As a Community Midwife I spend my day caring for women in the ante and postnatal disciplines in the community setting and I have to be honest not a day goes by that I don’t recommend yoga or some form of exercise to my Mums. So what’s so special about Prenatal Yoga I hear you ask? Well in short, Pregnancy Yoga is a great tool to have to help you feel great, keep fit and stay calm during the most important nine months of your life and well into motherhood!
Here are my Top 5 Reasons to Practice Prenatal Yoga
1. Bodily Support
Prenatal yoga poses are designed to support the changes that occur in pregnancy and offer women healthy and safe ways to stretch their muscles and strengthen their bodies during this time. Prenatal yoga is known to tone the physical body, especially the pelvic floor, hips and abdominal core muscles. Increased back and shoulder strength improves posture while an open chest making it easier to stand tall – all of which help the body adapt with the stresses and strains of the advancing pregnancy.
2. A Calm Arrival..
The most important element in yoga is your breath. This is something that separates yoga from other forms of exercise as each pose is linked to an inhale and an exhale. Simultaneously breathing and moving sets the pace of your practice and helps you move deeper into the poses. It’s known that deep breathing; long, full inhales and exhales, oxygenate the entire body - energizing each and every bodily system. Connecting with the yogic breath in labour can help the body loosen and relax allowing your body do what it’s instinctively designed to do: give birth. It’s thought that pregnancy yoga helps the body deal with stress by slowing heart and breathing rates and lowering blood pressure which in turn triggers feelings of deep relaxation and well-being. Therefore, it’s a vital tool to take with you going into labour and motherhood. The calmer and more relaxed Mums are - the calmer and more relaxed their babies are!
3. Connecting With Your Baby
Even the act of going to a prenatal yoga class once each week is a gentle reminder to take the time out of a busy work and home life to care for and bond with your growing baby.
4. You May Find Relief from Common Complaints in Pregnancy
Prenatal yoga may be the cure for what ails you if you're suffering from common discomforts of pregnancy. Research suggests that prenatal yoga can:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
Decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, headaches and shortness of breath
Stretching and toning muscles help circulate blood throughout the body, while deep breathing can bring much-needed oxygen to your muscles. Building and maintaining muscle tone during pregnancy with yoga poses like lunges and squats can help minimize the aches and pains that occur in those nine months. The multidimensional approach of yoga to both physical and emotional health can help your body take the uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy in its stride. Always seek the advice of your Healthcare Professional if symptoms persist.
5. You'll Make Friends With Like-Minded Mamas
One of the greatest benefits of Prenatal Yoga is joining a community with other expectant Mums. It’s a great way to make new friends, all of whom are facing the same challenges you are. Sharing the pregnancy journey with new friends can help ease your anxiety about impending birth and motherhood. Being in a positive, supportive environment with others like you can give you a regular emotional boost and keep you motivated to continue exercising.
A Typical Pregnancy Yoga Class Involves..
Centering. I always start off each class with a session on centering where I bring the Mums into focus using a form of Yogic Breathing. This allows them to gently relax both mind and body in preparation for the class
Warm Ups. I usually continue from centering with a short warm up session to gently stretch the upper and lower body
Poses & Postures. While standing, sitting, on all fours or lying on the ground, you'll gently move and stretch your body into different positions aimed at developing your strength, flexibility and balance. Props — such as blankets, cushions, blocks and belts are used to provide support and comfort
Breathing. I encourage deep breathing techniques in conjunction with each pose throughout the class
Cool down and relaxation. At the end of each prenatal yoga class I have a lovely relaxation session where you'll relax your muscles and restore your resting heart rate and breathing rhythm. You might 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...