Yoga is a wonderful, gentle exercise that can be used throughout the varying stages of pregnancy. Read on to find out how.
Maintaining your Fitness through Pregnancy with Yoga
Yoga can be used as a tool to help you maintain your fitness while you are pregnant. When stretching or yoga is performed, the muscles in the body are being toned and you are gaining flexibility without placing strain on your joints. Yoga is also useful because it teaches you how to breathe and relax.
Breathing, Relaxation and Yoga
Knowing breathing and relaxation methods is excellent for helping you to adjust to the demands of labour, giving birth, and motherhood itself. One of the breathing techniques in yoga is known as ujayi. Ujayi has you breathing in slowly through your nose, completely filling the lungs, and then exhaling until the abdomen compresses. Being able to do ujayi correctly primes you for labour and childbirth and it teaches you to remain calm. If anxiety or nervousness occurs during labour, the body will make adrenaline and stop the production of oxytocin, the hormone that makes labour move forward. Being trained in yoga will help you remain relaxed through pain by teaching you how to breathe through it.
What Pregnancy Yoga Will Teach You
Pregnancy yoga will teach you:
- movements and strategies that you can use to help relieve some of the discomforts that are associated with pregnancy
- helpful positions for labour and delivery, to make the childbirth experience easier
- breathing and relaxation techniques
Why Pregnancy Yoga is Useful
As well, it will be useful in helping to:
- increase energy levels and reduce fatigue
- reduce physical and emotional stress
- increase your strength and confidence
- improve your posture, stability and balance
- create optimal health levels during pregnancy
- reduce the chances of requiring medical intervention during childbirth
- encouraging a generally positive childbirth experience
Precautions to Take During Pregnancy
However, there are precautions that you will need to take if you choose to practice yoga during pregnancy. Do not do any poses or movements that require you to lie flat on your back as this will decrease the flow of blood to the uterus. Also avoid those movements that require excessive stretching of the abdominal muscles. During pregnancy, you are more at risk of tearing or straining muscles, as the hormone relaxin, which enables the uterus to expand, also acts on the other connective tissues in the body. If you notice any pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, change the way that you are doing your postures.
In the first trimester, you probably won’t have many restrictions on what you can and can’t do in your yoga practice. Remember to breathe deeply and regularly, and avoid trying to progress too quickly or too much. It is important to pay attention to your technique in order to avoid placing undue stress on your joints. In the second trimester, your joints will be looser and you will thus have to take more precautions. Your sense of balance may also start to be affected, so you may have to move into different positions more slowly and carefully. In the third trimester, standing poses should be performed with your heel to the wall, or use a chair for support.
Choosing a Pregnancy Yoga Class
It is important that you choose a qualified yoga teacher or, even better, a teacher or class that specialises in pregnancy yoga. If attending a general class, ask the teacher if they have experience with instructing pregnant women, and always inform the teacher of your pregnancy.