to avoid any positions or exercises. Start in the basic kneeling position or sit comfortably on the floor with your legs crossed or in a half lotus position. Stretch the front of your neck by releasing your head backwards and opening your mouth wide.
Raise your elbows slightly, lengthen your lower back downwards, widening the space between your shoulder blades. Stretch your right arm up, bend the elbow and bring your right hand as far down the back of your neck as possible.
Be aware of the gentle lengthening of the space between your rib cage and your pelvis, making more room for your baby. If you’re pregnant and looking for ways to relax or stay fit, you may be considering prenatal yoga.
Much like other types of childbirth-preparation classes, prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing.
Prenatal yoga can also help you meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress of being a new parent. Be careful to avoid Bikram yoga, commonly called hot yoga, which involves doing vigorous poses in a room heated to 100 to 110 F (38 to 43 C).
To protect your health and your baby’s health during prenatal yoga, follow basic safety guidelines. If you’re interested in taking a prenatal yoga class, look for a program taught by an instructor who has training in prenatal yoga.
Yoga in pregnancy promotes health and well-being, is great for alleviating stress and tension, improves your circulation and releases endorphins to make you feel good too! Studies have shown that women who practise yoga during pregnancy are less likely to develop high blood pressure or go into premature labour. Yoga soothes the mind, refocusing your energy and helps you to prepare psychologically for your baby’s birth.
An ancient Indian form of exercise, yoga can trace its roots back at least five thousand years.
Yoga is an ideal lifestyle choice during pregnancy, at a time when you become so much more aware of your body, your emotions, your surroundings and nutrition as well as becoming naturally more flexible.
Yoga can help ease pregnancy aches and emotional worries as well as prepare for the labour and any recovery after the birth of your baby.
Joining pregnancy yoga classes with a qualified instructor will ensure you learn the correct techniques and be a great place to meet other mums-to-be as well.
It’s worth spending a few minutes in pregnancy yoga poses that will help release the tension and allow you to breathe deeply.
Rotate your head, circling over your shoulder, across your back, over your other shoulder and then forward, circling three or four times before returning to the centre and then repeating in the other direction. Raise your left arm and place the palm along the right side of your head, gently stretching your neck without pulling on it.
Wrap your forearms around each other to bring your palms together, fingers pointed towards the ceiling. Lengthen the base of your spine with your pelvis well grounded, lengthening the back of your neck by bringing your chin gently towards your chest. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies. You’ll be encouraged to focus on breathing in and out slowly and deeply through the nose. You’ll be encouraged to gently move different areas of your body, such as your neck and arms, through their full range of motion. While standing, sitting or lying on the ground, you’ll gently move your body into different positions aimed at developing your strength, flexibility and balance. At the end of each prenatal yoga class, you’ll relax your muscles and restore your resting heart rate and breathing rhythm. Bikram yoga may raise your body temperature too much, causing a condition known as hyperthermia. Before you begin a prenatal yoga program, make sure you have your health care provider’s OK.
For most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week. When doing poses, bend from your hips — not your back — to maintain normal spine curvature. It has all the advantages of stretching with the added bonus of calming the mind and preparing your body for labour. Don’t be intimidated that everyone will be more flexible and adept at the poses than you are – plenty of people use their pregnancy as reason to start practising yoga and the chances are there will be plenty of beginners! Breathe and hold for a few seconds before coming back to the centre and repeating on the other side. Use a belt in your right hand if need be, clasping the belt with your left hand and working your hands as close together as possible.
But did you know that prenatal yoga may also help you prepare for labor and promote your baby’s health?
You may also practice different breathing techniques and making deep sounds, such as humming or grunting.
You may be encouraged to listen to your own breathing, pay close attention to sensations, thoughts and emotions, or repeat a mantra or word to bring about a state of self-awareness and inner calm. If they’re not an option, talk to the instructor about your pregnancy before starting any other yoga class. In addition, ashtanga and other types of power yoga may be too strenuous for women who aren’t experienced yoga practitioners.
You may not be able to do prenatal yoga if you are at increased risk of preterm labor or have certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or back problems.
However, even shorter or less frequent workouts can help you stay in shape and prepare for labor.
Avoid lying on your belly or back, doing deep forward or backward bends, or doing twisting poses that put pressure on your abdomen. The breathing techniques you practise during a prenatal yoga session are hugely beneficial when it comes to giving birth and you’ll be glad of the improvements to your strength and flexibility as well.
Before you start prenatal yoga, understand the range of possible benefits, as well as what a typical class entails and important safety tips.
Prenatal yoga breathing techniques may help you reduce or manage shortness of breath during pregnancy and work through contractions during labor.
You can modify twisting poses so that you only move your upper back, shoulders and rib cage. Avoid inverted poses, which involve extending your legs above your heart or head, unless you’re an experienced yoga practitioner. If you experience any pain or other red flags — such as vaginal bleeding, decreased fetal movement or contractions — during prenatal yoga, stop and contact your health care provider.
As your pregnancy progresses, use props during postures to accommodate changes in your center of gravity.
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