prenatal yoga
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Prenatal Yoga: 11 Benefits of Joining a Yoga Class

Yoga is carefully considered movement and breath which is used to help connect body and mind.

Prenatal yoga is much the same, however movements are altered to consider the pregnant form and the safety for both mother and baby. Its aim is to help prepare a woman’s body for labor both mentally and physically.

Related: Body Changes During Pregnancy

How will a prenatal yoga class benefit me?

Yoga is a form of exercise that anyone can do and you do not need to be physically fit or strong to start. It’s focus is on centering the body and mind, through breath and holding stretches/poses for periods of time.

The technique of deep breathing helps us to connect with our inner self, which helps in reducing stress and anxiety.

Holding poses helps to stretch and strengthen muscles in preparation for labor. Over time you will be able to hold poses for longer periods of time. A noticeable change in your body tone and strength will be noted.

The good news is that like other forms of exercise there are many different styles of yoga: Hatha, Yin, Bikram, Vinyassa, Jivamukti to name a few. Not all styles of yoga will be appropriate for pregnancy. It is always advised to check with your fitness provider first before starting a class.

outdoor buddha statueImage Source: Sabine Schulte (Unsplash)

There are many benefits to prenatal yoga including:

Improves sleep

The body will feel stronger and calmer as a result. Yoga will help aid and encourage a good night's sleep.

Related: 17 Ways To Sleep Your Way To A Healthier Pregnancy, And A Faster Delivery

Reduce stress and anxiety

Breathing is something we all take for granted. It is not often that we take the time to listen to our breath and slow it down. Deep slow concentrated breaths will help to reduce stress and anxiety, help with relaxation and is a great technique suitable for labor.

Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth

The exercises taught in a prenatal class are designed specifically for a pregnant body. The exercises will target areas such as your back and hips and will help to alleviate any pain by strengthening the muscles. Targeted exercises will also help to strengthen areas like your pelvic floor that will aid in labor.

Related: Natural Childbirth: What You Need To Know

Decrease lower back pain and shortness of breath

Yoga as a practice is all about balance. Learning to control your breath and breathing from deep within, helps us to connect and control our breathing patterns.

Areas of weakness such as the back can be worked on gently to help reduce pain and discomfort.

Decrease headaches

Headaches are often bought on by stress. Yoga helps us to slow down and recenter, while reducing tension in the body.

Reduce risk of preterm labor

Stress is never healthy and disrupts our overall feeling of wellness. High stress levels have been known to increase a woman's chances of miscarriage and preterm birth.

Women who do yoga for one hour a day have been shown to have reduced risks of having a complicated pregnancy.

Related: Signs of Labor

Lower your blood pressure

Studies have indicated that a pregnant woman’s heart rate and blood pressure has lowered after doing prenatal yoga. As compared with other forms of exercise such as swimming and walking.

mindfulness

Image Source: Lesly Juarez (Unsplash)

Stabilize your moods

Yoga taps into the soul, body and mind. It has a calming effect on all our senses, through the use of movement, breath, mediation and stretching.

Manage your weight

Like all other types of exercise. Yoga if combined with a healthy diet can promote a healthy weight during pregnancy.

Improve your delivery experience

There is no doubt about it, birthing is not easy. It requires a lot of endurance and stamina.

The breathing taught in yoga is calming and helps us to reach a meditative state. Slow deep considered breathing during birth can help to reduce stress levels which, helps to relieve tension in the muscles- less pain.

Yoga helps us to strengthen muscles. A stronger body will give you more options, enabling you to birth in a variety of different positions.

A stronger is also more likely to give birth naturally and require less intervention.

Reduces fluid retention

Yoga will help to alleviate and reduce your risk of fluid retention, as stretching helps to stimulate the muscles and encourage better blood flow.

yoga classImage Source: Erik Brolin (Unsplash)

Can anyone join a prenatal class?

It is our recommendation that you always check with your health care provider first before participating in any new forms of exercise. Assuming you have the go ahead from your doctor, be realistic and avoid any postures that cause any pain or discomfort. Pace yourself and don’t over do it. Last but not least, stay hydrated and cool to avoid any dizziness or nausea.

What should I wear to a prenatal yoga class?

Clothing

Wear comfortable stretchy clothing that will keep your body cool and supported.

Most active wear brands now dabble in maternity activewear so it should not be difficult to find clothing that suits your needs.

Yoga Bras

Wear a supportive bra designed for low impact exercise. A yoga bra should be supportive with a good amount of stretch for ease of movement. It should be non-wired to help avoid any discomfort or restriction.

What happens during a typical prenatal yoga class?

Prenatal yoga class usually runs for a period of 1 hour:

  • Breathing
  • Gentle stretching
  • Postures
  • Meditation/ Relaxation

lotus flowerImage Source: Jay Castor (Unsplash)

Are there styles of yoga that aren't recommended for pregnant women?

As discussed earlier, there are many different styles of yoga, some are more strenuous than others.

NOTE: Bikram or hot yoga should be avoided while pregnant. These types of yoga classes, involve doing vigorous poses in a room heated to higher temperatures 105 F (40 C).

Hot unventilated rooms are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and should always be avoided. Hot spaces can leave you feeling unwell (dizzy and nauseous) and can lead to other pregnancy related complications.

Are there special safety guidelines for prenatal yoga?

Most importantly it is always advised to listen to your body. Should a poses or stretch feel unnaturally uncomfortable, stop immediately. It may be that the pose needs to be modified even further to assist your body. Never stay in a pose that feels painful or is putting too much strain on joints.

  • Talk to your health care provider
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Stay cool and hydrated.
  • Avoid certain postures
  • Don't overdo it.

How do I choose a prenatal yoga class?

Look for a class taught by a Yoga instructor who has training in prenatal yoga. If prenatal yoga is not available in your area, it is recommended to speak to your local yoga teacher to see whether he or she is able to accommodate you in their classes.

Some poses will need to be modified to reduce the risk of injury to you and your growing body.

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